George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (May 2009)|
Blickling Hall, Aylsham
|Died||17 May 1536 (aged 31–32)
|Parents||Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
Lady Elizabeth Howard
George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford (c.1503 /c. April 1504; 17 May 1536) was an English courtier and nobleman, and the brother of queen consort Anne Boleyn. This made him the brother-in-law of King Henry VIII and the maternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth I of England. A prominent figure in the politics of the early 1530s, he was convicted of incest with Anne during the period of her trial for high treason. They were both executed as a result.
Early years and family
Thomas and Elizabeth had a number of children, including two sons named Thomas and Henry who failed to reach adulthood. Three children survived: George, Mary and Anne. There has been much debate over the centuries as to the age of the three Boleyn siblings, but there is general agreement that George was born c.1504. This stems from a number of different sources. George Cavendish says in a poem that George was about 27 when he gained a place on the Privy Council in 1529. Cavendish gives this as a maximum age in order to make his tortuous verses more rhythmic (such as "thrice nine"). In addition to Cavendish's verses, foreign diplomats believed George was too young to be appointed as Ambassador to France in October 1529. Mary's date of birth is again generally accepted as being c.1500 but there is some disagreement as to Anne's date of birth with arguments for 1501 and others for 1507. However, following the executions of Anne and George in 1536 their father wrote to Cromwell and in his letter he stated that upon his marriage his wife gave him a child every year. As Thomas and Elizabeth were married between 1498 and 1499, if Thomas is to be believed this indicates that all five Boleyn children, including the two who failed to reach adulthood, were born between 1500 and 1504, and if we accept as the evidence suggests that George was born in 1504 this is persuasive evidence for suggesting he was the youngest Boleyn child. This is the current thinking of the vast majority of modern historians with only one notable exception. George and his sisters were probably born in Norfolk at his family's home of Blickling Hall. However, they spent most of their childhood at another of the family's homes, Hever Castle in Kent, which became their chief residence in 1505 when Thomas inherited the property from his father.
Like his father, it was understood that George would have a career as a courtier, politician and diplomat. The monarchy was the font of all patronage and potential wealth and it was only through service to the Royal Family that a family could hope to achieve or protect their greatness and social position. With this in mind, George was introduced to Henry VIII's court at the age of ten, when he attended the Christmas festivities of 1514–15. He attended an indoor melee with his father and acted in a mummery with his father, and the likes of the much older Charles Brandon and Nicholas Carew, who would later prove to be such enemies of the little boy (Brandon sat on the jury which tried him and Carew helped coach Jane Seymour on how best to win the king's heart). Thanks to his family's influence and the fact he obviously impressed Henry at an early age, he became one of the King's pageboys shortly afterwards.
Since learning was highly praised at Court and essential for a career as a diplomat, George received an excellent education, speaking fluent French together with some Italian and Latin. Although his two sisters were educated abroad (Mary from 1514 to 1519, Anne from the spring of 1513 to late 1521), George remained in England throughout his formative years. George's earliest biographer suggests that George may have spent time in France as a child when his father was on embassy from January 1519, and suggests this as a reason how George could speak such perfect French from a young age and as an explanation as to how Anne and George remained so close during their formative years. However, this is pure speculation. Whatever the case, there is a long-standing tradition that George attended the University of Oxford when he was not in attendance at Court, although he does not appear in any of the university's record — a relatively frequent occurrence in the period before the English Civil War, when few of the aristocrats who attended either technically matriculated or graduated.
Less is known about George's personal life than about his celebrated court career, but what is known is that he married Jane Parker sometime during 1525. They were certainly married by January 1526 because a note of that date in Wolsey's hand confirms that an extra £20 a year had been awarded to "young Boleyn for him and his wife to live on".
There has always been much speculation as to whether the marriage of George and Jane was happy but there is no way to know for certain, as the state papers are virtually silent with regard to Jane. There is no mention of the couple having any children, which as the brother-in-law and sister-in-law to the King of England, there surely would have been had such a child existed. It had been thought that George Boleyn, dean of Lichfield may have been their son; but it is more likely that he was a distant cousin. There is no record of the couple having a child, and Jane makes no mention of a child for whom she is responsible when she wrote a begging letter to Cromwell following George's death.
Whether or not the marriage of George and Jane was happy, George had a reputation as a womaniser. George Cavendish, Gentleman Usher to Cardinal Wolsey, in his poetry entitled Metrical Visions lambastes the young man for his womanising, saying:
- I forced widows, maidens I did deflower.
- All was one to me, I spared none at all,
- My appetite was all women to devour
- My study was both day and hour.
Yet in the same poem Cavendish, who was a staunch Catholic and hated the Boleyns and what they stood for, acknowledges George's good looks and intelligence, saying:
- God gave me grace, dame nature did her part,
- Endowed me with gifts of natural qualities:
- Dame eloquence also taught me the art
- In meter and verse to make pleasant ditties.
Likewise Thomas Wyatt in his poetry also recognises George's "Great wit" (although wit in the 16th century could suggest that a person was witty and charming, it mainly meant intelligence, and it is George's intelligence that Cavendish and Wyatt were referring to.) Wyatt's verse with respect to George reads:
- Some say, 'Rochford, haddest thou not been so proud
- For thou great wit each man would thee bemoan
- Since it is so, many cry aloud
- it is a great loss that thou art dead and gone.
For all George's good looks and talent, as can be seen from the above verse, Wyatt, who was a friend of the Boleyns', also says that George was too proud. Although Wyatt's poem is often used to suggest George was hated for his arrogance there is nothing to support this. Despite George's pride Wyatt acknowledges that at his death many cried out loud that his death was a great loss. It may also be that the allegations of George's womanising are exaggerated, because there was no scandal surrounding the Boleyns' marriage and no other Boleyn enemy felt that George's behaviour towards women was base enough to comment on. Likewise neither Cavendish nor the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, who was actively looking for faults in order to demonise the Boleyns, make any mention of him being particularly arrogant. Chapuys only complaint was that George could not resist entering into Lutheran discussion whenever he was being entertained by him.
One modern historian, Retha Warnicke, believes that the men accused of being Anne's lovers were chosen because of ambiguity over their sexuality. This has led to an increasingly enduring myth that the men were charged with sodomy as well as treason. In fact none of them were charged with sodomy and there were no extant rumours of homosexuality relating to any of them. Warnicke's theory was put forth in her 1989 biography of Anne Boleyn, but it has been criticised by many other historians for lack of evidence to substantiate it.
However, recently Alison Weir has resurrected the theory regarding George's sexuality by using the same arguments that Warnicke used 20 years previously. In addition to this Weir also suggests that by his use of the phrase forced widows, Cavendish was insinuating that George was a rapist. As with the theory of George's sexuality there is no evidence to support the notion that he was a rapist. If he had been guilty of the criminal offences of rape or homosexuality, and if Cavendish knew about it, then so did the rest of the court. Yet no one ever commented on George's supposed bisexuality or even hinted at it, not even enemies of the Boleyns, such as Chapuys.[original research?]
Metrical Visions are Cavendish's interpretation of George's scaffold speech when George said he was "a wretched sinner deserving of death". Despite the current vogue for believing Cavendish was speaking of homosexuality, his 16th century interpretation was that George was apologising for his promiscuity, of which he may or may not have been guilty. To use Metrical Visions and George's scaffold speech as the sole pieces of evidence to support an argument for homosexual behaviour is problematic. The verses in Metrical Visions are based on Cavendish's interpretation of George's scaffold speech, and now, nearly five hundred years later, Warnicke and Weir re-interpret George's scaffold speech on the basis of Cavendish's metrical visions.[original research?]
Appointments and career
George is first mentioned as an adult in 1522 when he and his father received a joint grant of various manor houses in Kent. The grant was made in April, suggesting that George was born in April 1504 and that this grant was an 18th birthday gift. He received the first grant in his sole name in 1524, when at the age of 20 he received from the King a country mansion, Grimston Manor. It is supposed that this was an early wedding present made to a young man who was rapidly coming into favour. He was a firm favourite of the King and is regularly mentioned in the Privy Purse expenses as playing the King at bowls, tennis, card games and archery. He also hunted with the King and bet large sums of money with him. He won huge sums off the King but probably lost just as much, if not more. Gambling was one of the European aristocracy's favourite pastimes in the period.
In 1525, George was appointed gentleman of the Privy Chamber, functioning as the male equivalent to the King of what a lady-in-waiting was to the Queen. As part of a reorganisation of the Court structure, known as the Eltham Ordinance, Cardinal Wolsey, an opponent of the Boleyns, ensured that George lost this position six months later when he halved the number of gentlemen in the Privy Chamber. Wolsey used the reorganisation to get rid of those whom he perceived as a threat, which was something of a backhanded compliment to the 21-year old Boleyn boy whose court prominence was already being acknowledged. As compensation, George was appointed Royal Cupbearer in January 1526 in addition to his award of an additional £20 a year for him and his wife to live on.
Following her return to England in 1519, Mary Boleyn became Henry VIII's mistress. It is not known when that relationship started or when it ended or indeed for how long it lasted. It was certainly over by 1526 when the King's eyes turned to another Boleyn sibling, Anne, and by 1527 he was seeking to marry her. Much of George Boleyn's career was in furtherance to the King's desire for a divorce from his first wife to enable him to have Anne.
In June 1528, George contracted the disease known as sweating sickness whilst with the King and Catherine of Aragon at Waltham Abbey. In a letter to Anne, who also contracted the disease while at Hever Castle, Henry told her of her brother's illness and recovery.
Later that year, George was appointed Esquire to the Body and Master of the King's Buckhounds in 1528. Throughout the late 1520s grants continued to be bestowed upon him. On 15 November 1528 he became keeper of the Palace of Beaulieu and on 1 February 1529 was appointed chief steward of Beaulieu (later in October 1533 he would be granted a life interest in the Palace). On 29 July 1529 he was appointed Governor of Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam), which was a profitable sinecure.
George's diplomatic career took off in late 1529 when he was knighted and regained his former position as a member of the Privy chamber. It was also in December 1529 that he was ennobled as George, Viscount Rochford, and undertook his first assignment as a diplomat to France as Ambassador. Because of his youth, (he was only 25), it is believed that Anne's influence secured him this post, although there is no evidence that he lacked the ability to undertake the role. The French ambassador, Jean du Bellay, commented that George was considerably younger than many of the other foreign diplomats and that the appointment of a boy barely out of his teens would cause amusement. But he also goes on to say that George should be shown more honour than was ordinarily necessary, and that his reception would be well weighted.
Irrespective of his age, George quickly established a good relationship with the King of France and did well in his first embassy. George attended a total of six foreign embassies to France. The first was between late October 1529 and late February 1530. George attended with John Stokesley, the Dean of the Chapel Royal. Their mission was to encourage the universities of France to support Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. The universities' response was initially negative, but George encouraged King Francis to write a strong letter in favour of the divorce, which was later used to reverse the universities' decision.
The second was in March 1533 when he informed the King of France of his sister's marriage to the King of England. George was also instructed to encourage Francis into giving Henry more support, and following a lengthy debate George succeeded in obtaining a letter from Francis asking the Pope to concede to Henry's wishes. Not everyone was happy with George's success. The Bishop of Rome, who had found George's youth so amusing, described him as "the most unreasonable young man who ever crossed the sea". Yet despite the criticism Du Bellay grudgingly gave praise for the respect George Boleyn inspired at the meeting and the strength with which he argued the case.
George's third embassy was between May and August 1533 when he travelled to France with his Uncle the Duke of Norfolk to be present at a proposed meeting between the King of France and the Pope. It was during this mission that news reached them that the Pope had excommunicated Henry. It was George who returned to England to inform Henry of the Pope's actions.
On 10 September 1533, George carried the canopy over his royal niece the Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) at her christening, along with his uncles Lord Thomas Howard and William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham as well as John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford.
His fourth embassy was in April 1534 when George was again appointed to encourage the French King to give more support to Henry's cause, to pass similar legislation against the Pope as had been passed in England, and to arrange a meeting between the two Kings and Anne.
In July 1534, George once again attended the French court, this time to rearrange the meeting that had been arranged between the kings as a result of Anne's pregnancy (she later miscarried). In George's instructions is a passage stating he is one who the King "specially loveth and trustith".
George's final embassy was in May 1535 when he and his uncle were appointed by the King to negotiate a marriage contract between the King of France's third son and the baby Princess Elizabeth, George's niece.
When George was not abroad, he often escorted foreign diplomats and ambassadors into the King's presence. Chapuys in particular regularly refers in his dispatches to meeting "the ladies brother". In October 1529, immediately prior to George's first embassy abroad, he was instructed to escort Chapuys on his first audience with the King. Chapuys refers to meeting "a civil gentleman named Bollen". Ironically, Chapuys had liked George, before he became aware who he was.
In addition to his diplomatic career, George was an acknowledged court poet of considerable merit, and was also much admired as a talented linguist and translator. He was passionate about religious reform and translated from French into English two magnificent religious texts as presents for his sister Anne, which he dedicates "To the right honourable lady, the Lady Marchiness of Pembroke, her most loving and friendly brother sendeth greetings." The translations codify the Lutheran doctrine which both Anne and George were so immersed in, and emphasise the joint commitment of both siblings to reform of the Church. When Anne was sent a religious pamphlet by Simon Fish, "A Supplication for the Beggars", it was George, according to Fish's wife, who encouraged Anne to show it to the King. In matters of religion Anne and George Boleyn were very much a team. Though Anne had far greater influence owing to the King's infatuation with her, her brother clearly identified both of them with the new religious ideas.
George's own religious views resulted in him having an influential role in the Reformation Parliament between its conception in late 1529 and his death in 1536. Both siblings were gifted debaters on the issues of religious philosophy and it was George whom Henry chose in 1531 to argue the case for royal supremacy over the Church, before the Church's advisory body, Convocation.
On 5 February 1533, George was formally called to Parliament and his attendance rate was higher than any other Lord despite his other onerous duties, clearly indicating his commitment. He obviously voted in favour of the statutes which brought to an end the Pope's powers in England, and his commitment to religious reform earned him many enemies who held true to the Catholic faith. Various peers who were opposed to the legislation were excused attendance provided they appoint a proxy. George twice held the proxy vote of Lord LaWarr, an adherent to the old religion. Unfortunately for George, LaWarr later sat on the jury which tried him.
George also used his fine talent, intellect and religious fervour for a less savory purpose. In 1535 he was one of the special commissioners at the trial of Sir Thomas More and at the trial of three Carthusian Monks, all of whom, because of their religious convictions, had been unable to swear allegiance to the Acts of Succession and Supremacy which had been passed the previous year. George, his father, the King's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy and all other courtiers of rank were present at the monks' brutal executions which took place on 4 May 1535. In his scaffold speech at his own execution George said, "Truly and diligently did I read the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I turned not to profit that which I did read; the which had I done, of a surety I would not have fallen into such great errors". His religious dogmatism had led him into errors rather than saved him from them. That may or may not be true, but from the contents of his scaffold speech, it was certainly something George believed.
In June 1534, George was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle. These were the highest appointments in the realm and, as usual, he committed to them with zeal. He is regularly referred to in the State Papers in his position as Warden sitting at the Warden's court at Dover. From Thomas Cromwell's point of view, George's influence as Lord Warden was a thorn in his side. On 26 November 1534, George wrote to Cromwell expressing fury that Cromwell had undermined one of his orders made as Lord Warden.
Trial and execution
In 1536, Anne Boleyn miscarried a son. Her failure to provide Henry with a male heir coincided with Henry's infatuation with Jane Seymour, one of his wife's maids-of-honour. To rid himself of her, Henry and his chief advisor, Thomas Cromwell, devised a plot whereby Anne was accused of adultery with five men, one of whom was her brother, George. George was charged with incest with the Queen and plotting with Anne to kill the King. During a conversation with Chapuys following the Boleyns' deaths, Cromwell boasted that he had gone to a great deal of trouble arranging the plot, suggesting he did so in order to assist an alliance with Spain. Yet despite his boasts, during the same conversation he greatly praised both Anne and her brother for their sense, wit and courage.
On 23 April 1536 George was expected to be chosen to receive the Order of the Garter, but the honour went to a known opponent of the Boleyns. The following day Henry gave instructions to Cromwell to set up a special commission looking into various treasons.
Anne and George were arrested on 2 May 1536 the day after the May Day joust at which George was one of the principal jousters.
The four commoners implicated in the plot, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were tried on Friday 12 May. Only Smeaton confessed, probably after torture, but certainly emotional pressure. Despite lack of evidence all four men were found guilty. Thomas Boleyn sat on the jury and effectively condemned his own daughter by finding the men guilty.
Anne was pre-judged for the earlier convictions of the men found guilty of adultery with her, therefore she stood trial before her brother. George stood trial a few hours after Anne on Monday 15 May. As Anne had been found guilty before George had stood trial he too was pre-judged because he could hardly be acquitted when his sister had already been found guilty of incest. The order of the trials had been very cleverly arranged to ensure the difficult case against George could not realistically fail. Everyone who witnessed George's trial, including the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, confirmed that he put up a magnificent defence and many thought he would be acquitted. Chapuys confirmed that those watching were betting 10 to 1 that he would be acquitted and the court chronicler Charles Wriothesley said that his evidence was a marvel to hear.
There was no evidence of incest save that on one occasion he had spent a long time alone with Anne. Chapuys says he was convicted merely on a presumption. George's wife has throughout history been accused of providing evidence to support the incest charge, but this is unlikely to be correct. None of the evidence relating to the trials makes any mention of George's wife as providing evidence save for the fact that she told in a letter that Anne had told her Henry was impotent. This in itself was damning because it provided a potential motive for Anne's behaviour. Yet whatever Jane Rochford may or may not have said, it seems that the majority of the courtiers believed in his innocence, as can be seen from the wagers they were making in favour of acquittal.
Irrespective of what those at court thought, he was unanimously found guilty and the sentence of the court was that he be hanged, drawn and quartered (the sentence was later commuted to beheading). He asked for his debts be paid out of his confiscated assets so that no one would suffer from his death, and he continued to be distressed about his debts whilst awaiting death. In fact his distress was so acute that the Constable of the Tower, William Kingston wrote to Cromwell twice begging him to help ease George's conscience.
George Boleyn and the other four men were beheaded on Tower Hill on the morning of 17 May 1536. George's scaffold speech was extremely long and exemplified the orator's linguistic skills. For it to have been recorded in as much detail as it was, the vast crowd who witnessed the executions must have been virtually silent, and there could have been little booing or jeering as with normal state executions. His scaffold speech was primarily concerned with defending his religious beliefs and his passion for reform. It was not the honourable thing to deny guilt once a guilty verdict had been given in a court of law, and therefore he followed the conventions of the day by admitting he was a sinner deserving of death. He begged forgiveness of anyone he may have offended and begged for God's forgiveness. He came close to denying his guilt by declaring, beware, trust not in the vanity of the world or the flatterys of the court, or the favour and treacheries of fortune. He said he would be alive if he had not done so. By blaming fortune for his fall he came as close as he dared to denying his guilt (i.e., he was dying because luck had been against him, not because he was guilty). He then went on to speak of his religious convictions before calmly submitting his neck to the axe. Anne was beheaded two days later.
- George Boleyn (1504–1529)
- Sir George Boleyn (c. October 1529)
- Viscount Rochford (by courtesy until 5th February 1533) (8 December 1529– May 1536)
In popular culture
George Boleyn is portrayed by Michael Johnson in the 1969 film "Anne of the Thousand Days" and by Jonathan Newth in the 1970 television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII; by Steven MacKintosh in the 2003 television film The Other Boleyn Girl (based on the novel The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory); by Jim Sturgess in the 2008 film The Other Boleyn Girl (also based on the novel by Gregory). Gregory chose to incorporate into her novel Warnicke's discredited theories, and therefore portrayed George Boleyn as bisexual. She also strongly hinted that Anne and George were actually guilty of the crimes for which they were condemned. Although the film adaptation of the book does not portray George as bisexual or incestuous, it does portray him and Anne contemplating incest, which in the 16th century would have amounted to treason by intent, and it also portrays him as a somewhat weak and ineffectual young man who dies on the scaffold as a coward.
George is portrayed by Padraic Delaney in the television series The Tudors. The writers of The Tudors also chose to portray George as bisexual, but in addition to this they showed him as a cruel rapist who raped his young wife on their wedding night. As with the depictions of homosexuality, there is no extant evidence to support the notion that George Boleyn was a violent man.
George Boleyn is one of two protagonists (along with sister Anne) in a play by British writer Joanna Carrick, Fallen In Love. It was originally produced in 2011 in the grounds of Gippeswyk Hall in Suffolk, United Kingdom, and subsequently reprised for performances at the Tower of London and Gippeswyk Hall in May 2013, directed by Carrick as artistic director of Red Rose Chain theatre company. In the 2013 production, George was portrayed by Scott Ellis and Anne by Emma Connell.
- Karen Lindsey, xv, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, Perseus Books, 1995
- Eric Ives, 'Life and Death of Anne Boleyn'
- The current academic debate on Queen Anne's birth is focused on two very different dates: 1501 and 1507. See Ives, E.W. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004) for the arguments favouring the earlier date and Warnicke, R.M. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) for arguments favouring 1507.
- L&P (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII), xi. 17.
- For arguments favouring George as the youngest child, see Fox, Julia. The Infamous Lady Rochford (2008); Fraser, Antonia. The Wives of Henry VIII (1993); Ives, Eric. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004); Starkey, David. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003); Weir, Alison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1993); Denny, Joanna. Anne Boleyn (2004). For arguments favouring Anne as the youngest child see Warnicke, Retha. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989).
- L&P, ii. pp. 1500–2 confirms George's attendance at the mummery
- See Edmond Bapst, Deux Gentilhommes-Poetes de la Cour de Henry VIII (1891)
- L&P, iv. 1939 (12)
- Jane's letter is at Ellis Letters, vol ii, pp. 67-68
- Metrical Visions, pp. 20–24
- Wyatt Poems, CXLIX.
- Starkey, David. The Reign of Henry VIII, Personality and Politics, p. 79.
- L&P, x. 699.
- A schedule of the charges against the four commoners and the Boleyns are contained in the Bage de Secretis which can be found in Wriothesleyy's Chronicles, pp. 189–226.
- Warnicke. The Rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, 1989, pp. 214–19.
- Weir. The Lady in the Tower.
- See the footnote below for references to George's scaffold speech
- L&P iii. 2214 (29).
- L&P, iv. 546 (2).
- See Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII
- L&P, iv. 1939 (12).
- Letters of Henry VIII, ed T Coats (2001), p. 57.
- L&P, iv. 4779
- L&P, iv. 6075 and 5248 and Calender of State Papers (Spanish), iv. 1137.
- L&P, iv. 5815 (27).
- Du Bellay Correspondence, i. 105.
- George's instructions are contained in L&P, iv. 6073.
- The King of France's letter is at L&P, iv. 6459
- Instructions at L&P, vi. 229, 230.
- L&P, v. 882.
- L&P, vi. 556, 692, 918, 954.
- Instructions at L&P, vii. 470.
- Instructions at L&P, vii. 958.
- George's attendance is referred to in L&P, viii. 663, 666, 726, 909.
- L&P, iv. 6026.
- MS 6561, fol. iv. MS 6561, fol. 2r.
- Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol iv, p. 657/
- For an overview of George's influence see Carley in Illuminating the Book, ed M P Brown and S McKendrick (1998).
- L&P, v. 1022.
- Lehmberg. Reformation Parliament, p. 258.
- Lehmberg. Reformation Parliament, pp. 57, 218.
- George's attendances are referred to in Calender of State Papers (Spanish), v(i), pp. 453, 474, L&P viii. 609, 666, 726, 974.
- L&P, viii. 336 (16).
- L&P, vii. 1478.
- L&P, x. 1069
- L&P, x. 715, 752
- L&P, x.1036, Calender of State Papers (Spanish), 1536-38, pp. 126-8
- L&P, X, no.908
- Wolsey, ed. Singer, p. 459, L&P, x. 902
- There are many different versions of George's scaffold speech, but they all follow the basic contents. It can be found in Wriothesley's Chronicles at pages 39-40, Thomas, The Pilgrim, pages 116-17, Chronicles of Calais pages 46-7 and Constantine in Archaeologia 23 at pages 64-6. But the most detailed version of it is at Bentley, Excerpta Historia at pages 261-5
- The courtesy title was awarded to George on 8th December 1529 upon his father becoming Earl of Wiltshire. On 5th February 1533 George was formally summoned to Parliament, thereafter he became a peer in his own right. See LP, vi. 119, 123
- Lady Elizabeth Howard, Anne Boleyn's mother, was the sister of Lord Edmund Howard, father of Catherine Howard (fifth wife of Henry VIII of England), making Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard first cousins.
- Elizabeth Tilney is the paternal grandmother of Catherine Howard.
- Block, Joseph S. (2004). Boleyn, George, Viscount Rochford (c.1504–1536), courtier and diplomat. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- Cokayne, George Edward (1945). The Complete Peerage, edited by H.A. Doubleday X. London: St. Catherine Press. pp. 137–142.
- Cokayne, George Edward (1949). The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White XI. London: St. Catherine Press. p. 51.
- Davies, Catherine (2008). Boleyn (née Parker), Jane, Viscountess Rochford (d. 1542), courtier. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- Head, David M. (2008). Howard, Thomas, second duke of Norfolk (1443–1524), magnate and soldier. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- Ives, E.W. (2004). Anne (Anne Boleyn) (c.1500–1536), queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- Lindsey, Karen (1995). Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII. Reading, Maine: Perseus Books. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- Richardson, Douglas (2004). Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company Inc.
- Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.
- Deux gentilhommes-poètes de la cour de Henry VIII 
|Peerage of England|
(writ of acceleration)
Sir Edward Guilford
|Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Sir Thomas Cheyney