Did Henry VIII father Mary Boleyn’s two children?

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93 thoughts on “Did Henry VIII father Mary Boleyn’s two children?”

  1. Emma says:

    I personally don’t think that either of Mary’s children were Henry’s. I find it unlikely that Henry would have allowed Mary to marry whilst she was still his mistress. If he had gotten her pregnant she would have likely like Lady Blount had the child and then been married off. The King would not have missed a chance to show he could produce healthy children and since the birth of Mary’s first child was 1524 two years before he became intrested in Anne there was no reason to hide it if the child was his.

    1. Carolyn Lamuniere says:

      Mary was married to william Carey before she had the affair with henry VIII.

      1. Claire says:

        There’s no evidence as to when she slept with Henry, unfortunately, only that they slept together on at least one occasion.

  2. valerietong says:

    I love the Tudor period,and have read many books.But regarding the children of Mary Boleyn.I don’t think Mary Boleyn knew herself who the father to her two children were.They could have been sired by the king Henry the eight,or equally by her husband William Carey.So it all remains a mystery.

  3. Betty says:

    It would have been dumb for Elizabeth to admit the Carey children were her half brother and sister as Elizabeth herself had been declared illegitimate and these two were older than her. Especially Henry Carey could have been used as a pawn to try to overthrow Elizabeth as he was a male. Even katheryn could have been used as she could be considered ahead of Elizabeth in line for the throne.

    1. Kerry Brewer says:

      I never understood why Elizabeth was considered illegitimate in the first place, Anne was legally married to the king when Elizabeth was conceived. and just because King Henry had parted with the catholic church didn’t make their marriage any less legitimate!

      1. Julia Li says:

        Elizabeth was only really considered illegitimate by the Catholic supporters of Katherine of Aragon. Her right to succession depended on the legitimacy of the King’s divorce from his first wife Katherine, which had been refused by Rome and was only granted only by the authority of the newly formed Church of England. Though the new Church had benefitted from the growing influence of the Protestant Church in Europe at that time, the Catholics refused to acknowledge its sanctity and authority. According to Rome, any offspring born while Henry was still married to Katherine would be illegitimate and not in line for the British throne.

        1. Paul Marat says:

          Henry himself declared Elizabeth illegitimate after he had Anne Boleyn beheaded just as he had Mary declared illegitimate when he “divorced” her mother, the true Queen, Katherine.

  4. Claire says:

    Thanks for the comment, Betty! Yes, I agree, much better for Elizabeth to let sleeping dogs lie and the Carey children never claimed that they were Henry’s so she never had that challenge to her throne.

  5. jane says:

    My family traces back to Henry Carey, so although we will never know for sure, I like to think that he was the son of Mary and Henry the 8th!

    1. Harley says:

      My family traces back to Catherine Carey and I sure would like to know.
      Wow Jane! You are my cousin!

      1. Aurelia says:

        I’m descended from Henry Carey so I guess I must have some cousins out there too.
        I certainly think that King Henry was the father of Mary’s children. Why is Henry Carey buried in Westminster Abbey beside Elizabeth I, unless they were half brother sister??

        1. Sharon Ellis says:

          Hello, Cousin!

      2. Sharon Ellis says:

        Hello, Cousin!

      3. Sharon Ellis says:

        @ Harley, Jane and Aurelia,

        Attempting to reply to your posts, but my comment is being stuck under the wrong notes!

        I descend through Catherine Carey Knollys and have been wishing for contact with some of my cousins. Was happy to read your notes. Warm regards.

        1. Lenise Franks says:

          I am descended from Henry Carey, but would rather be a Carey than offspring of Henry VIII, as the Carey line is so interesting, and I tracked it long before I heard of this often argued debate about Carey vs Henry VIII. Sharon, you are a distant cousin to the current reigning Queen Elizabeth of England, as she is descended from Catherine Carey. I wish someone who had access to the remnants of our forefathers, would just pony up DNA tests and sort this out, if possible.

        2. Naomi says:

          Hi Sharon, I am a direct5 descendant of Catherine Carey. She is my great x something grandmother. I live in South Africa! Just started looking in to all of this and am quite shocked at this.

      4. Naomi says:

        Hello! I also trace back to Catherine Carey. She is my great x whatever grandmother, so I would also love to know. Guess we are all cousins 🙂

      5. Lynnette Castillo says:

        I also have just traced myself to Catherine Carey and would like to know. Can they tell with our DNA if we are a Carey or Tudor?

      6. Patricia S Crow says:

        my family too traces back to knowles.

    2. Bethannee age 15 says:

      honey I can assure you that if what you say is true that your related to henry carey Mary Boleyn’s second child with henry the 8th then you are half royal and you share a famous kings blood.
      by your leave your majesty

      1. Sharon Ellis says:

        Sorry, Bethannee,
        my note was to Harley, Jane and Aurelia. (:

    3. Sharon Ellis says:

      Hello, Cousin!

      1. Harley says:

        Nice to hear from you cuz! This is so much fun… I’m from Arkansas but live in Louisiana..

        1. Sarah Wright says:

          Mary Boleyn was my Great Great (13th times) Grandmother does that make me a cousin too

        2. Lynnette Castillo says:

          I am also in Louisiana and have traced my line back to Mary Boleyn as my 13th great grandmother. I have traced it through the “West” family line.

    4. Cheryl says:

      Yes, Henry Carey is my 13th great grandfather. We can go no further without knowing who his father was and that we’ll never know. What I find fascinating is how similar my son and nephew are in features to him. It’s amazing after all these years and dilution there hasn’t been more change. One would think after all this time there be no resemblances.

      1. Lenise Franks says:

        Bone structure and features are so distinctive–they carry down through the ages, and mostly delineate region of greatest genetic material. This changes with each child, but DNA keeps reaching back in time and pulling wild cards. Through my mother, we look more like Thomas Boleyn with the long face and nose..and high forehead. Who knows? I just want to be a Carey. Their line is so interesting, but I guess we are all related in one way or another, so if this ever gets proven..I’ll have to get over it. (:

        1. Deborah says:

          Hey Cousins! Catherine Carey Knollys is my 14th GGM, thru her daughter Lettice Devereux. These DNA stories are so interesting. My oldest daughter is the spitting image of Catherine’s daughter, Elizabeth. If you ever see her portrait, that is my daughter (500 years later!)

          Deborah

    5. susan ridley says:

      My family traces back to Mary, have studied and read a vast amount about the period of history and think there is a chance that one of her children could have had a royal connection.

    6. Joy Burnett says:

      Jane how funny same with me.

  6. David says:

    Looking, swiftly looking through Eric Ives book on Anne Boleyn for any little tid bit he may have slipped in there regarding Anne’s sister Mary….because during my research for my book I on several occasions ran across this perception that Mary Boleyn did indeed have one child with King Henry as the father, guess the gender, right…..it’s a girl! I will keep looking on this one……I think though that the idea that her sister was “of child” by Henry was one of the things she was miffed about and did not want to repeat with Henry in the beginning of their relationship……It is so interesting that new sources come up on old thought to be facts….But, isn’t the research fun……

    1. Bunny says:

      Hi Cousins! My Family is from Mary Boleyns Eldest son!! Look on Ancestry.com at our tree & see where Mary’s children were born. Quite interesting ! I am new to this and am loving history !

      1. JUDY says:

        Hello Cousin,
        My family is from Catherine! I am new to genealogy and my cousin sent me his tree which shows our connection!

  7. I have a question: Did Anne deliberately make Henry agree to take Mary Boleyn’s son from her and raise her in Henry’s coudrt? And the sources have to be accurate, not “Philippa Gregory” fiction. I’d appreciate knowing because I feel it might have Anne’s idea at first. I have looked through my books and on the Web and found no objective evidence either way. Thanks.

  8. Mya says:

    Mary’s son, Henry actually looks kind of like Henry VIII but that doesn’t mean he’s his. I don’t think either are Henry’s but i could be wrong.

  9. Brennon says:

    I do believe that Mary Boleyn’s children were fathered by Henry Viii. Mary was married to William Carey before she became the king’s mistress and there is evidence that Mary and William had a sexless Marraige for the longest time .

  10. Catherine says:

    I think that henry fathered at least Catherine Knollys (née Carey) because how else could Laetitia have become a redhead even though none of her parents where redheads (Francis Knollys where blonde and Catherine had brown hair) and neither of her grandparents where redheads (Mary Boleyn was blonde and William Carey her preshumed grandfather had dark brown hair). Other things that could prove this is that Henry liked to make his mistresses not sleep with anyone but him, and Catherine was born within the time period of the relationship. the reason that Henry did’nt acknowledge Catherine as his own was that he was within an divorce dispute to marry Marys sister and if he had acknowledged Catherine as his illegitime daughter the marraige could have been conscidered well.. you all know…

    1. epiphany says:

      A child doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of either parent to be their child. You can’t expect human genetics to be that simplistic – a child can have one blond and one brunette parent, yet inherit red hair from a distant relation – her great – great aunt, for example, if one of the parents carried the DNA for red hair. Lots of English folks have the DNA for red hair, even if they themselves don’t have it. Henry didn’t father either of her children – if he had, he would have crowing about it. It would have been a testament to his virility, another chance for him to point the finger at Katherine of Aragon and say, “see, it’s not my fault we don’t have any sons. I can make healthy children all day long – with another woman.”

    2. Selina says:

      Red hair also seemed to have run through the Howard side of the family.

  11. Chelsea says:

    I believe that both children were Henry’s. Or at least Catherine. I just think that Bessie Blount’s son was aknowledged becuase she was not married. I dont believe Mary would have lain with her husband while also in the bed of the king for the reason of possibly bearing a son, however any child born would have to bare the name of her husband instead of fitzroy due to the marriage. Who knows though. Im also just assuming she wouldnt have slept with her husband- she may have been exhausting herself to please both men. But per her reputation in france she wouldve been in shape for it 😉

  12. I believe that both of Mary’s children belonged to Henry the 8th. She truly loved him, I believe and would be weak for him.

    1. I’m truly interested in the life of Mary Boleyn, her life and times.

    2. maritza lozano says:

      i believe that mary boleyn two children were henry’s the fact they were never acknowledge is something that will forever be debated but the fact remains that mary was the woman who gave him 2 kids and anne 1 im very interested in the tudor dynasty to see how far i can dig and how back i can go to me they remain to be the most fascinating family of all time and QUEEN ELIZABETH I WILL REMAIN TO BE THE QUEEN WHO BROUGHT PROSPERITY TO ENGLAND ITS UNFORTUNATE SHE NEVER MARRIED OR HAD CHILDREN YOURS TRULY MARITZA

      1. Mari Alden says:

        It is beleived the ‘Virgin Queen” had 3 children – one believed to by Sir Frsncis Bacon – whose father was high muck-muck for Elizabeth – she even had portraits painted of herself with Francis as a child…

        1. Mari Alden says:

          oh, forgot to mention: Lady Catherine [Carey] and Sir Francis Knollys are a set of my 13th gg grandparents. This kerfuffle is the most convoluted in the thousands of ancestors I’ve “collected” over the past decades. Leave it to Henry to muddy the waters! LOL

        2. Claire says:

          It is not “believed” that Elizabeth I had three children. I’ve never heard a reputable historian say that and how on earth could she have hidden three pregnancies? There is no hint in the records of her disappearing in January 1561 when Bacon was born. Which portrait are you referring to?

    3. epiphany says:

      She truly loved him? What makes you say that, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’? Henry’s affair with Mary Boleyn, from all accounts, was relatively short, unlike the affair with Bessie Blount, which lasted for some time. There absolutely no evidence that there was anything between Henry and Mary but a bit of extramarital fun.

  13. lilian says:

    I have always thought that Henry did not acknowledge Mary’s children as his own because he was iso obsessed with Anne by that stage that it even overrode the fact that Mary had produced his son It would have been an embarrasment if he was chasing Anne.. He already had Henry Fitzroy as a bastard son, lurking in the background, so there was no need to acknowledge another one. I feel Mary and Anne must have fallen out over this, especially if Anne herself believed that Mary had given birth to Henry’s child or children.Must have been a very stressful situation. I believe that the boy did look like Henry.I wonder how stressful theses two bastard Henry’s were to Anne?

  14. Hosanna says:

    I am related to all the Tudors and everyone and I am doing research on everyone from that day but I do not know if the two children were Henry’s or not. But I would not put it past him, he was a wicked man!! Do any of you think that the accusations against Anne Boleyn in the end were true or false? I think that they could be because maybe she just got so scared that she started having sex with tons of guys but also King Henry maybe just wanted to get rid of her so he made up the accusations! What do you think?

    1. angelina says:

      Dont believe the witchcraft or the incest claims against her. I think maybe she did panic and have sex with other guys, probably her best friends but not her brother.. Henry simply fell out if love an wanted Jane Seymour in her place. It didn’t help that Anne didntgive him a son,.

    2. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT? AND HOW CAN I FIND OUT if i’m related did you have to use resources and how long did it take you please let me know about that thank you

  15. Sheila says:

    I have studied the Tutors for several years. It is my understanding that Mary was pregnent the first time by Henry VIII before being married. Her second pregnancy was after Henry married her off. She continued to be his mistress, from time to time, especially during Anne’s pregnancies. Anne knew and was probably happier to have her sister as her “competition” rather than someone who did not have the bolyn family’s interests at heart.

    1. Claire says:

      There is no evidence of Mary and Henry having a relationship before 1522 and Mary got married to William Carey in 1520. Her first child was born in 1524, so after her marriage. There is absolutely no evidence at all of Mary being involved with Henry during his relationship with Anne and she was in fact “banished” in 1534 after marrying without her family’s consent.

    2. TheDuchess says:

      In the ten or so years I have been reading about English Royalty 11-18th century with a strong emphasis on theTudors and Stuarts and the War of the Roses/Yorks I have never come across anything to suggest that Mary was Henry’s sometimes mistress during his marriage to Anne (during her pregnancies or otherwise).
      I have of course seen it written that her cousin Madge Shelton was brought in as an easily cosqntrolled mistress during Anne’s pregnancies but certainly not Mary- for so many reasons it makes no sense to me and seems like it would be a horrible idea for all involved. In all honestly I would love for you to name your sources so I can read them since I am always open to new information and the challenge to prove, door e or make my own educated guess as to a statements validity. I just find it hard to believe that anyone would make this claim- was this a serious non fiction historian? I’ve never I even seen it in a juicy bodice ripper or historical novel. I mean he already had to dance around the consanguinity of his previous relationship with Anne’s sister before the marriage for fear it would doom his marriage to be found invalid- remember the unheard of wording of the desired dispensation that basically said it didn’t matter if they proved he slept qqqqlłkkq- I don’t think. He would be wanting to resurrect that dead horse of a relationship, nor would the sisters. Anyhow- please site your sources as I am truly interested in reading them for myself and am always happy to be challenged byeq new information from credible sources and perhaps I can learn something from someone who has devoted several years of their life to this study (isn’t it fun?
      Read on and try the Ives biography if you haven’t already. Sorry about the typos and iPhone formatting and autocorrections etc

    3. TheDoll says:

      I’ve never even seen that storyline in a fiction and delay not in a history book- then again ere are plenty of histories I haven’t read. Can you site your sources? The same for any sources that give any sort of prof or even suggest that the King having slept with Anne”s mother was gossip.
      I was under the impression it was mostly accepted by any serious historians as gossip. It has been many years since I studied the Tudors (I have since moved on to other periods in history- go Queen Vic! So my memory is not fresh) that this was gossip gone too far. Can you imagine if it were true- he would have slept with her mother, her sister, Anne, and then married her cousin Katherine Howard (the other gal who lost her head) . Maybe he should have figured out that, that wash’t the family for him ,,,,lol

  16. Sheila says:

    The most interesting question about the Bolyns, in my opinion, is whether or not Henry VIII had an affair with Anne’s mother several years before he met Ann and her sister. This was the gossip at the time.

    1. TheDuchess says:

      This was GOSSIP with no fact to bac k it up. I don’t even considers
      it a question, more of a joke of the “Other Boelyn Girl” variety.

  17. Sheila says:

    I have searched and search for an answer to this one. Anne and Henry had two children who died prematurely. Does anyone know where, or if, they were buried?

    1. Henry VIII says:

      Actually Anne Bolyen gave me 3 dead children and 1 live girl. I don’t know where an earth her family buried them, but they were buried.

  18. sloan says:

    i also was looking for factual info about the affair with anne and marys mother, to no avail as yet

  19. Bethannee age 15 says:

    I love the Boleyn, Howard and, Tudor history I am a huge nerd. I believe that Anne actually helped Mary with some things when Mary was courting henry. I am related to a royal figure I’m related to a Boleyn and a Howard.

  20. bailey says:

    wow I would of not even thought of that. im researching king henry the 8th for an sose assement and I`m doing a question about his friends and family so this website will come in handy except its blocked at my school

  21. bailey M says:

    I am related to the stewards which come after the tudors

    1. EveDeVinney says:

      Believe the name is Stuart or Stewart – stewards.= with a d.

  22. bailey M says:

    hello ppls can someone help me on this question of my sose assemnt what was mary`s opinion on king henry VIII

  23. Henry VIII says:

    Oh and they were my children.

  24. Henry VIII says:

    Catherine ‘Carey’ and Henry ‘Carey’ were both my illegimiate children, along with Henry Fitzroy. Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

  25. Tom Wrenn says:

    I believe they were the children of Henry VIII. First, William Carey did NOT have Red Hair. The Tudor family all had red hair. Catherine Carey’s children the Knollys, bear an extremely close resemblance to Elizabeth I. Lettice Knollys, Catherine’s most notorious daughter, bears an extremely close resemblance to Elizabeth. Just a thought. Only God knows for sure!!

    1. faolan says:

      Red hair is a recessive gene, it has to be on Both sides of the family.

  26. Tom Wrenn says:

    William Carey was a 2nd cousin or so of Henry VIII. His grandmother was a daughter of Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke of Somerset and uncle of Henry’s grandmother Margaret Beaufort. So there would be interest in Henry keeping the fact quiet they were his children with the dynastic struggles the man created.

  27. Ashley Brown says:

    The question can be answered once and for all buy checking the mitochondrial DNA of the descendents.

    1. Linda Wilson says:

      Why is not DNA used to answer the question about Mary Boylen’s first two Children?

      Would it upset Elizabeth II for Some reason?
      It is important to so many people.
      Raise the roof.!

  28. EveDeVinney says:

    Read recently (2015) that Henry the XIII acknowledged the son he was said to have
    had with Mary Boleyn. That son became Earl or Duke of Norfolk and Princess Diana
    was descended from this line. Diana & Charles son Harry…has red hair.

    Now what is the truth? Will we ever know?

  29. Susie Jarnagin says:

    Hello from Tennessee, I am a descendant of Mary Boelyn. She is my 12th great-grandmother through the Thomas West line.

    1. John Sholar says:

      I also am descended from Mary Boleyn thru the West – Fox – Meredith lines

      1. cecil moody says:

        All of you who are descended from Catherine Carey Knollys : You have a connection to the Powhatan (Native American) family …through the Wests. Check it out. Very interesting. I am descended from Henry Carey, and it does not matter tome whether he is a Tudor or a Carey.

  30. I think that henry the 8th had female from catherine of aragon a spainish woman but separated from her after his attraction. To mary Boleyn came first not anne s boleyn s affair. Haveing sex with mary and mary becomeing pregnant. And henry the 8th is acting like very sexual towards womans charcter he finds anne boleyn. A sexual attractive. Delight. And whiles mary boleyn is siting up in her bed for 9 months. He decides too persue anne. Boleyn for a sexual affair. In the long 9 months of waiting. Without sexual intercourse. With a woman.

  31. I think that henry the 8th had female from catherine of aragon a spainish woman but separated from her after his attraction. To mary Boleyn came first not anne s boleyn s affair. Haveing sex with mary and mary becomeing pregnant. And henry the 8th is acting like very sexual towards womans charcter he finds anne boleyn. A sexual attractive. Delight. And whiles mary boleyn is siting up in her bed for 9 months. He decides too persue anne. Boleyn for a sexual affair. In the long 9 months of waiting. Without sexual intercourse. With a woman. Then he. Positions himself. Too. Have sex with anne boleyn whom wants a queen status before she excepts him. Henry 8th gor any sexual encounter. Well henry 8th has other ideas finds anne boleyn in a lonely place walks too her from behind and forceing himself on anne boleyn into haveing sex. Causeing a pregnantsy while his other woman mary boleyn is in a bed room pregnant with his baby. This is some what i found about henry 8th

    1. Jackson says:

      Where did u find this

      1. LeslieB says:

        The child is named Henry.
        Enough said.

        1. Claire says:

          Lots of children were named Henry at this time because it was traditional for children to be named after the monarch or his consort, as well as being named after godparents, relatives etc.

  32. LCB says:

    The male child’s name is Henry.
    Enough said.

    1. Claire says:

      So were lots of Tudor boys, it was traditional to name your child after the monarch or his consort.

    2. Christine says:

      LCB, it was normal for many children to be named after the reigning king or queen, Mary Boleyns daughter was quite possibly named after Katherine of Aragon, it was taken as a compliment, Mary had been in her service and it didn’t matter if she had been sleeping with her husband, it was considered normal in the day for children to take the Monarchs name, there is no proof at all that Henry Carey was Henry V111’s son, for one thing he did not resemble the King at all, he was born well into his mothers marriage and the King was heavily involved with his aunt Anne, all these factors point towards Carey being his father more than the Kings, he never looked at another woman whilst he was courting Anne and had Anne ever suspected her sister was sleeping with him that would have been the end of the affair, Henry would never have risked losing Anne she was the love of his life, and she would never have spoken to her sister again, both Mary and the King would never have risked upsetting Anne, if you take into consideration all these factors don’t you think it’s extremely unlikely that Henry V111 fathered Henry Carey?

  33. Nydia Cecil says:

    My husband’s pedigree takes him back to Catherine Carey, He was a simple non assuming man. It would not have impressed him at all. I also found out that as a Cecil, he was also related to Kings in Italy, Sweden, Denmark, France , Wales and Ireland. When I told my children, they all laughed about it, thinking of their dad. There is a registry trying to connect all of us in this whole world, hope they succeed. Looking down from outer space, you don’t see any barriers between countries and perhaps that’s the way it should be, I guess that I am a dreamer.

  34. This is interesting but I guess we will never know for certainty because it’s been a long time ago and anyway I heard back then even the British monarchy married in the family so I don’t know there’s a possibility

  35. Harley Bone says:

    Lady Mary Boleyn Carey is my 10th Great-Grandmother..

  36. Amanda says:

    Just came across this site and am stoked to see how many people are related to Mary Boleyn. She is my 16th great grandmother! Hello to all of my distant relatives!
    I’m quite obsessed with my family history though haven’t done much for a while.

  37. Nicole Cuturia says:

    I’m seeing a ton of my Family on here commenting. I’m the 17th great Granddaughter to Mary Boleyn. Hello Cousins! It’s interesting because my side is from Henry Carey’s daughter Katherine Howard. I strongly believe that we are King Henry’s Viii great grandchildren. I just seem to feel it. If that makes any sense.

    It’s interesting because my side, seems to still be living the affair over and over. LOL. Long story…I’ll explain another time. But I’m very interested in our family.

    1. JUDY says:

      Hello Cousin,
      I feel exactly the same way!

  38. jenniferravengreene says:

    I believe they are his children
    Henry is also my 14 cousin
    And grandfather
    If any one want to email me falsettigreene@gmail.com

  39. JUDY says:

    Hello Cousin,
    My family is from Catherine! I am new to genealogy and my cousin sent me his tree which shows our connection!

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