The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today

The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today

What to expect from this article on the Boleyn lineage

This article is an overview of what I now know about the Boleyn lineage in relation to the present royal family. As it is an overview, I have eliminated historical details to keep it simple but have included basic information to keep the subject matter in context. This helps us see how the Boleyn lineage had flowed through the centuries.

In this article, I have included a section on the numerous variations and the much debated spelling of the Boleyn family name, and why I opted for ‘Boleyn’ instead of other variations. Along with this, is a recap of who the Boleyn family were in history, although there is no consensus on the origin of the Boleyn family.

Links to resources are appended at the end of the article.

boleyn lineage

What was the Boleyn real surname – Boleyn, Bullen, Bolan or something else?

the Boleyn lineage

Variations of the surname ‘Boleyn’

In 1509, during the funeral of Henry VII, “Bolan” was used to address Sir Thomas. In the very same year of 1509, an invite to Sir Thomas and his wife Elizabeth, for the coronation of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon reads “Boleyne” and “Bolen” respectively. Sir Thomas’ brother, James went by his surname spelt as “Bulleyn”. In fact, Anne Boleyn herself, signed off as “Anna de Boullan’ in a letter she wrote to her father in 1513 when she lived in Austria.

These variations and more of the surname ‘Boleyn’ existed during the Tudor period. The primary reason cited for the variations in the spelling of the surname is the inconsistencies of Tudor words and spellings. Having said that, the inconsistencies also existed way back in the thirteenth century.

In a research carried out by Rev. Canon Parsons, who authored “Some notes on the Boleyn Family” in 1935 concluded that whilst the surname was spelt in various ways: “…Boleyn, Buleyn, Bolen, Bulleyne, Boleyne, Bolleyne, Boyleyn, Bowleyne, Bulloigne, and the modern form Bullen” , the spelling, “Boleyn” was the most common of the medieval forms.”

Popular and accepted spelling of the surname ‘Boleyn’

Therefore, given the variations and the non-standardised spelling of the surname, along with the popular acceptance by historians and writers of the surname spelt as “Boleyn”, I shall also accept this and use this spelling in my articles on the Boleyn lineage and related articles on the Boleyns.

Note: The city of Boulogne in France was written as “Boleyn” in the Chronicles of Calais. There are also other documents that refer to Boulogne as Boleyn. Historians belief that the Boleyn family originated from here and made their way to Norfolk during the Normans invasion in the 11th century. This opens up a whole new world of discovery for me, and I hope one day, will be able to investigate further.

A recap of earlier history of the Boleyn family

The earliest recorded history of the Boleyn family in England begins in the thirteenth century and surrounds humble beginnings.

There are mentions of a John Boleyn acting as surety for a William Boleyn in the local register of Walsingham Abbey, Norfolk in 1283.

According to wikitree geneology on the Boleyn family, one Ralph Boleyn was born roundabout 1260 in England. He had one child, John Boleyn, born around 1300. John Boleyn had one child, Thomas Boleyn, born around 1350. There are no records of the spouses to Ralph and John Boleyn.

Thomas Boleyn was a farmer in Salle, Norfolk. There are some mentions of him having descended from Nicholas Boleyn but I could not find information on Nicholas Boleyn to confirm.

Where do we begin…

Therefore, it is with Thomas Boleyn, born roundabouts 1350 where we will begin to trace the Boleyn lineage in this article.

To reiterate, this article on the Boleyn Lineage is intended as an overview. I have not included details of events and background information but have provided recommended reads and links.

Follow the highlights in red…

The Boleyn Lineage – from 1300s to 1603

Thomas Boleyn, [(1350 – 1411) farmer, Salle, Norfolk] mar. Jane (Bracton) Boleyn [(1359 – ?) daughter of Sir John Bracton, Salle, Norfolk] 1 child: Geoffrey Boleyn (1380)

Geoffrey Boleyn [(1380 – Mar 25 1440) Blickling, Norfolk, England] mar. Alice (Bracton) Boleyn [(1385 – 1440) Salle, Norfolk, England 3 children: Thomas Boleyn (1403 – 1472); Geoffrey Boleyn (1406 – 1463); Cecily Boleyn (1408 – 1458)

Geoffrey Boleyn [b.1406, Norfolk England – d.1463, City of London] – also known as Sir Geoffrey Boleyn or Bullen, a successful merchant in the City of London mar. Anne (Hoo) Boleyn [(1425 – Jun 6, 1485) Norfolk, England

8 Children:

Alicia (Boleyn) Aucher; Alice (Boleyn) Fortescue; Cecily Boleyn; Thomas Boleyn; Simon Boleyn; William Boleyn KB; Anne (Boleyn) Heydon and Isabel (Boleyn) Cheyne.

William Boleyn KB [(b.1449, Blickling Norfolk – Oct 10, 1505 Hever Kent, England)] mar. Margaret (Butler) Boleyn [b.1454 in Ormonde, Kerry, Ireland – d. Apr 3, 1537 in Hever, Kent, England]

10 children:

Anne Boleyn; Anthony Boleyn; Thomas Boleyn KG; Anne (Boleyn) Shelton; James Boleyn Kt; Edward Boleyn Kt; Amata (Boleyn) Calthorpe; Alice (Boleyn) Clere; William Boleyn; Margaret (Boleyn) Sackville.

*William Boleyn was appointed a Knight of the Bath by King Richard III

Thomas Boleyn KG [b. 1477 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. Mar 12, 1539 in Hever Castle, Kent England also known as Sir Thomas, 1st Earl of Wiltshire mar. Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn [b. 1480 Norfolk, England – d. Apr 3, 1537]

3 surviving children:

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford; Anne, Queen of England; George Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn [b. 1501 in Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England – d.May 19, 1536 in Tower of London, England. Also known as Anne “Queen of England” Boleyn or Bullen mar. Henry (Tudor) of England

1 child: Elizabeth I;

Are there any direct descendants of Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn is known to have one spouse, Henry Tudor of England. They had one child who survived infancy. Elizabeth, was born on September 7, 1533. Queen Anne fell pregnant in 1934 and 1536 but both were stillborn. Therefore, Elizabeth was the only child of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Queen Elizabeth I | The Boleyn Lineage
Queen Elizabeth I | Image: © royal.uk

Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in November 1558 when her half-sister, Mary Tudor (1516 – 1558) died and became Elizabeth Tudor England. She was Queen of England and Ireland from September 17, 1558 until March 24, 1603 when she died. Queen Elizabeth was a popular queen and her 45-year reign is said to be one of the best in history. She is sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess. Queen Elizabeth never married, hence the nickname, the ‘Virgin Queen’. She was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor, and with no heir to the throne, effectively ending the Tudor reign. This also means that there are no direct descendants of Anne Boleyn.

The Boleyn Lineage – Coat of Arms of the Boleyn Family

The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms | The Boleyn Lineage

Three bulls heads on a white field.

Place and Country of origin: Norfolk, England.

Founded: 1283

Founder: John Boleyn

Final head: Thomas Boleyn – Marchioness of Pembroke;

-Earl of Wiltshire;

-Earl of Ormond;

-Viscount Rochford.

Dissolution: 1539


The Boleyn Lineage – after Anne Boleyn – from 1536 to present day, 2021

As we know there are no direct descendants of Anne Boleyn. However, research has shown that the Boleyn lineage can be traced to the present day royal family. Whilst this article is not designed to trace the wider lineage of the Boleyn family, it will give you an overview of how the present day royal family is connected to the Boleyn family.

For ease of understanding, we shall return to Anne Boleyn’s family and begin the Boleyn lineage from one of Thomas Boleyn’s children.

We know that Anne Boleyn was one of three siblings born to Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn. Anne’s older sibling was Mary Boleyn (mistress to Henry VIII for some time) and her younger sibling, George Boleyn (who was executed on May 17, 1536, 2 days before Anne Boleyn’s execution). There are no other surviving children of Thomas Boleyn. This means Mary Boleyn was the only survivor of the Thomas Boleyn’s children.

Recommended read: Anne Boleyn – The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens.

Follow the highlighted trail from Mary (Boleyn) Stafford, the older sibling to Anne and see where it leads…

Thomas Boleyn KG [b. 1477 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. Mar 12, 1539 in Hever Castle, Kent England also known as Sir Thomas, 1st Earl of Wiltshire mar. Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn [b. 1480 Norfolk, England – d. Apr 3, 1537]

3 surviving children:

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford; Anne, Queen of England; George Boleyn.

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford also known as Carey. [b.1499 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. July 19, 1543 in Chilton Folis, Wiltshire, England.

Mary married Sir William Carey [on Feb 4, 1521 in Greenwich, London.

2 children:

Catherine Carey – Lady Knollys; Henry Carey – 1st Baron Hunsdon;

About Mary (Boleyn) (Carey) Stafford:

*Mary was a mistress to Henry VIII for some time and some believe that Catherine Carey and Henry Carey were Henry VIII’s children.

*William Carey died of sweating sickness on June 23, 1528 leaving Mary a widow with two young children.

In 1534, Mary fell in love with William Stafford KB and they married in secret, without the approval of the King or her father, Thomas Boleyn. As a result, Mary was banished from the royal court and fell into disfavour.

Mary and William Stafford had 2 children: Edward Stafford (1535 – 1545) and Anne Stafford (1536-?)

Mary did reconcile with her father who allowed her to live at Rochford Hall, Essex.

The Boleyn Lineage – Catherine Carey

Follow the highlighted names from Catherine Carey’s daughter, Lettice Knollys and see where it leads…

Catherine (Carey) Knollys, later Lady Knollys (b. 1524 – d. January 15, 1569), first cousin to Queen Elizabeth I mar. Sir Francis Knollys

15 children:

Henry (1541); Mary (1542); Lettice (1543); William (1545); Edward (1546); Maud (1548); Elizabeth (1549); Robert (1550); Richard (1552); Francis (1553); Ann (1554); a child unbaptised (1557); Thomas (1558); Catherine (1559); Dudley (1562).

Lettice Knollys (b.1543 – d.1634)

Wife of Walter Deveraux, 1st Earl of Essex (b. Sept 16, 1539 – d. Sept 22 1576);

Wife of Robert Dudley MP (b.Jun 24, 1532 – d. Sept 4, 1588);

Wife of Christopher Blount MP (b. 1565 – d. Mar 18, 1601);

Mother to > Penelope (Deveraux) Blount (b.Jan 1563 – d. Jul 7 1607); Dorothy (Deveraux) Percy (b. 1564 – d. Aug 3, 1619); Robert Deveraux KG (Nov 10, 1566 – Feb 25, 1601); Walter (Deveraux) le Deveraux (b. 1570 – d. 1591); Robert Dudley (b. Jun 6, 1581 – d. 1584)

Robert Devereux KG, 2nd Earl of Essex (Nov 10, 1566 – Feb 25, 1601); mar. Frances Walsingham

Children: 2

Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex (b.Jan 22 1591 – d. Sept 14, 1646); Lady Frances Devereux (b. Sept 20 1599 – d. Nov 23 1679)

Lady Frances Devereux (b. Sept 20 1599 – d. Nov 23 1679) mar. William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, 3rd Earl of Hertford

Children: 8

William Seymour (b.1621 – d. Jun 16 1642); Robert Seymour (b. 1622 – d. 1645/46); Henry Seymour, Baron Beauchamp of Hache (b.1626 – d. Mar 30 1654); Lady Mary Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Apr 10 1673); Jane Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Nov 1679); Frances Seymour (b. 1642 – ?); John Seymour, 4th Duke of Somerset (b. 1646 – d. Apr 29 1675) .

Jane Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Nov 1679);

Wife of: Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount of Dungarven;

Wife of: William James Edwards II

Mother of: Arabella (Boyle) Petty; Richard Boyle; Henry Boyle; Elizabeth (Boyle) Barry; Mary (Boyle) Douglas; Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington; Robert Edwards Sr.

Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington (1673 – 1703); mar. Juliana (Noel) Boyle

Children: 4

Juliana (Boyle) Bruce; Elizabeth (Boyle) Bedingfeld; Richard Boyle 3rd Earl of Burlington; Henrietta Boyle

Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1695 – 1753) mar. Dorothy Savile

Children: 3

Dorothy Boyle; Juliana Boyle; Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle.

Charlotte Elizabeth (Boyle) Cavendish (Oct 1731 – December 1754) mar. William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire

Children: 4

William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire; Dorothy Cavendish; George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington;

From 1750s – 1900s

Dorothy (Cavendish) Cavendish-Bentinck (Aug 1750 – Jun 1794) mar. William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

Children: 6

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland; Lord William Cavendish Bentinck; Charlotte Cavendish Bentinck; Mary Bentinck; William Charles Augustus Bentinck; Frederick Cavendish Bentinck

William Charles Augustus Bentinck, Lord Cavendish Lieutenant Colonel ;

Husband of: Georgiana Augusta Frederica (Seymour) Cavendish-Bentinck

1 child:

Georgiana Augusta Frederica Henrietta Cavendish-Bentinck

Husband of: Anne (Wellesley) Cavendish-Bentinck

Children: 4

Anne Hyacinthe Cavendish-Bentinck; Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck; Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck; Emily (Cavendish-Bentinck) Hopwood

Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck aka Rev. Charles William Cavendish-Bentinck (Nov 1817 – Aug 1865) mar. Carolina Louis Burnaby

Children: 3 daughters:

Nina Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck; Anne Violet Cavendish-Bentinck twin with Hyacinth Cavendish-Bentinck

Nina Cecilia (Cavendish-Bentinck) Bowes-Lyon (Sept 1862 – Jun 1938; mar. Claude George Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

Children: 10

Violet Hyacinth Bowes-Lyon; Mary Frances (Bowes-Lyon) Elphinstone; Patrick Bowes-Lyon; John Herbert Bowes-Lyon; Alexander Francis Bowes-Lyon; Fergus Bowes-Lyon; Rose Constance (Bowes-Lyon) Leveson-Gower; Michael Claude Hamilton Bowes-Lyon JP, VLL; Elizabeth Angela Marguerite (Bowes-Lyon) Windsor; David Bowes-Lyon KCVO

The Boleyn Lineage – Mary Boleyn > Catherine Carey > House of Windsor

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite (Bowes-Lyon) Windsor, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Aug 1900 – Mar 2002) mar. Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, King George VI

Children: 2

Queen Elizabeth II Windsor; Margaret Rose (Windsor) Snowdon

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Windsor (b. Apr 1926) mar. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Jun 1921 – Apr 2021)

Children: 4

Prince Charles (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor KG; Anne (Windsor) Laurence; Prince Andrew (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor; Prince Edward (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor

Conclusion on the Boleyn Lineage

There you have it – the Queen Mother and HM Queen Elizabeth II are the direct descendants of Mary Boleyn. You may also wish to know that not only the young royals, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex are direct descendants of Mary Boleyn through Prince Charles, they are also descendants of Henry Carey (son of Mary Boleyn) on the Spencer side of the family, their mother Diana, Princess of Wales (July 1961 – Aug 1997).

Recommended read

To add value to our travels and on the Boleyn trail, you may wish to read the following articles also:

1 | Tower of London – The Best Guide to What you need to know before your visit

As the title of the article suggests, this is the best guide – it has all the information from its very beginning in the 11th century to present day. Visit the places where prisoners were once tortured, the spot where Anne Boleyn was executed, the Church which was Anne Boleyn’s resting place after her execution and the lasting memorial on Tower Green.

Read: Tower of London – The Best Guide to What you need to know before your visit

Read: 7 Best Ways to Visit the Tower of London

i | Admission tickets to the Tower includes admission to see the Crown Jewels.

ii | Admission to the Tower of London is Free as it is included in the value for money London Pass

2 | Hever Castle, Kent, England

Visit the magnificent Hever Castle in Kent, England which was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. Learn of its history that spans 700 years, the incredible architecture and the beautiful gardens that surrounds the castle. There are two prayer books on display, belonging to Anne Boleyn that bears her signature.

For a complete guide including how to stay at the castle, read: The Magnificent Hever Castle – Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

3 | Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Visit Blickling Hall, a stately home in Norfolk, England which was the former home of the Boleyns and the birth place of the Anne Boleyn.

Read: Ghosts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk

the boleyn lineage

Articles and resources on British History

Anne boleyn
Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghosts
BEAUCHAMP TOWER
Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at queen's house
Books on Prisoners of the Bloody Tower
Interesting books on the Boleyns

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Resources on the Boleyn Lineage

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Interesting books on the Boleyns

Television documentary – if you wish to watch it

The Boleyns – A Scandalous Family

Thanks to a fellow blogger who kindly wrote in on this documentary after reading my previous article on the Boleyn family.

Notes by The Rev. Canon W. L. E. Parsons, Rector of Salle, in Norfolk Archaeology or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to the Antiquities of the County of Norfolk, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, Vol. XXV, 1935, p386-407

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 Part 1: Henry VIII, 1529-1530 (1879)

wikitree.com/geneology/boleyn

Anne Boleyn, A Chapter of English history, 1527-1536, Paul Friedmann

[Anne Boleyn; a Chapter of English History. 1527-1536; Volume 2]

EJ. Chapuis to Charles V., December 31, 1530, Vienna Archires, P.C. 226, i. fol. 109 , quoted in Friedmann

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives


The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today first published at timelesstravelsteps.com in September 2021

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Here is a simple guide as to how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Here is a simple guide as to how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November is a popular story in the history of England. Known also as Guido Fawkes, he was born and educated in York, England. His father died when he was eight years old and his mother married a devout Catholic.

As an adult, he was a British soldier but during the increased oppression of Catholics in England, Guy joined a group of provincial Catholics in England to protest against the Crown.

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November
Bonfire Night, a popular event in England

The conspiracy to blow-up Parliament became famously known as the Gunpowder Plot. The very night the plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night.

To commemorate the failure of Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night in the UK is celebrated with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. As it is celebrated outdoors, there are soups, sausages, baked potatoes and the traditional Parkin cake available. Parkin Cake, is a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.

Guy Fawkes (April 13 1570 – January 31 1606)

Learn more on the Tower of London and the stories behind the walls of the fortress.

GUY FAWKES & 5th NOVEMBER
The Incredible History of Britain - A tapestry of humanity
Charming City London
Books on Prisoners of the Bloody Tower

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Guy Fawkes and 5th of November first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update September 22, 2021

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Guy Fawkes and 5th of November via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Guy Fawkes and 5th of November via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/