3rd April 1538 – Death of Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire and mother of Anne Boleyn

Apr3,2017 #Elizabeth Boleyn

St Mary’s Church, Lambeth
On this day in history, 3rd April 1538, Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, wife of Thomas Boleyn and mother of the late Queen Anne Boleyn, died at the Abbot of Reading’s home near Baynard’s Castle in London.

We can date her death from a letter that Thomas Warley wrote to Lady Lisle on 7th April 1538, in which he reported that “My lady of Wiltshire died on Wednesday last beside Baynard’s castle.”1 On 7th April, her remains were taken by barge to Lambeth, where she was buried in the chancel of St Mary’s Church.2

The details of her death are unknown, but she was recorded as being ill two years earlier. Thomas Warley wrote to Lady Lisle in April 1536, just before the fall of Anne Boleyn, reporting that Elizabeth was “sore diseased with the cough, which grieves her sore.”3 Anne Boleyn was concerned about her mother hearing news of her arrest in May 1536, saying “O, my mother, [thou wilt die with] sorrow”3, which may not have meant anything, but could suggest that Elizabeth’s health was fragile. It is impossible to know whether the cough of April 1536 is linked to her death in 1538.

Elizabeth Boleyn was about sixty-two years of age when she died, so not a bad age for Tudor times. Her husband, Thomas, died in March 1539.

As I’ve mentioned before, 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 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?

Click here to read more about the life of Elizabeth Boleyn.

Notes and Sources

Photo: St Mary’s Church, now the Garden Museum, at Lambeth, copyright Tim Ridgway 2013.

  1. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, XIII, Part 1, 696.
  2. Ibid., 793.
  3. LP X. 669.

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