8 July 1503 – Thomas Boleyn is entrusted with an important job

Margaret Tudor
Margaret Tudor

Many people seem to think that Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn, only rose to prominence and favour in Henry VIII’s reign, in the 1520s, by ‘pimping out’ his daughters to the king, but it’s not true at all – click here for more on Thomas Boleyn’s career. As early as 1503, Thomas Boleyn was being chosen by the king for a real honour.

On 6th May 1503, Henry VII sent letters from Richmond Palace to those chosen to accompany his eldest daughter, Margaret, to Scotland for her marriage to King James IV. Thomas Boleyn was one of those chosen. We know from the King’s letter to Sir Henry Vernon that those chosen were told to avoid wearing “any mornyng or sorofull clothinges” and instead to wear their “best arraye”.1

As well as “Maister Bolen, son and eyre of Sir William Bolen”, the “List of persons who accompanied the Queen into Scotland” included the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham, the Earl of Surrey (Thomas’s father-in-law), Sir Richard Pole, Sir Edward Stanley, Sir Thomas Darcy, Sir Walter Hungerford and Sir John Husee.” Thomas’s name appeared in the list of those that attended the wedding feast “that be no knyghtes”.2

The retinue had left Richmond Palace on for the home of Margaret’s paternal grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, at Collyweston in Northamptonshire on 27th June 1503, being accompanied by Henry VII on this first leg of the journey. They spent eleven days with Lady Beaufort before starting the journey north on 8th July 1503. Stops included Grantham, York, Durham, Newcastle and Berwick, which was, at the time, held by England. They arrived in Scotland on 1st August and the wedding took place at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, on 8th August.3

Thomas Boleyn may not have been a knight in 1503, but he and his father appeared to be in favour. It was the start of an incredible career serving the monarch.

Also on this day in history, 8th July 1553, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, declared herself Queen following Edward VI’s death – click here to read more.

Notes and Sources

  1. The manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Rutland: preserved at Belvoir castle, Twelfth Report, Appendix, Part IV, Vol, I, p. 17. Read at https://archive.org/stream/hists52199677#page/n3/mode/2up
  2. Ibid., p. 18.
  3. Dean, William Hughes, Sir Thomas Boleyn: The courtier diplomat, 1477-1539, Ph.D thesis, West Virginia University, 1987, p. 28.

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5 thoughts on “8 July 1503 – Thomas Boleyn is entrusted with an important job”
  1. Can anyone recommend a good biography of Henry’s sisters Margaret and Mary? Most of what I have read of them is usually overwhelmed by the mention of Henry’s marital misadventures, and nothing on either Margaret or Mary.

    1. Margaret Perry or Parry has written a great duel bio of both Mary Tudor and Margaret which is very accessible and quite easy to read, authoritative and informative. A couple of older books on Princess Margaret exist but the most modern is the recent bio by Stuart McCabe available on Kindle and paperback. The book by David Loades on Mary Tudor is one I would highly recommend along with Crooms old but important book Mary Tudor The White Queen which is old, but kindle have done a reprint. The duel bio The Tudor Brandons about Mary and Charles Brandon by Sarah Beth-Watkins recently published is excellent and again on Kindle and I think may be out in book form. Hope you find what you are looking for.

      1. Margaret Tudor Queen of Scots Patricia Buchanan 1985 and the Sisters of the King by Maria Perry the joint bio Mary Tudor and Margaret Tudor.

  2. David Loades has written a biography of Mary but I haven’t read it, he is said to be a wonderful historian though, according to Alison Weir.

  3. Although Thomas Boleyn was only one the important gentlemen who were sent to escort Princess Margaret Tudor to her groom in Scotland, a very great honour, it shows that he had been long in royal service by the time of his rise during the reign of Henry Viii. Thomas Boleyn was a well trusted, intelligent and accomplished courtier, with many skills, he was well appreciated by Tudor father and son. I noticed a few more well known names here, who would do well at the court of Henry Viii as well as Henry Vii. You don’t entrust your precious royal daughter with just anyone, so Thomas Boleyn and the other gentlemen must have already proven themselves trustworthy and able in order to have this honour bestowed upon them.

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