Mary Boleyn’s son, Henry Carey, was rumored to be the illegitimate child of King Henry VIII, but this was never acknowledged by the king. He became a prominent courtier during the reigns of Henry VIII and his children.
Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn, had two children, Catherine and Henry Carey. The paternity of her son, Henry Carey, has been the subject of historical speculation due to Mary’s affair with King Henry VIII prior to her marriage to William Carey. Although it was rumored that Henry Carey was the king’s son, Henry VIII never acknowledged him as his illegitimate child, which he did with his other recognized illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy.
Henry Carey was born on March 4, 1526, and despite the rumors of his royal paternity, he was raised as the son of William Carey, a respected courtier in his own right. After William Carey’s death in 1528, Mary Boleyn faced financial difficulties, but the children were not left destitute, possibly due to the king’s intervention.
Henry Carey’s life at court was successful; he was knighted in 1545 and later created Baron Hunsdon by Queen Elizabeth I, who was his cousin if the rumors of his royal blood were true. He held several important positions, including Lord Chamberlain and a member of the Privy Council. His relationship with Elizabeth I suggests that she may have believed in their kinship, as she granted him lands and positions, and he was even rumored to be her choice as heir should she die without issue.
Henry Carey married Anne Morgan, and they had a large family. He died on July 23, 1596, and was buried with a lavish ceremony that was said to befit a royal. His descendants include several notable figures in British history, and the Carey family continued to be influential for generations.