Detail from Thomas Boleyn's brass memorial
Detail from Thomas Boleyn’s brass memorial

Following the falls and executions of two of his children, Anne and George Boleyn, on 29th June 1536 Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, was stripped of his office of Lord Privy Seal. He had held the office since January 1530, after the fall of Cardinal Wolsey. On 2nd July 1536, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s right hand man, was formally appointed Lord Privy Seal in Thomas’s place. He was also removed from the commission of the peace in Norfolk, although he was kept on the Kent one.

Thomas Boleyn, however, was the ultimate survivor and after helping squash the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace in late 1536 he managed to climb his way back into the King’s favour and was present at Prince Edward’s baptism in October 1537. Eric Ives describes how he diligently went to Order of the Garter functions, even lending Thomas Cromwell, his chain and best Garter badge at one point, and how he was back at court by January 1538.1 In July 1538, three months after Elizabeth Boleyn’s death, Henry Maunke wrote to Lady Lisle saying that he had “Heard say that my lord of Wolshyre will marry lady Margaret Dowglas”.2 Obviously, the marriage never took place, but Thomas Boleyn must have been high in favour for it to be rumoured that he was going to marry the King’s niece.

Thomas Boleyn died on the 12th March 1539 at his home, Hever Castle, aged around sixty-two. He was laid to rest in a tomb in the family church of St Peter’s in Hever, Kent. Henry VIII ordered masses to be said for his soul, showing that Thomas was truly back in favour with the King at the time of his death.3

You can read more about Thomas in my articles In Defence of Thomas Boleyn, Father of Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Boleyn, Father of Anne Boleyn.

Also on this day in history…

  • 1509 – Lady Margaret Beaufort, grandmother of Henry VIII and the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty, died at Cheyneygates, the Abbot’s house at Westminster. See Lady Margaret Beaufort.
  • 1537 – Death of Henry Algernon Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. He was buried at Hackney parish church. Percy is known for his romance with Anne Boleyn when he was part of Cardinal Wolsey’s household and she was serving Catherine of Aragon. The romance was broken up by Wolsey and Percy’s father, and he was forced to marry Mary Talbot. See The Early Life of Anne Boleyn Part 7 – The Butler, the Chaplain, the Courtier and Poet for more on Anne and Percy.
  • 1537 – Execution of John Hussey, Baron Hussey and Chief Butler of England, by beheading at Lincoln after he was accused of conspiring with Lord Darcy during the Pilgrimage of Grace.
  • 1540 – Bill of attainder passed against Thomas Cromwell for the crimes of corruption, heresy and treason, stripping him of his honours and condemning him to death.

Notes and Sources

  1. Eric Ives (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 353.
  2. LP xiii. Part 1. 1419
  3. LP xiv. 950

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