Anne Shelton (courtier)

Anne Shelton née Boleyn (28 November 1475 8 January 1556) was the elder sister of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and an aunt of his daughter, Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Anne Boleyn
Lady Shelton
Born28 November 1475
Blickling, Norfolk
Died8 January 1556(1556-01-08) (aged 80)
SpouseSir John Shelton
Margaret Shelton
John, Lord Shelton
Mary Shelton
Ralph Shelton
Thomas Shelton
Anne Shelton
FatherSir William Boleyn
MotherLady Margaret Butler


Anne Boleyn was born at Blickling, Norfolk, 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.[1]

In 1533, Lady Shelton and her sister, Lady Alice Clere,[2] 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,[3] 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.[4] By July 1536 Sir John Shelton was comptroller of the household established for Mary and Queen Anne Boleyn's daughter, Princess Elizabeth.[5]

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.[6] Sir William Kingston described the five as "honest and good women", but Queen Anne said that it was "a great unkindness in the King to set such about me as I have never loved".[7] When in 1536 the Queen was arrested and taken to the Tower, Lady Shelton was dismissed from her service.[8] Four days later Anne Boleyn was executed. Historians have debated as to whether Lady Shelton and Mrs Coffin were still in her service; and whether she was one of the 'four young ladies' said to attend and escort Anne to the scaffold.[9]

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".[10]


Anne Shelton died 8 January 1556, at Norwich.[11] It is unknown whether she was buried at Shelton church or Currow Abbey, but St. Mary's Church in Shelton has a stained glass window of her.[12] Her will was proved by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 1 June 1556.


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.

Margaret Sheltonunknownbef.11 Sep 1583married Thomas Wodehouse (or Woodhouse)
John Shelton1500November 155822nd Lord of Shelton, married Margaret Parker, daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and older sister to Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford
Mary Sheltonunknown8 Jan 1570/1firstly married Sir Anthony Heveningham; secondly married Philip Appleyard
Ralph Sheltonunknown26 Sep 1561married Amy Wodehouse or Woodhouse (sister of Thomas, who married Margaret Shelton)
Thomas Sheltonunknownaft 1579married Anne Appleyard
Anne Sheltonc.15051563firstly married Edmund Knyvet; secondly married Christopher Coote, Esq.
Gabriella SheltonunknownOct 1558died without issue
Elizabeth Sheltonunknownaft 1561died without issue
Amy SheltonunknownNovember 1579died without issue
Emma Sheltonunknownaft.1556died without issue.[13]


  1. Richardson 2004, p. 179
  2. Weir 1991, p. 260; Richardson 2004, p. 35
  3. Weir 1991, p. 271
  4. Letters and Papers of the Regn of Henry VIII, vol. X, no. 199
  5. Block 2006.
  6. p.275, Joanna Denny, Anne Boleyn
  7. George Cavendish, Wolsey, pp. 451-460
  8. Erickson 1978; Axton & Catley 2000; Weir 2009, pp. 138-9, 222
  9. Weir, p.262
  10. Bindoff 1982, p. 312; Block 2006
  11. "Anne Shelton". Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  12. "Lady Anne Boleyn Shelton: Find A Grave". Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  13. G.E.Cokayne, The Complete Peerage
Secondary sources
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