Lady Rochford was born in 1505 in Norfolk to the tenth Baron Morley; Henry Parker and his wife Alice St John. Jane Parker married George Boleyn in 1525 becoming Jane Boleyn and sister in law to Anne Boleyn the second wife of Henry VIII.
It was not a marriage arranged out of love, but a political matching to suit the needs of the families involved. Jane’s marriage was not a happy one as she was resentful of the close and loving relationship that her husband had with his sister.
Jane Boleyn Becomes Lady Jane Rochford
George Boleyn was knighted in the October of 1529 and was presented with the title of Earl of Rochford making his wife Lady Jane Rochford. It was in 1533 that the King married George’s sister Anne. With Anne Boleyn as queen, Lady Rochford was appointed her Lady-in-waiting or Lady of the Bed Chamber, making her privy of the ins and out of the royal marriage.
Jane had never been fond of Anne, and knowing that the king was losing interest in his wife has developed a new love interest in the form of Jane Seymour, she was instrumental in putting the case together which lead to the arrest of Anne and her imprisonment in the Tower of London.
Jane provided Thomas Cromwell with the evidence he needed to ensure that Anne could be tried for adultery, for having a relationship with several men (including her beloved brother) while married to the king. This was a charge which amounted to treason and was punishable by death.
Ups and Downs for Lady Jane Rochford
Following the execution of Anne, Jane remained in the position of Lady-in-waiting to Henry’s third and fourth wives Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves. Although the family name had fallen out of favor with the king, following the events surrounding the trial and execution of his wife, her brother and several other apparent lovers of the queen,
Jane found her family back in favor with the king when he fell in love with her cousin Catherine Howard. Jane played the role of Lady-in-waiting for her cousin when she married the king. After the marriage, she became Lady of the Privy Chamber which means that she was one of the queen’s closest attendants.
The Death of Lady Jane Rochford
Being such a close confidante to her cousin, although a position of status within the royal household, was not the best position for her to be in. Catherine used her as a go-between to carry messages between the queen and her lover Thomas Culpepper. The affair was discovered and Jane was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Methods of interrogation in Tudor times were severe and as a result, Jane lost her mind. In order for her to be sentenced and executed a new law needed to be passed by parliament that allowed for the execution of the insane. Before she was executed she found enough of her sound mind to confess that she had lied about the affairs of Queen and her husband Lord Rochford.
She is Quoted as Saying:
“God has permitted me to suffer this shameful doom as punishment for having contributed to my husband’s death. I falsely accused him of loving in an incestuous manner his sister, Queen Anne Boleyn. For this, I deserve to die.”
She lost her life within minutes of the execution of Catherine Howard.