3 April 1538 – Death of Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne Boleyn

St Mary's, Lambeth
St Mary’s, Lambeth

On this day in history, 3rd April 1538, Elizabeth Boleyn, Lady Wiltshire, wife of Thomas Boleyn and mother of the late Queen Anne Boleyn, died in a property near Baynard’s Castle, a property that was the home of the Abbot of Reading. Thomas Warley recorded her death in a letter to Lady Lisle in Calais on 7th April 1538:

“My lady of Wiltshire died on Wednesday last beside Baynard’s castle.”1

It is not known what Elizabeth died of, but Warley had written to Lady Lisle in April 1536 regarding Elizabeth suffering from a bad cough:

“Today the countess of Wiltshire asked me when I heard from your Ladyship, and thanked you heartily for the hosen. She is sore diseased with the cough, which grieves her sore.”2

And Anne Boleyn had been concerned about her mother hearing of her arrest in May 1536:

“O, my mother, [thou wilt die with] sorrow.”3

Elizabeth may have been suffering from a cough and cold in 1536, but it may well have been something more serious and a disease which led to her death. It is thought that Elizabeth was born around 1476, making her about sixty-two years of age at her death. She was buried in the Howard aisle of St Mary’s Church, Lambeth, on 7th April 1538. St Mary’s is located next to Lambeth Palace and is now the Garden Museum. You can read more about Elizabeth in my article In Memory of Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne Boleyn.

Whenever I write about Elizabeth Boleyn’s death and burial in 1538 I always receive at least one question about the claim that Elizabeth actually died in 1512 and that Anne Boleyn had a stepmother. This myth, and it is a myth, has its roots in the Victorian history book Lives of the Queens of England by Agnes Strickland. You can read more about this in my article Did Anne Boleyn have a stepmother?

Notes and Sources

  1. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, xiii. part 1 696
  2. LP x. 669
  3. Ibid., 793

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