William Boleyn

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William Boleyn
Blickling, Norfolk, England
Died10 October 1505 (aged 53–54)
SpouseMargaret Butler
ChildrenAnne, Lady Shelton
Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
John Boleyn
Anthony Boleyn
Jane, Lady Calthorpe
Alice, Lady Clere
Margaret Sackville
William Boleyn
Sir James Boleyn
Sir Edward Boleyn
Parent(s)Sir Geoffrey Boleyn
Anne Hoo
RelativesQueen (Consort) Anne Boleyn (granddaughter)
Queen Elizabeth I of England

Sir William Boleyn, KB (1451 – 10 October 1505) of Blickling Hall in Norfolk and Hever Castle in Kent, was a wealthy and powerful landowner who served as Sheriff of Kent in 1489 and as Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1500.[1] He was the father of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, whose daughter was Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.[2][3][4]


William Boleyn was born at Blickling Hall in Norfolk,[5] the younger of the two sons of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn (1406–1463),[6] a wealthy member of the Worshipful Company of Mercers who purchased the Blickling estate in 1452[7] and served as Lord Mayor of London in 1457–58.[8] William's mother was Anne Hoo (c.1424-1484), the eldest child of Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo and Hastings of Luton Hoo in Hertfordshire, and his only child by his first wife Elizabeth Wychingham, a daughter of Sir Nicholas Wychingham of Norfolk.[9]

Fraternal inheritance[edit]

William's father died in 1463 when his estates were inherited by William's elder brother Thomas Boleyn, Esquire, of the City of London, of whom William became the heir apparent. Thomas died in 1471[10][11] and asked in his will to be buried beside his father in the Church of St Lawrence, Old Jewry in City of London, where their monumental inscriptions were recorded by John Weever in 1631.[12] Thomas appointed his mother as his executor, instructing her to sell his manor of Ingham, Norfolk.[13] William eventually succeeded to Blickling, Hever Castle, and other estates formerly held by his brother.

Hoo inheritance[edit]

In the mid-1440s Sir Thomas Hoo received the lordship of Hastings, the Garter, and his baronial title, and made his second marriage. He then secured his various manors to his own heirs and those of his younger half-brother, Thomas Hoo Esquire.[14] Lord Hoo and Hastings died in 1455:[15] his brother settled the manor and advowson of Mulbarton, Norfolk on Anne Hoo and her husband Geoffrey Boleyn, and when Anne died a widow in 1484 they descended to her son Sir William Boleyn, who presented to the joint rectory of Mulbarton-cum-Keningham in 1494, 1497 and 1500.[16] In 1487, on the death of Thomas Hoo, Esq., without issue, then by a feoffment made in 1473 (and not as heir general) William Boleyn became seised of the manor of Offeley St Leger in Offeley and Cokernhoe, Hertfordshire, and others in Sussex.[17]


He was admitted to the Mercers' Company in 1472, and (by special admission) to Lincoln's Inn in 1473.[18] He was created a Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of Richard III in 1483.[13][19] In August 1483 John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, Lord High Admiral, constituted Sir William his deputy for all the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk, for life.[20] He was charged by King Henry VII with responsibility for the beacons which were used to warn in the event of an attack on English shores.[21] As a member of the Kent gentry, owing to his seat at Hever Castle, he served as Sheriff of Kent in 1489[22] and owing to his Norfolk seat at Blickling, as Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1500.[23]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Before November 1469, William Boleyn married Margaret Butler (d. 1539/1540), the second daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond (d. 1515) by his first wife Anne Hankford.[10] As part of her marriage settlement she brought the manor of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire to her husband.[24] By his wife he had six sons and four daughters:[25]

Inheritance from marriage[edit]

In 1491 Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, William's father-in-law, received royal licence to empark, licence to crenellate and machicolate, and to build walls and towers of brick at his manor of New Hall at Boreham and Little Waltham in Essex.[40] Through Margaret Butler, wife of William Boleyn, this came to the Boleyn family. New Hall was sold in 1516 by Sir Thomas Boleyn (Sir William's son) to King Henry VIII, who rebuilt the mansion in brick as the Palace of Beaulieu.[5] Margaret Butler died around March 1539/40:[10] from 1519 onwards she was declared by inquisition to have suffered periods of insanity making her incapable of managing her own estates.[41]

Death and burial[edit]

He died on 10 October 1505 and in his will, proved later that year,[42] he requested to be buried in Norwich Cathedral beside the grave of his mother Ann Hoo, and bequeathed his various manors in Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Kent.[13] Sir William was a considerable benefactor to the fabric of Norwich Cathedral, in adorning the arches in the choir, where his arms were displayed in various places. His arms also appear in St Gregory's church, Norwich, and his house was adjacent to that of Sir Miles Stapleton. His ledger stone in the Cathedral when seen by Blomefield in 1743 was on the south side on the presbytery steps, and had been despoiled of its monumental brasses. It bore the inscription Hic jacet Corpus Willelmi Boleyn Militis, qui obiit X Octobris Anno D(omi)ni: MoCCCCCovo,[43] Cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen ("Here lies the body of William Boleyn, Knight, who died on the 10th of October in the year of our Lord the 1505th upon whose soul may God look with favour Amen"). The heraldry displayed on this stone was as follows:[44][20]

  • 1) (Boleyn single): argent a chevron gules between 3 bulls' heads sable armed or.
  • 2) (Boleyn quartering): (a) (Bracton) three mullets 2 and 1, a chief indented ermine; (b) (Butler earl of Ormond) or a chief indented azure, impaling (Hoo) quarterly argent and sable, quartering (St Omer) azure a fess between 6 croslets or, and a shield of pretence, in fess of (Wichingham) ermine on a chief sable 3 croslets pâté or.
  • 3) (Bracton single) three mullets 2 and 1, a chief indented ermine.


  1. ^ E. Griffiths, 'The Boleyns at Blickling, 1450-1560', Norfolk Archaeology, XLV Part IV (2009), pp. 453-68.
  2. ^ J. Hughes, 'Boleyn, Thomas, earl of Wiltshire and earl of Ormond (1476/7–1539), courtier and nobleman', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2007).
  3. ^ E.W. Ives, 'Anne (Anne Boleyn) (c.1500–1536), queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography' (2004).
  4. ^ Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Vol. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah. pp. 305–311. ISBN 978-1460992708.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ a b M. Phillip, 'An Old English Mansion: New Hall, Chelmsford' The Antiquary, 10 (1914), pp. 217-223 (Proquest).
  6. ^ Sir Geoffrey died testate in 1463: will of Geffray Boleyn, Mercer and Alderman of Saint Lawrence Jewry, City of London (P.C.C. 1463, Godyn quire).
  7. ^ "History of the Blickling Estate".
  8. ^ A.B. Beavan, The Aldermen of the City of London Temp. Henry III to 1912 (Corporation of the City of London, 1913), II, p. 10.
  9. ^ Weir, Alison (1992). The six wives of Henry VIII. New York: Grove Weidenfield. p. 145. ISBN 0-8021-1497-0. OCLC 1036941209.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g D. Richardson, ed. K.G. Everingham, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), p. 179; see also 2nd Edition (2011), '14. Margaret Butler' pp. 457, 458 (Google).
  11. ^ Will of Thomas Boleyn, 1471-72, in N.H. Nicolas (ed.), Testamenta Vetusta, 2 vols (Nichols and Son, London 1826), I, p. 322 (Google). The Register copy of the will (P.C.C., Wattys quire) shows will date 28 April, probate granted on 26 June (not January), 1471.
  12. ^ Their monumental inscriptions are recorded there under 'St Lawrence in the Iewrie' by John Weever, Ancient Fvnerall Monvments Within The Vnited Monarchie Of Great Britain (Thomas Harper for Laurence Sadler, London 1631), p. 398 (Google).
  13. ^ a b c d e f g 'Blickling', in F. Blomefield, An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, Volume III (W. Whittingham, Lynn/R. Baldwin, London 1769), pp. 627-28 (Google).
  14. ^ Feet of Fines, CP 25/1/293/71, no. 308. View original at AALT.
  15. ^ W.D. Cooper, 'The families of Braose of Chesworth, and Hoo', Sussex Archaeological Collections VIII (London 1856), pp. 97-131, at pp. 118-21 (Internet Archive).
  16. ^ F. Blomefield, 'Mulbarton', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, Vol. 5: Hundred of Humble-Yard (W. Miller, London 1806), pp. 75-83, at notes 11-16 and 25 (British History Online). Blomefield has some errors in this account.
  17. ^ '160. Thomas Hoo, Esq., 2 Henry VII', in Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem for Henry VII, 3 vols (HMSO 1898), I, p. 74 (Google); see also '322. Thomas Hoo, Esq, 3 Henry VII (Sussex)', p. 138 (Google).
  18. ^ The Records of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, I: Admissions from A.D. 1420 to A.D. 1799 (Lincoln's Inn 1896), p. 18 (Internet Archive).
  19. ^ W.A. Shaw, The Knights of England 2 vols (Sherratt and Hughes, London 1906), I, p. 139 (Internet Archive) has this recipient as "William Bolney".
  20. ^ a b F. Blomefield, 'City of Norwich, Chapter 41: Of the Cathedral Church and its Precinct', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, Vol. 4: The History of the City and County of Norwich, Part II (W. Miller, London 1806), pp. 1-46 (British History Online), at pp. 33-35 (Google), No. 10 in Cathedral plan (Internet Archive), and see p. 84 (no. 28) and p. 283.
  21. ^ Wilkinson, Josephine (2009). Mary Boleyn, The True Story of Henry VIII's favourite mistress. Amberley Publishing. p. 15.
  22. ^ 'The names of the Sheriffs of the county of Kent', in Richard Kilburne, A Topographie or Survey of the County of Kent (Thomas Mabb for Henry Atkinson, London 1659), pp. 388-98, at p. 396: 4 Henry VII (Umich/eebo).
  23. ^ 'Norfolk Worthies: Sheriffs of Norfolk and Suffolk', in T. Fuller, ed. P.A. Nuttall, The History of the Worthies of England, New Edition, 3 vols (Thomas Tegg, London 1840), II, pp. 473-83, at p. 480, 15 Henry VII (Internet Archive).
  24. ^ J. Parker, 'The manor of Aylesbury', Archaeologia L (London 1887), pp. 81-103, at p. 87 and p. 92 (Google).
  25. ^ a b c d D. Richardson, ed. K.G. Everingham, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), pp. 35-36, 178-79.
  26. ^ J.S. Cotman, D. Turner, S.R. Meyrick, A. Way and N.H. Nicolas, Engravings of Sepulchral Brasses in Norfolk, 2nd Edition (Henry G. Bohn, London 1838), I, p. 23 (Google) and Plate XXXIII (2 pages back).
  27. ^ a b Nina Green, Commentary, 'The National Archive PROB 11/75/31' (Will of Sir Philip Calthorpe) (2018), p. 2 (oxford-shakespeare.com pdf
  28. ^ ’Brampton' in W. Rye, The Visitations of Norfolk, 1563, 1589 and 1613, Harleian Society XXXII (1891), pp. 51-53
  29. ^ Her daughter Elizabeth, by Sir Philip Calthorpe, was not born until 1521.
  30. ^ Will of Sir Philip Calthorpe of Erwarton, Suffolk (P.C.C. 1552, Powell quire)
  31. ^ a b c d e f g 'Brampton' in W. Rye, The Visitations of Norfolk, 1563, 1589 and 1613, Harleian Society XXXII (1891), pp. 51-53 (Internet Archive).
  32. ^ Nina Green, Commentary, 'The National Archive PROB 11/27/398' (Will of Dame Alice Clere) (2011), (oxford-shakespeare.com pdf
  33. ^ J.S. Cotman, D. Turner, S.R. Meyrick, A. Way and N.H. Nicolas, Engravings of Sepulchral Brasses in Norfolk, 2nd Edition (Henry G. Bohn, London 1838), I, p. 34 and Plate LXII.
  34. ^ See image
  35. ^ R.J.W. Swales,'Sackville, John I (by 1484-1557), of Mount Bures, Essex, Withyham and Chiddingly, Suss.', in S.T. Bindoff (ed.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558 (from Boydell and Brewer, 1982), The History of Parliament Online.
  36. ^ "William Boleyn (BLN503W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge., reciting J. Venn and J.A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses Part I Vol. 1 (Cambridge University Press, 1922), p. 124 (Internet Archive). 'Uncle of the queen' must refer to the subject of this alumni entry, not to his father Sir William (as the wording suggests).
  37. ^ St Peter's Churchwardens' Account Books. London Metropolitan Archives ref. GB 0074 P69/PET4.
  38. ^ J.S. Block, 'Shelton family (per. 1504–1558)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP 2004).
  39. ^ '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). See at norfolk stained glass: the restored glass shows some rearrangement since Blomefield's time.
  40. ^ Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Henry VII, Vol. I: 1485-1494 (HMSO 1914), p. 367 (Hathi Trust).
  41. ^ "Appendix VI: The Insanity of Margaret Boleyn (Escheator's Inquisitions, Cambs and Hunts, 30 and 31 Henry VIII)", in W. Rye, 'The Murder of Amy Robsart: a Brief for the Prosecution', The Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany, III Part I (A.H. Goose and Co., Norwich 1885), pp. 251-339, at pp. 319-20 (Google).
  42. ^ Will of William Boleyn of Blikling, Norfolk (P.C.C. 1505, Holgrave quire).
  43. ^ Millensimo quingentensimo quinto (1505th)
  44. ^ Blomefield, p.35, original page image

Family Tree[edit]

John Boleyn I [1]
(relationship to Nicholas unclear)
Nicholas Boleyn [1]
John Boleyn II [1]
(c. 1300 – c. 1369)
Emma [1]
Sir John Bracton [1]Thomas Boleyn I [1]
(c. 1350–1411)
Builder of St Peter and St Paul's, Salle
Alice Bracton [1]
(c. 1390 – )
Geoffrey Boleyn I [1]
(c. 1380 – 1440)
Yeoman of Salle, Norfolk
Sir Thomas Hoo [1]
(c. 1396 – 1455)
Baron Hoo and Hastings
William Boleyn
(d. 1481)
John BoleynThe Very Rev Thomas Boleyn II [1]
(c. 1405–1472)
Master of Gonville Hall, Cambridge
Sir Geoffrey Boleyn II [1]
Lord Mayor of London
Anne Hoo [1]
(c. 1424 – 1482)
Thomas Butler
Earl of Ormond

(1426 - 1515)
Thomas Howard
(1443 - 1524)
Duke of Norfolk
Sir Thomas Boleyn III [1]
(c. 1442 – 1471)
Lord of Blickling Hall
Sir William Boleyn II [1]
Sheriff of Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk
Lady Margaret Butler [1]
(c. 1454 – 1539)
Elizabeth Howard
(c. 1480 - 1538)
Sir Thomas Boleyn [1]
(c. 1477–1539)
1st Earl of Wiltshire and Ormand
William Boleyn
Sir James Boleyn
Sir Edward Boleyn
(c. 1496 - )
George Boleyn
Viscount Rochford

Mary Boleyn
(c. 1499 - 1543)
Anne Boleyn [1]
(c. 1501 - 1536)
Queen Consort
Henry VIII
(1491 - 1547)
King of England
Elizabeth I
(1533 - 1603)
Queen of England
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Elizabeth Norton, 2013. The Boleyn Women, Amberley Publishing