Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Boleyn and Shelton Families

I had briefly mentioned the Boleyn and Shelton families in an earlier blog post (English Nobility - Part 4). But having recently watched the The Tudors, a historical fiction TV series, it got me interested in reading and discussing more details about these two families. Of course, with almost all historical fiction there is a mixture of facts and fiction, so not everything can be relied on as truthful in the show. But I found the series fun to watch, nevertheless. Much of it seems to accurately follow actual history, of course with embellishments.

The marriage of Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII was pivotal in the political and religious upheaval resulting in the English Reformation, which had repercussions beyond England. I found the last episode of Season 2 which depicted the beheading of Anne quite moving. Anne's aunt, Anne Boleyn Shelton (my direct ancestor) was one of those sent to serve Queen Anne while she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. As I watched that final scene in Season 2, I couldn't but help notice one of the older courtiers standing on the gallows as Anne was beheaded, thinking that she must be my great ancestor, Anne Boleyn Shelton.

Earlier, my ancestor, Anne Shelton, along with her sister, Lady Alice Clere, had been put in charge of King Henry and Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary, who later became Queen of England and is often called Bloody Mary due to the large number of Protestants she had executed. On one hand, Catherine and Mary were staunch Catholics, while the Boleyn family was Protestant, creating a rift between the two factions of King Henry's own family. This is clearly displayed in the TV series. It seems that Anne Shelton may have been quite harsh to her charge, Princess Mary. Perhaps it was due to religious differences, but also the fact that Queen Catherine and her daughter Mary, would not agree to the annulment that Henry was seeking from the Pope so that he could marry Anne.

There are a couple of other connections between King Henry and the Boleyn and Shelton families, also briefly mentioned in the TV series. Anne's older sister, Mary had been a long time mistress of King Henry. Henry also had a brief fling with one of John and Anne Shelton's daughters, Margaret (or Mary) - typically called Madge. As suggested in the show it may have been correct that Queen Anne herself may have instigated this fling with her cousin Madge.

Another intriguing connection is that John and Anne Shelton's son, John was married to Margaret Parker (both also my direct ancestors), whose sister, Jane was married to George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford, a brother to Queen Anne. Jane had complained that Queen Anne and her husband, George, had incestuous relations. This was one of the accusations that caused Anne to be put in the tower and subsequently executed, although historians are not convinced of the truth of any of the charges against her. Thus we see the intricate family relations between the Boleyns, Sheltons and even the Parker families, all holding important noble titles and playing a part in this pivotal moment of history.
After the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe. Over the centuries, she has inspired, or been mentioned, in many artistic and cultural works and thereby retained her hold on the popular imagination. She has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had", for she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and declare his independence from the Holy See. [wikipedia: Anne Boleyn]
My descent from the Boleyn and Shelton families is shown in Chart #51, which is somewhat of an overlap with the earlier Chart #45.

Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

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