Thursday, November 27, 2008

Question from Elizabeth M - Relationship between Anne's family and Elizabeth in her youth

After Anne Boleyn's death, was there ever any record of her daughter Elizabeth's grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, having any type of relationship with their granddaughter? Or any record of Mary Boleyn having any relationship with little Elizabeth?


kb said...

I am unsure if the senior Boleyns had any relationship with Elizabeth in the wake of Anne's execution. It appears that Elizabeth Howard Boleyn died when Elizabeth was 4 and Thomas Howard Boleyn died when she was 5. Mary Boleyn Carey died in 1539. Elizabeth would have been 7. Although, there is some evidence that Mary Carey's children had a relationship with the young Elizabeth.

There are several questions still remaining about Elizabeth's and the Careys whereabouts during some periods between Anne's execution and the start of Mary's reign. We know of specific scenes but not the complete time line.

By 1545, Henry Carey was appointed to Elizabeth's household. He was 19. The 'cor rotto' letter Elizabeth wrote to Katherine which seems to date to Katherine's imminent self-imposed exile assumed to be 1553 implies the cousins were very close. I have taken this to mean that they spent time together during Elizabeth's childhood or adolescence. In 1553 Katherine Carey would have been 29, Elizabeth 20.

I would hazard a guess though that the Carey children did not join Elizabeth until after Jane Seymour's death in 1537. By this time Henry had his male heir. By 1540, an act of Parliament confirmed the grant of the manor of Rotherfield Greys to the recently married Francis Knollys and Katherine Carey Knollys. As the act specifically names Katherine, it would seem Henry was not holding onto any animosity towards the Carey Boleyns.

Sorry - a bit long-winded here. Wish i could write as succinctly as phd historian and foose.

Foose said...

The only instance that I am aware of where Thomas Boleyn had the opportunity to interact with his granddaughter was at the christening of Edward VI, where Elizabeth held the chrism and her grandfather carried a taper of "virgin wax." It seems rather sadistic for Henry VIII to require Thomas' presence at that event, but as a peer he probably had an obligation to attend, beyond Henry's probable wish to have surviving representatives of the Boleyn queenship acknowledge the true heir. (Sir Thomas Boleyn turned up a lot at royal Tudor christenings, having helped support the canopy for Princess Mary's and held the purple train at Elizabeth's.)

Back in the Golden Age of the first Internet boom when floruit the Website Contentville (whose loss I still daily lament), I acquired the thesis "Sir Thomas Boleyn," by William H. Dean.

It agrees with kb that there is no evidence that the elder Boleyns had close contact with their granddaughter Elizabeth, but I did note the following:

"After lady Wiltshire's death in 1538, [Thomas Boleyn] promised Henry that upon his own demise he would deed over all of the Ormond lands in fee simple to his granddaughter Elizabeth, a promise he kept."

I don't think this was done from any fondness for that bereft tot of Nan Bullen, although it might possibly be construed that way. Irish policy was a major concern of Henry in the 1530s, and the Earldom of Ormond was used to counter-balance the influence of Kildare. I would think that Thomas' bequest essentially put control of the Ormond lands back under royal authority.

kb (thanks for the plug, by the way), I am curious as to why, if Henry Carey was Henry's illegitimate son, Henry VIII did not let the Earldom of Wiltshire descend to him upon Thomas' demise? Mary Boleyn died in 1543 according to this thesis (you say 1539); she had a claim on the Earldom, it would have been reasonable for Henry to allow the title to her [and his] son ...? Any thoughts?

kb said...

I was wrong about Mary Carey's death. ODNB has it as 1543. Don't know what I was looking at when I typed that. Thanks for the catch Foose.

I don't think Henry VIII wanted any possible threats to emerge to his legitimate son. Enriching a potential rival would have been politically foolish. Besides Henry Carey had other lands to inherit. I think this attitude toward the Carey children was consistent. Benevolent neglect - but no elevations. Both Henry and Katherine were financially stable and both wed socially unspectacular spouses.

By having the Ormond lands go to Elizabeth, he provided her with 'family' revenues without further diminishing the royal treasury.

There are some interesting tidbits to ponder.

George Carey 2nd baron Hunsdon considered claiming the Ormond earldom in 1597 but did not pursue it. Elizabeth Sheffield, niece of Charles Howard 2nd baron of Effingham had married the 10th earl of Ormond Thomas Butler in 1583 so this came back into the extended network but not to the Careys directly. It is possible that George Carey decided not to challenge his brother-in-law and his extended family or that the queen indicated that she had no intention of elevating George to an earldom.

In 1578, the second-generation Katherine Knollys married Gerald Fitzgerald Lord Offaly, heir to the 11th earl of Kildare. It is likely the couple made their home with the bride’s father and that she was fond of her husband. Gerald’s early death was a blow as Francis Knollys wrote to Walsingham that ‘my lord garrets sodayne and untymely deathe hathe disordred all my howse’. As he died before his father and therefore did not inherit. A decade later, in February 1589, Gerald’s younger brother Henry Fitzgerald married Frances Howard, daughter of Katherine Carey Howard and first cousin once removed from the previous Lady Offaly. This may have been the natural result of both Fitzgerald brothers being included in family functions and so fostering affection between Henry and Frances. On the other hand, given the Fitzgeralds’ questionable loyalty both marriages may have been designed to bind them to the extended non-royal family. Henry had inherited the Kildare title and lands in 1585 and on his death the lands were aggressively pursued by the young dowager countess of Kildare, with the backing of her father Charles Howard by now the lord admiral. There were no sons from either of these alliances; however, the daughters of both these Anglo-Irish marriages moved to Ireland while retaining their English kinship court contacts. Katherine Knollys Fitzgerald’s daughter, Lettice, claimed the barony of Offaly as heir general after her father and paternal uncles died. She actively supported the plantation movement and escaped from a lengthy rebel siege in 1642 whose closeness may be judged by the inscription chosen for her portrait: ‘I am escaped with the skin of my teeth’. Her cousin Bridget married Rory O’Donnell earl of Tyrconnell who abandoned his very pregnant wife during the ‘flight of the earls’ in 1607. After recovering from childbirth Bridget used her family at the English court to obtain a royal pension derived from her husband’s lands and lived on her family’s Kildare estates until her death in 1658.

Foose said...

Thanks, kb! Very interesting. In view of Anne Boleyn's (probable) distaste for Ireland and her daughter Elizabeth's perpetual problems with the Irish, it's fascinating how the Irish connection persisted with the family.