Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon

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"I doubt much, my Harry, whether that the victory were given me, more joyed me, or that you were by God appointed the instrument of my glory; and I assure you that for my country's good, the first must suffice, but for my heart's contention the second pleased me . . you have done much for honour . . Your loving kinswoman, Elizabeth R."

The victorious Henry was appointed Warden of the Eastern March and represented the Queen in signing a treaty with the Regent on 23 October 1571. On 31 July 1574 Henry became Keeper of Somerset House, the property of the Queen before ascending the throne. He was then named a Privy Counsellor in 1577. On 16 January 1581, Henry was appointed Captain-General of the forces responsible for the safety of English borders. He was appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household in July 1585 and would hold this position until his death. This did not prevent Elizabeth from appointing him Lord Chamberlain Lieutenant, Principal Captain and Governor of the army "for the defence and surety of our own Royal Person". The appointment occurred on 20 July 1588 in Tilbury.

Henry also served as Chief Justice in Eyre, south of the River Trent between 1589 and his death. He was Joined Commissioner of the Office Earl Marshal and High Steward of Ipswich and Doncaster. He served as Chief Justice of the Royal Forces between 20 December 1591 and his death. On 2 March 1592 Henry was appointed High Steward of Oxford for life.

Affair with Emilia Lanier

Beginning in 1587, Carey began an affair with Emilia Lanier (1569-1645), who was the daughter of a Venetian-born court musician, and she may have been covertly Jewish. Carey, 45 years older than Lanier, was Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain at the time of their affair and a patron of the arts and theatre (he was the patron of Shakespeare's theatre company, known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men, but not until two years after their affair was over).

Records indicate that Carey gave her a pension of £40 a year. Lanier apparently enjoyed her time as Carey's mistress. An entry from Forman's diary reads "[Lanier] hath bin married 4 years/ The old Lord Chamberlain kept her longue She was maintained in great pomp... she hath 40£ a yere & was welthy to him that married her in monie & Jewells". [3] In 1592, when she was 23, Lanier became pregnant with Carey's child. Carey paid her off with a sum of money and then married her off to her first cousin once removed, Alfonso Lanier, a Queen's musician. Church records show the two were married in St. Botolph's church, Aldgate, on 18 October 1592. [4] Lanier gave birth to Carey's son, Henry, in 1593 (presumably named after his father).


Henry Carey died at Somerset House, Strand on 23 July 1596 and was buried on 12 August 1596 at Westminster Abbey. On his deathbed his cousin Elizabeth I offered to create him Earl of Wiltshire; however, he refused, saying:

Madam, as you did not count me worthy of this honour in life, then I shall account myself not worthy of it in death.

Two of his sons, George, and John, successively followed him as Baron Hunsdon.

Relation to Henry VIII

Henry Carey's mother, Mary Boleyn, was mistress to King Henry VIII from 1520. [5] The exact dates when the affair started and ended are unknown, although it is believed to have ended by the time Henry Carey was born on 4 March 1526. [6]

Contemporary rumours stated that Henry was an illegitimate child of Henry VIII. Some 10 years after the child was born, John Hales, vicar of Isleworth, remarked that he had met a "young Master Carey," whom some monks believed to be the king's son. However, as Eric Ives has pointed out, the vicar was hostile towards the Boleyn family and may just have been causing trouble.[ citation needed ] The idea that Carey was Henry VIII's secret son has inspired modern historical fiction, such as the novel The Other Boleyn Girl . Alison Weir in her biography of Mary Boleyn concluded that the preponderance of evidence points to Henry Carey's sister, Catherine Carey, as being the only offspring of Mary's relations with Henry VIII.


Henry Carey and Anne Morgan's marriage resulted in the birth of sixteen children.

In addition, Henry had several illegitimate children, including Valentine Carey, who became a clergyman, ultimately Bishop of Exeter.


  1. Vivian, p.150
  2. "Carey, Henry (CRY564H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. Woods, The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer, xviii
  4. Woods, The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer, xviii. McBride, Biography of Aemilia Lanyer, 1–2
  5. Weir, p. 216
  6. Letters & Papers viii.567

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The Lord Hunsdon
Steven van Herwijck Henry Carey 1st Baron Hunsdon.png
Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, by Steven van Herwijck, c. 1561-63. Private collection, on loan to the Globe Theatre.
Justice in Eyre
South of the Trent
In office
Political offices
Preceded by Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
Succeeded by
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk
Title next held by
The Earl of Northampton
Title last held by
The Earl of Sussex
Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
Title next held by
The Earl of Suffolk
Legal offices
Preceded by Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

Succeeded by
Peerage of England
New creation Baron Hunsdon
Succeeded by