July 23 – Mary Boleyn’s son, Henry Carey, dies

Posted By on July 23, 2022

On this day in Tudor history, 23rd July 1596, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, son of the late Mary Boleyn, died at Somerset House in London.

Hunsdon and his sister, Catherine, were close to their cousin, Elizabeth I, and he had served her as a privy councillor and Lord Chamberlain.

Find out more about Henry Carey’s background and his rise to prominence at Elizabeth I’s court, as well as details on his burial and tomb, in the video (or transcript) below…

You can find a photo of his tomb at www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/henry-carey

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, 23rd July 1596, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, Privy Councillor and Lord Chamberlain, died at Somerset House in London.

Hundson was the second child and only son of Mary Boleyn, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, and was born on 4th March 1526 during Mary’s marriage to her first husband, William Carey. Some historians and authors argue that Mary’s children were fathered by King Henry VIII as the king and Mary had a sexual relationship at one point, but we know nothing about their affair, how long it lasted or when it happened. It may even had been a one-night stand.

In 1528, following the death of William Carey from sweating sickness, Anne Boleyn was granted the wardship of her nephew, two-year-old Henry, to alleviate her sister Mary’s financial suffering. Anne ensured that little Henry received a top notch education under the famous French poet and scholar, Nicholas Bourbon. This education helped Henry become an important and influential courtier.

In 1547, Henry became a Member of Parliament, and when his cousin, Elizabeth, came to the throne in November 1558 as Queen Elizabeth I, he was knighted. He was one of Elizabeth I’s favourites, and his offices and titles included: 1st Baron Hunsdon, Master of the Queen’s Hawks, Knight of the Garter, Lieutenant General, Warden of the East Marches, Keeper of Somerset House, Privy Counsellor, Captain General, Lord Chamberlain of the Household, Lord Chamberlain Lieutenant, Principal Captain and Governor of the Army, Chief Justice in Eyre, High Steward of Ipswich and Doncaster, Chief Justice of the Royal Forces and High Steward of Oxford.

He died on this day in 1596, at the age of 70. It is said that on his deathbed, his cousin the queen offered to give him the title Earl of Wiltshire, a title once held by his grandfather, Thomas Boleyn, but Henry refused the offer, saying “Madam, as you did not count me worthy of this honour in life, then I shall account myself not worthy of it in death.”

Henry was buried at Westminster Abbey on 12th August 1596 in St John the Baptist’s Chapel at Queen Elizabeth’s expense. His lavish tomb, erected by his widow, Anne, Lady Hunsdon, is the tallest in the abbey, measuring thirty-six feet (nearly 11m) in height. Westminster Abbey website gives the following description of it:
“It is made of alabaster and marble with a considerable display of heraldry, which includes the Carey arms – argent, on a bend sable three roses of the field (i.e. a silver shield with a black bar diagonally across it from top left to bottom right with three silver roses on it). His crest is a swan and his motto “Comme je trouve” (as I find it).”

You can find out more about Hunsdon’s mother, Mary Boleyn, in our Mary Boleyn category of posts or in the playlist below:

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