19th July 1543 – Mary Boleyn Dies

On the 19th July 1543, Mary Boleyn died. Mary was the sister of the late Anne Boleyn but much of her life is a mystery. We don’t know much about her (we even have to guess which sister was older). All we know for certain is that she was a mistress to Henry VIII, had two marriages, her first husband died of the sweating sickness and she was banished from court after marrying her second husband.

It is now generally accepted that Mary was the oldest of the Boleyn children, with Anne following in 1501 and George after. Some believe that Anne was born in 1507, but it is more likely to be 1501 because of how old she had to be to serve Margaret of Austria. Mary and Anne both when off to different courts but in 1522 they were finally together again in the English court. Mary soon became the mistress of Henry VIII and it is widely thought that she was also mistress to Francis I, yet that is another thing we don’t know about Mary. There is no real proof that she was the mistress of the King of France.

We know that Mary had two children during her time as Henry VIII’s mistress, Catherine and Henry Carey. They may have been the King’s children yet he never acknowledged them. The children were simply given the name Carey, as that was the second name of Mary’s husband and their supposed father. Mary became a widow in 1528 when her husband, William Carey, died from the sweating sickness. Her sister had caught it but survived, yet William wasn’t so lucky.

Mary’s next marriage to William Stafford was probably a love match. Mary had married without permission and William was of significantly lower social status than she was. After she was banished from court, we don’t know much about what happened to her. We know that she inherited some of her father’s lands when he died in 1539. Mary’s daughter, Catherine, served Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard at court for a while.

We aren’t sure for certain what date Mary Boleyn actually died on. Alison Weir in her biography on her says 19th July 1543, whereas Josephine Wilkinson says the 30th July. We also don’t know where she died, what she died from or where she is buried. She probably died at Rochford Hall, which she had recently inherited, and Alison Weir suggests that she was buried at the church of Saint Andrew, Rochford. However, there is no tomb or records to back this up.

Sources

Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’ by Alison Weir

Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress by Josephine Wilkinson

Mary_Boleyn

A supposed portrait of Mary Boleyn.

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