Anne Shelton (courtier)

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Anne Boleyn
Lady Shelton
Bornc. 1483
Blickling, Norfolk, England
Died8 January 1556(1556-01-08) (aged 72–73)
Norwich, Norfolk, England
Spouse(s)Sir John Shelton
IssueMadge Shelton
John, Lord Shelton
Mary Shelton
Ralph Shelton
Thomas Shelton
Anne Shelton
FatherSir William Boleyn
MotherLady Margaret Butler

Anne, Lady Shelton née Boleyn (c. 1483[1] – 8 January 1556) was a sister of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and one of the aunts of his daughter, Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.


Anne Boleyn was born at Blickling, Norfolk,[2] the daughter of Sir William Boleyn and Lady Margaret Butler, daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and Joan de Beauchamp. She married Sir John Shelton before 1503.[3]

In 1533, Lady Shelton and her sister, Lady Alice Clere,[4] were placed in charge of the household of the King's daughter, Mary. There is some evidence that Lady Shelton was harsh towards the young Mary,[5] often taunting her with Elizabeth's higher status, but it is widely believed that she never resorted to actually hitting the young girl to chastise her. She received letters from Queen Anne criticising Mary.[6] By July 1536 Sir John Shelton was comptroller of the household established for Mary and Queen Anne Boleyn's daughter, Princess Elizabeth.[7]

In the same year five women were appointed to serve Queen Anne while she was imprisoned in the Tower and to report to Sir William Kingston, the Lieutenant of the Tower, and through him to the King's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, all that the Queen said. These women included Lady Shelton, who had perhaps fallen out with Queen Anne during Henry VIII's affair with Anne's first cousin, Lady Shelton's daughter, Madge Shelton. The other women to attend Anne were Sir William Kingston's wife, Lady Mary Kingston; Lady Elizabeth Boleyn, Queen Anne's aunt by marriage; Lady Margaret Coffin, the wife of Queen Anne's Master of the Horse; and Elizabeth Stoner, wife of the King's Serjeant-at-Arms.[8] Sir William Kingston described the five as "honest and good women", but Queen Anne said "I thynke [moche onkindnes yn the] kyng to put seche abowt me as I never loved."[9] When in 1536 the Queen was arrested and taken to the Tower, Lady Shelton was dismissed from her service.[10] Four days later Anne Boleyn was executed. Historians have debated as to whether Lady Shelton and Mrs Coffin were still in her service at the time, and whether she was one of the "four young ladies" said to have attended and escorted Anne to the scaffold.[11]

Lady Shelton was widowed 21 December 1539, and her husband was buried in the chancel of Shelton church. He was said to have been "a man of great possessions", which he sought to pass on to his heirs contrary to the Statute of Uses. When the stratagem came to light after Shelton's death, the lawyers involved were punished, and an Act of Parliament was passed annulling such "crafty conveyances".[12][13]


Anne Shelton died 8 January 1556, at Norwich.[14] It is unknown whether she was buried at Shelton church or Carrow Abbey, but her image appears in the stained glass windows of St. Mary's Church in Shelton.[15][16] Her will was proved at the Consistory Court of Norwich on 1 June 1556.[17]


Lady Shelton had three sons and seven daughters. A daughter named as 'Madge' Shelton is said to have been a mistress of Henry VIII; it is not known if Madge refers to Margaret or Mary Shelton.

  • Madge Shelton (died before 11 September 1583), married Thomas Wodehouse (or Woodhouse) of Kimberley. A Tudor bed valance decorated with the insignia of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was kept by her family and is now held by the Burrell Collection.[18][19]
  • John Shelton (1500-November 1558), 22nd Lord of Shelton, married Margaret Parker, daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and elder sister to Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford.[12]
  • Mary Shelton (died 8 Jan 1570/71), married first Sir Anthony Heveningham, and secondly Philip Appleyard.
  • Ralph Shelton (died 26 Sep 1561), married Amy Wodehouse or Woodhouse (sister of Thomas, who married Margaret Shelton).
  • Thomas Shelton (died after 1579), married Anne Appleyard
  • Anne Shelton (c.1505-1563), married first Edmund Knyvet, and secondly Christopher Coote, Esq.
  • Gabriella Shelton (died October 1558), without issue.
  • Elizabeth Shelton (died after 1561), without issue.
  • Amy Shelton (died November 1579), without issue.
  • Emma Shelton (died after 1556), without issue.[20]


  1. ^ J.S. Block, 'Shelton family (per. 1504–1558)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP 2004), gives this date.
  2. ^ "Life of Anne Boleyn". Hever Castle. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  3. ^ Richardson 2004, p. 179
  4. ^ Weir 1991, p. 260; Richardson 2004, p. 35
  5. ^ Weir 1991, p. 271
  6. ^ 'Chapuys to Charles V, 29 Jan.', in J. Gairdner (ed.), Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, vol. X: January-June 1536 (HMSO 1887), no. 199, pp. 69-70 (British History Online). See also abstract of letter to Anne Shelton in despatch of 17 February 1536, no. 307.ii, pp. 117-18 (British History Online).
  7. ^ Block 2006.
  8. ^ J. Denny, Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen (2004), p. 275.[full citation needed]
  9. ^ 'Letter III. Sir William Kyngston to Secretary Cromwell' (MS Cotton Otho C.X, fol 224b)', in S.W. Singer (ed.), The Life of Cardinal Wolsey by George Cavendish, 2nd edition (Harding and Lepard, London 1827), p. 456 (Project Gutenberg).
  10. ^ Erickson 1978; Axton & Catley 2000; Weir 2009, pp. 138–9, 222
  11. ^ Weir, p.262[full citation needed]
  12. ^ a b R. Virgoe, 'Shelton, Sir John (by 1503-58), of Shelton, Norf.', in S.T. Bindoff (ed.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558 (from Boydell and Brewer 1982), History of Parliament online.
  13. ^ Block 2006
  14. ^ "Anne Shelton". Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  15. ^ 'Hundred of Depwade: Shelton', in F. Blomefield, An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, Vol. 5 (W. Miller, London 1806), pp. 263-74 (British History Online).
  16. ^ See at norfolk stained glass: the restored glass shows some rearrangement since Blomefield's time.
  17. ^ Norfolk Record Office online catalogue, NCC will register Jagges 175
  18. ^ Zillah Dovey, An Elizabethan Progress: The Queen's Journey Into East Anglia (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1996), p. 96.
  19. ^ Tudor valance with the cipher of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Burrell Collection, 29.178.a
  20. ^ G.E.Cokayne, The Complete Peerage[full citation needed]
Secondary sources