6 August 1504 – The birth of Matthew Parker, a man loyal to Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I
Posted By Claire on August 6, 2018
On this day in history, 6th August 1504, Matthew Parker, a man who served as chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, and as Archbishop of Canterbury to Queen Elizabeth I, was born in the parish of St Saviour, Norwich, East Anglia, to a worsted weaver and his wife.
His loyalty to his former patron, Anne Boleyn, led to him taking the office of Archbishop of Canterbury in her daughter Elizabeth’s reign, even though he didn’t want the job:
“Yea, if I had not been so much bound to the mother, I would not so soon have granted to serve the daughter in this place…”
He had made some kind of promise to Anne shortly before her execution and he was going keep it.
You can click here to read more about Parker’s life and here to read more about what happened between him and Anne in her final days.
4 thoughts on “6 August 1504 – The birth of Matthew Parker, a man loyal to Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I”
I believe Anne did know something was going on in early 1536 against her We’ve all had that feeling when we know something is off but we’re not sure what. There had been tension between Henry and Anne for some time and I wouldn’t be surprised if she expected to be separated from her daughter just as Katherine and Mary had been. Although I doubt she imagined the separation would be caused by her arrest and execution. That Mathew Parker kept his promise to Anne when others were abandoning her after her arrest and even accepted a post from her daughter that he didn’t want after she became Queen 22yrs later says an awful lot about this man’s character. Anne chose well. He seems to have been one of those rare few at the time who was not in ‘it’ for personal gain.
How easy it would have been for Matthew Parker to have denied any such promise.
Anne chose her friends well, loyal in nature herself she could sense the same gift in others, we can only guess their fraught and strained conversation, Anne knowing full well how her husband treated Mary was worried possibly more for her daughter than herself, what terrors were going through her mind, what words did they speak, sadly we can only guess but what we can deduct is she wanted her chaplain to take charge of her daughters spiritual care, and this promise was something he was never to renage on, shocked as everyone else was at the queens arrest trial and execution, probably heightened his resolve to keep his promise to be Elizabeth ‘s archbishop, after her marriage was declared void thus making Elizabeth illigetimate she must have despaired of her ever becoming queen, she suspected Henry would marry Jane Seymour and may have a son, she must have been out of her mind with worry about Elizabeths welfare, she was not to know that her husband was destined to make another three marriages after Jane and his only son would never live beyond his sixteenth year, she was not to know that Henry was later to restore his two daughters to the succession and the path to queenship for Elizabeth suddenly became much smoother, for now she was a lonely desperate woman very afraid for herself and her child, Mathew Parker must have had a great deal of love and respect for Anne to have kept his promise many years later, as we know his heart was not in the job.
Anne’s promise is beautifully recorded in Matthew Parker’s letter to her daughter but alas we don’t know what promises he made. Given that she feared arrest and banishment and then separation from her daughter, it has to be guessed that Anne asked Parker to keep a watch on her, as much as he possibly could because Elizabeth was the property of the state and would have her own household, even as a “bastard” child of the King. Anne would not know what was to become of her little daughter and she needed someone that she could trust to keep an eye on Elizabeth, watch her grow, perhaps if Anne had lived, give her word of how she did from time to time and she trusted this man, her chaplain and he wrote of it in 1536 and 1572. Now as a repayment of that trust he accepted the post of Archbishop of Canterbury from Anne’s daughter and he felt obligated in Anne’s memory.
Matthew Parker seems like a man of integrity and who kept the promise and repaying it via his service to Elizabeth he recalled his promise as an act of love. A lovely man, a gentle and genuine soul.