29 June 1536 – The Demotion of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire

Jun29,2013 #Thomas Boleyn

Thomas_BoleynChronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley recorded that on this day in 1536 Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and father of the late Queen Anne Boleyn, was stripped of his office of Lord Privy Seal:

“Item, this yeare, in Trinitie terme, the Soundaie after Corpus Christi daie, the Erie of Wilshire, Sir Thomas Bolleine, father to Queene Anne, delivered the Kinges Privie Scale, wherof he was Custos, into the Kinges handes; and after Sainct Peeters daie, at Midsommer, Mr. Thomas Crumwell, Secretarie to the Kinges Grace and Master of the Rolls, had the Privie Scale delivered to him.”1

As Wriothesley records, Thomas Cromwell took the position and we know that he was formally appointed on 2nd July 1536. One man fell and another rose.

Notes and Sources

  1. Wriothesley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, p49

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8 thoughts on “29 June 1536 – The Demotion of Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire”
  1. Never liked Tho,as Boleyn as he was too ambitious. He also worked hard for the Tudors as an Ambassador and in court matters. He was bound to fall as a result of his daughter’s fall and disgrace and he was going to lose his offices that he received when Anne rose to become the KIngs mistress first and then his Queen. Henry would not want about him a man that he no longer trusted and who did not deserve that trust. I am actually surprised that Henry allowed him to keep his peerage but may-be he believed some of his service had been genuine and deserving or at least honest. Losing the other offices, however, I feel in this case is justified.

    1. Since Thomas helped Henry “vote his daughter off the island” so to speak, I imagine leaving him with the title was some acknowledgement of that. He was stripped of all power, so the title didn’t do much for him….probably caused a lot of social anxiety having a title and no privileges etc.

    2. If Thomas was ambitious, he was hardly exceptional — *everyone* at court was out to get as much and climb as high as they could. If they wanted a quiet, retired life, that was easy to find out of town. He happened to get exceptionally lucky when the king fell for his daughter (well, both of them at different points!) but his career was otherwise fairly typical of an ambitious, talented courtier who got at least his first few awards and title by dint of his own efforts.

      Probably the strangest thing about this is that more time elapsed between Anne’s death and stripping Thomas of the office than between Anne’s arrest and execution! Of course, he must have known it was coming. Incidentally, Claire, do you know how easy it was/is to strip a peer of his or her title? I know that men could be — and were — sometimes stripped of the Order of the Garter, but offhand I can’t think of any peer who was stripped of a title, even when he was condemned and executed.

      1. NB, I should add that I do know Piers Butler had the Ormond title taken from him and given to Thomas Boleyn (for a while, anyway) and was compensated with a different one. However, that may well have been framed as an issue of confusion over who “really” had the title, not an issue of taking a peerage away from someone to whom it unquestionably belonged.

        1. I read and don’t know if this is correct ,that Thomas Boleyn was granted the Ormond title by henry when anne was in favour with henry .

        2. Thomas Boleyn had Henry’s support before Henry met Anne Boleyn. Thomas Butler, Thomas Boleyn’s grandfather, died in August 1515 and his Ormond title was entailed to heirs general, not just male heirs, so Thomas Butler’s daughters, Anne St. Leger and Margaret Boleyn, were the rightful heirs. Margaret’s son, Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn, put forward his claim to the Earldom with the support of his King, Henry VIII. Unfortunately for Thomas, Piers Butler started causing trouble by styling himself Earl of Ormond and he had the backing of the Irish people and the Irish Lords. A solution needed to be found to keep the Boleyns and St. Legers happy but also to keep the peace in Ireland, and Piers could help the English government control the troublesome Irish factions. It was quite a quandary for Henry VIII and that is why the Butler-Boleyn marriage negotiations started. There were various court hearings and negotiations, but a deal was finally brokered in 1528 which involved Piers receiving fourteen of the Ormond manors on a thirty year lease, and also being elevated to the peerage, in return for relinquishing the earldom of Ormond to Thomas Boleyn.

          Although Anne was obviously in a relationship with Henry in 1528, the King had been supporting Thomas Boleyn since 1515 and Thomas was the rightful heir to the title.

        3. I agree sonetka, Thomas Boleyn was no more ambitious than any other one working in Henry’s court.
          If Henry recognised someone’s ability, hard work and talent he would reward them generously.

          I cannot see losing his offices as justified, though completely normal for the times, one member of a family went down the others seem to follow, or wisely keep their distance from the King’s anger.

          As for the matter of Thomas not having the trust of the King anymore doesn’t ring completely true either. He can’t have been considered that untrustworthy as he was helping to put down the Northern Rebellion later in1536, and he attended the baby Edward Prince of Wales Christening in 1537.
          Also when he died the King ordered masses for his soul, that says a lot about what Henry thought of Thomas Boleyn.

          This title was earmarked for the next person who was ‘Top Dog’ at the time. Business as normal…

  2. Did the ‘wiltshire’ title come from Buckingham when he was stripped of his titles and executed?

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