On this day in history, 12th March 1539, at the Boleyn family home, Hever Castle, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, died.
His servant, Robert Cranwell, wrote to Thomas Cromwell the following day to give him news of Wiltshire’s death, writing: “My good lord and master is dead. He made the end of a good Christian man.” The next month, Wiltshire’s former son-in-law, King Henry VIII paid 16l. 13s. 4d. to his chaplain, William Franklyn, Dean of Windsor, “for certain oraisons, suffrages and masses to be said for the soul’s health of th’erle of Wilts, late deceased”.
Due to fiction and TV, many people think that Thomas Boleyn was an overly-ambitious social climber who was willing to pimp his daughters to the king to climb the ladder of success. But that’s just not true, and today I’ll be remembering the Thomas Boleyn who gave his daughter Anne the wonderful opportunity to be educated at Margaret of Austria’s court, who was a humanist who acted as a patron to many, and who served two kings loyally.
You can read more about him in my article In Defence of Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn and here are some videos on him.