Geoffrey Boleyn

Sir Geoffrey Boleyn (1406–1463; also Jeffray Bulleyn, Bullen, etc) was an English merchant and politician who served as Lord Mayor of London from 1457 to 1458. He purchased the manor of Blickling, near Aylsham, in Norfolk from Sir John Fastolf in 1452, and Hever Castle in Kent in 1462.[1] He was the great-grandfather of Queen Anne Boleyn, the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. Sir Geoffrey built the domestic, mercantile and civic fortunes of the Boleyn family, and raised its status from the provincial gentry, as his brother Thomas Boleyn made a career of distinction in church and university, together building the family's wealth, influence and reputation.

Geoffrey Boleyn
Arms of the Boleyn family of London.png
Canting arms of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn: Argent, a chevron gules between three bull's heads afrontée sable
Lord Mayor of London
In office
Sheriff of London
In office
Personal details


Geoffrey Boleyn's father was an elder Geoffrey Boleyn (died 1440), yeoman of Salle in Norfolk, son of Thomas Boleyn (died 1411) of Salle and his wife Agnes.[2] His mother Alice, née Bracton, whose arms he quartered with those of Boleyn,[3] was daughter and heiress of Sir John Bracton of Norfolk. Geoffrey and Alice Boleyn of Salle are commemorated by a monumental brass in Salle Church, which shows the two figures frontally, standing, set side by side, with a memorial inscription beneath (referring also to their children) and a scroll flying between them with a Latin prayer, "God be merciful to us sinners".[4] Around 1730, Thomas Martin of Palgrave saw two subsidiary brass groups in the slab showing their five sons and their four daughters: these have long been missing.[5][6]

Brass to Cecilie Boleyn, Blickling, 1458

Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, the son of Geoffrey and Alice, therefore had four brothers and four sisters, some of whom may not have reached majority. The following, at least some of whom were buried elsewhere, are known from other sources:


Boleyn went to the City of London where he was apprenticed as a hatter and gained the freedom of the City through the Company of Hatters in 1428. However he devoted his efforts to the art of Mercery rather than that of the Hatter, and transferred to the senior livery company: in 1435/36 he appeared before the Court of Aldermen and prayed to be admitted as a Mercer, a petition which was granted.[13] Having served as a Sheriff of London in 1446–47 (in succession to fellow Mercers Hugh Wyche and Geoffrey Feilding), as a Member of Parliament for the City of London in February 1449, and as an alderman from 1452 (Castle Baynard Ward, 1452–57),[14] the year of Feilding's mayoralty, he became Master of the Mercers' Company for the year 1454.[15]

In the meantime he purchased the manor of Blickling in Norfolk from Sir John Fastolf in 1452, over which there followed a Chancery suit concerning the terms of sale.[16][17] This was before the present mansion built by Hobart arose: John Leland noted, "Syr Geffrey buildid a fair house of brike at ... in Northfolke."[18]

Transferring to the Bassishaw Ward (which he represented from 1457 to 1463), he became Lord Mayor of London in 1457–58 and was knighted[19] by King Henry VI.[1] During a gathering in the City of the leaders of the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions at a Great Council in November 1457, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn raised a strong force of citizens to ensure that there was no breach of the peace.[20] In the first year of Edward IV the manor of Abbotsley, Huntingdon ("formerly called Scottesmanner"), was confirmed to him by patent,[21] and in 1461 he and "Geffray Feldyng" headed the list of contributors towards a prest of 500 marks granted to the king by the fellowship of the Mercers for the Earl of Warwick to go into the North.[22]

In 1462, Geoffrey Boleyn purchased the Kentish manors of Hever Cobham and Hever Brocas (the two moieties of the manor of Hever) from Sir Thomas Cobham,[23] as the final step in his path of social aggrandisement, shortly before his death: the work of starting to open the castle up (with the insertion of cinquefoil cusped lights under square hood moulds) is perhaps attributable to his son Sir William Boleyn.[24] Of Blickling, Blomefield remarks, "He built the chapel of St Thomas, at the east end of the north aisle of Blickling church, and adorned the windows with beautiful painted glass, and there still remain his own arms impaling his wife's in a window there, and this inscription:

'...... Galfrida Boleyn quondam Domini istius Ville, et Anne Consortis sue, qui istam Capellam una cum Fenestra fieri [fecerunt], quorum animabus propicietur Deus.' "[8]
(.... of Geoffrey Boleyn sometime Lord of this Manor, and of Anne his Consort, who had this Chapel made along with the Window, whose souls may God prosper.)

That was in Blomefield's time, but the church was almost entirely rebuilt in the 19th century.

Death & burialEdit

Geoffrey died in 1463 and was buried in the Church of St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London:[1] his will was proved in July 1463.[25] He left £100 to make a new rood-loft for St Lawrence church, and 1000 marks to each of his three unmarried daughters. By his inquisition post mortem, held in that year, it was shown that in Kent he held the manors of Kemsing, Seal, Hever Cobham and Hever Brocays, and Chiddyngton; in Sussex, Pashley Manor in Ticehurst (as of the Rape of Hastings); in London, various properties in the area of St Mary Aldermary church, Wood Street, Milk Street and Westcheap; and in Norfolk, Blickling, Mulbarton, Horsford, Holkham (as of Buckenham Castle), Stiffkey, Filby, Postwick, Carbrooke and West Lexham.[26] Of these his widow Anna Boleyn (née Hoo) was holding only Mulbarton manor and advowson in her own right, at her death and inquisition in 2 Richard III.[27]

The church of St Lawrence Jewry was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but the memorial inscription was recorded by John Weever:

"Hic incineratur corpus quondam Gaulfridi Bulleyn, civis, merceri et majoris London, qui ab hac luce migravit 1463, cuius anime pax sit perpetua."[28][29]
(Here lies in ashes the body sometime of Geoffrey Boleyn, citizen, mercer and mayor of London, who went from this light in 1463, upon whose soul be perpetual peace.)

Marriage and issueEdit

Monumental brass of Isabel Cheyney (d.1485), eldest daughter of Geoffrey Boleyn, Blickling Church

Geoffrey Boleyn married twice. His first wife, mentioned in his will, was named Dionisia.[25] His second wife was Anne Hoo (1424–1484), the only child and heiress of Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo and Hastings (c.1396–1455), a Knight of the Garter, by his first wife Elizabeth Wychingham, a daughter of Sir Nicholas Wychingham. (Anne had three half-sisters by her father's second marriage[30]). By Anne Hoo he had issue two sons and three daughters, as given by most sources[25][7][28] (although the Norfolk historian Blomefield (1807)[8] gives three sons and four daughters,[31] perhaps inaccurately):

Minor relativesEdit

  • Simon Boleyn,[clarification needed] parochial chaplain of Salle, Norfolk died 3 August 1482.[28]
  • James Boleyn of Gunthorpe, Norfolk, died 1493 (executor to Simon's will).
  • Thomas Boleyn of Gunthorpe, Norfolk (executor to Simon's will).
  • Joan (Boleyn), named in her brother Simon's will. She married (1) Alan Roos of Salle (died 1463): he was receiver of rents for the Salle properties of Margaret Paston (née Mauteby, d. 1484).[38] Alan was son of Thomas Roos (who died 12 October 1440[6]), a prosperous merchant who built the north transept chapel and who, like the Boleyns of Salle, was a member of the Guild of the Holy Trinity of Coventry.[39][40] She married (2) Robert Aldrych, who died in 1474.

Historian Elizabeth Norton describes the Geoffrey Boleyn who died in 1440 as their great-uncle.[41]


The original ("ancient") arms of the Boleyn family are blazoned Argent, a chevron gules between three bull's heads afrontée sable. Sir Geoffrey Boleyn quartered the arms of Bracton (Azure, three mullets and a chief dauncettée or)[3]


  1. ^ a b c A. Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Grove Weidenfeld, New York 1991), p. 145. ISBN 9781446449097
  2. ^ The Boleyn Women, Elizabeth Norton (Stroud: Amberley, 2013) here.
  3. ^ a b 'Coat of arms of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London, 1457', in B. Burke, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; comprising a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the present time (London: Harrison and Sons, 1884), p.96.
  4. ^ "Deus propicius esto nobis peccatoribus": S. Badham, 'Geoffrey Boleyn, 1440, and wife Alice, Salle, Norfolk' Monumental Brass Society, Brass of the Month, May 2011.
  5. ^ W.L.E. Parsons, Salle, The Story of a Norfolk Parish, its Church, Manors and People, (Jarrold & Sons Ltd., Norwich 1937), p. 42.
  6. ^ a b F. Blomefield, An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk VIII (William Miller, London 1808), p. 275.
  7. ^ a b c d e W. Rye (ed.), The Visitacion of Norffolk, Harleian Society XXXII (London 1891), pp. 51-53 (Brampton), at p. 52.
  8. ^ a b c F. Blomefield, An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk (William Miller, London 1807), VI, pp. 386-89 (British History Online).
  9. ^ Rye, Visitacion of Norffolk, p. 52.
  10. ^ 'Thomas Boleyn' in J. Venn, Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College (Cambridge University Press 1901), III, p. 18 (Internet Archive).
  11. ^ Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry VI, VI: 1452-1461 (HMSO 1910), pp. 215-16 (Hathi Trust).
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ H. Duckworth, 'The Early History of Feltmaking in London, 1250-1604', Research Paper no. 1, for the Company of Feltmakers (June 2013), Chapter 1, p. 5 and note 22 (Worshipful Company's pdf).
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ L. Lyell & F. D. Watney (eds), Acts of Court of the Mercers' Company 1453–1527 (Cambridge University Press 1936), p. 42.
  16. ^ 'Chancery Order in a suit between Sir John Fastolf and Geoffrey Boleyn', in Report on the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Lothian, Preserved at Blickling Hall, Norfolk (HMSO 1905), pp. 29-30 (Internet Archive).
  17. ^ The National Archives (UK), Chancery, C 1/18/67 (Discovery Catalogue), Fastolf v Bolleyn, 1452-1454. View original at AALT, Image 0094.
  18. ^ L. Toulmin Smith, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543, 2 vols (George Bell & Sons, London 1908), II (Part IV), pp. 9-10 (Internet Archive).
  19. ^ D. Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (HarperCollins, 2003), p. 257.
  20. ^ R.B. Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377-1471 (Crosby Lockwood and Son, London 1914), p. 95 (Internet Archive).
  21. ^ T. Astle (ed), Calendarium Rotulorum Patentium in Turri Londinensi (Commissioners, 1802), p. 300b (Google).
  22. ^ Lyell and Watney, Acts of Court of the Mercers' Company, p. 51 (Google).
  23. ^ 'Parishes: Hever', in E. Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Vol. 3 (Canterbury, 1797), pp. 190-202 (British History Online). Search term "Bulleyn". Hasted mistakenly makes Anne Hoo the sister of Lord Hoo and Hastings, when she was really his daughter.
  24. ^ A. Emery, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500, Volume III: Southern England (Cambridge University Press 2006), pp. 355-57 (Google).
  25. ^ a b c d e f Will of Geffray Boleyn, Mercer and Alderman of Saint Lawrence Jewry, City of London (P.C.C. 1463, Godyn quire).
  26. ^ '3 Edward IV, no. 21: Galfr'us Boleyn', in Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem sive Escaetarum (Commissioners, 1828) IV: Hen. V., Hen. VI., Edw. IV. & Ric. III, p. 321 (Google).
  27. ^ '2 Richard III, no. 23, in Calendarium Escaetarum, IV, p. 420 (Google).
  28. ^ a b c d e f W.L.E. Parsons, 'Some notes on the Boleyn family', Norfolk Archaeology, XXV Part 3 (1934), pp. 386-407 (archaeology data service pdf), at pp. 396-97.
  29. ^ J. Weever, Ancient Fvnerall Monvments Within The Vnited Monarchie Of Great Britain (Thomas Harper for Laurence Sadler, London 1631), p. 398 (Google).
  30. ^ The names of the two Annes, Eleanor and Elizabeth are plainly recited with their husbands' names in Boleyn v Hoo, The National Archives, Early Chancery Proceedings, C 1/2/82-85. Full transcripts in J.W. Bayley (ed.), Calenders to the Proceedings in Chancery during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, to which are prefixed examples of earlier proceedings in that court, Vol. II (Commissioners, Westminster, 1830), 'King Edward IV': pp. li-liii (Google). View originals at AALT. See also the suit Boleyn v Echyngham in De Banco rolls, CP 40/829 (Michaelmas 8 Edward IV), m. 606 front and dorse; originals at AALT, m. 606 front a and b, and 606 dorse.
  31. ^ Blomefield, perhaps inaccurately, refers to three sons and four daughters, making Elizabeth the eldest and the wife of Sir Henry Heydon of Baconsthorp; Cecily a daughter who died young and is buried at Blickling; and Simon the third and youngest son, a priest
  32. ^ Will of Thomas Boleyn of London (P.C.C. 1471, Wattys quire). Memorial inscription: "Hic jacet Thomas Bulleyn, de Comitatu Norfolci Armiger qui obiit ultimo die mensis Aprilis A.D. 1471".
  33. ^ D. Richardson, ed. K.G. Everingham, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (Genealogical Publishing Company Inc, Baltimore, Maryland 2004), pp. 178-79.
  34. ^ E. W. Ives, 'Anne (Anne Boleyn) (c. 1500–1536), queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP 2004). Online edition (2008) (subscription required).
  35. ^ Monumental Inscription, Blickling.
  36. ^ a b Fortescue, T., Lord Clermont, A History of the Family of Fortescue in all its Branches (Private, London 1869), p. 156 (Internet Archive). This author is not alone in (mistakenly) omitting the generation of William Boleyn, son of Geoffrey and father of Thomas.
  37. ^ C.E. Moreton, 'Heydon, Sir Henry (d. 1504), lawyer', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP 2004).
  38. ^ Parsons, Salle, The Story of a Norfolk Parish, p. 149.
  39. ^ An amalgamation of the Guilds of St Mary, St John and St Catherine.
  40. ^ J.D.Tracy and M. Ragnow, Religion and the Early Modern State, views from Russia, China, and the West (Cambridge University Press 2004), p.326.
  41. ^ E. Norton, The Boleyn Women (Amberley Publishing 2013), chapter 1.


  • Cokayne, George Edward (1949). The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White. Vol. XI. London: St. Catherine Press. p. 51.
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1945). The Complete Peerage, edited by H.A. Doubleday. Vol. X. London: St. Catherine Press. pp. 137–142.
  • Hughes, Jonathan (2007). "Boleyn, Thomas, earl of Wiltshire and earl of Ormond (1476/7–1539), courtier and nobleman". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2795. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

External linksEdit

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