Who Was … Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon?


Name: Henry Carey

Title/s: 1st Baron Hunsdon

Birth: 4 March 1526

Death: 23 July 1596

Burial: Westminster Abbey, London (England)

Spouse: Anne Morgan c.1529-1607

Children: Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham 1547-1602 / George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon 1547-1603 / John Carey, 3rd Baron Hunsdon ?-1617 / Henry Carey / Thomas Carey / William Carey / Thomas Carey / Edmund Carey c.1558-1637 / Robert Carey, 1st Earl of Monmouth 1560-1639 / Margaret Hoby c.1567-1605 / Philadelphia Scrope, Baroness Scrope of Bolton c.1552-1627

Parents: Mary Boleyn c.1499-1543 & William Carey c.1500-1528

Siblings: Catherine Knollys c.1524-1569

Noble Connections: Henry’s mother, Mary Boleyn, was the mistress of Henry VIII. His aunt, Anne Boleyn, became the second wife of Henry VIII, and his cousin, Elizabeth I became queen. His grandfather was Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond and his great-uncle was Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.

Controversy: It has been suggested that Henry Carey and his sister, Catherine, were actually the children of Henry VIII by his mistress, Mary Boleyn. This has never been proven and Henry never acknowledged either of them. It is now generally accepted that Henry was likely the son of William Carey, while Catherine is the one of the siblings more likely to have been the king’s, but we’ll probably never know. For a breakdown of the arguments see my previous blog post here.

Works of Fiction:

  • P.F. Chisholm – ‘A Famine of Horses’ (2016)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • None

Further Reading:

  • Kelly Hart – ‘The Mistresses of Henry VIII’ (2009)
  • Philippa Jones – ‘The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards’ (2009)
  • Amy Licence – ‘The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII’ (2014)
  • Alison Weir – ‘Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore’ (2011)
  • Josephine Wilkinson – ‘Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress’ (2010)
  • Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, by Steven Van Herwijck c.1561-3.
  • Arms of Henry Carey 1st Baron Hunsdon

Catherine and Henry Carey: Children of Mary Boleyn


Catherine and Henry Carey were the children of Mary Boleyn. Their parentage is questioned, as their father could be one of two men; either Mary Boleyn’s husband, William Carey, or her lover, King Henry VIII of England. This post will examine the evidence for each side, and look at the futures of the pair. Neither Henry nor Catherine were acknowledged by Henry VIII, unlike Henry Fitzroy, Henry VIII’s son by Bessie Blount. However, Mary Boleyn was already married, unlike Bessie Blount. If Mary was sleeping with both the King and her husband, then she herself may have been unsure of their paternity.[1] Leanda de Lisle claims that there was no evidence at all to suggest that either of Mary Boleyn’s children were fathered by Henry VIII.[2] Read on for my arguments and a summary of the ‘evidence’.

Arguments for the parentage of the Carey children

Catherine Carey by Steven Van Der Meulen 1562.
Catherine Carey by Steven Van Der Meulen 1562.

Catherine was born around 1524. Henry was born around 1525/6. Philippa Jones has these dates reversed, with Catherine in 1526 and Henry the elder, born in 1524.[3] However, I don’t believe Jones is correct, as there is more evidence for Catherine being the elder. Continue reading “Catherine and Henry Carey: Children of Mary Boleyn”

Discussion Questions – ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory


Mary Boleyn
Mary Boleyn

1. Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?

I think the importance in Mary Boleyn narrating the story comes from her journey, from a relatively innocent girl to a mature woman who has seen more than her share of political intrigue, loss and death. I don’t think Mary is an unbiased narrator, but I do think that she reports events as she sees them, without any embellishment. I think that Mary was chosen to be the narrator because she is an outsider, even within her own family, and so can be more objective than those directly involved in the plots of the court. Her loss of innocence is reflected in her sister’s rise to power. When Mary had the King’s favour she believed that nothing could go wrong, but once Anne had taken him from her, she lost her innocence and realised just what a dangerous place the world was. Through the divorce, Mary had to support her sister, and saw just how hard it was to keep the King at bay, but still interested. Her loss of innocence in complete when she sees her sister executed. Because she believes until the last minute that a reprieve must come, it was more of a shock for her when it actually happened. But at least she had Stafford to comfort her. You can easily see at which parts of the story Mary is questioning herself and her naive view of the world. She didn’t think that Henry or Anne would go through with the divorce and their marriage and so Mary questions herself, and makes us question her too. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory”

Book Review – ‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper


'The Last Boleyn' by Karen Harper (1983).
‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper (1983).

I recently finished reading Karen Harper’s The Last Boleyn, written in a similar vein to Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.

Generally, I thought it was relatively engaging, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Other Boleyn Girl. Similar to Gregory’s novel, it wasn’t really very historically accurate. For example, Anne was arrested in February when it was actually May. I enjoyed the telling from Mary Boleyn’s point of view, and what made it better than The Other Boleyn Girl in my opinion was the way it explored Mary’s time in France, which Gregory didn’t do, although the accuracy is dubious.

Genre/s: Historical Fiction / Romance / Drama.

Setting: Paris (France), London, Hever (UK)

Characters: Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Jane Boleyn, Thomas Boleyn, William Carey, William Stafford, Henry VIII, Francis I, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Wolsey, Jane Seymour, Queen Claude of France, Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor Duchess of Suffolk, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Henry Carey, Catherine Carey.

Continue reading “Book Review – ‘The Last Boleyn’ by Karen Harper”
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