Mary Boleyn

sister of the queen of England Anne Boleyn

Mary Boleyn (about 1499 – 19 July 1543) was the older sister of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. They had a brother named George Boleyn. There have been many stories and books about Mary Boleyn, so historians are not sure what is true about her.[1][2]

Mary Boleyn
Portrait of Mary Boleyn
Born5 February 1499
Blickling Hall, Norfolk
Died19 July 1543(1543-07-19) (aged 44)
Noble familyBoleyn
Spouse(s)William Carey, of Aldenham
William Stafford, of Chebsey
FatherThomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
MotherLady Elizabeth Howard

Early Life


Mary was born some time between 1500 and 1507 at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Her parents were Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard. While her parents had her sister Anne educated at the court of Margaret of Austria, Mary was probably educated at home. She had a well-rounded education for a woman in the 1500s. Among Mary's other skills, she could speak French.[3]

In 1514, Mary's father got her a job as maid of honor to Mary Tudor, the sister of King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor was going to be married to King Louis XII of France. Mary and the other maids traveled with Mary Tudor to France, where Mary Tudor was married. Only a few months after the wedding, however, King Louis died and Francis I became king. Mary Tudor went back to England but Mary Boleyn stayed in France.[3]

There were rumours that Mary Boleyn became King Francis's mistress, but some historians think the rumours may not be true. They think the rumours may have been about trying to make the Boleyn family look bad so Henry VIII could divorce Anne Boleyn.[3]

Marriage and mistress


In 1519, Mary went back to England to marry William Carey. Soon, she became King Henry VIII's mistress. Some historians think that King Henry was the father of Mary's two children, Catherine Carey and Henry Carey, but it is also possible that her husband William Carey was their father. Mary was Henry VIII's mistress for years, possibly until as late as 1526.[3][1][2]



After Mary's husband died, she had money problems. Her sister Anne took Mary's son Henry as her ward and paid for his education.[3]

In 1526, Mary married again. She married a soldier named William Stafford without her family's permission. Anne and the rest of Mary's family were angry with her. Mary and Stafford had one child, but historians do not know what happened to him or her.[3]

After Anne and George Boleyn were executed, Mary's parents began to speak to her again. After her father and grandmother died, they left Mary half the Boleyn property. But Mary Boleyn had to fight for it in law court.[2] Mary died in Rochford Hall in 1543.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nora McGreevy (June 11, 2020). "After Hundreds of Years, Unknown Woman in Tudor Portrait Identified as Mary Boleyn". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "'Great And Infamous' Mary: The Other 'Boleyn' Girl". NPR. October 12, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Your guide to Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn". BBC. Retrieved February 3, 2021.