3 May 1536 – Sir William Kingston Reports Back to Cromwell on Anne Boleyn

Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell

On 3rd May 1536, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, wrote his first report to Thomas Cromwell regarding Anne Boleyn’s imprisonment in the Tower of London. The ladies appointed to serve Anne during her imprisonment had been ordered to act as spies and report to Lady Kingston what the Queen said. Lady Kingston then passed the news on to her husband, who, in turn, reported back to Cromwell.

Kingston’s first report included his description of Anne’s arrival at the Tower and her ramblings about her altercations with Mark Smeaton and Sir Henry Norris on 29th April – see 29 April 1536 – A Sulk and an Argument. In trying to work out why she had been arrested, Anne also spoke of Sir Francis Weston, one of the King’s favourites and a man who had been made Knight of the Bath at Anne’s coronation in 1533. Anne said that “she more feared Weston; for on Wysson Monday last Weston told her that Nores [Norris] cam more unto her chawmbre for her then for Madge…” She went on to explain how she had also reprimanded Weston for loving her relative, Madge Shelton, and not his wife, and he “made answer to her again that he loved on in her house better than them both”. When Anne asked who, he replied “It is yourself”. The Queen then “defied him”. Weston was arrested the next day, so it appears that Anne’s mention of him led to him being implicated. Poor Weston.

Sir William Kingston also reported that Anne had asked if the King would allow her to have the Sacrament placed in a cupboard in her chamber so that she could “pray for mercy.” She went on to say “for I am as clere from the company of man as for syn, sayd she as I am clere from you, and am the kyngs trew wedded wyf.”

You can find out more about the ladies appointed to serve Anne Boleyn in the Tower in my article Cruelly Handled – Anne Boleyn in the Tower.

Notes and Sources

  • Cavendish, George (1825) The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, Volume 2, 218-22o

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12 thoughts on “3 May 1536 – Sir William Kingston Reports Back to Cromwell on Anne Boleyn”
  1. What a strange and bold thing to say that she is clear from sin; everyone is a sinner; Anne included. She may have been clear from the touch of these men, the King’s true wedded wife, although that also depends on if you believe she was truly married to Henry or not; but she was no saint. I understand she was talking under stress, but to call herself free from sin is ridiculous. I was not aware that Anne was not human.

  2. Iagree with you bandit queen about sin,but I think that most people back then and nowadays will be reckless with speech ,while under stress ,and words can be so twisted to suit a situation as in annes case , this twisting of words is despicable and nasty and unfortuneately still happens today .

  3. annes best bet would have been to say absolutely nothing at all ,and of course im saying that in hindsight and she would have been terrified beyond belief but we have all in one instance or another had our words taken as meaning something else ,and usually done while at a low ebb or stressed as in annes case.

  4. she clearly meant she was free of the sin of the sexual crimes of which she was accused. The second sentence referencing Kingston makes it plain.

    Later she made the comment that she had never betrayed the king with her “body”, leading one to surmise she was aware of having offended him otherwise.

  5. I think I read that at this time Anne had been made aware of the arrest of Norris and Smeaton, but only of a “third gentleman” she did not know it was George. So maybe, in her comfused and frightened state she was ponderng aloud, trying to workout who it was and looking for clues and conformation. And I don´t thnk she meant she was totally without sin she seemed a very devout woman and I doubt if she would have been that arrogant, I think she meant without the sin of what she was being accused of.

  6. She meant’t the sin of what she was accused of – cheating on the king. Anne was deeply religious and knew she as all of us are sinners. Let’s not twist words here.

    1. No-one is twisting her words: they are plain enough and clearly they refer to the crimes she is accused off: it is just a bold thing to say and gives the impression that she thinks she is better than others. In any event it was what Kingstone made of her rash words, made under such stress that counts; everything Anne would say would be recorded now and every word used against her; innocent or not.

    2. I agree Jean – people seem to be taking that quote completely out of context. If I said, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”, would everyone think I was headed to the bar to kill my dinner?
      Anne was very loose-tongued, yes – but I think it was also her habit. For seven years, she was the apple of the King’s eye; he loved the verbal volley that exchanged, he encouraged her. In my opinion, she had NO IDEA that she – her life – was in such a precarious position.

  7. Anne was clearly in such a state that she clearly did not know what she was saying. She is desperately trying to inform those around her that she is innocent of the sexual crimes that she is accused off and I am certain the last part of her sentence cannot be taken with any degree of seriousness. Anne had already displayed signs of stress, distress, hysteria, collapsed at least once on her way into the Tower; rambled about who may have said what to her or what could she be accused off and with who, was uncertain as to who had been arrested and why, and I am certain did not know half of what she was saying. Whatever Anne meant; it was going to be twisted around, even if she said something that indicated her innocence; the spies were there just to report things back to Kingstone and Anne must not even have been aware that such strange sounding words had even been taken note off, but clearly they had. Yes Anne was a religious woman; the request to have the Blessed Sacrament placed in her room is an indication of deep piety coming to the fore even in the middle of her distress. Anne is hoping that her prayers to the Holy Jesus in the sacrament will gain her grace and mercy and comfort. It would be the only comfort the poor woman would have in the Tower; the women around her would not offer any; at least not at first but I do believe that in the end even they felt sorrow and pity for Anne and were moved to tears at the time of her death.

  8. The words of Anne heard by the lady spies, then to Mrs Kingston (if she wasn’t in the room), then on to Kingston himself and then to Cromwell. How much was lost or embellished until it reached Cromwell.? Were any words in Anne’s favor left out? My point is that these attendants found themselves in a powerful position.

    1. I agree. I think there might have been some personal interpretation of what Anne B said by the time it reached Cromwell’s ears. And since it was his task to get rid of the queen, he would certainly ignore anything that might not prove the case against her. Cromwell didn’t plan on going the way of Cardinal Wolsey, so he was determined to succeed in freeing the king of this marriage.

  9. I think Anne didn’t really know how to handle the situation she was in, and how to respond. I think she meant that she was free from all the accusation, that was throwing in her head, but it just came out with other words, because she was so stressed up and scared at the same time and didn’t really know, what she was talking about.

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