Circumstantial evidence indicates a high probability that Henry VIII fathered two children by Mary Boleyn,meaning that he has many descendants in both England and America.
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Mary Boleyn's
Carey Children

— Offspring of King Henry VIII?

By Anthony Hoskins*

Reprinted with permission of the author
from Genealogists' Magazine, Vol. 25 (March, 1997), No. 9.
Posted 25 June 2007; Revised 28 June 2007

"Morever, Mr. Skydmore dyd show to me yongge Master Care, saying that he was our suffren Lord the Kynge’s son by our suffren Lady the Qwyen’s syster, whom the Qwyen’s grace might not suffer to be yn the Cowrte."
                            — John Hale, vicar of Isleworth to the Council, 20 April 1535

At Queen Elizabeth I’s death in 1603, the legitimate descendants of Henry VIII were extinct. The king’s only acknowledged illegitimate child, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond (born 1519) had died 22 July 1536, also without heirs. Although various persons have been suggested as bastards of the king, among them is only one for whom significant, contemporary documentation exists: Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon (1526-96), son of Mary (Boleyn) Carey, one-time mistress of the king, wife of William Carey (gentleman of the privy chamber and esquire of the body to the king) and sister of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second queen. Although rumors regarding Henry Carey’s royal paternity have long circulated, this article quotes for the first time a contemporary statement of 1535 that Henry Carey was King Henry VIII’s son.2

That King Henry VIII had an affair with Mary (Boleyn) Carey is indisputable fact.3 In this article, I will establish the chronology of this affair and present evidence that not just Henry Carey, but also his sister Catherine Carey, were born to Mary Boleyn during her affair with the king. The circumstantial case presented for the Careys being children of Henry VIII is founded on consideration of the following:

  1. Royal grants from Henry VIII to William Carey delineate the period of the king's affair with Mary (Boleyn) Carey: from at least February 1522 to May 1526.4
  2. Catherine Carey, Mary (Boleyn) Carey's daughter, was born in about 1524, not (as has been thought) in about 1530.
  3. Henry Carey was called "the Kynge's son" in a contemporary (1535) source.
  4. Evidence of the non-sexual marriage of William and Mary (Boleyn) Carey.
  5. The "paternal" interest shown by Henry VIII in Catherine and Henry Carey as well as the extraordinary favor shown them by Elizabeth I.
  6. The significance of the name "Hunsdon" as used by Henry Carey.
  7. Reasons the Careys' royal paternity would never have been acknowledged.


*After returning to graduate school at the University of Chicago, Anthony Hoskins acquired an M.A. in library science and history and was Genealogical Reference Librarian and Instructor for eleven years at Chicago’s famed Newberry Library. Spending four years in South Florida libraries, he came to California in 2001 for his current positions: head of the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library (a branch of the Sonoma County Library) and also Sonoma County Archivist. Following publication of Anthony Hoskins’s Mary Boleyn article in London in 1997, he and his work were featured in an article in the London Daily Telegraph, and he was also interviewed on BBC.

     1Brewer, J. S., et al., Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII (hereafter: LP), Vol. VIII, 567.
     2Cockayne, G. E., Complete Peerage [hereafter: CP], Vol. X, p. 830, Vol. VI, pp. 627-8; LP VIII, 567. "Other possible illegitimate issue include Sir John Perrot; Ethelreda, wife of John Harrington; Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon (his mother Mary Boleyn, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, became Henry’s mistress about 1520); and Sir Thomas Stucley." [Paget, Gerald, The Lineage and Ancestry of H. R. H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales [hereafter: Paget], (2 vols.), (Edinburgh and London, 1977), Vol. I, p. 33.] All references to Henry’s supposed son Sir John Perrot seem to have emanated from Sir John’s grandson-in-law, Sir Robert Naunton (1563-1635), who can obviously be considered neither an impartial nor a contemporary source. [Naunton, Sir Robert, "Fragmenta Regalia," from The Phenix (Vol. I, VII) Morphew, J., pp. 203-4 (1707)]; Dictionary of National Biography [hereafter: DNB], (New York, 1909), Vol. XV, p. 912, Vol. XIV, pp. 126-9.]
     3Scarisbrick, J. J., Henry VIII [hereafter: Scarisbrick], (1968), p. 148; Friedmann, Paul, Anne Boleyn: A Chapter of English History [hereafter: Friedmann], (1884), App. B.
     4LP III, 2074 (5), 2297 (12), 2993, 2994; IV, 464 (15) (18), 1264, 202 (2), 2218 (12); Robinson, C. J., The Herald and Genealogist [hereafter: Her. & Gen.], Vol. IV, pp. 129-30 (1880).


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