On this day in history, the night of 22nd June 1509, King Henry VIII rewarded twenty-six* men for their loyal service to the crown by making them Knights of the Bath as part of his coronation celebrations.

The men were Robert Radcliffe, Baron Fitzwalter; Henry Scrope, 7th Baron Scrope of Bolton; Lord Fitzhugh; William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy; Henry Daubeney, 1st Earl of Bridgewater and 2nd Baron Daubeney; Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham; Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland; Sir Maurice Berkeley, de jure 4th Baron Berkeley; Sir Thomas Knyvet; Andrew Windsor, 1st Baron Windsor; Sir Thomas Parr (father of Catherine Parr); Sir Thomas Boleyn (father of Anne Boleyn); Sir Richard Wentworth; Sir Henry Ughtred; Sir Francis Cheyney; Sir Henry Wyatt (father of poet and diplomat Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder); Sir George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon; Sir Thomas Metham; Sir Thomas Bedingfield; Sir John Shelton (Thomas Boleyn’s brother-in-law); Sir Giles Alington; Sir John Trevanion; Sir William Crowmer; Sir John Heydon (his mother was a Boleyn); Sir Goddard Oxenbridge; and Sir Henry Sacheverell or Sackveyle.

Chronicler Edward Hall records that Henry VIII created the men Knights of the Bath on 22nd June, but Letters and Papers states that the ceremony took place on 23rd. These men served the king at dinner on 22nd, so the document in Letters and Papers may be referring to the men being knighted the night of 22nd/23rd.

The men were dubbed Knights of the Bath at a special ceremony at the Tower of London. Each man would have a canopied bath and while they bathed a procession led by the king would enter the hall. The king would then approach each man in turn – the man still being in his bath – and dip his finger into the bath water and then make the sign of the cross on the knight’s bare back. If King Henry VIII followed what King Henry IV did in 1399, then he would say to each knight “You shall honor God above all things; you shall be steadfast in the faith of Christ; you shall love the King your Sovereign Lord, and him and his right defend to your power; you shall defend maidens, widows, and orphans in their rights, and shall suffer no extortion, as far as you may prevent it; and of as great honor be this Order unto you, as ever it was to any of your progenitors or others.” The king then processed out of the hall. The knights then rested until they were woken to go to the chapel. They dressed as monks and processed to St John’s Chapel, where their new helmets, armour, swords and spurs had been arranged around the high altar. Each knight would kneel in devotion before his armour and guard it for the rest of the night.

Being made a Knight of the Bath was an honour for Thomas Boleyn and a reward for his loyal service to the previous king, King Henry VII. In 1497, with his father, Thomas had fought on the king’s side against the rebels of the Cornish Rebellion, he had been a member of the party of men who escorted Margaret Tudor, Henry VII’s daughter, to Scotland in 1503 to marry King James IV, and he had been appointed an esquire of the body before the king’s death. Of course, he would continue to rise in the new king’s reign and you can read more about his career in my article In Defence of Thomas Boleyn, Father of Anne Boleyn.

Also on this day in history, 22nd June…

  • 1528 – The death of William Carey, husband of Mary Boleyn, from sweating sickness. Click here to read more.
  • 1535 – The Execution of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Click here to read more.
  • 1536 – Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, finally submitted to her father and accepted her father as Supreme Head of the Church in England and the invalidity of her parents’ marriage. Click here to read more.

Notes and Sources

* Edward Hall records twenty-four men being made Knights of the Bath, but there are 26 names in the list in Letters and Papers.

  • ‘Henry VIII: June 1509, 16-30 ‘, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514, ed. J S Brewer (London, 1920), pp. 36-55. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol1/pp36-55.
  • Hall’s Chronicle, p. 507.

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17 thoughts on “22 June 1509 – King Henry VIII rewards Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn”
  1. very strange to anoint naked men. And to process with naked men in bathtubs. Wonder how lthis custom got started???

  2. I’m wondering who would have put this list together for the young king … his council?
    And, of course, like AB, how this ‘reward’ got started.

  3. Aha, Looked up the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and recommend anyone interested to do the same but, for me, the salient point of the ritual washing derives from the ritual of baptism, and thus is an ancient rite of spiritual purification, so that the receiver would pray and meditate for that night and then attend the mass to get their reward. Apparently there is an account of this ceremony during Henry IV’s reign.

  4. According to the website of the Descendants of the Knights of the Bath the ceremony was made formal and it was restricted from 1399 at the coronation of Henry IV but knighthood had always followed elaborate ceremonies but the original knights date back to circa 1150 according to the website. It was given for honourable service and was, again according to the website, both gentlemen and ladies could be part of its company. Obviously, the ladies seem to have been overlooked at least since Tudor times. The Order of the Bath, a later innovation was made in the reign of Charles ii, with formal recognition under George ii. Today both male and female descendants can be entitled to be named on an official roll.

    Henry Viii, himself aged two or three was made a Knight of the Bath. While the Chapel of the Knights of the Garter is at Windsor, the stalls of the Bath are at Westminster. More information is on the site of Westminster Abbey as well.

    The Knight list above contains men who had served Henry Vii and some who would serve Henry Viii in a number of capacities and Thomas Boleyn was going to serve Henry for many years, even after his daughter was executed. He had been in royal service as it was as a trusted servant, defeating or helping defeat the Cornish army and he was one of the gentlemen sent to escort Princess Margaret, Henry’s sister to Scotland in 1503. There is a timeline on the link above In Defence of Thomas Boleyn which shows him moving up the ranks and holding several trustworthy posts at Court and as an Ambassador in France, long before Henry Viii had ever heard of Anne or Mary Boleyn. This for me, proves that he didn’t rise because he threw Anne and Mary into the King’s bed and he certainly didn’t pimp them out. The Boleyn family benefited from Anne’s rise to Queen, of course they did, but so did the Woodville family and the Seymour family when their sisters became Queens. Thomas was an ambitious man, Anne an ambitious woman, Henry was a man in love and obsessed with her and after a time, she fell in love with him and Henry advanced Thomas and George, but he also used their talents and they deserved their place at Court. Anne was loved by the King because she was intelligent, sexy, witty, well educated, desirable, had lovely dark eyes like Betty Davies and shared his interest in theology and religious debate. He honestly thought she would give him a son and she made him a promise ( of course it was not her fault she couldn’t have a son) which Henry unfortunately held her to. Whatever Anne and Henry had that drew their passion Thomas Boleyn merely brought her to Court and had Henry come to Hever, they did the rest.

    1. Thanks Globerose, I suspect that the high born families were pushing themselves forward in the hope that the King might choose their daughter or candidate as a new Queen when they knew he wanted a new wife, but of course he had already decided to marry Anne, but then that is the political zoo of the Court.

  5. Went to Sudley Castle today which has so much history and connections firstly to the father in law of Eleanor Boulter or Butler and to herself, with her supposed marriage to Edward iv before Elizabeth Woodville being the fact which made Richard iii King. The place was owned by Edward iv who then gave it to Richard as DuKe of Gloucester and he enlarged and made it magnificent but his part was ruined after Oliver Cromwell had finished with it. Then the Tudor connections it is more famous for being owned by Henry Viii and then more famously by Queen Katherine Parr, whose tomb is in the old Church there, and Tom Seymour and their wards Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. Afterwards it was visited by both Mary and Elizabeth I and King James and Charles I took refuge here. After this until Victorian times it was all neglected. Now remoddled it’s a beautiful swan.

    Henry stayed here with Anne Boleyn as well and according to the family now, Anne visited nearby Hailes Abbey and began the later discredited story that the so called Blood of Christ for which Hailles is famous was the renewable blood of a duck. Henry ordered Thomas Cromwell who was staying there to come to Sudley and a letter is there to show it and go with his commission to find out the truth. The rumour was partly true but it was not a duck but resin. The duck story has persisted to this day and a number of people repeated it over the centuries but in the Valor Ecclesiastes it was confirmed that it was in fact resin. It certainly wasn’t the Blood of Christ. This is one of the origins that is often mistakenly cited for the Dissolution of the Monasteries but there was of course a lot more too it. Henry’s deepening cashflow problem was one of the facts behind the attack on the Monasteries as well as reforms. Anne could, however, have inadvertently been responsible for the closure of Hailes Abbey and it’s present demise.

    We went to visit the Abbey but found it opened only to 5p.m but are going tomorrow as the site has a cider farm and a visitor centre. We went to Hailes Church which predates the Abbey and some of the early Medieval prints and drawings and colours have been uncovered under the whitewash along with many old original tiles and two medieval burial markers on the Alter. All in all indulgence in Medieval and Tudor history. It was also a bonus as I didn’t know they were so close until last night.

    More indulgence later with Coughton Hall and the Thogmortons, Warwick Castle and Shakespeare country. Oh dear all this history and heat , I need to rest. Bye for now.

  6. Sounds like you are enjoying yourselves, I visited Sudeley in October many years ago, it was one of those fine sunny autumn days where you can see the mist descending as the days wears on, you can smell the chill in the air, but we wandered round the gardens and it was a lovely day out, I too have heard the duck story it’s one of those tales that endures, yes Henry wasted a lot of his fathers money on pointless ventures and on building and renovating palaces, hence the real reason why the abbeys were sacked, the money and treasures was used to bail him out, this is where he and Cromwell locked horns with Anne his queen, she wanted the money used for charitable ventures, whatever anyone did and says about Anne still she did try to help the unfortunate of which there were many, but Henry wanted it to fill his depleted coffers, the cider farm sounds great I love cider, proper cider that is, not the dry fizzy stuff that comes in cans with absurd names like white lightening, but real West Country cider – scrumpy Jack for example, perfect on a very hot day, Warwick castle is beautiful too when I visited they did an enactment of one Earl of Warwicks grisly end, it was a scorching hot day and it was a relief to be in the castle, lovely and cool, enjoy your excursions.

    1. Hi Christine, yes, there is a War of the Roses re enactment over the weekend which is when we are going. Katherine Parr’s tomb is very impressive, although the present tomb is Victorian but before it was neglected. When they opened her original tomb in the eighteenth century she was said to be almost perfectly preserved, probably something to do with how she was prepared and the type of stone her coffin was in, I assume. Of course it was tourists so no chance of archaeology and over and over her coffin was opened and she faded and went to dust. What a shame, but now her few remains are in a beautiful tomb with an alabaster relief of the Queen. It is coloured but looks pure white. The other side you get a plain tomb but a close up of Katherine and she looks peaceful and asleep. It is a wonderful tomb. Katherine Parr is the only Queen of England buried within a private family home, which was interesting to learn. There is an exhibition of all of the treasures the family uncovered in great grannies collection. Katherine Parr’s prayer book is also on display. It was fascinating all of the Tudor whoes who in one place and the personal things that the family have.

      Anne made a good Queen because she was naturally drawn towards social works, education and help for the poor. I can imagine how such a tale came about, probably the Abbott himself told the Queen tale as a bit of a tall tale but then it was really discovered that it was resin and people thought it was blood. Anne would be shocked I am certain at such an idea and it must have been a topic of conversation which then Henry thought he would exploit this fraud. Anne didn’t want most of the Monasteries to be closed but to be reformed and those who had bad reports turned into schools and hospitals and homes for the elderly and poor. The money would come from those houses but instead Henry used the money for his palaces, the enlargement of Whitehall and Hampton Court and the new Nonsuch was begun in 1537. Yes, Henry as King we know had to be magnificent and the monarch had to show status and Anne helped to plan Whitehall and received the Great Hall at Hampton as a wedding present. However, Henry went much further, building more and more elaborate projects and palaces. He also improved the coastal defences but that was also a political move as his marriage adventures caused threats from abroad. It was certainly enough to cause disagreement at least. The full dissolution would also bring widespread rebellion and the biggest threat to Henry’s reign.

  7. Yes as an ex queen she was entitled to be buried in Westminster abbey, Anne of Cleves was and Henry was married to her the shortest time out of all his wives, ironic when you think of it, Catherines funeral was attended by Lady Jane Grey who I think was chief mourner? I believe Catherines tomb was found by chance in the 18th c, by some gentleman and their ladies out having a leisurely walk, they must have stumbled upon it whilst discovering the family crypt which was possibly derelict, I cannot remember now the full story but over the years the morbidly curious used to come and take a peek, of course in contact with the air over time the remains of Catherine did fade, most likely the contents of her tomb were pilfered by souvenir hunters, when King Johns body was found someone took one of his thumbs and tooth, charming! To me it’s disrespectful but people will always be fascinated with the long dead particurlaly the famous, there is also a lock of the queens hair which is on display somewhere, maybe that’s at Sudeley also? It was said to be of a very pale shade of blonde – ash blonde, It is a mystery what happened to her daughter, because had she died young it was common for the child to be buried with the mother, but no trace of another skeleton was found with her, the mystery of little Lady Mary Seymour will I hope be resolved one day, she was a high born personage and to have just disappeared as it she had vanished into thin air I find quite shocking, anyway enjoy the Wars Of The Roses, you have picked the right week weather is just fabulous.

  8. Hello BQ and Christine. I am really enjoying your conversation about Sudeley. I seem to remember reading or hearing that Katherine’s tomb and the surrounding area were destroyed during the civil war. I may have read that in Elizabeth Norton’s book. It’s been quite a while so I’m not sure. Do you know if this was the case?

    1. Sudeley itself suffered extensive damage after the Cromwellian Army took the usual revenge with the removal of the roof and glass and many of the older parts of the house are now in ruins but the Tudor and later parts have been remodelled and restored. I think they said the present King Charles room may not be right but it is more or less laid out the same. The Church is much as it was but the original tomb could well have been damaged as it was her coffin which was found and her present tomb is Victorian. The information said something about two hundred years of neglect which followed the English Civil Wars and it was the present family who restored Sudeley to its former glory. The wife of the late owner who is the present occupant has put a lot of effort into bringing out all of the treasures and history again. The house is a mix of extensive country home and grand ruins which you can see best from the gardens, especially the Tudor Knott gardens which had a lovely bench under a tree in the shade. The Queen had her own garden and a white garden marks what was the site of the chapel that Katherine would have sat separately to enjoy the Mass but which has now gone. This looks very pleasant. Of course there are the obligatory peacocks and shop and two cafe and a children’s area, with an obstacle course and there are woods as well. The family had a pet badger at one point as well which there is a video about and it chased the dog about but took itself back to the wild. Richard iii built a magnificent banqueting hall, which was one of the casualties of the Civil War damage.

      Out of all the furniture and things there my favourite things were a set of ivory carvings from the seventeenth century showing scenes from Louis XIV and Marie Theresa and the collection of items belonging to Charles I. There was a really tiny miniature, not much bigger than a one pound coin, a personal mourning ring, made on the death of his father, another miniature of Charles and Henrietta Maria and a silver broach of the King and a set of his coins. As he took refuge there the back panel of his bed is there, but the rest was much later and it was probably his presence which led to so much damage by the Army of Oliver Cromwell. The model head of Eleanor Boulter (Talbot) based on her skull, or what is believed to be her skull, was very realistic as was their own head of Richard iii with blue eyes and brown hair, not out of bottle blond that they did in Leicester before the Riii society complained as he only had fair hair in his childhood. I also loved the life sized models of Henry and his six wives and Katherine with Tom Seymour and Princess Elizabeth in the exhibition.

      Yes, there is a lock of Katherine’s hair and it was pale fair with a slight hint of red. There were also baby clothes based on those Mary Seymour would have worn. Yes, the entire chapel was in a mess after 200 years or so of neglect. It was a very remarkable find but as you say, Christine, after several people opening the coffin she crumbled to dust. A guide came in while we were there and said they also found jewellery on her body and one piece still exists but the rest vanished. Katherine had one of the very first Protestant funerals and she probably should have been buried in Westminster Abbey but I don’t believe she wanted to be. I am pleased she isn’t there anyway. When you think Anne of Cleves was married to Henry for only six months she really did get to live like a Queen and die like a Queen and of course she was a proper Princess. Mary I was very fond of both Katherine and Anne of Cleves and she made sure that Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey. I must make an effort to get down there now that the new Medieval Gallery is open.

      1. Thank you BQ for for all of that info and your wonderful descriptions. I’ve only seen photos of Queen Katherine’s Victorian tomb and it is quite beautiful and certainly worthy of her status. So wonderful that she and her final home were not forgotten to history.

      2. When I was at Sudeley I was picturing in my mind the scene there some five hundred years before, of three figures dressed in sumptuous gowns of old, the youngest a girl of about fifteen a slender girl with tawny red hair, the elder woman very charming with a regal dignified air about her and beside her, a gentleman with a twinkle in his eye, that of the young Princess Elizabeth and her step parents, the ex queen Catherine Parr and the merry but ill fated Thomas Seymour, in that happy existence Elizabeth must have felt security for the first time in her life, in my own home town of Enfield we have connections to the Tudors and there was once a palace that stood where the young Elizabeth and Edward studied, the foundations of the palace were discovered during an excavation dig and lots of artefacts were found from earlier times, the Romans the Bronze Age etc, the ghost of a Tudor woman was allegedly seen by my cousins husband many years ago when he was a lad, King James used to hunt there and one of our pubs is named after him, there are listed Tudor buildings one of which my fathers boss owned and which housed a footstool which once belonged to Cardinal Wolsely and came from Hampton Court, I myself cannot remember much about Sudeley except wandering through the castle and the gardens as it must have been about twenty years ago, but it was very charming, I think we have the most beautiful places in Britain and I think it’s a shame that some people do not care to explore them more, as they really are worth visiting, I love visiting Hatfield which has a pair of Elizabeth 1sts stockings and gloves on display, as well as a letter written in French to Mary Queen Of Scots and other items, there are fine paintings and of course the palace is famous for being the residence of Elizabeth where she was living in quiet solitude, the oak tree where she was sitting under, one misty November morning when she learnt she was queen, the oak tree now is on display in the cafe, (that which exists as it is now over a thousand years old) the rural setting is so far removed from modern day that you really feel you have stepped back in time, there are no tower blocks in view or other modern buildings and apart from the odd plane going over and the rumble of traffic you feel like you are in the 16th century, well I know you are at your cider farm today so enjoy yourself Bq! but be careful if you have a few glasses as cider is very potent.

    2. Hi Michael, I read that workmen dislodged Catherines tomb and it was laid aside whilst they carried on with their work, they did not realise it housed a Queen of England and it was just left there in disarray and I think that’s where the young men with their ladies found it by chance whilst out walking, I think the woman were a bit frightened and left the scene but their sweethearts being braver possibly peeped inside and looked upon the long dead remains of this tragic Queen, the last wife of Henry V111 and as Bq mentions, the only queen to be buried in a family home, I call her tragic as she died in childbirth but she did survive her traumatic marriage to Henry V111 a feat in itself!

      1. Thank you. And I agree that survival as a wife of Henry VIII was no mean feat. I, like you hope that someday the fate of her daughter is discovered.

        1. Yes, little Mary Seymour was left with Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk and lived at Grimsthorpe for a couple of years. Katherine complained that she hadn’t been paid for the keep of little Mary but she is recorded here for the last time and is no more than two or three years old. Then, Mary Seymour vanished from history and her fate was a mystery. If the poor little girl died as so many children did before their fifth birthday, we don’t have any record of her burial so that is a mystery. Nor do we know if a poem recorded in the mid 1570s, recording her marriage is genuine or wishful thinking. It is a sad mystery and I too hope we either find the grave or information which confirms the fate of little Mary Seymour.

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