Anne Boleyn’s Dog Purkoy: Where Did He Come From?

You may already be aware that Anne Boleyn was very fond of her lap dog, Purkoy…but are you aware that he was originally a gift to Sir Francis Bryan from Lady Lisle?

Anne Boleyn Royal Doulton Figurine

I was recently going through my “Lisle Letters” book and came across a letter that made me aware of the situation. I’ll be honest, I knew very little of Purkoy except for his tragic end.

This adorable little dog, as I already stated, was originally given to Anne Boleyn’s cousin (Sir Francis Bryan) by Lord and Lady Lisle – it was a New Year’s gift. It is said that Lord Lisle’s business agent, John Husee recommended the couple give the dog to Bryan because they were in need of his assistance in some matter.

It appears that when Queen Anne saw the dog she had to have him. Bryan had no choice but to give the dog to the Queen.

On the 20th of January 1534, Francis Bryan wrote a letter to Lord Lisle letting him know what transpired:

…I beseech your Lordship, after my most hearty recommendations made unto my very good lady your wife – unto whom and to your lordship, because ye be both but one soul though ye be two bodies, I write but one letter – that it may please your lordship to give her hearty thanks on my behalf for her little dog, which was so proper and so well liked by the Queen that it remained not above an hour in my hands but that her Grace took it from me. Nevertheless, her ladyship and any friend of hers, for the same, and her kindness therein, shall be assured of such pleasure as in me at any time shall be. As our Lord God knoweth, who have our lordship, with my said good lady, in his blessed preservation.

At Westminster, the xxth day of January

Yours at commandment,

Francis Bryan

Little Purkoy would not be around forever. Only twelve months after she received him Purkoy was dead. In a letter from Thomas Broke to Lady Lisle on 18 December 1534, he informs the Lady of the death of her former pet and how upset the Queen was by it.

…the Queen’s Grace setteth much store by a pretty dog, and her Grace delighted so much in little Purkoy that after he was dead of a fall there durst nobody tell her Grace of it. But her Grace setteth more store by a dog than by a bitch, she saith….

So, there it is! Purkoy was a gift from Lord and Lady Lisle to Sir Francis Bryan who then gave it to Queen Anne Boleyn when she showed her desire to have the dog.

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6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi! I’m doing research on Dona Beatriz Mendes (aka Mendez, or Gracia Nasi), a contemporary of Lady Lisle and John Hussee. There might be some correspondence between Hussee and Lady Lisle that mentions her, possibly in 1536 or 37. If you happen to come across the Mendes/Nasi or even Benveniste names mentioned, can you share them with me? Many thanks!

  2. I believe he was called Purkoy because he had an inquisitive look, a look of ‘Pourquoi?’ or ‘Why?’ in French. I’m not sure where I read this but it does sound plausible.

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