Henry Percy’s Goodbye Letter to Anne Boleyn, by Gayle Hulme



Mistress Anne

Please excuse the tone of this letter, as I know it will not be in keeping with our past correspondence and I am deeply saddened that it must now be this way. Although my life as heir to the estates of my father, the Earl of Northumberland is a gift from God and the King, I now see that it is also a curse that will separate us forever.

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you this day. I hope this letter will go a little way to easing my conscience and make you more comfortable about my shortage of communication. I feel it is my duty to tell you of the circumstances that have befallen me and subsequently have touched you also.


My Master, Cardinal Wolsey on learning of our affectionate behaviour towards each other in the Queen’s chamber upbraided me for not seeking the King or my father’s permission to proceed as we wished. He also informed me that you are a ‘foolish girl’ and that the King has in mind another match for you, which grieves me to my very soul.

Believe me I have fought tooth and nail for your honour and for my own but to no profit. Cardinal Wolsey and my father, on the King’s instructions have made it clear that should we have proceeded with our plans I would have been summarily disinherited and left without rank or income.

Indeed when my father arrived from his estates in the north I was immediately and to my undying mortification publicly chastised like a child. He bellowed that I was ‘proud, presumptuous, disdainful, and a very unthrifty waster’. He wasted no time in predicting to all within earshot that I would be the ruin of his house.


The insults I have suffered have been further compounded, as I am now to marry the Earl of Shrewsbury’s hag of a daughter Mary Talbot. I can think of nothing worse. She is but a feeble candle to the strength of your blazing fire. Please forgive me for the crudeness and plainness of my speaking, but I am at a loss to know how I will carry out my duty and produce an heir of my body with her. Please God she will find herself with child quickly and that I will not need to suffer her company or her bed for long.

By the time this letter reaches you I will be securely chained and shackled into marriage and I’m sure the King through the Cardinal will have advised your father, Sir Thomas Boleyn of the match he has in mind for you. I pray that your proposed marriage will be a happy and contented one. Any man would be blessed with a life of domestic harmony with a wife of such beauty, intelligence and wit.


Henry Percy

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