Sir Francis Weston
|Died||17 May 1536 (aged 24–25)|
Tower Hill, London
|Cause of death||Decapitation|
|Resting place||Tower of London, London, England|
|Occupation||Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Henry VIII|
|Parent(s)||Sir Richard Weston|
|Relatives||Sir William Weston|
Sir Francis Weston KB (1511 – 17 May 1536) was a gentleman of the Privy Chamber at the court of King Henry VIII of England. He became a friend of the king but was later accused of high treason and adultery with Anne Boleyn, the king's second wife. Weston was condemned to death, together with George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, Henry Norris, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton. They were all executed on 17 May 1536, two days before Anne Boleyn suffered a similar fate.
He was the only son of Sir Richard Weston (1465–1541), KB, of Ufton Court in Berkshire and Sutton Place in Surrey, a prominent courtier and diplomat who served under King Henry VIII as Governor of Guernsey, Treasurer of Calais and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer. His mother was Anne Sandys, a daughter of Oliver Sandys of Shere in the parish of Dorking in Surrey. His uncle was Sir William Weston (died 1540), the last Prior of the Order of St John in England, deemed Premier Baron of England. His ancestors had long held high office in the Knights Hospitallers.
In 1526, aged only fifteen, he is listed as a page at court. Although he was twenty years younger than the King, he quickly became a minor member of the King's circle, listed as beating Henry at bowls, tennis, dice and other games. In 1532 he was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, giving him close access to the King. Other honours followed, including becoming a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533.
Marriage and children
In 1530 he married Anne Pickering, a daughter to Sir Christopher Pickering of Killington in Cumberland. An oak marriage chest with carved heads of Francis and Anne is preserved in Saffron Walden Museum in Essex. Following Francis's execution in 1536, Anne remarried to Sir Henry Knyvet (1510–1547) of Charlton in Wiltshire, Master of the Jewel Office. By Anne he had a son:
- Henry Weston (born 1535), who at the age of six became heir to his grandfather Sir Richard Weston.
Once arrested, Anne Boleyn was attended by four unsympathetic ladies, who had been instructed by the King's chief minister Thomas Cromwell to report on the Queen's actions. Anne told one of these ladies, Mrs. Coffin, that she had reprimanded Weston for flirting with Madge Shelton, who was betrothed to his fellow courtier Henry Norris. When Anne had wondered aloud to Weston why Norris had not yet married Madge, Weston replied, "[Norris] came more to her [Anne's] chamber for her than for Madge."
Francis was executed at the age of twenty-five after being accused of committing adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn, treason and plotting to kill the king. His father is said to have offered all the family had in order to gain a pardon for his son. The evidence supporting the accusations is dubious. Although a myth has arisen in the last twenty years that the men were accused of buggery as well as treason, this is unlikely to be true. This myth has arisen solely due to the unsubstantiated theories of Retha Warnicke in her 1989 biography of Anne Boleyn. None of the men was charged with buggery and there were no extant rumours of homosexuality relating to any of them. Francis was beheaded on Tower Hill on 17 May 1536 along with his co-accused, George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford; William Brereton; Henry Norris and Mark Smeaton.
- The escutcheon in the top left corner shows the Weston arms: Ermine, on a chief azure 5 bezants and the canvas bears the inscription "Weston Esq. of Sutton, Surrey". Collection of Parham Park, Sussex
- Hughes 2004.
- Lindsey 1995, p. xviii.
- Ford 2010.
- Shaw I 1906, p. 149.
- Ridgway 2012, p. 101–102.
- Ives 2005, pp. 334–335.
- A schedule of the charges against all five accused men are in the Baga de Secretis, published in Wriothesley's Chronicle volume I, pp. 189–226
- Wriothesley I 1875, p. 39–40.
- Cavendish, George (1825). Singer, Samuel Weller (ed.). The Life of Cardinal Wolsey. I. By George Cavendish, His Gentleman Usher, and Metrical Visions. London: Harding, Triphook, and Lepard.
- Clarke, Ernest (1899). "Weston, Francis". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 60. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 360–361.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Ford, David Nash (2010). "Sir Richard Weston (1465–1541)". David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History. Berkshirehistory.com. Retrieved 13 October 2013.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Friedmann, Paul (2014). Anne Boleyn. Chalford: Amberley. ISBN 9781445617619.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Hughes, Jonathan (2004). "Weston, Sir Francis (1511–1536)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29121.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link) (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Ives, Eric (2005). The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: 'The Most Happy'. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-23479-1.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Lindsey, Karen (1996). Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII (revised ed.). Cambridge: Perseus Books Group. ISBN 9780201408232.
- Ridgway, Claire (2012). The Fall of Anne Boleyn. MadeGlobal Publishing. ISBN 978-1475266122.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Shaw, William A. (1906). The Knights of England. I. London: Sherrat and Hughes.
- Warnicke, Retha M. (1989). The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521406772.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Weir, Alison (2009). The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 9780712640176.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Wriothesley, Charles (1875). Hamilton, William Douglas (ed.). A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, From A.D. 1485 to 1559. I. Printed for the Camden Society.