Mary Boleyn was most likely the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard – the family settled at Hever Castle in Kent. She is best known as the sister of Anne Boleyn, and the mistress of Henry VIII (and Francis I). It was her relationship with King Henry which led Mary into a marriage with William Carey.
On the 4th of February 1520, Mary Boleyn married William Carey who was a gentleman of the royal privy chamber. Even though he did not hold a great title (or lands) the position meant he had intimate contact with the King on a daily basis – which is one of the best places to be in Tudor England.
Historians are unsure of when exactly the affair between Henry and Mary occurred between Mary and the King, but there have been suggestions that Mary’s eldest child, her daughter Catherine, was fathered by Henry VIII – she was born in 1524. This would mean that the affair was still ongoing after her marriage to William Carey. Is that why the marriage was arranged – to cover up any possible illegitimate children?
The 1528 outbreak of the Sweating Sickness arrived in London in May, and by the following month (22 June) Mary’s husband, William Carey was dead. The Sweat caused panic all over England when news spread of an outbreak. It was often said that one could be fine one moment, and then hours later dead. The suddenness of the Sweat frightened some into a frenzy. The victim would break-out in a sweat from fever, they would complain of a headache and body aches and become delirious. It was when the uncontrollable urge to sleep would overtake the victim that death was most often imminent. There was no cure for the Sweat and you were not immune from catching it again.
Left with two children (Catherine & Henry) to solely provide for, Mary was left with a significant financial burden. The fear of not being able to provide food for her children led Mary to write to Henry VIII to ask for assistance. At the time, her sister Anne Boleyn was very close to the King, and Mary probably hoped that her past relationship with the King, as well as her sister’s relationship, would stoke sympathy for her cause. Thankfully, King Henry acknowledged Mary’s plea and offered financial assistance for her from her father, and granted the wardship of her son Henry Carey to her sister Anne. One must assume that Catherine was raised by her mother.
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Many ruling English monarchs fathered illegitimate children â€“ Henry VIII was no exception. The one illegitimate child we know the most about is Henry Fitzroy, son of Elizabeth â€śBessieâ€ť Blount.
Henry Fitzroy â€“ Born 15 June 1519
Henry Fitzroy was bornÂ 15 June 1519 to Elizabeth â€śBessieâ€ť Blount and Henry VIII. The King thought he would never have a son â€“ the birth, and survival of Henry Fitzroy proved to him that the problem stemmed fromÂ his wife and queen, Katherine of Aragon. The boy was given the name â€śFitzroyâ€ť to show that the king acknowledged his bastard son, for the name â€śFitzroyâ€ť means,Â â€śson of the king.â€ť
As far as Henry Fitzroyâ€™sÂ story goes he was the luckiest of the illegitimate children of Henry VIII. Since the king seemed unable to have a son with Katherine of Aragon, it put more significance on the fact that he was able to produce aÂ healthy boy with his mistress, Lady Blount. At the age of six, on 24 Apr 1525, Fitzroy was created Knight of the Garter. Then on 16 Jun of 1525 he was also titled, Earl of Nottingham andÂ Duke of Richmond. Only a month later he was titledÂ Admiral of England, Ireland and Normandy.
Others suspected of being Henry VIIIâ€™s illegitimate childrenÂ include:
Thomas StukleyÂ (Stukeley, Stuckley, Stucley)Â â€“ Â Born 1520
It has been speculated that Jane Pollard was mistress to Henry VIII and Thomas was Henryâ€™s illegitimate son. Thomas Stukely was born c. 1520 to Jane Pollard, the wife of Sir Hugh Stukley. Thomas was an English mercenary who died at the Battle of Alcazar in 1578.
Elizabeth Tailboys â€“ Born c. April 1520
Elizabeth Tailboys was born c. April 1520 to Elizabeth â€śBessieâ€ť Blount, wife of Gilbert Tailboys, and half-sister to Henry Fitzroy. Some believe that Elizabeth is also the daughter of Henry VIII since she was supposedly conceived shortly after Bessie gave birth to Henry Fitzroy. Also, Gilbert and Bessie married within weeks of Henryâ€™s birth â€“ Bessie was most likely pregnant when they married. The quick marriage could have been a way for the king to cover up the fact that he fathered another illegitimate child with Bessie.
If Elizabeth had been a boy, would Henry VIII tried to claim the child and name him Fitzroy as well?
â€śThere is also evidence thatÂ Henry VIII took an interest in Elizabeth Tailboys, above and beyond that which would be expected of the child of a former mistress. During his northern progress in 1541, for example, Henry spent the night of 13 October at Nocton in Lincolnshire, the home of Elizabeth Tailboys and her first husband, Thomas Wymbish.Â It was also Henry who provided this wealthy husband for Elizabeth.â€ť
Catherine Carey â€“ c. 1524
Catherine Carey was the daughter of Henry VIIIâ€™s mistress, Mary Boleyn. Mary was the sister of Henryâ€™s second wife, Anne Boleyn. In 1520 Mary wedded William Carey. Catherine was born c. 1524, and it is suspected that Henry had continued his affair with Mary after she had married William Carey â€“ we all know, what the king wanted, he got. In the portrait below of Catherine there is an uncanny resemblance to Henry VIII.
The husband of Mary (Boleyn) Carey,Â William Carey received Royal Grants in 1524 and 1526. Those grants are thought to coincide with the birth of Catherine and her brother, Henry Carey. It is believed that Henry VIII was compensating William Carey for the fact that these were not his (Williamâ€™s) biological children, and that his wife was having an affair with the King of England.
When Henry VIII wanted a papal dispensation to marry Anne Boleyn, he is suspected of doing so because he fathered children with her sister, Mary.
Richard Edwardes â€“ Born 25 March 1525
Richard Edwardes/Edwards was bornÂ 25 March 1525 to Agnes Blewitt Edwards. Richard was an English poet, playwrightÂ and composer â€“ all of which Henry VIII was also known for.Â Richard Edwardeswas made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and became master of the singing boys. He was also rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
There is not much information regarding his mother or Richard himself, which leads us to believe that he was not an illegitimate child of Henry VIII, or that we need more information.
To see an example of one of his poems â€“ Click <HERE>
Henry Carey â€“ 4 March 1526
Henry Carey was the second child of Henry VIIIâ€™s mistress, Mary (Boleyn) Carey and her husband, William Carey. He was born 4 March 1526. Some historians have also speculated that he might have been an illegitimate child of Henry VIII.
WhenÂ William Carey died on 23 June 1528, Anne Boleyn was granted the wardship of her nephew. Why wouldnâ€™t Mary be allowed to raise her own son after the death of her husband? Seems a little strange.
In April 1535, the nine year old Henry Carey was apparently living at Syon, Isleworth, Middlesex when he was referred to asÂ the kingâ€™s son.
Henry Carey died 23 July 1596 and was buried in St. John the Baptistâ€™s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, at Queen Elizabeth Iâ€™sÂ expense.Â Although Henry Carey was known to be poor,Â his tomb was the was the tallest inÂ Westminster Abbey, at thirty-six feet high. It was made of alabaster and marble.
Etherlreda â€śAudreyâ€ť MalteÂ â€“ 1527
Ethelreda Malte Â was born c. 1527 to Joan Dingley, alias Dobson and her husband, John Malte.
Ehtelreda â€śAudreyâ€ťwas an English courtier who was reputed to be an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII. She was the wife of poet and writerÂ John Harington.
Reports claim â€śAudreyâ€ťÂ was fathered by Henry VIII, but not muchÂ is known about her mother â€“ Joan Dingley/Dobson; under the circumstances,Â Joan would have been a member of the lesser nobility, not well-connected at court.Â One theory is she was a laundress, although Henry never openly acknowledged â€śAudreyâ€ť, heÂ did giveÂ John Malte land and properties after Malte recognized her as his ownÂ daughter.
John Perrot â€“ November 1528
John PerrotÂ was born in November 1528 to Mary Berkeley, the wife of Sir Thomas Perrot.
John Perrot resembled Henry VIII in temperament and physical appearance, and it was believed he was the bastard son of Henry VIII.
â€śThe main source for this beliefÂ was Sir Robert Naunton (husband of Perrotâ€™s granddaughter, Penelope), who had never known Perrot and used second-hand accounts to make his case.Â The case is weakened by the fact that Perrot was Mary Berkeleyâ€™s third child, not her first, and that she and the King are not recorded to have been in the same place at the crucial time.Â
Naunton claimed that SirÂ Owen Hopton, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, overheard Perrot say, â€śWill the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up as a sacrifice to the envy of his frisking adversaries?â€ť,Â suggesting that Perrot himself asserted his royal paternity. However, Hopton had been removed from office by the Queen eighteen months prior to Perrotâ€™s imprisonment, so he could not have overheard Perrot make the claim there.â€ť