Did Anne Boleyn Have a Stepmother?

Posted By on June 20, 2013

Agnes Strickland, the Victorian author who started the myth

Agnes Strickland, the Victorian author who started the myth

I’m writing this article to banish the myth that Anne Boleyn had a stepmother because, for some reason, I have received three emails in the past two weeks all asking me about Elizabeth Boleyn’s apparent death in 1512. All three emails referred to novels which give Anne a stepmother, for example Jean Plaidy’s “Lady in the Tower” which has Elizabeth Boleyn dying before Anne goes to France and Anne talking affectionately of her stepmother.

“But those are novels!”, I hear you say, BUT this myth actually has its roots in history books. Agnes Strickland, the Victorian author, seems to have been the first to write about Anne having a stepmother. In “Lives of the Queens of England”, Strickland writes:

“The first misfortune that befel Anne was the loss of her mother, Lady Boleyn, who died in the year 1512, of puerperal fever… Sir Thomas Boleyn married again; at what period of his life we have no record, but it is certain that Anne’s step-mother was a Norfolk woman of humble origin.”1

This “fact” is repeated in Hester W. Chapman’s 1974 biography of Anne Boleyn,2 so it is likely that Chapman used Strickland as her source and novelists have then used Strickland or Chapman. Joanna Denny3 also writes that “it is said that Thomas remarried, giving hi children a stepmother, a new Lady Boleyn”, although she does comment that there are “conflicting dates” given for Elizabeth’s date of death.  Strickland cites her sources for Elizabeth’s death in 1512 and Thomas Boleyn’s second marriage as “Thoms Traditions, Camden Society” and “Howard memorials by Mr Howard of Corby”, so I looked them up and found “Annecdotes and Traditions illustrative of Early English History and Literature” edited by William J. Thoms on Google Books. In that book, I found Strickland’s reference, which is a note by Thoms on an anecdote told by Sir Nicholas L’Estrange about Elizabeth I. L’Estrange’s anecdote is:

“One begg’d of Queene Elizabeth, and pretended kindred and alliance, but there was no such relation. “Friend,” says she, “grant it be so, do’st thinke I am bound to keepe all my kindred? Why that’s the way to make me a beggar.” L’Estranye, No. 124. Mr. Derham.”4

Thoms notes “Queen Elizabeth had numerous maternal relations, and many of them among the inferior gentry particularly in Norfolk, an inconvenience which arose from her father having selected for his second consort a subject of no very elevated extraction, whilst the blood of the Boleynes was widely diffused by the intermarriages of numerous junior branches.”5

As Philip Sergeant points out in his “The Life of Anne Boleyn”,6 Strickland seems to have misread Thoms’ note. He is talking about Queen Elizabeth’s father’s second marriage, i.e. Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, NOT Thomas Boleyn’s second marriage.

I was unable to obtain a copy of “Indication of Memorials, Monuments, Paintings and Engravings of Persons of the Howard Family” by Henry Howard but Philip Sergeant discusses the record on Elizabeth Boleyn in his book.7 In this privately printed memorial of the Howard family, Howard apparently records Elizabeth Howard, wife of Thomas Boleyn, as dying of puerperal fever on 14th December 1512 and being buried at Lambeth. Sergeant searched for a funeral certificate but was unable to find one but notes that J. Nichols’s “History of the Parish of Lambeth” (1786) stated that there used to be a brass plate at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth, which is now a garden museum, which was inscribed “Here lyeth the Lady Elizabeth Howard, some time Countess of Wiltshire”. I’ve got a copy of this book, which is actually published by Nichols but written by Thomas Allen, and I cannot find any mention of Elizabeth’s brass. I did, however, find mention of the brass plate in John Aubrey’s “The Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey”.8 No date of death was mentioned but we know for certain that Lady Wiltshire, Thomas Boleyn’s wife, was buried in the Howard aisle of St Mary’s Church, Lambeth on 7th April 1538 from a letter written by John Hussey to Lady Lisle on 9th April 1538:

“My lady Wiltshire was buried at Lamehithe on the 7th… She was conveyed from a house beside Baynard’s Castle by barge to Lambeth with torches burning and four baneys (banners?) set out of all quarters of the barge, which was covered with black and a white cross.”9

This Lady Wiltshire must have been a Howard woman to be interred with other Howard women in the Howard aisle of the church, rather than being some other “Norfolk woman of humble origin”. She must surely have been Elizabeth Boleyn (nee Howard).

So why the confusion?

Sergeant couldn’t understand the confusion and could not find another Elizabeth Howard who died in 1512, but there is a Howard woman who died in December 1512 and she was Elizabeth’s sister. Muriel Howard, wife of Sir Thomas Knyvett, died in childbirth or shortly after childbirth in December 1512 and was buried at Lambeth. Her will was proved on 12 January 1513.10 11 12 She must be the Howard woman that Henry Howard was referring to in his memorials on the family; the sisters have been confused.

Unfortunately, once a “fact” is written in a book, or these days in a blog post or online somewhere, it quickly spreads. Elizabeth Boleyn’s mythical early death is in many novels, so people will continue to believe that Anne Boleyn had a stepmother. But, the mother who chaperoned Anne while Henry VIII courted her and the mother whose health Anne was so worried about when Anne was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower was her real biological mother, she was Elizabeth Howard.

St Mary's Lambeth

St Mary’s Church, Lambeth (now The Garden Museum) – resting place of Elizabeth Boleyn

Notes and Sources

  1. Strickland, Agnes (1864) Lives of the Queens of England: Volume II, p178
  2. Chapman, Hester W. (1974) Anne Boleyn, p19
  3. Denny, Joanna (2004) Anne Boleyn, p29
  4. ed. Thoms, William J. (1839) Annecdotes and Traditions illustrative of Early English History and Literature, p16
  5. Ibid.
  6. Sergeant, Philip W. The Life of Anne Boleyn, Appendix C
  7. Ibid.
  8. Aubrey, John. The Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey: Begun in the Year 1673, Vol V
  9. LP xiii part 1 717
  10. Gunn, S. J. ‘Knyvet, Sir Thomas (c.1485–1512)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  11. “Muriel Howard” at http://histfam.familysearch.org/getperson.php?personID=I17044&tree=Nixon
  12. Kate Emerson’s A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

46 thoughts on “Did Anne Boleyn Have a Stepmother?”

  1. Elizabeth Smith says:

    Norah Lofts in her novel “The Concubine” also refers to a stepmother who the Boleyn children call “Lady Bo”.

  2. Marco says:

    Glad to see someone is prepared to take on these idiots who keep trying to rewrite history based on very little evidence in order to sell their spurious novels. Keep it up!

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Marco,
      Thank you for your kind words of support. The novelists aren’t making it up, though, they are basing their work on history books and it’s down to Agnes Strickland’s mistake. She wasn’t trying to rewrite history and her volumes on the queens are amazingly detailed and must have taken many years, even decades, of research in a time when sources would have been hard to find. I do admire Strickland, I just think it’s a shame that the mistake has become such an entrenched myth.

  3. Ella says:

    Thank you! I just finished reading Jean Plaidy’s Lady in the Tower and it was little inaccuracies like that that kept me from giving it a 5 star review.

    1. Janice says:

      Hi Ella,
      I am in the process of reading “Lady in the Tower” and I had to go back and reread that part a few times because I thought I was reading it wrong.. But as I progressed in the book Anne talks of her stepmother, so I knew I read it correctly… I am enjoying the book though.. I do love Jean Plaidy……

  4. lilangel says:

    I have that book too, not a bad book. But I couldn’t believe it when I saw that part, I thought Anne’s Mom was still alive then. It’s always nice to do better research. So does anybody know which books are the best to use when you are doing reseach and which ones to avoid?

    1. Claire says:

      I think we have to take into account that Jean Plaidy wrote the book back in 1986 before works like that of Eric Ives were published. Plaidy definitely did her homework and she probably read Chapman and Strickland, it’s just unfortunate that Strickland made a mistake.

      The best biography of Anne Boleyn is Eric Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”. It covers absolutely everything and is fully referenced so you can check his sources.

      1. Not much to say really except Strickland is well know for her mistakes and as you say – they became historical FACT.
        Reading Eric Ives Anne Boleyn just now- the definitive book on AB- very interesting and up to date research, probably just me but I found it slightly heavy going in parts.

        1. Dee says:

          I found Eric Ives book a bit heavy going too…but I guess that is what you get for absolute historical accuracy as opposed to a lot of authors who have just ‘borrowed’ from others and subsequently produced a mire of mis-information.

        2. Claire says:

          Eric Ives’ book is definitely more of an academic read and I find that you can also keep dipping into it because of the way it is laid out, in sections rather than a normal flowing biography.

  5. C Ferry says:

    Good article and comments! Makes me think of one of my pet peeves. Although this error was published in a history book, I think of all the people who believe everything in novels, TV shows, and movies is true or real. I remember growing up hearing, “It’s just a TV show”, or “It’s just a movie”, to remind us it wasn’t real. Now it seems there are no such reminders!
    Before I became a retired RN, I remember having a friendly ‘argument’ with my best friend over the “exciting” life I led and how envious she was. As much as I tried to convince her that my life was not like the TV medical shows (“it’s not like that in real life!!”), she wouldn’t believe me. It’s a little scary.

    1. I so agree with you – my pet hate being the recent TV series The Tudors. Unbelievably wrong and wrong and wrong. The costumes , head dresses (laughable) Catherine of Aragon dark and Spanish-looking when she was almost blonde and worst of all Henry a wee dark Spanish-looking man (JRM) who REFUSED to wear the fat suit or get old (too conceited) That was the worst casting I have ever seen. This is all apart from the historical inaccuracies and I am shocked at the number of people who think that was the way it really WAS.

      1. gwyneth says:

        the tudors was a dreadful program. the actor for henry viii totally misplaced and just laughable.

      2. uthe says:

        Hated the tudors, So much was SO wrong. Horrible!

  6. Melanie says:

    St. Mary’s is worth a visit, especially for its garden, a green haven in the midst of busy Lambeth: http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk

    1. gwyneth says:

      must say was truly shocked when visiting st.mary at Lambeth to find it housed a café. the baptism place of the family. was more interested in john tradescant who is buried there. powhatan gave him a ceremonial cloak which is in the ashmolean at oxford. a small area of parking in the front.

      1. Dawn 1st says:

        It is such a shame Gwyneth, when a place loses its past history, especially since it was the site of burial of such notable people as the Howards.
        But the one saving graces of it becoming a Garden Museum is that it was saved from demolition in the 1970’s, now that would have been a greater shame as there would have been nothing left to see at all.
        From what I have heard the museum doesn’t seem to make a big thing out of the famous people that were laid to rest there which is surprizing, I would have thought it would have encouraged more customers.

        John Tradescant the Elder, was a great gardener and plant finder in Elizabeth I reign, and gardened for Robert Cecil, he originally worked at Hatfield House, where both Elizabeth and Mary stayed when young, so there is a little connection with the Tudors, so maybe its not too bad after all.
        Both he and John Tradecant the Younger went on to do great things in this field, all connected with royalty, very interesting men. You can tell my other passion is Horticulture can’t you.. 🙂

        I really would love to visit St. Mary’s, two of my fav things in one place. Although it seems there are no longer any evidence of the tombs/grave markers, I think you can still pay your respects and remember its history while having a cuppa and enjoying the museum, if that doesn’t sound too bad, better by far than it all being pulled down.

        1. I have photos of several gravesites at St. Mary’s Including Captain Bligh’s, his wife and children and I would be happy to share with you. It was such a lovely and peaceful garden and I too am appreciative that it is preserved and was not demolished.

  7. Sonetka says:

    Agnes Strickland had such a huge influence on earlier novelists (and the later ones who all read the earlier ones) that it’s easy to see how people become confused. If you don’t mind self-linkage, I wrote a post about Anne’s supposed stepmother a few months ago, and you can see the trail from Strickland to at least fifteen and probably more novels (the latest one I’ve seen so far came out in 1998!)


    One thing that really confuses me about Lofts’ novel is that she’s obviously read Philip Sergeant — several of her chapter epigraphs are from his biography of Anne where he disproved the existence of a stepmother. So I have no idea what Lady Bo is doing there, unless perhaps she’d had the book mostly done when she found Sergeant and liked the character so much she decided to leave things as they were.

    1. Claire says:

      Thanks for sharing your post and it’s interesting how many novels give Anne a stepmother. I checked Norah Lofts’ non-fiction book on Anne Boleyn and she has Elizabeth attending Anne and Henry’s secret marriage ceremony in January 1533 and on p11 she talks about how evidence points to the stepmother story being a myth, so perhaps she just thought the stepmother story suited the novel or she changed her mind between 1963 when she wrote the novel and 1979 when the biography came out.

      1. Sonetka says:

        That’s very likely. I will say that I loved the character in that novel even though she didn’t exist — she helped make Thomas Boleyn three-dimensional and interesting (if not always appealing), which is more than you can say about most of the portrayals of him. That post isn’t quite up-to-date — I’ve found more fictional stepmothers since — but it gives you a good idea of what’s out there.

        1. Rowan says:

          I finished reading The Concubine yesterday, and I agree about Lady Bo: she did indeed help make Thomas Boleyn a more fully fleshed-out and interesting character.

  8. Elise says:

    Thank you very much for clearing up the confusion. I have read a few novels mentioning a stepmother and was always confused at that, since other books both fiction and nonfiction talked about her biological mother. Now I am no longer confused and can enjoy the readings once again.

  9. Monica says:

    I am curious. If Thomas had remarried after Elizabeths “death” , being noblity, wouldn’t the marraige most definately been officially recorded by the royal chronicalor? especially sense the new wife would be lnown as “Lady Boleyn” from that point and there is no record of any other ladies with that title listed. Please advise if I am incorrect

  10. BanditQueen says:

    I must admit I had it fixed in my mind until recently that Anne had lost her mother early in life and Thomas Boleyn was shown as a bachalor in the Tudors (which I know is nonsnse) but I had not even come to the conclusion that she had a stepmother. It was normal for a widower to remarry as most men where so useless at raising children: it was seen as the sacred job of the mother to nurse, raise, nurture, protect and teach children what they needed to know to grow up as worthy citizans and Godly people. Had Elizabeth Howard died in 1512 then I think it would have been public knowledge and made a thing off by all historians and sources: she was after all the sister of the Duke of Norfolk.

    I do not doubt that Elizabeth Howard was of importance in the life of Queen Anne and although she is not much mentioned; I feel that there is enough circumstantial evidence that points to Anne having a living mother at the time of her coronation and wedding, and although it is not evidence, several films also show her with both parents alive: so others doubt Strickland and Chapman as well. I wish to know the full reference for the letter to Lady Lisle about the burial and the date of the letter as I do not understand the letters in the reference no 9.

    There seems to be little evidence to support either proposition but if Anne had a stepmother then why do we not know who she was? I am afraid that I am very much of the old school and need evidence for any theory to stand up. I do not have any reason to doubt Strickland either and she must have had some reference and sources to go on. It is not wise to take novels but Jean Plaidy is a respected author and she did a lot of research on her subjects. Again her argument is persuasive for the death of Anne’s mother. Denny and later authors obviously accept that Elizabeth Howard remained the wife of Thomas Boleyn and that she died in 1538.

    I suppose there could have been a second Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Whiltshire but it is not very likely. I assume that Thomas Boleyn held the office until he died and that it was not passed on to anyone else: because his male heirs were dead. I do not recall Henry VIII making anyone else Earl of Whiltshire and so that rules out a latter marriage and any confusion. There are off course more Lady Boleyn’s and one could have been her stepmother, just that she did not use her husband’s title for some reason. However, the only Lady Boleyn’s that we know are Elizabeth herself, the aunts of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn’s wife, Jane: but she is more known as Lady Rochford her husband’s title. I forget, I over analyse.

    Finally, a very interesting piece of literature and information. If the Lisle letter is genuine then I would say that with the memorial stone and record this shows that Elizabeth Howaed, Countess of Whiltshire and wife of Sir Thomas Boleyn, was still the mother of Anne Boleyn until her death in 1538. As I said until recently I had also accepted Anne had a stepmother as it was shown in novels that her mother had died and as a fan of Strickland, I had no reason to doubt it. I have not even given it much thought for many years: but some recent histories and portrayals showing Elizabeth into her adulthood made me change my mind. In fact I was not even aware it was still subject of debate: good to see that it is: but I too accept that Elizabeth died in 1538 and was with Anne for most of her important events in her life. She may have witnessed her wedding and coronation.

  11. Danielle says:

    From the research I have done, I heard her mother was one of her ladies while she was queen and was there for Elizabeth being born. I always thought she died a few years before Thomas did.

  12. Shoshana says:

    Claire, you did a wonderful job of researching how one error made by a well meaning historian can morph into many people believing it is an accurate fact. I am sure Strickland would have made a correction had she discovered the truth and had the means to re-publish or at the least make a statement in the newspapers about it. But she did not and the myth grew into fact. Shame on any writer – fiction or non-fiction – who does not verify facts taken from a respected historical book written over 100 years ago. It would seem to go without saying that a source book that old would need to be verified again considering the amount of time that has passed and new resources discovered – and the number of resources found just on the Internet! And all this supports your own work; you are doing a marvelous job weeding fact from fiction and getting it out to the public. I predict that someday we will speak of you as you speak of Eric Ives – a historian who digs as deep as possible to get to the truth and to dispel myth and rumor.

    If I ever get to Spain, I hope you will let me buy you lunch so I can pick your brain to my hearts content!

  13. Denise Hansen says:

    Anne was given a stepmother named Jocunda in the classic “Brief Gaudy Hour”. Great detective word Claire!

    1. Claire says:

      Interesting! Is Brief Gaudy Hour good, Denise? I’ve never got round to reading it.

  14. maritzal says:

    Its very hard to believe what’s true or not because even being written by authors who say its true even them you can’t believe because when you research online you tell yourself okay its says its fact based you tend to believe but unfortunately mistakes happen and we end up believing thanks Claire for clearing that myth kind regards maritzal

  15. Marilyn R says:

    I admire the vast amount of research Agnes Strickland (and her sister) did at a time when documents were only just being collated and recorded, and do feel that she should be respected for bringing easily digestible history books within the reach of the ordinary person. However, it cannot be denied that she was rather ‘creative’ in many cases and created misconceptions, many of which are unfortunately still with us.

    What is also a problem is that several of her contemporary serious historians – and these were not novelists – simply took what she said at face value, and thus a false body of supposed true knowledge became established. Even today, research on Katherine Howard is an absolute minefield, with people who should know better perpetuating the myths that stem from Strickland and others. As Claire has found so ably with Anne Boleyn, when you start digging it can be mind-boggling to discover what rubbish is out there – and who is still churning it out!

  16. Denise Hansen says:

    Hi loved “Brief Gaudy Hour” Claire, It was my first introduction to Anne. Here is my review of the book from amazon.com .

    21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work of historical fiction, June 18, 2005
    By Denise H. (Canada)
    This review is from: Brief Gaudy Hour (Hardcover)
    “Brief Gaudy Hour” will always remain by far my favourite tale of Anne Boleyn. Indeed, there are some historical inaccuracies as it was first published in 1949 before the advent of several definitive Boleyn biographies, but the author has an engaging style and a keen eye for rich period detail. I first devoured this rather surprisingly sexy book over 30 years ago and I can still recite some of its more dramatic sentences. It is a must-read for Anne fans. I am perhaps most impressed by the book’s restrained ending. Margaret Campbell Barnes does not over extend the story but simply ends it with the exact minute of Anne’s death – “And in that moment, mercifully, the French executioner swung his sharp sword and struck.” Wonderful stuff. The author’s sympathy for Anne and for many of those who surrounded her “verily” shines through. The book launched me on a life time journey into Tudor history and I will never forget the awe I felt when tracing the entwinned H&A hidden in a stone archway in Hampton Court.

  17. Dawn 1st says:

    The very first book I read on Anne as a young teen, many, many centuries ago 🙂 ,
    titled ‘Anne Boleyn’ (1972), previously gone under the title as ‘The May Queen’ (1967)by Margaret Heys, also has the Boleyn’s as having a step-mother, quote;

    ‘my Lady (Boleyn) was Sir Thomas’s second wife (his first wife dying soon after Anne’s birth….. ‘

    Apparently she was young and beautiful, much loved by the 3 Boleyn children, and she lavished upon them all the affection that their own mother would have done if she had lived….wonder who she was?

    I can’t remember if there are any clues to who and where this Step-Mother came from further into the book, as this was written on page 15, and I don’t think I have re-read the book since, I might have to now to see.

    Anyway Claire/folks it seem there are more out there than we thought, will have to check some of my other ‘old’ books out that haven’t yet been mentioned, to look for this imaginary Step-Mum.

  18. gwyneth says:

    hi dawn 1st. thank you for reply. information very interesting. as far as can remember a small garden at the back of the building.

    in one of the harmar archives there was mention of a stepmother and came to the conclusion it was the grandmother. perhaps in the Elizabethan there was no such word.

    love gwyneth

    1. Dawn 1st says:

      You’re welcome Gwyneth, I think the small garden is where the grave yard used to be, not 100% sure on that though. Both John Tradescant’s (father and son) where buried there too.

  19. Barbara Vanderhoff says:

    YEARS AGO, I READ “historical” biography on Elizabeth Howard Boleyn,herself
    But am unable to recall author &/or title for sure..(possibly “Blood Royal”??)

  20. gwyneth says:

    their lives and morals were so different from the present day with mary Boleyn having her first child at age 13 years and wondered what her husband thought about her having children with henry viii or perhaps he did not know. as for poor ann a lamb led to the slaughter due to the ambititious boleyns. contacting Arundel castle there appears to be no portrait of their mother Elizabeth.

    another harmar Isabel of siddington Langley and her sister wards of Thomas duke of Lancaster sold into marriage age 12 for her dowry. a mallorie boy aged 12 married a 26 year old woman and worst of all one of the writer’s ancestor’s the mother has a son by her own son to keep the title, lands and money in the family. needless to say not passed down.

    1. Jeanette says:

      Hi Gwyneth and Claire – Interesting discussion going on here ! Thanks for the article. Regarding the fascinating mixes of family heritage and inbreeding amongst noble families and the monarchy of England, I have read some speculative articles which have suggested that Anne Boleyn was in fact Henry VIII’s own daughter AS WELL AS his wife. At one point in time a few years ago, it was a consideration that this was a possible medical reason explaining why Anne had lost all of her male fetuses to Henry because of the inbreeding. Apparently Henry had sexual relations with Elizabeth Boleyn (Anne’s birth mother) – this has been suggested in at least one book I have read about Henry VIII and was also visited in the movie “Anne Of The Thousand Days” – where it is revealed that Henry had sexual relations with Elizabeth Boleyn and both of her daughters Mary and Anne – Mary of course bore Henry at least two children – and in the movie, Thomas Boleyn asks Henry to consider the fact that in the case of all of the Boleyn women in his family, he has “drunk the trough dry” using them as sexual puppets. Just something of interest to me I wanted to throw into the discussion ! Cheers from Australia 🙂

      1. Claire says:

        Hi Jeanette,
        See my article https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/was-anne-boleyn-henry-viiis-daughter/ for a discussion on this. I believe that this myth (and I do believe it is a myth) is down to a confusion between Elizabeth Boleyn and Elizabeth Blount, Boleyn and Blount sounding quite similar. Henry was already paranoid about his marriage to Catherine of Aragon being incestuous and there is no way, in my opinion, that he would have married a woman that could have been his daughter. He also denied having an affair with Elizabeth, saying, “Never with the mother.”
        Also, there is no evidence that Mary’s children were fathered by Henry VIII (see https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/mary-boleyn-part-two-the-kings-children/) and there is only evidence of Anne losing one male baby (see https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/the-pregnancies-of-anne-boleyn-and-catherine-of-aragon/). Unfortunately, fiction has propagated lots of myths and theories that there is no evidence for.
        Thank you for commenting and welcome to the AB Files!

  21. Great article, I’ve noticed when I first read Plaidy too and Agnes Strickland, also Norah Lofts who wrote a historical ficiton like Plaidy on Anne -The Concubine, has Anne losing her mother early and her father remarrying to a woman they nickname “Lady Bo”.
    I’ve enjoyed the historical fictions of Plaidy and Lofts, the latter on her book on Anne is the best fiction on Anne so far, but yeah you can’t take fiction seriously but nowadays a lot of people seem to.

  22. Linda Saether says:

    I saw a late entry in the Lisle Letters a while ago concerning Lady Elizabeth Boleyn. It was in regard to asking her a question about the validity of someone’s lineage, as if she would have been an expert, certainly not a question for a humble Norfolk woman. Plus, would Thomas Boleyn have married a woman of humble origins? I think not!

  23. Dee says:

    I’m pretty sure Margaret Campbell Barnes novel, Brief Gaudy Hour, about Anne depicts a ‘step-mother’ (Jocasta?), it was a long time ago I read it, and don’t have a copy or would check, but certainly remember reading novels that state this as if fact.
    Of course the other scurrious subject that comes up about Lady Elizabeth Howard, Anne’s Mother, is that she was the mistress of Henry VIII first, and that Anne was his daughter !!!!!
    Read that one in loads of places !!!
    As an aside…does anyone else think there is a strange coincidence about the fact that both the ‘Howard’ wives are the ones who lost their heads?

  24. mary says:

    still do not understand why all the interest with sir thomasw Boleyn remarrying and anne recorded as having a stepmother. would have thought him to have been too upset at what happened to his family. it is recorded that Thomas West baron de la warre would not have anything to do with the circumstances surrounding anne.

  25. gwyneth says:

    re agnes Strickland. giving the woman the benefit of doubt discovered that sir Thomas Boleyn had a son named henry. mother unknown. if sir Thomas did marry again there may have been a child. much researching would be required to find the death of the new wife and/or any birth.

    1. Claire says:

      Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn had five children that we know about: Mary, Anne, George, Thomas and Henry. Thomas and Henry both died in infancy and are buried at Penshurst Church and Hever Church respectively. There is no hint of them being illegitimate or being mother unknown and their brass cross memorials were made by a workshop which produced this type of memorial crosses between 1500-1530/35, so when Elizabeth Boleyn was alive and married to Thomas.

  26. carrie king says:

    I too believed that when I first started studying this fascinating woman. I learned not long later it wasn’t true. I hope they’re not teaching it at colleges.

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