The Privy Purse Expenses of King Henry VIII, from November 1529 to December 1532, is a very useful and fascinating primary source that brings to life Henry VIII’s courtship of Anne Boleyn.
During this period the king showered his beloved with gifts and ‘met individual bills on Anne’s behalf totalling nearly £750’ (Ives, Pg. 217). In December 1530, Henry even paid Anne for his own New Year’s Gift! (Privy Purse, Pg. 101)
There are numerous entries relating to Anne Boleyn or the ‘Lady Anne Rocheford’, as she is often referred to, with sums of money being paid for jewels, books, furniture and clothes. According to Eric Ives, in 1530 and 1531, Henry spent £220 on or for Anne and in 1532 this sum jumps to £330, not including £50 that he lost to her playing cards (Pg. 156).
On the other hand, there are only a few entries that mention Queen Catherine of Aragon!
In November of 1530, an intriguing entry, Anne was paid £20 ‘for the Redempcion of A Jewell whiche my lady Mary Rocheforde had’ (Privy Purse, Pg. 88).
Eric Ives believes that the jewel was probably one that Henry had given Mary Boleyn when she was his mistress (Pg. 210). Anne clearly wanted Mary to have no mementoes of her time with the king.
In February 1531, another curious entry: £66 13s. 4d. paid to Anne’s servant, George Taylor, ‘for po’chasing of the ferme at Grenewiche to the use of my lady Anne Rocheforde’ (Privy Purse, Pg. 113. Ives, Pg. 217). A love nest perhaps?
The detailed accounts also provide us with insights into Henry VIII’s movements during this period, allow us to piece together information about members of his household and illustrate the recreational activities that the king enjoyed.
Anne is not the only Boleyn mentioned in the accounts; Thomas and George Boleyn also make regular appearances, as do the Princess Mary, the Duke of Norfolk, Sir Francis Weston, Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton and ‘mark of the pryvat chambre’ – Mark Smeaton.
You can access an electronic version of the Privy Purse Expenses here.
Find out about items of dress for Queen Anne Boleyn and the Princess Elizabeth here.References Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Privy Purse Expenses of King Henry VIII, ed. N. H. Nicolas (1827)