A drawing of a woman thought to be Mary Shelton, Lady Heveningham, or her mother-in-law

I am often asked about Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting, so I thought it would be good to write a post giving the low-down on some of her ladies. I apologise if I have missed any, but here is some information on the ladies mentioned in the primary sources as serving Anne Boleyn at one time or another:-

Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche

Anne Gainsford is thought to have joined Anne Boleyn’s household before Anne married Henry, probably around 1528, and she became one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting in 1533. She became Lady Zouche on her marriage to Sir George Zouche in 1533 and it is said that the couple had eight children.

It was Anne, or Nan as she was known, to whom Anne Boleyn lent her copy of Tyndale’s “The Obedience of a Christian Men” and when her fiancé, George Zouche, stole it off her it fell into Wolsey’s hands and was shown to the King. It was also Anne Zouche who told George Wyatt, Thomas Wyatt’s grandson, about Thomas Wyatt stealing Anne’s jewel from around her neck1. Anne Gainsford was also the lady to whom Anne Boleyn showed what Eric Ives calls a “poison-pen drawing” and what Anne Boleyn referred to as “a book of prophecy”, which had been left in Anne’s apartments. The drawing depicted a male figure labelled with an “H” and two female figures labelled “K” and “A”. The “A” figure was missing her head. When Anne Gainsford was shown the book, it is said that she commented “If I thought it true, though he were an emperor, I would not myself marry him”. Her mistress, on the other hand, dismissed it, saying “I think the book a bauble, yet for the hope I have that the realm may be happy by my issue, I am resolved to have him whatsoever might become of me.”2

Anne went on to serve Jane Seymour after the fall of Anne Boleyn.

Trivia: Bess of Hardwick lived for a time with Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche.

Elizabeth (Bess) Holland

Elizabeth Holland was the daughter of the secretary of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and she became the Duke’s mistress in 1527 when she was working as a laundress to his wife, Elizabeth Howard. When Elizabeth Howard complained to her husband about Bess being his mistress, it is said that he beat his wife savagely. Bess was the Duke’s mistress for around 8 years.

The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, mentions Bess as the Duke’s mistress and as one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies in a letter dated September 1533.3

Bess went on to serve Jane Seymour and was one of the ladies in Jane’s funeral procession.

Trivia: Bess gave evidence against her former lover, the Duke of Norfolk, and his son, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, which led to Surrey being executed and Norfolk only escaping execution because the King died before his scheduled execution.

Margery Horsman

Margery Horsman served as lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. On page 332 of his book, Eric Ives says that the anonymous lady listed with Anne Cobham and Lady Worcester as being sources of information against Anne Boleyn in 1536 “was almost certainly Margery Horsman”. After Anne’s execution, Margery went on to serve Jane Seymour and in 1537 she married Sir Michael Lyster and became Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels jointly with him.

Jane Parker (also known as Jane Boleyn and Lady Rochford)

"The Lady Parker" a portrait once thought to be Jane Parker but which is probably Grace Newport, Jane's sister-in-law
“The Lady Parker” a portrait once thought to be Jane Parker but which is probably Grace Newport, Jane’s sister-in-law

Jane was Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law, being married to Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. I won’t give any further details on Jane as I have written a few articles on her, see:-

Historian Julia Fox has also written an excellent biography on her.

Note: Jane is often blamed for being a factor in the downfall of her husband and Anne Boleyn as it is often said that she gave evidence against the siblings, causing them to be found guilty of incest. However, we do not know what Jane said when she was interrogated by Thomas Cromwell, apart from the fact that she spoke of Anne And George’s indiscretion in discussing Henry VIII’s sexual inadequacies. Julia Fox writes of how Jane has been used as a scapegoat by history.

Trivia: Jane was executed in February 1542 along with her mistress, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife.

Nan Cobham

The Nan Cobham who was said, by Sir John Husee, to be one of Anne Boleyn’s accusers in 1536: “the Lady Worcester, and Nan Cobham and one maid more” is a bit of a mystery woman. In her pages on Tudor women4, novelist Kate Emerson writes of how the editor of The Lisle Letters, M. St Clare Byrne, points out that it is very unlikely that Husee would refer to Baroness Cobham, wife of Sir George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, as “Nan Cobham”. So what are the possibilities?

  • Anne Bray, Baroness Cobham – This Anne Cobham was an attendant horsewoman at Anne Boleyn’s coronation on the 1st June 1533 and was married to Thomas Wyatt’s brother-in-law, Sir George Brooke. They lived at Cobham Hall in Kent and had ten children. Anne died on 1st November 1558
  • The Anne Cobham who served as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine Parr in 1547.
  • The widow Anne Cobham who was granted lands in 1540 which used to belong to Syon Abbey.
  • The Anne Cobham who was married to Sir Edward Borough, 2nd Baron Borough of Gainsborough, although it is thought that she died in the late 1520s.
  • Anne Boleyn’s midwife – Retha Warnicke also states that the diminutive “Nan” “makes it unlikely that she was of high aristocratic birth”5 and Baroness Cobham was the daughter of Sir Edmund Bray(e) who became Baron Bray in 1529.

Mary Scrope, Lady Kingston

Mary Scrope was the second wife of Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London and it was also her second marriage. She was appointed to serve Anne Boleyn in May 1536 during her imprisonment in the Tower of London and Mary’s job was to report back to her husband on what Anne said so that he could pass the information on to Thomas Cromwell.

Lady Anne Shelton (Anne Boleyn)

Lady Anne Shelton (née Boleyn) was the sister of Thomas Boleyn and therefore Queen Anne Boleyn’s aunt. She was married to Sir John Shelton and the couple were in charge of the combined household of Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, from 1533, with Sir John acting as steward. The couple had nine children, including Margaret and Mary Shelton.

In May 1536, Lady Anne was appointed to serve her niece, Anne Boleyn, during her imprisonment in the Tower. It is thought that Lady Anne did not sympathise with her niece at this point because she had been angry with Anne when she had pushed Mary Shelton into having an affair with Henry VIII to prevent him from having an affair with a lady not sympathetic to Anne.

Margaret Dymoke (Coffin)

Margaret was born c1500 and her second husband was Sir William Coffin who was Anne Boleyn’s Master of the Horse. Like Lady Anne Shelton and Mary Scrope, Margaret was appointed to serve Anne Boleyn in the Tower in May 1536. After Anne’s execution, Margaret went on to become a lady-in-waiting to Jane Seymour.

Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (née Wood)

Lady Boleyn was the wife of Sir James Boleyn, brother of Thomas Boleyn and chancellor of the household of Queen Anne Boleyn, and aunt to Anne Boleyn. She was also one of the women appointed to serve Anne Boleyn in May 1536 in the Tower of London and she, along with Lady Kingston, accompanied Anne Boleyn to her trial on the 15th May 1536.

Elizabeth Stoner (Mrs Stoner)

Elizabeth Stoner was the fifth woman appointed to serve Anne Boleyn in the Tower in order that Anne’s words could be reported back to Thomas Cromwell and used as evidence against her. She served under each of Henry VIII’s six wives and held the position of ‘Mother of the Maids’, meaning that she was in charge of the younger ladies-in-waiting.

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour

Before becoming Queen, Jane served as a lady-in-waiting, or maid-of-honour, to Queen Catherine of Aragon and Queen Anne Boleyn. She married Henry VIII on the 30th May, just 11 days after the execution of his previous wife, Anne Boleyn, and was the mother of King Edward VI, Henry VIII’s only surviving son. She died on the 24th October 1537 probably from puerperal fever (childbed fever), a bacterial infection common after childbirth.

For more information on Jane Seymour, see Jane Seymour – Redefining the Myth and Jane Seymour

Lady Bridget Wingfield (née Wiltshire, later Hervey, then Tyrwhitt)

Lady Wingfield was born Bridget Wiltshire and was the daughter of Sir John Wiltshire of Stone Castle, Kent, who was a neighbour of the Boleyn family who lived at Hever Castle. It is thought that she served Catherine of Aragon as a lady-in-waiting and then served Anne as Lady of the Bedchamber. She was married three times: Lord Deputy of Calais Sir Richard Wingfield (d. 1525) in 1513, diplomat Sir Nicholas Hervey/Harvey (d. 1532) and Sir Robert Tyrwhitt.

In “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn”, Retha Warnicke, writes of how, in 1530, one of Anne Boleyn’s closest companions was Lady Wingfield6 and that in autumn 1532 Anne and Henry VIII stopped at the home of Lady Wingfield on their way to Dover to travel to France.

Lady Wingfield died in 1533/1534 but she testified against Anne Boleyn “from the grave”7. It was alleged that Lady Wingfield had written to a friend “about Anne’s sexual habits that may have taken place before she was officially recognised as the king’s wife, thus making the “incredible charge that she had subsequently engaged in carnal relations with five men seem plausible.”8

Mary Shelton

Mary was the daughter of Sir John Shelton and Lady Anne Shelton (née Boleyn) and cousin of Anne Boleyn. It is unclear whether she or Margaret Shelton had an affair with Henry VIII but it is now thought that Mary Shelton was the ‘Madge Shelton’ who Henry Norris was meant to marry and who became the King’s mistress.

Elizabeth Somerset/Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester

Elizabeth Browne was the daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, wife of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester, from c1527, and a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn. She stood to the left of Anne Boleyn at her coronation dinner in 1533 “ready to hold a fine cloth in front of Anne’s face whenever she wanted to spit.”9

It is alleged that she was a mistress of King Henry VIII, and that when her brother, also called Sir Anthony Browne, reprimanded her for her immoral behaviour in 1536, Elizabeth told him that she was “no worse than the queen”. This story comes from a poem by Lancelot de Carles and de Carles also has the woman thought to be the Countess of Worcester saying: “I must not forget to tell you what seems to me to be the worst thing, which is that often her brother has carnal knowledge of her in bed.”10 G W Bernard writes of how “there is strong evidence that it was the countess of Worcester’s revelations that sparked the arrests and trials” in April and May 1536. Anne Boleyn, however, was unaware of this and actually spoke, during her imprisonment in the Tower, of her concern for the Countess and her unborn child: “[Anne] much lamented my lady of Worcester for because her child did not stir in her body, and [Lady Kingston] said, ‘What should be the cause?’ She said, ‘For sorrow she took for me.’ “11

Trivia: Elizabeth borrowed £100 from Anne Boleyn in April 1536.

If you know of any more information regarding these ladies then please share in the comments section below.

Notes and Sources

  1. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p81-82
  2. Ibid., p145
  3. LP vi.1164
  4. Kate Emerson’s website
  5. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, Retha Warnicke, p203
  6. Ibid., p39
  7. Ibid., p227
  8. Ibid., p228
  9. Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, G W Bernard, p154
  10. Ibid., p153
  11. Eric Ives, p333

Related Post

57 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn’s Ladies-in-Waiting”
  1. Very interesting article–I think there is confusion over Mary and Margaret SHelton–in several cases. And likely to remain so–but here are my thoughts from family research as well as other texts.
    Margaret Pretty Madge, is the daughter of Anne and John Shelton who went to court and was mistress to Henry while Anne was queen. Many historians believe Anne put her up to it. Margaret was abbreviated Marg, which can easily be mistaken for Mary. There was a Mary Shelton, Margaret’s sister, but no record of her being at Court. However, there is a Mary SHelton who served Elizabeth and I think confusion rises over these two Mary’s. In the family book, The Sheltons, there is mention of Margaret going to court, but not Mary. I also think the poet who wrote in the Devonshire Manuscript was also Margaret, with confusion arising because of the abbreviation of the name. Just my 2 cents worth 🙂
    Thanks for a wonderful article–I love following these supporting players in the Tudor drama.

  2. This was quite interesting….it is fun to put a face to the people we learn about in history. I especially liked seeing the picture of Lady Parker, George’s wife. Now I can visualize the face upon the scaffold with Queen Catherine Howard…..almost spooky!! Claire, I know you are familiar with the famous painting of “The execution of Lady Jane Grey” Well there are two women in that painting along with Jane, I think Thomas Cranmer and the executioner. Who would those two women be do you know….?? What a friend Anne Boleyn had in Lady Wingfield right……I was not aware that actual written evidence was available from women like her to go against Anne at her trial!! This was very interesting….Is it not fun to find clues and more clues to create a wonderful visual. It is like bringing the days of Anne Boleyn alive in our minds, especially when we have all the pieces……

    1. The famous painting of Lady Jane Grey was only painted in 1833, many hundreds of years after the execution took place – meaning that it is full of unaccuracies. For one, it shows Lady Jane being inside whilst she was killed, but, of corse, she was infact outside on the scaffold. I should think that the two women are nobody inparticular, being just a figure painted on canvas. I had the oppotunity to see this painting at the National Gallery last week and it’s amazing to see in the skin! 🙂

      1. Hey Rose — I saw this painting back in 2000 and 2005 when I visited the Gallery (didn’t get time when I was across the pond in 2009). I knew it was inaccurate (the first thing I caught was that they were inside for the execution), but I think you felt the same way I did — after a while, you forget all about the errors because there is something so incredibly touching about the whole canvas. It’s one of my favorites whenever I’m there.

  3. Wow. I did not realize there was truth behind Anne encouraging her cousin to have an affair with Henry to prevent him from replacing her. I thought that was more a creative twist behind the Tudor series.

  4. One story about Mary Shelton in Anne’s household relates that the queen rebuked the girl after she discovered that Mary had written ‘ydill poesies’ in her prayer book!

    Margaret Douglas, Henry VIII’s own niece, was part of Anne’s household. Her secret relationship with Anne’s uncle, Thomas Howard, caused a scandal when it came to the King’s attention in July 1536. Both Thomas and Margaret were placed in the Tower. She was released in 1537 but poor Thomas died there, possibly of an illness caused by the conditions he was in.

    Anne’s cousin and Henry VIII’s daughter-in-law, Mary Howard, duchess of Richmond, was part of the Boleyn circle. She had a role in both the ceremony in which Anne was made marquess of Pembroke and in Princess Elizabeth’s christening. It was probably due to Anne’s influence that Mary married Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, in 1533.

    Anne Seymour, née Stanhope, wife of Edward Seymour (later duke of Somerset and Lord Protector), certainly served Katherine of Aragon, so she may have been present in the queen’s household under Anne.

    There is also Anne Savage, daughter of Sir John Savage. It is sometimes claimed that she was present at Anne and Henry’s private wedding).

    I did some research on Lady Kingston for my MA dissertation. Her will, dated 1546 and amended two years later, is an interesting read. She is very clear about her loyalty towards Princess Mary. Amongst the items she leaves her is ‘one pece of gold coyned with th’ armes of Spayn upon yt’ (TNA PROB 11/32, f. 169v), a reference to Mary’s maternal ancestry.

    An interesting source to consider when looking at Anne’s ladies is the Devonshire Manuscript. Kept in the BL, it is a collection of poetry compiled by three of Anne’s women – the duchess of Richmond, Margaret Douglas and Mary Shelton.

  5. Nasim, just out of curiosity, what is your source for having Anne Stanhope as one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies? I’ve seen it stated on various sites, but without any source given. Thanks!

    1. I too have seen it written that Anne Stanhope became a maid-of-honour in 1511, so during Catherine’s time as queen, but I haven’t found the evidence yet, must dig deeper!

      1. I find the 1511 date (which I’ve also seen) suspect, as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography estimates Anne Stanhope’s birthdate as being around 1510. She’s listed in other sources as being born in 1497, but the 1510 date appears to be more consistent with her history of child-bearing, since Thomas Norton, in a letter listing the whereabouts of her offspring after her husband’s execution, wrote in November 1552 that her youngest child was “now in her second year.” It’s difficult to imagine her having children in her 50’s! In any case, I haven’t found any mention of her in the Letters and Papers before a land grant to her and her husband in 1535, or anything indicating that she was in Katherine of Aragon’s or Anne Boleyn’s households.

        1. I also did a search in L&P for Stanhope and I couldn’t find anything. Like you, I think that the 1511 date does not fit in with other things, particularly as her husband was born in 1506. The author of her wikipedia page puts her birthdate at 1497 but has her first child being born in 1537 and I think that is a rather late age to have a first child in Tudor times. Her last child, as you say, was born in 1552. Hmmm….

        2. There is, I see now, a Lady Stanhope who received a New Year’s gift from the king for 1532, and not for 1534. Maybe that’s her?

    2. Hi Susan!

      My MA research was on Mary Tudor prior to her accession (the years c.1533-53). One relationship of hers that I was particularly interested in was that between Mary and Anne Seymour née Stanhope. This was after I read a letter in the National Archives that Mary wrote to Anne. The full reference: TNA SP 10/1, f. 122.

      In the letter, Mary asked Anne to assist two of Katherine’s former servants. She starts by making a case for Richard Wood, ‘my mothers servant’, and points out that he served when ‘you were one of her graces mayds’. I argued in my dissertation that Mary pointed out this connection deliberately, not only to remind Anne who these men were so she may speak on their behalf with her husband, the Lord Protector, but to imply that as Anne had once served Katherine so her loyalty must pass directly on to her daughter. Mary was very keen on emphasising the allegiance that was owed to her as the daughter of Katherine of Aragon!

      Hope that helps!

  6. This is really interesting stuff. I hadn’t realised Bess Holland was part of Anne’s household; I had imagined her being rather more humble than that.
    Was Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee also one of Anne’s ladies?

    1. There is a tradition that Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee, was the Mistress of the Queen’s Wardrobe while Anne was queen and many people base this on a letter from Thomas Warley to Lady Lisle found in LP x.499:-
      “Thos. Warley to Lady Lisle.
      Has attended at the Court for the kirtle which she has long looked for, and this morning had a token from Mrs. Margery that it should be delivered to him in the Queen’s wardrobe, where upon sight of the token he received it. It is of cloth of gold paned like the paper enclosed. Showed Mr. Blunt one of the sleeves that he might certify you of the same. Went back to the Queen’s chamber to thank Mrs. Margery, but she had gone into the privy chamber, so that he could not speak with her. Will be at Court tomorrow, and send word what she says by the next messenger. Asks what he shall do with the kirtle. Suggests that lady Lisle should write letters of thanks to Mrs. Margery and Geo. Tayllour, and remember those of the Queen’s wardrobe.”
      But, “Mrs Margery” could actually refer to Margery Horsman in this case and that is who the editor of LP thinks is being referred to here.

      There is a tradition that at her execution on the 19th May 1536, Anne Boleyn presented a member of the Wyatt family, thought to have been Lady Margaret Lee (sister of Thomas Wyatt and one of Anne’s ladies), with a prayer book. Unfortunately, this tradition is not backed up by contemporary sources and is not mentioned in the work of Thomas Wyatt’s grandson, George Wyatt, which you would expect it to be.

      Margaret Wyatt was a close friend of Anne Boleyn so would have been one of her ladies, I’m sure.

  7. Great article, Claire. I do have a question, though. Is there any evidence that Catherine Carey (Mary Boleyn’s daughter) being a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn?

    1. Catherine Carey does not crop up in the records as a lady-in-waiting until she is appointed to serve Anne of Cleves who became queen in 1540. Catherine would have been around 15/16 at this time. There is a story that she served her aunt, Anne Boleyn, in the Tower and was present at her execution but I haven’t found anything in the records to back this up and Catherine would have only been around 12 in 1536.

  8. Claire,

    I often wondered about Anne’s ladies-in-waiting: their names, what families they came from, other queens they served and, most important, if they supported Anne’s cause or not. Your excellent article answered all my questions and I really enjoyed everyone’s comments.

  9. Interesting. I wonder if Lady Zouche was related to the one lord who voted “not guilty” at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots.

  10. I still believe that Margaret SHelton was the one writing in the Devonshire manuscript–using Marg. as her abbreviated name–cyphers and such were much in vogue so it makes sense ot me–I’m going to recheck my sources but I think Mary is too young to have been at court whereas Margaret would have been a more reasonable age. Isn’t it fun trying to figure this stuff out!! 🙂

    1. I think, as it stands, it is Mary Shelton who is believed to have contributed and not Margaret. The Oxford DNB has Mary as one of the authors and Mary is named in numerous articles discussing the Devonshire Manuscript. Most recent examples of this are Raymond G. Siemens, ‘Henry VIII as Writer and Lyricist’, Musical Quarterly, 92 (2009) and Elizabeth Mazzola, ‘‘My Euell Hande’: The Shapes of Women’s Letters in Early Modern England’, Literature Compass, 7, 3 (2010). There is also an article – Paul G. Remley, ‘Mary Shelton and Her Tudor Literary Milieu, in Peter C Herman (ed.), Rethinking the Henrician Era (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), pp. 40-77 – and Elizabeth Heale, ‘Women and the courtly love lyric: the Devonshire MS (BL, Additional 17492)’, Modern Language Review, 90 (1995), pp. 296-313 (Heale also wrote the entry for Mary in the Oxford DNB).

  11. I don`t know about the rest of the readers but why do I get this feeling that Anne was surrounded by a group of very, unsympathetic women, who their title as ladies in WAITING! takes on another conotation! and that is , they were all WAITING for Anne to fall!Very odd, indeed.

    1. The five ladies who served Anne in the Tower were appointed specifically to feed back what Anne said to Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower, who then reported back to Cromwell. They were “spies” really. Kingston described these ladies as “honest and good women” but Anne commented that it was “a great unkindness in the King to set such about me as I have never loved”.

    2. Anne — I was chuckling a bit as I read the article because I was sort of thinking the same thing YOU were! You have the opportunists (and some of these ladies seem as ruthless as the men); you have the ones that had always been enemies and who were biding their time; you probably have some who were loyal to Anne but their courage faltered once Thomas Cromwell started his examinations; and you had a couple who remained loyal. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during some of THOSE chit-chats!

  12. Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister was also at court, to serve her sister and accompanied her on her trip to Calais.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think there is a striking resemblance between the portrait of Grace Newport (“Lady Parker”) and Tamzin Merchant, the actress who played Catherine Howard in “The Tudors”?

    1. Here’s an excerpt from one of my articles on Mary Boleyn:-
      “Josephine Wilkinson writes of how, on the 11th October 1532, Mary accompanied Anne and the King to Calais. This was an important visit because Francis I had offered Henry VIII his support for his proposed marriage to Anne Boleyn and Henry was taking Anne as Marquis of Pembroke and his consort. Anne was expecting to be treated like a Queen. The meeting was a success and it is at this point that Anne and Henry finally consummated their relationship.
      At New Year 1533, Mary Boleyn was at court with her sister and is listed as one of the ladies who received New Year’s gifts from the King2 and she gave the King a shirt with a blackwork collar in return, a gift that she had made herself. Wilkinson wonders if Mary was one of the unnamed witnesses who attended Henry and Anne’s secret wedding ceremony on the 25th January 1533. As Anne’s sister and attendant she may well have been part of it and I wonder how she felt seeing her sister marry her former lover. Mary was also present at Anne’s coronation procession, accompanying her mother, Elizabeth Boleyn, in the third coach and wearing a gown of seven yards of scarlet velvet, and at Anne’s coronation ceremony, where she wore a gown of scarlet with an ermine cloak and a bonnet, while she attended on her sister.”

      So, yes, it does appear that Mary one of Anne’s ladies for a short time, Autumn 1532 to summer 1533, but then the next we hear of her is her appearance at court in September 1534. She was clearly pregnant and announced to Anne that she had got married.

      Yes, you’re right about that portrait and Tamzin Merchant, very similar!

  13. Is it just me, or does Lady Rochford bear a striking resemblance to Scarlet Johansen in the “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”?

    Fantastic and informative article!

  14. Thanks for such a great article, Claire and for giving us some insight into the women who were part of Anne’s entourage. Talk about a clash of personalities, and as I mentioned in my comments to member Anne, they were definitely not of like mind and a few seemed as duplicitous as many Tudor men. You usually think of ladies-in-waiting as being dear, close friends of a Queen or Princess, ones who are devoted. loyal, etc. Wow! Not this lot, and that makes them even more fascinating.

    For me though, two of them remain the biggest enigmas. First is Jane Seymour, who I still can’t wrap my brain around because I don’t feel that I’ll ever really know the real woman. That was one reason why I loved your Six Wives articles, Claire. The other is Jane Parker Boleyn. I’m afraid I sometimes feel too old and set in my ways when it comes to her LOL but I still see her as the evil-minded harpy of Keith Michell’s Six Wives of Henry VIII; of course I later learned that THAT actress was way too old to be the real woman. But that’s the Jane Boleyn who has stuck with me all this time. As a history buff and especially a lover of Tudor history, I keep trying and trying to give her a fairer hearing but sometimes it’s hard going 😀 .

  15. Thank you for publishing this piece on Anne Boleyn’s life at court. As she is my 1st cousin 17 x removed this was particularly interesting for me. Her grandmother is my seventeenth great grandmother. It would be nice to find a portrait of Anne Boleyn’s mother though, do you know where there is one, thanks.

  16. I’m confused in regards to Bess Holland. Wasn’t being a laundress a low postion..? So how did she go on to serve a Queen? ;/

  17. For many the picure they have of the Queen and her Ladies is one of friendship; a group of women sharing and caring, sewing together and gossiping and always standing true to one another. Then reality hits and the truth is revealed. How stressful life would have been for the Queen always having to censor herself in case her words would be reported by a Lady and taken out of context. I don’t imagine there was a lot of laughter as many have thought over the years. Instead o a group of close friends, it seems the Queen was surrounded by Ladies she must be leery of and had few true friends by her side and even then to protect themselves, they must have had to abandon her to fate to save themselve and their families. I would imagine in some ways death came as a release for Anne; no longer would she have to live with those who tried to find reasons to end not only her reign, but her life. But then I also imagine she went to her death terribly worried about her daughter and how her ladies would treat her over the years.

    Today if we suspecf someone of being less than a friend, we simply stop associating with them; Anne didn’t have that choice as the Ladies positions were given as rewards so many tims and the King approved of each of them fo various reasons. I do hope she had one friend with whom she could share everything without fear otherwise how lonely she must have been for all of being Queen.

  18. Hello Claire,

    I have a question, When they found the remains of Anne Boleyn, Do they found some remains of her clothes??? I think that would be a good way to know how accurate were the description of what happened the day of her beheading, since it said what she was wearing.

  19. Does anyone know where I could find Master Kingston’s report of her execution? And does it give the names of the ladies who waited on her while she was in the tower?

  20. Thanks a lot for your very interesting blog about Anne Boleyn.

    I have been fond of books about her for long time.

    The latest one I have read is sold on Amazon. The ebook is entitled “Anne Boleyn’s Secret Love at the Court of Francis I”. It is translated from French into English by Alice Warwick from a book written in the XIXth century
    In a few letters written by Anne Boleyn to her convent friend Anne Savage, you will learn about her life as a maid of honour at the court of Francis I. The portrait of young Anne Boleyn is passionate and romantic. I hope you will enjoy the reading.


  21. What about Anne’s women, rather than her ladies? She must have had women lower down in the hierarchy, doing her laundry and so on? Are there any records of who they were?

  22. So many Margarets, Janes, Elizabeths and Mary’s!!! Makes you wonder if the men who wrote history got everyone correct. I had to go over some of these blogs over and over to get it. Fascinating though.

  23. Claire, If anyone can answer my question, I’ll bet it’s you. Did Anne ever have a true, loving, and loyal friend who mourned her passing? I read somewhere, and cannot find the source, Argh, about Anne’s household being broken up BEFORE her trial. It named a lady-in-waiting who did not go on to serve Jane after Anne’s death. I wonder if this was Anne’s true friend? I read a fictional account about Bridget being a neighbor and childhood friend who was with her at her execution. It’s so sad that it was untrue. I can understand why a novelist would want to tell Anne’s story from a friend’s perspective.

  24. Anne had around 22 female attendants. She questioned the king’s decision to send ladies who were not her friends to serve her during her imprisonment. She wanted friends who loved her, not enemies, with her when she knew she was going to die. WHO WERE THOSE TRUE FRIENDS she longed for? Is it true that Nan Saville did not give testimony against Anne? Was Meg Wyatt her friend? Anne was not allowed to replace the hostile ladies assigned to her in the Tower. To Anne’s credit those lady spies came to care for her in the two weeks before her execution. At least they loved her enough to mourn her death. But. . . I still wonder WHO was her best girl friend??? Or did all of her ladies throw her under the bus out of fear for their own heads?

  25. Where’s Margaret Wyatt?
    Later Lady Lee by marrying Sir Anthony Lee of Quarrendon.

    We’re always forgotten.

    And where’s Margaret Packinton, later Margaret Lee by marrying Benet Lee of Bygging, Buckinghamshire.
    She was the mother of Captain Thomas Lee ‘the traitor’.

    Forgotten again.

    1. PS.

      Margy Lee was my 12 x GGM. She was the mother of Sir Henry Lee ( Anne Boleyn’s daughter’s champion knight ).
      My 10 x GGF was Thomas Vavasour/Lee of Wedon, Buckinghamshire. He used the Lee name when he was leasing Wedon manor.

    2. Hi Jim,
      I explained why I missed out Margaret Wyatt in the comments above. I’ve based this article on women who are actually mentioned as serving Anne as ladies-in-waiting in the court records. Here’s what I wrote about Margaret above:

      “There is a tradition that Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee, was the Mistress of the Queen’s Wardrobe while Anne was queen and many people base this on a letter from Thomas Warley to Lady Lisle found in LP x.499:-
      “Thos. Warley to Lady Lisle.
      Has attended at the Court for the kirtle which she has long looked for, and this morning had a token from Mrs. Margery that it should be delivered to him in the Queen’s wardrobe, where upon sight of the token he received it. It is of cloth of gold paned like the paper enclosed. Showed Mr. Blunt one of the sleeves that he might certify you of the same. Went back to the Queen’s chamber to thank Mrs. Margery, but she had gone into the privy chamber, so that he could not speak with her. Will be at Court tomorrow, and send word what she says by the next messenger. Asks what he shall do with the kirtle. Suggests that lady Lisle should write letters of thanks to Mrs. Margery and Geo. Tayllour, and remember those of the Queen’s wardrobe.”
      But, “Mrs Margery” could actually refer to Margery Horsman in this case and that is who the editor of LP thinks is being referred to here.

      There is a tradition that at her execution on the 19th May 1536, Anne Boleyn presented a member of the Wyatt family, thought to have been Lady Margaret Lee (sister of Thomas Wyatt and one of Anne’s ladies), with a prayer book. Unfortunately, this tradition is not backed up by contemporary sources and is not mentioned in the work of Thomas Wyatt’s grandson, George Wyatt, which you would expect it to be.

      Margaret Wyatt was a close friend of Anne Boleyn so would have been one of her ladies, I’m sure.”

  26. Hi, do you know if there was a lady in waiting which was married with a vicar or an catholic priest?? Thank you very much!

  27. Elizabeth Somerset/Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester was my 16th great grandmother and it is remarkable to see that I had a relative as part of the Royal families staff.

    1. She’s my 14th great grandmother! She married my 14th great grandfather Henry Somerset 2nd Earl of Worcester (he first married his 2nd cousin Lady Margaret Courtenay, Baroness Herbert (granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV, cousin to king Henry VIII).

  28. William and Philecia, I am one of the custodians at Raglan Castle and when I am in Tudor costume, my character is Elizabeth, Countess of Worcester’s Mistress of the Robes. I always sing her praises and give a kinder version of the events of 1536 surrounding Elizabeth betraying Queen Anne. I think Elizabeth is a fascinating character and I love the details Claire has written about her. My gut feeling is she is not as guilty as Lancelot de Carles made out, I think there is much more to the story than meets the eye.

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