Did Anne boleyn really have six fingers

Full question: Did Anne boleyn really have six fingers? Wikipedia said she did not but then englishhistory.net said that she did.

Nicholas Sander, a Catholic Recusant who was living in exile during Elizabeth I's rule, was not a fan of Anne Boleyn and sought to discredit her and blacken her name by describing her as having a "projecting tooth under the upper lip", yet also describes her "pretty mouth", a large wen under her chin and six fingers on her right hand. This description must be taken with a large pinch of salt.

However, she may have had some sort of minor imperfection on her hand which gave rise to this myth as George Wyatt, grandson of Thomas Wyatt, sais "there was found indeed, upon the side of her nail upon one of her fingers, some show of a nail".

In my opinion, if there was some defect on her hand it must have been very minor because Henry would not have pursued her for so long and broken with Rome to marry a woman who could pass a defect on to his heir to throne or who had signs of being a witch.


84 thoughts on “Did Anne boleyn really have six fingers”

  1. Kara says:

    I have read up on this and what I have found is she had a small mole that protruded outward, hence her hiding that hand more in portraits. It was not a weird nail or extra finger, just a small mole she had since birth. It didn’t make her ugly, stupid, witchy, or deformed in any way. 🙂

    1. sassuhfrass93 says:

      What’s your source?

      1. Mimi says:

        Why do people call it a wart then if its a mole?

  2. Adriane says:

    With this story you have to consider the source. Like Claire said it was from someone who wanted to discredit Anne. Something very interesting to also consider is that the Tudor period was full of superstitious beliefs. Witches’ marks were commonly believed to include even moles upon the skin. I don’t know about everyone else but the Henry VIII I have studied comes off as a perfectionist and quite particular with his taste in everything. I have also read that he was a superstitious man. So would this picky superstitious man cause the biggest uproar the world had every seen for a woman with the witches’ mark? I’m with Claire on this one. Anne Boleyn had a sixth finger – MYTH

    1. Celitify says:

      Anne Boleyn did not have an extra digit. She had an extra nail on the pinky finger of her right hand. She had moles and these were thought at the time to be devil’s marks. Not ENTIRELY a myth but neither entirely DE-BUNKED. She was never well received by anyone at the time, high born or low.

  3. Linda says:

    Huh? I think she did but not a witch people are lying about her being a witch cuz they just dont like her I mean I am well intressted in her history no ofence ok?

    1. Melissa says:

      While you’re studying history, put a little effort towards spelling.

      1. Melissa says:

        Syntax, punctuation, grammar….

        1. PHil says:

          !! Wot ?

        2. Ken Wilson says:

          Melissa, really….addressing someone down because of grammar errors…wow, I thought this was a page about History and not English…smh..

        3. Brian Costin says:

          I’ve seen many good deed destroyed by people obsessed by spelling rather than content

      2. Claire says:

        Everyone is welcome to comment here and I really don’t want people to worry about grammar, punctuation and spelling. What’s more important here is history, and I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or attacked.

        1. Melissa says:

          I understand your point. My point is that it’s hard to take people seriously when the sentences make little sense and many of the words are misspelled. If it’s important enough to talk about, then it’s important enough to put forward a small effort with standard English. There’s a lot more going on here than typographical errors. I will refrain from making anymore comments.

          With apologies,


        2. Suzanne says:

          Claire, thank you for pointing out that this is a place for exchanging information and learning about a very interesting woman! I am so tired of seeing attacks from arrogant people. Spelling and grammar are important, I agree, but this person may not have had the same opportunities or parental support for a better education. Regardless of her history, everyone has the same right to express their ideas without being rudely criticized.


        3. JLo says:

          Yoiu stick to your NewSpeak dictionary and the rest of us Normal folks will stick to English.

        4. Ken Wilson says:

          Claire, thank you..Jason and Melissa are coming across as mean and nasty, we all make spelling errors, God knows I do all the time and my wife has a Phd in English Education and is constantly badgering me about spelling..lol..:)..but to do so here, by adults is sad,….smh..

        5. Claire says:

          That’s ok. Thanks, Ken!
          There are many people who use this site whose first language is not English and then there are people who are typing on a phone, where it’s easy to make mistakes, and then there are those who just can’t list spelling and grammar as their strong points. At the end of the day, this website is about history and that’s what I care about. I think it’s also up to me to make the rules around here 😉 and I’ve never said that people’s comments should be in perfect English.

        6. Mahlon buckland says:

          Correct! What’s important is history not spelling or grammar etc…

        1. Jason says:

          History is what’s important here, but spelling an grammar are equally important. To be considered educated, one must exhibit a command of simple English grammar rules. If one refuses to do so (or is incapable of doing so), why would–or should–anyone take that person seriously? It discredits their opinion.

          As for Anne, a deformed nail or mole may have been accurate, but a sixth finger would have been recounted by the court historians and surely acknowledged by more than a rumor mill.

        2. Claire says:

          Spelling and grammar are not equally as important on a site that’s about history and that is visited by people from all over the world. Poor English does not discredit someone’s opinion or comment when they are posting in a language that’s not their own or they are a child. I welcome comments from everyone, whatever their background and whatever their level of English, and this is my site so I set the rules. I’d prefer poor English to nasty comments.

    2. Anne Haynes says:

      Interesting spelling Linda!

  4. Georgia says:

    I heard that Anne Boleyn had a sixth finger which she covered up with material that attaches to your dress at posh balls etc. and apparently this is when that bit of material was invented, all because of our good friend Anne!

    1. Steve says:

      Too everyone on this blog, I have a sixth finger on my right hand, I am 62 years old and all through my life I have heard I am related to Anne Boleyn, my great great grandmother also had an extra thumb, I have been told my grandson’s child will also have the extra finger, hopefully I will be around to see it, fact or fiction who really knows ?

      1. Rosemary Proehl says:

        I have read that polydactylism was not unknown in the Stuart line. So far I haven.t been able to verify this possibility. If so, and if Anne Boleyn really did have some indication of an extra digit, were the Howard and Stuart lines connected somewhere way back? An interesting thought. Maybe, Steve, you are a descendant of that line!

  5. Molly Housego says:

    Rubbish about the extra material in the sleeves being invented by Anne to hide her hands. The large cuffed turnback sleeves were already known and continued to grow in size due to fashion from the 1510’s onwards. Check out the National Portrait Gallery (London) 1520’s painting of Catherine of Aragon to see her wearing large turn back cuffs as well. That should bust that particular myth nicely for you!

    1. Claire says:

      The amount of fiction books that mention Anne hiding the finger under her sleeves and Catherine trying to draw attention to it – aaaggghhh!

    2. Deidra says:

      She wasn’t talking about the turn back sleeve. I don’t know that she is correct but she was referring to the fashion in which part of your dress attaches at the glove/hand, similar to a gown. ORRR…I have no clue what I’m typing about! 😀 whichever comes first! Anyone remember the telephone game? I’m sure we’re all way off here!

      1. barbara carmody says:

        Thank you for posting that. I was thinking the same thing that it’s attached to the ground to be a fashion statement

  6. Dharenz age 10 says:

    Guys he has that finger on her thumb I think like Claire said he has long sleeve cuzzz he doesn’t want to show it the finger

  7. Deidra says:


    1. OK Dharenz is aged 10, so perhaps can be forgiven. S/he is to be commended for his/her interest in history. Still, I could compose a clear sentence at age 10.

      1. Jason says:

        That’s because we cared enough to do it. If we don’t expect more from these kids, they aren’t going to deliver…

        1. Suzanne says:

          More arrogant, rude remarks. Does it make you feel better about yourself to throw in that comment, that you could compose a clear sentence at age 10, Sarah? Jason, were you having conversations with people about history in public when you were 10? Rude comments like yours will shut this child down and he/she won’t want to continue out of embarrassment. Think about what you are saying before it comes blathering out of your mouth.

        2. Ken Wilson says:

          Jason, Really?…still on your high horse..get over it my friend, please just be nice for once!

  8. Baroness Von Reis says:

    Thats nonsence she didnot have six fingers ,just more rumors about Anne,and who does’ent , have a mole or two??Henry fell in love with her because she was a stunning,smart women,not because she looked like Nanny McVee.

  9. Cameron1834 says:

    I heard that Anne Boleyn had extra nipple,finger,fingernail and extra breast.
    I saw it in a 100 horrible facts book

    1. Danubian says:

      Sounds horrible and seems to be a nice definition of “fact”…
      Of course she looked like this…
      And Henry said “Look at her: three breasts, eleven fingers – that’s my dream girl! I want her to be my wife, queen and mother of my children. It’s all about personality. AND three boobies.”

      1. Mimico says:

        LOL, that made me laugh and fall of my chair X)
        I think the main question we have to think about is whether or not the Vain Henry would ditch his royal wife, wait 7 years and break with Rome for a disfigured women. OF COURSE NOT. Henry had his pick of beautiful women and he chose Anne. Anne had to be nothing short of absolutely charismatic and stunning for Henry to single her out. And plus a disfigured girl with three breast and 11 fingers would not be sent to the Austrian and French courts to serve the Queens there. Being sent to these courts were for the privileged only and is the Tudor equal of going to live in Hollywood. Disfigured people were hidden away.

        1. Just Lucky says:

          I hate to burst your bubble ladies, but Ann of Cleves, Sybille of Cleves and numerous other lines, including Henry VIII carried the same physical deformity as Richard III. The info is out there, just look at the portraits, not English ones of course, but even their embellished portrait of Ann of Cleves displays a well positioned larger left hand. I have an inch of research on this, it’s true, just look for yourself. Sybilles husband carried it, his brother displays it. I believe Henry figured it out, after 2 wives had 10 miscarriages, or were they?I honestly haven’t done the Boleyn line, yet, but they were all related, so six fingers is possible. Sybille’s portrait displays this. I found Ann Boleyn’s real death mask online. The case is pending with ICE, but I printed the add. She was beautiful. Close to Elizabeth as a young girl, but prettier. I’m dying to show everyone what she really looked like, but I’ll have to wait until it’s legal.

        2. Claire says:

          But there’s no evidence that Anne had a death mask made, no contemporary mention of one. There is also no 6th finger on any of the images of the Cleves girls, so I’m not sure what you mean.

    2. Jason says:

      How exactly does one have ‘ an extra breast?’ An extra nipple, perhaps, but an extra breast? You’re either confused, the author was talking about a cow who happened to be named Anne Boleyn, or that is the worst book ever written.

  10. Alaina says:

    Henry was a very picky man and like everyone he believed in witchcraft so he would ne way marry her if she had 11 fingers and extra nails!!!!! Because Catherinne of Aragon had been queen for so long and was a strong Catholic everyone loved her so when this new girl replaces her and causes a break with Rome theyre not gonna b happy. Of course they would do anything to get her dead! Everyone hated her. It is said that in the late years of her life Henry got bored of her and fell for Seymour so he asked Cromwell (that little devil) to find some proof that she was cheating on him. Anne’s sister was one of Henry’s old mistresses so she was upset he had left her pregnant, guys she wouldn’t then go and sleep with her brother!!!! That would b serious incest! I think she was innocent however yes in her last months she was in a dangerous position and would be got rid of if she didnt have a boy so she might have slept with other men to get one but not her brother! And this whole sleeve thing, I always pull sown my sleeves cos its comfy, I think she is mostly innocent.

  11. Zayna says:

    Yep, Anne Boleyn six fingers … that’s right.

  12. Sarah says:

    MYTH!!. There are no evidence that suggests that she had a sixth finger. You would have though that this would have been metioned during her life time, from many of the people who had seen her. However these claims were made after her death, during the time when it was fashionable to discredit her. As for Nicholas Sanders you have to remember that he was six years old when Anne died. He probably recalled things that he had heard before.

  13. heather wade says:

    It!was a mole I’ve studied the tudors all my life.. it bothers me ppl call ger a witch. She gave birth to the best queen england ever saw until now.. she set so many morals and kept her promises.. its sad what queen ann had to go through.. but because of her peopke had such a wonderful leader.. no one ever thinks of that though.. very sad

    1. susan says:

      where was the wen?

    2. Ralph Sherwin says:

      Heather, Elizabeth I (illegitimate queen and sister-murderer) was certainly the best at staging mock trials and executing Catholics, if that’s what you meant by the “best.” Say what you will about her style or patronizing of the arts; she was a tyrant and a martyr-maker.

      1. Glopanda213 says:

        That was a very biased statement.

  14. stacy says:

    it’s true she had six fingers. I spoke with the Yeomen at London Towers last week, and they confirmed it. In fact, when they dug up the unmarked graves in the private chapel on site, they were able to identify the body of Anne by the 6th finger. They also found the other bodies of Lady Jane Gray and Catherine Howard buried there as well, and all three have since had a proper burial.

    1. TheGoldenCrown says:

      Firstly, yeomen are hardly historians, they will either exaggerate or lie about things to make it appear more interesting. Secondly, when Anne Boleyn was dug up she was NOT identified by a 6th finger. Thirdly, the remains of Catherine Howard have not been found.

  15. Huw says:

    The remains of Catherine Howard HAVE been found. As have the remains of Jane, Viscountess Rochford and George, Viscount Rochford. The remains were discovered during excavation works at the St Peter ad Vincula Chapel within the Tower of London. I did hear a rumour however that the remains were just a cluster of bones and it was really difficult to try and decipher who the remains belonged to but that they contained the bones of a young woman about twenty years old who had died violently. You could argue that the bones have not been conclusively identified as Catherine Howard’s but that strong evidence suggests it’s her.

    1. Claire says:

      I have the full reports from the restoration work and exhumations and unfortunately Catherine Howard’s were not found and it was thought that this was due to her youth (young bones are softer and more cartilaginous and so disintegrate more rapidly) and the use of lime in her interment – lime was found in the place thought to have been her grave. See https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne-boleyns-remains-the-exhumation-of-anne-boleyn/ for my article on the exhumations.

  16. TheGoldenCrown says:

    As much as I’ll like to be able to quote the original Victorian documents, I cannot right now and I’m afraid that you’ll have to make do with this article “https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne-boleyns-remains-the-exhumation-of-anne-boleyn/”

    1. Claire says:

      I have an antique copy of the book – it’s beautiful – but you can get modern reprints of it. It’s called “Notices of the Historic Persons Buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, in the Tower of London: With an Account of the Discovery of the Supposed Remains of Queen Anne Boleyn” and it’s by Doyne C Bell who was reporting on the work for Queen Victoria. He gave all of the details of the restoration work plus details of the examinations of the remains by Dr Mouat and then details of the reinterments. It’s a fascinating read.

  17. jessica says:

    please help me to understand about why she had six fingers i need to do a project on this help me!!!

  18. David says:

    The sixth finger i probably correct. In fact a 6th finger runs in my wifes’ family and she in fact has one. Her family finger is small and protrudes on the outside of her left pinky at the base near where it joins he hand. She had it surgically removed several years ago. My son also has vestiges of one also – our other children do not.

    I have been married to her for 51 years and she only goes to the coven very occasionally.


    1. GeorgiaMW says:

      LOL David, your comment about your wife only visiting the coven very occasionally made me chuckle!!

      I have scars all over my legs (46 in total… scars, not legs…. lol!) – I would be a witch to them as well despite the fact that I was hit by a speeding car as a child! I’m lucky to live in an age where if I don’t give a fig what others think I can wear clothes which display my legs. So I do. I’m not fussed what people think at all! However, if I risked being burnt as a witch I’d hide them!

      So unfair the judgements made against anyone with slightly different bodies.

      Given the amount of inbreeding that went on in those days in the upper classes (cousins marrying cousins while killing other cousins) the gene pool MUST have been limited so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was 100% proven she did have 6 fingers, webbed feet and 3 heads. However, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest and I’m not convinced it’s true for the reasons already stated (Henry would not have chased her for so long or married her if she had anything which would be considered “witchy”).

      Did Anne have a black cat, cauldron and a certain liking for black pointy hats?!

  19. Dawn Vincent says:

    My paternal lineage, Butler, is supposedly related to the mother of Anne Boleyn who was also a Butler. One of my Butler cousins has six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He is perfectly normal in every other way. Actually the extra digits do not appear to be deformed, but he can’t wear gloves and must get extra wide shoes.

  20. Gary says:

    I believe Anne Boleyn to have had a sixth finger on her right hand. I am sure Henry would have overlooked this small fault. I actually have a sixth finger on my right hand it is very small and I thought it was an odd wart until a Surgeon friend saw it and said it was a true finger.
    it is only approx 10mm long and has a nail which is hardly visible. It does not get in the way whatsoever… I am quite honoured to have something in common with Anne Boleyn who I believe was got rid of under false pretence.

  21. ken wilson says:

    hello, I am new to this site, but after reading the attacks from the so called “educated” snobs I wont be back..even attacked a ten year old…that is sad as I commend the 10 year old for even being interested in history…my wife has a Phd in English education…I do not, and when I showed her these posts, she asked if 3rd graders made them as there was a lot of bad spelling, by the attackers…so, spelling police..chill out~!

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Ken,
      I can assure you that the lovely users far outweigh the nasty ones on this site. I welcome everyone, whatever their views and opinions, whatever their level of English.
      Thanks for visiting.

  22. JoyStew77 says:

    I believe the piece of fabric you are referring to was added to dresses to pull on to make their skirts seem fuller. Not sure when it started, but I don’t think it was during the 16th century.

    1. JoyStew77 says:

      Or….for pulling their skirts out of the mud???

      1. JoyStew77 says:

        Also, watch Horrible History clips on you tube. They’re hilarious and informative, and a lot of them are about the Tudors.

        1. JoyStew77 says:

          Oh, I forgot…the “Educated” people aren’t educated at all, and feel inferior to intelligent people, so when someone makes a mistake they crow, because they actually can feel superior for a moment.

  23. Stuart says:

    Felicitations for your site. Very agreable reading. Bravo.

  24. Sam Whyte says:

    Anne did not have a sixth finger, its a myth. Think about it…. Anne has an extra finger and Henry still tears apart England for the “love of his life”? As others here have pointed out, Henry was superstitious and extremely picky and I truly believe that he would not have chased her for seven years, broke up with Rome and got rid of a Queen that everyone loved despite not being English, for someone who was not perfect in his eyes.

    1. Dave Scott says:

      All this talk about Henry not tearing apart the social structure for a less than perfect lady is a bit rich. Sure, he wanted to marry, but he ripped up society to get the church’s cash- not for love!

  25. Tiny says:

    Would all of you stop putting everyone down and stick to the topic at hand which is Ann Boleyn and her fingers. It must make all of you feel superior to correct everyones mistakes. The ones with no education are those that do this and enjoy it.

  26. Melchizedek Bride says:

    I came on this site due to wanting the truth on Anne having 2 thumbs and 8 fingers, for a few reasons.
    As a desendant of King Henry, John, etc, making Mary, Queen of Scotts a distant great cousin, I can trace lineage back to Alexander the Great. That being said, deep study of ancient texts show Fallen Angels mixed with human women – such desendents were Hitites, etc, a famous one being killed by young David, named Goliath. Nimrod is said to be half human hybrid fallen angels and was a huge, mighty man.
    In the context of fallen angels, it is said the reason the American Indians developed the habit to hold up their hands to show whether they were human kind, as the Raphaim had either four or 6 digits ( I can’t recall which). So, the lineage would show that those traits carried, much as the blood disease did – porphyria, which my Aunt had.
    It is my belief, many of us are part fallen angels, and yet when we become born again, our DNA is changed by Yahovah, by the belief in Yeshua ha’Mashiah.
    Though Anne is not directly my line, they all intermarried, and so millions of us are related to “Royals”.

  27. Nobby says:

    @Melchizedek bride
    Please leave the religious mumbo jumbo at church. you don’t see anyone else spouting religious beliefs in here do you… No.. So there was no need for you to do it either.

    You can have a … well most people can have a perfectly decent conversation without having to try and twist it with religion..

    We are looking for FACTS about history, not stories about beliefs in mythical beings..

    Thank you..

  28. Vicki Beattie says:

    The above comments were pretty amusing.

  29. Al says:

    Can someone explain the reference to the sixth finger? Does this imply she had Seven digits? I was brought up to think we have 4 fingers and a thumb.
    Hence the old school joke about how may fingers am I holding.
    KFC finger licking good

    Mr A

  30. James says:

    I find it interesting the parallels of what was accepted and what wasn’t, slight deformity such as moles, extra digits, warts and wine stain birthmarks were all considered work of the devil and yet incestuous behaviour were commonly accepted, and was or is it true that Henry VIII slept not only with Anne’s sister but possibly the mother too! I bet Anne’s father was worried he was next on the list!! Lol

    1. Michelle says:

      Having read all the comments I commend you. You brought up a vivid image of a nervous, middle aged man sweating and shaking a bit as he mutters correct responses to conversation with Henry, all the while worried about his “honor”.

      Would a man have a right to be angry if the King slept with his wife and two daughters? Publicly angry, I mean.

      This is a great website.

    2. Maria French says:

      Don’t forget that Katherine Howard was Anne cousin

  31. Grace says:

    Wow! I love history and have never heard of this lady. Very interesting article!

    1. Claire says:

      Anne Boleyn is a fascinating lady. I hope you enjoy reading about her here.

  32. Samantha says:

    SIX FINGERS?????!!!!!!
    3 on each hand?

  33. Cassandra Morrison says:

    Yes. She was a Taltos

  34. Harry says:

    The extra thumb was actually a wart, I saw that on Horrible Histories.

  35. Alastair Campbell says:

    Only recently came across a novel by C, C, Humphreys 1988 The French Executioner, in which Jean Rombard meets and talks with Anne prior to doing his job. She asks him to remove her right hand, and bury it in her fave place in the Loire,The author keeps with the false 6 fingers otherwise he would not have had a plot to fly with. Jean gathers around him a motley group of heroes, much like a Tolkien adventure as they try to recover the stolen hand, which is in a sense alive. Author thanks whoever it is or was who places white roses on Anne’s tomb each 19 May, chapel of St. Peter Vincula, at the T of London. The meeting of Rombard and Anne PP 13-24 is riveting, even for fiction..

  36. Catherine Prillo says:

    I have traced my family back through the ages; mostly because if our family name of The House of Lancaster and the ‘sixth,finger’,anomaly.
    We share the hccup.
    I am pretty sure that I am related.
    How many other people can say that two of their aunties were born with six fingers (verstigual; cut off at birth) with the name of Lancaster.?
    It’s why Anne always wore a glove on her right hand.

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