THE HISTORY OF THE Life and Death OF Sr. THOMAS MORE, Lord High Chancellor OF ENGLAND IN King HENRY the Eights time.

Collected by J. H. Gent.

LONDON, Printed for George Eversden, and Henry Eversden, and are to be sold at the Maiden-head, and Grayhound in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1662.

To my worthily most ho­noured Kinsman, C. HODDESDON Esq


BEsides the Obligation I have to you by Nature, your Goodnesse hath given you the greatest interest that may be in my Time and Studies; of which if I have made any improvement, it is purely the Product and Influence of your Favour: The sense hereof hath made me prefix your Name to this Endeavour of mine, upon no other design then to make a publick pro­fession that my self and studies hold [Page]of you as of the chief Lord. And if the pettinesse of what I tendr you here, be apt to disable the justice of mine acknowledgments, you can in­form your self that a Rose or a pound of Cummin, hath often been all the Rent-service that hath been reserved upon Estates of no inconside­rable value.

That, that I here present you with, is the Life of Sir Thomas More, one of the greatest Ornaments of the Law, a man of those high employments, and so great parts to go through them, that he can be no stranger to you, nor doubt of a kind reception, especially seeing you are of as eminent courtesie as parts. I shall not venture to give any fur­ther [Page]Character of him, or com­mend him to you, but rather on the contrary expect that he will plead the boldness of my Dedication, and assure my self a favourable ac­ceptance of my poor labours from his vast worth.

Sir I have dealt with him as his Nurse did, thrown him over the hedge into your Armes, lest his me­mory should perish in the waters of Lethe: Or as some common Soul­dier, who, if he have but common civility, finding some person of great quality lying amongst the dead bodies and ready to become one of them, will make a shift with a rude charity to lugger him out of the field, und think himself sufficiently [Page]rewarded with the honour of pre­serving his life: I, (as I travelled over the Memorials of the ancient Heroes) met with this worthy Knight breathing his last in the field of honour; and an ordinary sense of humanity ingaged me (though unworthy that office) to rescue him from oblivion; unhandsomely I confesse, but excusably, because I could no better, my weak capa­city, in the very beginning of this enterprize, being overwhelmed with the plenty and copiousnesse of the subject.

I am confident, King Henry the Eighth was not so much his ene­my, as to forbid posterity to think well of him; nor his Sentence, so [Page]severe, as to condemne his Name as well as his Body, to an execu­tion; his Name no more deserved to die, then my pen does to preserve it; yet (which affords me some com­fort,) what the Reader wants in this Book, hee'l find in his Life: with which also (I hope) I have a good plea for the inconsiderablenesse of any thing, which I can offer in return of all those obligations you have been pleased to lay upon mee; which since I am never able to wipe off by strict and punctual satisfacti­on, I presume your goodnesse will by a favourable acceptation hold me discharg'd in Chancery:

I am Sir your most affectionate Kinsman, to serve and honor you, J. H.

The Heads of the following Chapters.

  • CHAP. I
    • 1 SIr Tho. More's parentage.
    • 2 The place and year of his birth.
    • 3 His education, first studies and employ­ments of youth.
  • CHAP. II
    • 1 SIr Thomas More his Marriage.
    • 2 His first preferment.
    • 3 His danger in King Hen. 7. Reign.
    • 1 His integrity in his profession of the Law.
    • 2 The beginning of his favour with King Henry the eight.
    • 3 The first honours bestowed by K. Henry the eight on Sir Thomas More.
    • 4 He is made Speaker of the lower House of Par.
  • CHAP. IV
    • 1 CArdinal Wolsey his preposition in Parlia­ment frustrated by Sir Thomas More.
    • 2 Sir Thomas More made Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster.
    • 3 His gentle disposition on all occasions.
  • [Page]CHAP. V
    • 1 SIr Th. M. prompt and ready Wit.
    • 2 His Charity to his Neighbours.
    • 3 His friendship with learned men at home and a­broad.
  • CHAP. VI
    • 1 SIr Thomas More's home entertainments and devotions.
    • 2 His behaviour to his Wife and Children.
    • 3 His miraculous cure upon his daughter M [...]rga­ret by prayer.
    • 1 THe ambition of Cardinal Wolsey.
    • 2 King H soruple concerning his marriage communicated to Sir Th. More.
    • 3 Sir Thomas More's prediction of the altera­tion of his Religion in England.
    • 4 His Embassie for peace, and happy success therein.
    • 1 THe Cardinal degraded of his Office.
    • 2 Sir Thomas More made Lord Chan­cellor of England.
  • CHAP. IX
    • 1 SIr Thomas More's affable behaviour and integrity in his Chancellorship.
    • 2 His wise remedying of long delaies in suits of law.
    • 3 His humble behaviour towards his Father.
    • 4 His admirable zeal in the cause of his Religion.
  • CHAP. X
    • 1 SIr Thomas More's penances continued in the midst of his honours.
    • 2 His charity to his poor neighbours of Chelsey.
    • 3 He refuseth to allow of Kin. Hen. divorcement.
    • 4 He sues to depose his Office.
    • 5 The death of Sir John More his Father.
    • 6 Such incredible poverty in so eminent a person, a sure sign of incomparable integrity.
  • [Page]CHAP. XI
    • 1 SIr Th. More's contempt of honour de­clared in deposing the great dignity of Chancellorship.
    • 2 His resolution to live poorly.
    • 3 He prepareth himself for his sufferings as fore­seeing them.
    • 4 He refuseth to be present at Q. Annes marriage.
    • 1 THe beginning of the Kings indignation.
    • 2 Sir Th. More. disposeth himself more im­mediately to suffer death.
    • 3 Divers accusations procured against Sir Tho­mas, alle [...]sily avoided by his innocency.
    • 4 The Nun of Canterbury, first occasion of cal­ling Sir Thomas More in question concerning Queen Anne.
    • 5 His first examination before the Kings Deputies
    • 6 His merry heart and gallant [...]esolution after his examination.
    • 1 SIr Tho. More refuseth the Oath of Su­premacy and succession.
    • 2 Sir Th. More's imprisonment, first in West­minster, then in the Tower.
    • 3 His discourse with his daughter Margaret.
    • 4 A Dialogue between him and his Wife the Lady More.
    • 5 Mr. Rich his Case.
    • 6 His Books taken from him.
    • 1 SIr Tho. More's Arraignment.
    • 2 His answer to their inditement.
    • 3 Mr. Rich's Oath against Sir Tho. clearly re­jected.
    • 4 Sentence of death pronounced against Sir Tho­mas More.
  • CHAP. XV
    • 1 THe manner how Sir Th. More was led back to the Tower.
    • 2 His daughter Margarets great expression of love to him now condemned.
    • 3 How devoutly and resolutely Sir Tho. expec­ted his execution.
    • 4 Notice of the time of his death sent him by the King.
    • 5 The manner and form of his Death.
    • 6 The Kings sadnesse thereupon.
    • [Page]7 Physiognomy of Sir Tho. More.
  • AView of Sir Thomas More's Wit and Wisdome.
  • SOme few of Sir Tho. Apothegms collect­ed out of Dr. Stapleton.
  • AN Apologie for Sir Tho. More's pleasant­nesse of Wit.



  • 1 Sir Thomas Mores Paren­tage.
  • 2 The place, and year of his birth.
  • 3 His education, first studies and employments of youth.

S. Thomas Mores pa­rentage. SIR Thomas More was the on­ly son of Sir John More Knight, and one of the Ju­stices of the Kings Bench, a man [Page 2]singular for his many rare per­fections, which are set down by his son in his Epitaph extant extant among his Latin Works Cambden reports of him for proof of his pleasantnesse of wit, that he would compare the great num­ber of women to be chosen for wives unto a bag full of Snakes, having amongst them but on [...] Eel; now if a man puts his hand into this bag, he may chance to light on the Eel, but 'tis 2 hun­dred to one if he be not stung with a Snake. Many such witty similitudes he used both in his private discourses and publiqu [...] auditory, by which and many other his perfections of wit and grace, one might guess that thi [...] child was likely to prove singu­lar, having so worthy a father.

The place and time of his birth. Sir Thomas More was born at London in Milkstreet, (where his father for the most part dwel) in the year of our Lord, one thousand four hundred and eigh­ty, and in the twentieth year [Page 3] An evi­dent dan­ger strang­ly escaped in his in­fancy. of Edward the fourth: Shortly after whose birth, was there this presage of his future eminency. His Nurse riding with him over a water, the Horse stept aside into a deep place, and put both her and the child in great dan­ger of their lives; but she en­devouring suddenly to prevent the harm of the Infant, threw it over a hedge into a field near adjoyning, and afterward by Gods assistance escaped safe her­self. When she came to take him up again, to her amazement she found him to have no hurt at all, but the Babe sweetly smiled up­on her.

His first studies, & employ­ment. Wherefore his father (as sup­posing him sent into the world for some great end) was much the more careful of his educati­on, and so put him to the Free-school of London, In S. An­thonies School in London. called St. An­thonies: where after he had been brought up in the Latine tongue, his father shortly after procured him to be recived into the house [Page 4]of the Right Reverend Prelate Cardinal Moorton Archbishop of Canterbury, In Cardi­nal Moor­tons house. and Lord High Chan­cellor of England: where though he was young of years, yet would he in the Christmas time sudden­ly sometimes step in among the Players,His to­wardliness in the Cardinals retinue. and never studying for the matter, make a part of his own there presently, amongst them which was so witty and full of Jests, that he alone made the lookers on more sport then all the Players beside: in whose wit and towardnesse the Cardi­nal much delighting, would of­ten say of him to the Nobles that several times dined with him, This child here waiting at the Table, who­soever shall live to see it, will prove a marvellous man.

The Ca­dinal sen­deth him to Oxford. Whereupon for his furtherance in learning he placed him in Canterbury Colledge in Oxford, (now called Christ Church) where when he was both in the Greek and Latine tongue sufficiently in­structed; he was then for the [Page 5]study of the Law put to an Inne of Chancery called New-Inne, He is sent to New-Inne. where for his time he very well prospered.

To Lin­colus-Inne. And from thence was admit­ted to Lincolns-Inne with very small allowance, continuing his study there until he was made and accounted a worthy Utter Barrister.His pub­lique Le­ctures up­on S. Au­stin, De Ci­vitate Dei. And then to his com­mendation he for some time read a publique Lecture of S. Austin, De Civitate Dei, in the Church of S. Laurence in the Old Jury, where­unto there resorted Dr. Groyein an excellent man, and others of the most learned of the City of London. Then was he made Rea­der of Furnivals-Inne, so remain­ing by the space of three years and more, after which time he gave himself to devotion and prayer in the Charter-house of Lon­don, religiously living there with­out vow about four year.


  • 1 Sir Thomas Mores marri­age.
  • 2 His first preferments.
  • 3 His danger in King Henry the sevenths Reign.

Sir Thomas More his marriage and first wife. NOw about this time there lived a pleasant Gentleman (and of an ancient Family) of New-hall in Essex, by name M. John Colt, who several times invited him to his house, being much delight­ed in his company, and proffered him the choice of any of his daughters, three young Gentle­women of very good carriage and complexion; whose honest con­versation and vertuous education enclined him there especially to set his affection: and although he most desired the second daugh­ter, [Page 7] Chosen out of a charitable compassi­on against his own inclination for that he thought her the fairest and most handsome, yet when he considered that it would be both a great grief, and some blemish also, to the eldest to see her younger sister prefer­red before her; [...]he then of a kind compassion framed his fan­cie toward her, and soon after married her, never the more dis­continuing his study of the Law at Lincolns-Inne, His rare knowledge in the law. but still plying the same until he was called to the Bench and had read twice, which is as often as any Judge of the Law doth read; and to which few but rare and singu­lar Lawyers do ever attain.His chil­dren by her. Be­fore which time he had placed himself and his wife in Bucklers­bury in London; where he had by her one son and three daugh­ters, in vertue and learning brought up from their youth: whom he would often exhort to take vertue and learning for their meat, and play but for their sauce.

K. Henry the 7. of­fended with Sir Tho. More. In the latter end of King Henry the sevenths Reign a Parlia­ment was called, wherein Sir Thomas More, ere ever he had read in the Court, was chosen Bur­gesse: there was then demanded by the King one Subsidie and three Fifteens for the marriage of his eldest daughter the Lady Margaret, that then should be, (as indeeed she was shortly after) the Queen of Scots; when the consent of the Lower House was demanded to these impositions, most of the rest either holding their peace, or not daring to speak against them (though very unwilling to grant them) Sr Tho­mas making a grave speech,He cros­seth the K. in Parlia­ment in an unjust impositi­on. argu­ed so strongly why these exacti­ons were not to be granted, that thereby the Kings demands were cleer overthrown and his request denyed, so that one Mr. Tyler of the Kings Privy Chamber being pre­sent thereat, went immediately from the House and told his Ma­jesty, that a beardless boy had [Page 9]frustrated all his expectations: whereupon the King being very much incensed at him, would not be satisfied until he had some way revenged it.

Sir John More the father im­prisoned to be re­venged on the son. Now forasmuch as he nothing having, nothing could lose; the King devised a causeless quarrel against Sir John More his father, keeping him in the Tower until he had made him pay to him a hundred pounds fine: hereupon it sell out that Sir Thomas More coming in a suit to Doctor Fox Bishop of Winchester, Bad coun­sel given by a poli­tique Bi­shop. one of the Kings privie Councel, the Bishop called him aside, and pretending great favour to him, promised him that if he would be ruled by him; he would not fail to restore him again into the Kings favour; meaning (as it was af­terward conjectured) to cause him thereby to confesse his of­fence against the King, that so his Highnesse might with the bet­ter colour have occasion to re­venge his displeasure against him: [Page 10] Avoided by coun­sell of the Bishops Chaplain. But when he came from the Bi­shop he fell into discourse with one Mr. Whitford his familiar friend, (then Chaplain to that Bishop, and after a Father of Si­on,) and related to him what the Bishop had said, desiring his ad­vice therein; who for the Passion of God, prayed him in no wise to follow his Counsel; For my Lord, my Master (said he) to serve the Kings turn, will not stick to consent to his own fathers death. So Sir Thomas returned to the Bi­shop no more, and had not the King soon after dyed,He retires to his qui­eter stu­dies. he was de­termined to have gone over Sea, because that being in the Kings indignation he thought he could not live secure in England, and therefore he studyed the French tongue at home, sometimes re­creating his tyred spirits on the Viol, where he also got most of the liberal Sciences, as Musick, Arithmetick, Geometrie and Astrono­mie, and grew to be a perfect Hi­storian.


  • 1 His integrity in the professi­on of the Law.
  • 2 The beginning of his favour with King HENRY the eighth.
  • 3 The first honors bestowed by King HENRY the eighth upon Sir THO. MORE.
  • 4 He is made Speaker of the Lower House of Parlia­ment.

He is made one of the Un­der-She­riffs of London. His plenti­full but honest gains AFter this he was made one of the Under-Sheriffs of London (some say, Recorder; but most the other) by which Of­fice and his learning together (as he hath been heard to say) he gained without grudge of con­science at the least 400 l. per an­num: [Page 12]Since there was at that time in none of the Kings Courts any matter of importance in Con­troversie wherein he was not of Councel with one of the parties,His inte­grity in his profes­sion of the Law. choosing the justest side, and there­fore for the most part he went away victorious: and such was the estimation which (for his learning, wisdom, knowledge, and experience) men had of him, that before he was come to the service of King Henry the eighth, at the suit and instance of the English Merchants, he was by the Kings consent made twice Am­bassadour in certain great causes between them and the Merchants of the Steel-yard; whose wise and discreet dealing therein,The be­ginning of Sir Tho. More's fa­vour with K. Henry the 8. to his high commendation, when the King understood, he caused Car­dinal Woolsey (then Lord Chan­cellour) to procure him to his service, which although the Car­dinal according to the Kings re­quest, laboured earnestly with him to effect; among many other [Page 13]his perswasions alleadging unto him, how dear his service must needs be unto his Majesty, who could not with his honour allow him lesse then he should year­ly lose by changing his former estate; but that rather he would enlarge his fortunes, and recom­pense him fully.Warily ae the first declined by S. Tho. More. Yet he loath to change his condition, made such means unto the King by the Cardinal to the contrary, that his Majesty for that time was well sa­tisfied to forbear him.

Now it fortuned shortly after that a great Ship of the Popes ar­rived at Southampton, which the King claiming for a forfeiture, the Popes Embassadour by suit unto his Grace, obtained that he might for his Master the Pope have Councel learned in the Laws of this Kingdom, and the business in his own presence (being himself a singular Civilian) in some pub­lique place be openly heard: At which time there could none of our Law be found so fit to be [Page 14]of Councel with this Embassador as Sir Thomas More; By plea­ding for the Pope against the King, he makes him one of his Privy Councell. who could report to the Embassadour in La­tine all the reasons and argu­ments by their learned Councel on both sides alleadged. Upon this the Counsellors on either part in presence of the Lord Chancellour and other the Judges in the Star-chamber had audience accordingly. Where Sir Thomas More not only declared to the Embassadour the whole sense of all their opinions, but in de­fence on the Popes side argued so learnedly, that both the foresaid forfeiture was restored to the Pope, and himself among all the hearers, for his just and commendable demeanor therein, so greatly renowned, that now for no intreaty would the King any longer be induced to forbear his service: at whose first entry thereunto, he made him Master of the Requests (having then no better place void) and within a Month after Knight,Sir Thomas More knighted. and one of [Page 15]his privie Councel, and so from time to time advanced him, con­tinuing still in his singular fa­vour and trusty service twenty years and above: during a good part whereof the King used upon Holy days,The fami­liarity of K. Henry with Sir Thomas. when he had done devotions, to send for him into his Travers, and there some­times in Astronomie, Geometrie, Divinity, and such other faculties, and sometimes of his worldly af­fairs to sit and confer with him; and at other whiles in the night would he have him up into his leads, there to discourse with him of the diversities, courses, moti­ons and operations of the Pla­nets. And because he was of a very pleasant disposition, it plea­sed the King and Queen after the Councel had supt, to call for him to be merry with them, whom when he perceived so much to de­light in his talk,Discreetly lessened by Sir Thomas himself that he could not once in a moneth get leave to go home to his wife and chil­dren (whose company he most [Page 16]desired) and that he could not be absent from the Court two days together, but that he must be sent for again; He much misliking this restraint of his liberty, be­gan thereupon somewhat to dis­semble his nature, and so by lit­tle and little to disuse himself from his former mirth, that he from thenceforth at such times was no more so ordinarily sent for.Sir Tho­mas made Treasurer of the Ex­chequer. Then one Mr. Weston Trea­surer of the Exchequer dying, the King of his own offer, without any asking, freely gave his office unto Sir Thomas More.

He is by the K. cho­sen Spea­ker of the Lower House of Parlia­ment. In the fourteenth year of his Majesties Reign, was there a Par­liament held, whereof Sir Thomas More was chosen Speaker: who being very unwilling to take that place upon him, made an oration (not now extant) for his dis­charge thereof. Whereunto when his Highnesse would not consent, he spake unto him in manner following.

A Summary of his First Speech in Parliament.

SInce I perceive (most renowned Soveraign) that it is not your Ma­jesties pleasure to reform this Election and cause it to be changed, but have by the mouth of the Right Reverend Father in God the Legat your High Chancellour,Who was then Car­dinal wol­sey. thereunto given your as­sent, and have of your great goodnesse determined far above my deserts or abilities, to repute me worthy this so weighty Office, rather then you should seem to impute unto your Commons that they had unmeetly chosen me; I am therefore, and always shall be ready obe­diently to conform my self to the accom­plishment of your high Commands,His first request to the King. most humbly beseeching your most noble Maje­sty, that [...]may with your Graces favour, before I further enter thereinto, make [Page 18]my humble intercession to your High­ness for the grant of two lowly Peti­tions, the one privately concerning my self, the other this whole Assem­bly. For my self, (gracious Sove­raign) That if I should chance here­after in any thing that is in the be­half of your Commons, to mistake my Message, and for lack of good utter­ance, by my mis-reporting, pervert or impair their prudent instructions; It may then please your most Noble Maje­sty, of your abundant grace to pardon my simplicity, giving me leave to re­pair again to them, to confer with them, and to take their more serious advice what thing, and in what man­ner I shall on their behalf speak before your Highness; that so their prudent advises and affairs be not by my folly hindred or prejudiced: which thing if it should happen (as likely it were in me) if your graces goodnesse re­lieved not my oversight, it would not [Page 19]fail to be during my life, a perpetual grudge and heavinesse to my heart. The help and remedy whereof in manner aforesaid remembered is (most graci­ous Soveraign) my first humble suit unto your Majesty.

His second request. My other humble request, (most ex­cellent Prince) is this, Forasmuch as there be of your Commons here (by your high Commandment) assembled for your Parliament: a great number which (after the accustomed manner) are appointed to treat and consult of the common affairs amongst themselves apart; and albeit (most dread So­veraign) that according to your pru­dent advise, by your honourable Writs every where declared, there hath been as due diligence used in sending up to your Highnesse Court of Parliament, the most discreet persons out of every quarter that men could esteem worthy thereof; whereby it is not to be doubt­ed, but that there is a very able As­sembly [Page 20]of wise and politique persons: yet (most victorius Prince) since a­mong so many wise men, neither is every man wise alike, nor among so many men like well-witted, every man like well-spoken: And it often happeneth that as sometimes much folly is utter­ed in painted polished Speech; so ma­ny, though rude in language, are of sound judgements, and prove the wisest Counsellors: And since also in mat­ters of greatest importance the minde is often so taken up in them, that a man rather studies what to say then how; by reason whereof the wisest man and best spoken in a whole Coun­trey fortuneth sometimes, his minde being fervent in the business, somewhat to speak so, as he he could afterwards wish to have been uttered otherwise, and yet no worse will had when he spake, then when he would so gladly change. Therefore (most gracious So­veraign) considering that in all your [Page 21]High Court of Parliament nothing is treated of but matter of weight and importance concerning the Kingdom and your own Royal estate, it could not fail to hinder and put to silence many of your discreet Commons from giving their advice and counsel, to the great hinderance of the common af­fairs, except that every of them were utterly discharged of all doubt and fear how any thing spoken among them should be taken of your Highnesse. And in this thing your well known and approved clemency puts every man in very good hope; yet such is the weight of the matter, such the reverend dread that the timorous hearts of your natural Subjects conceive towards your Highnesse, (our most undoubted So­veraign) that they cannot in this point rest satisfied, except your gracious bounty therein declared, put away the scruple of their timorous mindes, and animate and encourage them from all [Page 22]doubt: may it therefore please your Majesty (our most gracious King) of your great goodnesse, to pardon freely, without doubt of your dreadful dis­pleasure, whatsoever shall happen any man to speak in the discharging of his conscience, interpreting every mans words, how unseemly soever couched, yet to proceed of good zeal to the prosperity of the Kingdom, and the honour of your royal person; the happy estate and safety whereof, (most excel­lent Soveriagn) is the thing, all we your most humble loving subjects, accor­ding to the most bounden duty of our natural allegiance, most highly desire and pray for.


  • 1 Cardinal Wolsey's proposi­tion in Parliament frustrated by Sir THO. MORE.
  • 2 Sir THO. MORE made Chan­cellour of the Dutchy of Lan­caster.
  • 3 His gentle disposition on all occasions.

Cardinal Wolsey's entry into the Par­liament. AT this Parliament Cardi­nal Wolsey was much offen­ded with the Burgesses thereof, for that nothing was so soon done or spoken therein, but that it was immediately blown a­broad into every Ale-house. It fortuned after this, that a very great Subsidie was demanded, which the Cardinal fearing it would not passe the lower House, resolved for the furtherance of [Page 24]it, to be there present himself: before whose coming, after long debating, whether it were bet­ter but with a few of his Lords, (as the general opinion of the House was) or with his whole train royally to receive him there among them: Masters, said Sir Thomas More, for as much as my Lord Cardinal not long since, as ye all know, laid to our charge the light­nesse of our tongues, for things spoken out of this House; it shall not, in my judgement, be amisse to receive him with all his pomp; his Maces, his Pillars, his Pole-axes, his Crosses, his Hat and Great Seal too; that so if he blame us hereafter, we may be the bolder to excuse our selves, and lay it upon those that his Grace bringeth hither with him. Where­upon the House wholly agree­ing, he was received according­ly;His moti­on to the lower House. where after he had in a so­lemn Oration, by many reasons, proved how necessary it was the demands there moved should be granted, and further, shewed [Page 25]that lesse would not serve the Kings turn; who seeing the House silent, answering nothing thereunto, and contrary to his expectation, shewing in them­selves no inclination towards his request, he said unto them, Masters, You have many wise and learned men among you, and since I am by the Kings own person sent hither unto you for the preservation of your selves, and all the Kingdome; I think it fit you give me some reasonable answer. But when every man still held his peace, then he spake in particular to one Mr. Murrey, afterwards Lord Mur­rey, who making him no answer neither, he severally asked the same question of divers others ac­counted the wisest of the House: to whom when none of them all answered any thing, being before ahreed, as the custome was to make answer by their Speaker. Masters, said the Cardinall,Frustrated by Sir Th. More. unlesse it be the manner of your House (as very likely it may) by your Speaker only in such cases to expresse your mindes, here [Page 26]is without doubt a marvellous obstinate silence: and thereupon he required answer of Mr. Speaker, who first reverently upon his knees excu­sed the silence of the House, a [...] abashed at the presence of so no­ble a personage; and after |by many probable arguments pro­ved, that for them to make an­swer, was neither expedient nor agreeable with the ancient liberty of the House: in conclusion for himself he declared, that though they all had trusted him with their voices, yet except every of them could put their severall wits into his head, he alone in so weighty a matter was not able to make his Grace sufficient an­swer.Who plea­santly and wittily di­verteth the Cardinals displea­sure. Whereupon the Cardinall displeased with Sir Thomas More, that had not in this Parliament in all things satisfied his desires, sud­denly arose and departed; and afterwards in his Gallery at White-hall in Westminster, uttered unto him all his grief, saying, Would to God Mr. More you had been [Page 27]at Rome, when I made you Speaker: Your Grace not offended, so would I too my Lord, said Sir Thomas: and to put it out of the Cardinalls head, he began to talk of that Gallery of his, saying, I like this Gallery of yours, my Lord, better then your other at Hampton-Court. With which so wise digression, he broke off the Cardinals displeasant talk, so that at that time he said no more to him.

He obtai­neth a­gainst him not to be sent Lieger Embassa­dor into Spain. But yet afterwards in revenge of his displeasure, he counselled the King to send him Embassador Lieger into Spain, commending unto his Highnesse his wisdome, learning, and fitnesse for that em­ployment, and the difficulty of the Cause considered, he said there was none better able to serve his Grace therein; which when the King had broken to Sir Tho. More, and he had declared unto his Ma­jesty how unfit a journey it was for him to undertake, the nature of the Countrey, and disposition of his complexion so disagreeing, [Page 28]that he was never likely to do his Grace acceptable service therein, knowing for certain, that if his Grace sent him thither, he should send him to his grave; yet never­thelesse shewing in himself a rea­dinesse according to his duty (although with the peril of his life) to fulfill his Majesties plea­sure therein: the King allowing well his answer, said unto him, It is not our meaning Mr. More to do you hurt, but to do you good we would be glad; we therefore will think of some other, and imploy your service otherwise. And such entire favour did the King bear him,He is made Chancel­lor of the Dutchy of Lancaster. that he made him Chancellour of the Dutchy of Lancaster, upon the death of Sir Richard. Wingfield who had that office before.

Sir. Tho. More's judgement of K Hen­rie's extra­ordinary favour. King Henry took so great plea­sure in Sir Thomas his company, that he would suddenly some­times come to his house at Chelsey to be merry with him; whither on a time unlooked for, he came and dined with him, and after [Page 29]dinner in a fair garden of his, walked about an hour, holding his arm about his neck: As soon as his Grace was gone, his son-in-law Mr. Rooper, rejoycing thereat, told him how happy he was whom the King had so familiarly entertained, as he had never seen him do to any before, except Car­dinall Wolsey, whom he saw his Majesty once walk with arm in arm: I thank our Lord, son Roo­per, said he, I finde his Grace my very good Lord indeed, and I be­leeve he doth as singularly favour me as any subject within this Kingdome; yet sonne Rooper, I may tell thee, I have no cause to be proud of it, for if my Head would winne him a Castle in France, (for then there was war between us) it would not fail to go off: By which words he evidently shewed how little he joyed either in the Kings favour, or in his worldly honour, who knew well King Henrie's na­ture, that what shew of friend­ship soever he made to any, yet [Page 30]he loved none but for his own ends.

His cour­teous be­haviour in the midst of his ho­nours. Sir Thomas More though in great honour and favour with his. Prince, was not therefore puft up with pride, disdain, or arrogancy, but was of such a milde behaviour and excellent temper, that he could never be moved to any passion or anger, as his son-in-law witnesseth, who affirms, that in sixteen years time and more, that he dwelt in his house, and was continually con­versant with him; he could never perceive him so much as once in a passion: and one Margaret Gigs (who was brought up with Sir Thomas his children, and used no otherwise then one of them) be­ing a singular learned woman, saith, that sometimes she would commit a fault for the nonce, to hear Sir Thomas chide her, he did it with such gravity, such mode­ration,His meek­nesse in reprehen­ding. such love and compassion. His meeknesse also was very per­spicuous in this; if it had fortu­ned [Page 31]him with any learned men re­sorting to him from Oxford, Cam­bridge, or elsewhere (as there did divers come for desire of his ac­quaintance; some for the famous report of his wisdome and learn­ing, and some for suits of the Universities) to have entred into disputation (wherein few were comparable to him) and so far to have discoursed with him there­in, that he might perceive they could not without some inconve­nience hold out much further ar­gument against him; then lest lie should discourage them, as he that sought not his own glory, ever shewing himself more desirous to learn then to teach, he would by some witty invention break off into some other matter and give over.

Patience joyned to perfection. Upon a time the Water-bailiffe of London (sometime his servant) hearing, where he had been at dinner, certain Merchants libe­rally to rail against his old Ma­ster, was so discontented at it, that [Page 32]he hastily came to him and told him what he had heard, and; Were I, said he, in such favour and authority with my Prince as you are, such men surely should not be suffered so villainously, and falsely to misreport and slan­der me: wherefore I could wish, you would call them before you, and to their shame for their ma­lice punish them: who smiling on him, said, Why Mr. Water bai­liffe, would you have me punish those, by whom I receive more benefit, then by you all that be my friends? let them a Gods name speak as basely as they please of me, and shoot never so many arrowes at me, so long as they do not hit me, what am I the worse? but if they should once hit me, then indeed would it not a little trouble me; yet I trust by Gods help there shall none of them all be able to touch me; I have more cause I assure thee Mr. Water-bailiffe to pity them, then to be angry with them. Such height of perfection had he now attained, that he was neither allured by hopefull gains, nor [Page 33]deterr'd one whit from his duty by evil tongues, still carrying one and the same alacrity in all crosses and adversities, as in the follow­ing discourse it will more ap­pear.


  • 1. Sir Thomas Mores prompt and ready wit.
  • 2. His charity to his neighbours.
  • 3. His friendship with learned men at home and abroad.

His readi­nesse of wit upon all occasi­ons. SIR Thomas More was a man of such readinesse of Wit, that at such time as he attended upon his Highnesse in his progresse either to Oxford or Cambridge, where he was received with very eloquent Orations; his Majesty alwayes appointed him to answer them extempore, as he that was most [Page 34]prompt and ready for it. Sir Tho­mas being Chancellour of the Dutchy, was made Embassador twice joyned in commission with Cardinall Wolsey, once to the Em­perour Charls into Flanders, the o­ther time to the French King into France, whose manner was, when­soever he had occasion to be in any University, not only to be present at their Readings and Disputations, but also learnedly to dispute himself amongst them, to the great admiration of all the Auditory, for his knowledge in all sciences: who being once at Burgesse in Flanders, an arrogant fellow had set up a Thesis, that he would answer any question could be propounded unto him in what Art soever: Sir Thomas made this question to be put up for him to answer, whether Averia capta in Withernamia sunt irreplegebilia; ad­ding that there was one of the English Embassadors retinue, that would dispute with him thereof: This. Thraso, or Braggadochio [Page 35]not so much as understanding those terms of our common Law, knew not what to answer to it, and so he became ridiculous to the whole City for his presump­tuous bragging.

His chari­ty to his neigh­bours. On a time (whilest the divorce was so hotly pursued by the King, (as you shall understand hereafter) he walking with his son-in-law Mr. Rooper along the Thames side neer Chelsey, among other discourse, said unto him, Now would to our Lord (sonne Rooper) upon condition that three things were well established in Christendome,His three wishes for the good of Chri­stendome. I were put into a sack, and here presently cast in­to the Thames: What great things be those Sir, said he, that should move you so to wish? Wouldst thou know what they be (son Rooper) said he? in saith they be these: The first is, That where most part of Christian Princes be now at mortall, Unity in Peace. warre they were at an univer­sal peace. The second, That where the Church of Christ is at this time sore [Page 36]afflicted with many errors and Here­sies, Unity in Religion. it were setled in a perfect unifor­mity of Religion. An end of the Kings controver­sie. The third is, That whereas the Kings marriage is now brought in question, it were to the glory of God, and quietnesse of all parties well concluded: whereby (as this Mr. Rooper thought) he judged that otherwise it would be a distur­bance to a great part of Christen­dome.

He never asked any thing of the King. Thus did it by his doings, throughout the whole course of his life, appear that all his labour and pains, without respect of earthly profit either to himself or any of his, were onely and wholly bestowed and employed to the service of God, the Prince, and the Kingdome, who (as this Mr. Rooper hath heard him in his latter time to say) never asked of the King for himself the value of one penny.

His friend­ship with learned men. Now as he did not regard proud and vain men, so was he an intire and speciall good friend to all the learned men in Chri­stendome, [Page 37]with whom almost, he had continuall intercourse of Let­ters; but of all strangers,Sir Tho­mas More's acquain­tance with Dr. Eras­mus Rote­rodamus. Erasmus challengeth unto himself his love most especially, which had long continued between them by mu­tual letters expressing great affecti­on, & it encreased so much, that he took a journey on purpose into England to see and enjoy his per­sonall acquaintance; at which time (it is reported) how that he who conducted him in his pas­sage, procured that Sir Thomas More and he should first meet to­gether in London at the Lord Maiors Table, neither of them knowing each other, where in the dinner time, they chanced to fall into disputation, Erasmus still endeavouring to defend the wor­ser part, but he was so sharply set upon and opposed by Sir Thomas More, that perceiving he was now to argue with a readier wit then ever before he had met withall, he broke forth into these words not without some choler, Aut [...]tu­es [Page 38]Morus aut nullus: whereto Sir Thomas readily replyed, Aut tu es Erasmus aut Diabolus: because at that time he was strangely dis­guised, and had endeavoured to defend impious propositions, for although he was a singular Hu­manist and one that could utter his minde in most eloquent phrase, yet had he alwayes a delight to scoffe at religious matters, and finde fault with all sorts of Clergy-men, which is the reason that he is called by some Errans-mus.


  • 1 Sir Thomas More's home-entertainments and devo­tions.
  • 2 His behaviour to his Wife and Children.
  • 3 His miraculous cure upon his daughter Margaret by prayer.

Sir Tho. More's home en­tertain­ments and devotions. NOw although Sir Thomas More lived a Courtier, yet when he came home, as his daily custome was, besides his private prayers with his Wife and Chil­dren, to say the seven Psalms and the Letany; so was he wont also every night to go to his Chap­pell with his wife, children, and houshold, and there upon his knees ordinarily to say certain Psalms and Collects with them. And because he was desirous for [Page 40]godly purposes to be solitary, and sequester himselfe from worldly affairs, he builded a good distance from his mansion house a place which he called the New-building, wherein there was a Chappell, a Library, and a Gallery, in which as his custome was upon other dayes to busie himselfe in prayer and medita­tion, so on Fridayes he used to continue there from morning till evening, spending his time only in devout prayers and spirituall exercises.

His ser­vants disci­pline. He would not suffer any of his servants either to be idle, or to give themselves to games; but some of them he appointed to look to the Garden, assigning to every man his severall plat, some he set to sing, and some to play on the Organs: the men abode on one side of the house, and the women on the other, seldome conversing together: Erasmus saith, that there was a fatall feli­city fallen on the servants of that [Page 41]house, that none lived but in bet­ter estate after Sir Thomas Mores death, then before, and none of them touched with the least asper­sion of any evil fame.

His table talk. He used to have one read every day at his table, which being en­ded, he would ask some of them how they understood such and such a place; whereupon pro­ceeded friendly communication, recreating all men that were pre­sent, with some jest or other. When he observed any of his to spend much time in dressing themselves to be fine in their ap­parell,Against too much curiosity in dres­sing. he would tell them, That if God gave them not Hell, he should do them much wrong; for they took more pains to please the world and the Devill, then many even vertuous men did to cleanse their souls and please God.

His coun­sell given to his wife and Chil­dren. And to stir up his Wife and Children to the desire of heaven­ly things, he would sometimes use these words unto them; It is now no mastery for you Children to goe [Page 42]to heaven, for every body giveth you good counsell, To desire heavenly things. and good example: you see vertue rewarded and vice punished, so that you are carryed up to heaven as it were by the Chins: but if you live the time, that no man will give you good counsell, nor good example; when you shall see vertue punished, and vice rewarded, if you will then stand fast and firmly stick to God; upon pain of my life, though you be but half good, God will allow you for whole good. If his Wife or any of his Chil­dren had been diseased or trou­bled, he would say unto them,To bear afflictions patiently. We may not look at our pleasure to goe to heaven in feather-beds, that is not the way, for our Lord himself went thither through great pain, and by many tribulations, and the servant may not look to be in better condition then his Master. And as he would thus a­nimate and incourage them to bear their afflictions patiently, so would he also perswade them to withstand the Devil and his tem­ptations valiantly;To resist the temp­tations of the Devil. comparing that our ghostly enemy to an [Page 43] Ape; for as the Ape not well looked to, will be busie and bold to do shrewd turns, and contra­rily being spyed and checkt for them, will suddenly leap back and adventure no further: so the Devill finding a man idle and slothfull, and without resistance, ready to receive his temptations, groweth so hardy, that he will not fail to follow him untill he hath throughly brought him to his purpose; but on the other side, if he see man with diligence persevere to prevent and with­stand his temptations, he groweth so weary, that in conclusion he utterly forsaketh him: for as the Devil in his disposition is a spirit of so high a pride, that he cannot endure to be mocked; so is he of nature so envious, that he is more afraid any should assault him, lest he should thereby not onely be shamefully foiled himself, but al­so procure more matter of merit to his opposer.

A happy houshold. Many such words tending to devotion and care of their souls, had he every day at dinner and supper, after the aforesaid reading was done, and without all doubt (waving their principles) such a family as this, might be a fit pat­tern of imitation for the most re­ligious Protestant, where every one was busied about somewhat or other no carding, no dicing, no wanton company keeping, but as it were some in religious house, all chaste, all courteous, all de­vout: Their recreations was ei­ther musick of voices or Viols, for which cause he procured his Wife to play thereon to draw her minde from the world, to which by nature he perceived her to be much addicted.Their or­dinary re­creations. Thus delighted he evermore not only in vertu­ous exercise to be employed him­self, but also to exhort his Wife and Children to follow the same.

On a time his daughter Marga­ret, Wife to Mr. William Rooper, fell sick of the sweating sicknesse, [Page 45](of which many that year dyed) who lying in so great extremity of that disease,His mira­culous cure upon his daugh­ter Marga­ret. as by no inventi­ons or devises of Physitians (of whom she had divers, both ex­pert, wise, and well learned, con­tinually attendant about her) she could be kept from sleep; so that both Physitians and every one a­bout her despaired of her recove­ry, and gave her utterly over: her father (as he that most intirely tendred her) being in no small heavinesse for her, sought to get her remedy from God by Prayer: whereupon going up, as his cu­stome was, into hit foresaid New­building, he there in his Chappel upon his knees most devoutly, and with many tears besought Almighty God, that it would please him of his goodnesse, (unto whom nothing was impossible) if it were his blessed will, at his mediation to vouchsafe gracious­ly to hear his petition: where presently it came into his minde, that a Glyster was her only re­medy; [Page 46]which when he told the Physitians, they by and by con­fessed, if there were any hope of health, that that was the very best help indeed, much wondring that of themselves they had not before remembred it. Then was it im­mediately applyed unto her sleep­ing; which she by no means could have been brought unto waking: and although after she was there­by throughly awaked, Gods marks and evident undoubted tokens of death plainly appeared upon her; yet she (contrary to all their expectations) miracu­lously recovered, and shortly af­ter was restored to perfect health again; whom if it had pleased God at that time to have taken to his mercy, her father solemnly protested that he would never have medled with worldly affairs more.


  • 1 The Ambition of Cardinall Wolsey.
  • 2 King Henrie's scruple about his marriage communicated to Sir Thomas More.
  • 3 Sir Thomas More's Pre­diction of the alteration of Religion in England.
  • 4 His Embassie for peace and happy successe therein.

Cardinal Wolsey his ambition. WHile Sir Thomas More was Chancellor of the Dut­chy, the Sea of Rome chanced to be void, which was cause of much trouble: for Cardinall Wolsey, a man of unsatiable ambition, ha­ving crept up in favour of Charles the first, hoped now by his means to aspire to that dignity; but [Page 48]perceiving himself disappointed of his expectations by means of the Emperor Charles, so highly commending one Cardinal Adrian sometime his Schoolmaster to the Cardinals of Rome in the time of their Election for his vertue and worthinesse, that thereupon he was chosen Pope:Pope Adri­an's humi­lity. who from Spain, where he was then resi­dent, coming on foot to Rome, before his entry into the City, did put off his hose and shooes, barefooted, and bareleg'd passing through the streets towards his Palace with such humblenesse, that all the people had him in great reverence. But Cardinall Wolsey was so inraged at it, and so stomach'd the Emperor for ever after, that he studied all wayes how he might possibly revenge himself against him; which as it was the beginning of a lamenta­ble. Tragedy, so some part there­of as not impertinent to my pre­sent purpose, I suppose requisite here to insert.

This Cardinal therefore not ig­norant of the Kings unconstant and fickle disposition, upon every light occasion soon inclined to withdraw his devotion from his own wife Queen Katherine to fixit upon others, who either in nobi­lity, wisdome, vertue, favour, or beauty, were nothing comparable unto her, intending this fickleness of his an instrument to bring a­bout his ungodly designe, ende­voured all he could to allure the King to fansie one of the French Kings sisters, the King being alrea­dy (though unknown to the Car­dinall) fallen in love with the La­dy Anne Bullen; which thing, be­cause of the enmity and war, that was at that time between the French King and the Emperor (whom for the cause afore menti­oned he mortally maligned) he was desirous to procure.

And for the better accom­plishing thereof, he requested Longland Bishop of London, and ghostly father to the King, to put [Page 50]a scruple into the Kings head,Longland B. of Lon­don Wol­sy's in­strument. th [...] it was not lawfull for him to mar­ry his brothers wife: which th [...] King not sorry to hear of, opene [...] it first to Sir Thomas More, whos [...] counsel he required therein,K. Henry communi­cateth with Sit Thomas More his scruple concer­ning his first mar­riage. shew­ing certain places of Scripture tha [...] somewhat seemed to serve hi [...] turn: which when he had seriousl [...] perused and thereupon excuse [...] himself, (as one that never h [...] profest the study of Divinity) t [...] be many wayes unfit to meddle i [...] such matters: The King not sat [...] ­fied with this answer, still presse [...] upon him so sore for it, that i [...] conclusion he condescended to h [...] Graces request. And further, be­cause the businesse was of suc [...] weight and importance, as requi­red good advisement and delibera­tion: he besought his Grace tha [...] he would give him sufficient ti [...] serio [...]ly to consider it; where with the Kng very well conten­ted, told him that Tunstall an [...] Clark Bishops of Durham and Bath with other the most learned of [Page 51]his privy Councell, should also confer with him therein.

So Sir Thomas More departing compared those places of Scrip­ture with the expositions of di­vers of the old holy Doctors; and at his coming next to the Court, in talking with his Majesty of the foresaid matter, he said, To be plain with your Grace, neither my Lord of Durham, nor my Lord of Bath (though I know them both to be wise, vertuous learned and honourable Prelates) nor my self with the rest of your Councel (being all of us your Majesties own ser­vants, so much bound unto your High­nesse for your great favours daily be­stowed upon us) be, in my judgment, meet Councellors for your Grace herein; but if your Highnesse please to under­stand the very truth, you may have such Councellors devised, as neither for res­pect of their own worldly profit, nor for fear of your Princely authority will be inclined to deceive you: and then named S, Hierome, S. Austine, and divers other holy Doctors, both Greeks and Latines, and also shew­ed [Page 52]what authority he had gathe­red out of them; which although the King, as not agreeing with his desires, did not very well like of, yet were they by Sir Thomas More (who in all his communicati­on with the King in that business, had alwaies most discreetly demea­ned himself) so wisely tempered, that both at that present he took them in good part, and often af­terwards had thereof conference with him again.

The begin­ning of K. Henrie's separation from the Church of Rome. After this, were there certain questions propounded among his Councell, Whether the King in the case of his first marriage nee­ded to have any scruple at all; and if he had, what way were best to remove it. The most of his Coun­cel were of opinion that there was good cause:Scruple of his marri­age with Queen Katharine because Queen Kathe­rine being married before to Prince Arthur King Henrie's elder bro­ther, was not to be wife to two brothers; and therefore for dis­charging of this, suit was to be made to the See of Rome where the [Page 53]King by liberality hoped to obtain his desires: wherein, as it appea­red afterwards, he was much de­ceived.

Commissi­oners from Rome a­bout it. Then was there for the triall and examination of this matrimo­ny procured from Rome, a Com­mission in which Cardinal Campe­gius and Cardinall VVolfey were joyned Commissioners, who for the determination thereof sat at the Black-Friers in London, where a Libell was put in for annulling the former Matrimony, alledging, that marriage between the King and the Queen to be utterly unlaw­full: but, on the other side, for proof that it was lawfull, there was brought in a Dispensation. In which after divers disputations thereupon held, there appeared an imperfection,The dis­pensation questio­ned. which by an in­strument or brief, (upon search found in the Treasury of Spain, and sent to the Commissioners in­to: England) was supplyed,And sup­plyed by a new con­firmation. and so judgement should have been given by the Pope accordingly, had not [Page 54]the King upon intelligence there­of before the said judgment ap­pealed to the next generall Coun­cel, after whose appellation the Cardinal upon that matter sate no longer.

He fore­saw the fal of his Religion in Eng­land. It fortuned before the businesse of the said Matrimony was brought in question, when this foresaid Mr. Rooper in discourse with his father-in-law (of a cer­tain joy) commanded unto him the happy estare of this Kingdom, that had so Catholick a Prince, that no Heretick durst shew his face; so vertuous and learned a Clergie, so grave and sound a No­bility, so loving and obedient Sub­jects, all agreeing together in one faith and dutifulnesse, as though they had Cor unum & Animam u­nam, one Heart and one Soul: Sir Thomas replyed, In truth it is indeed son Rooper as you say: and in com­mending all degrees and estates of the same far exceeded him: and yet son Rooper I pray God, said he, that some of us, as high as we seem to [Page 55] it upon the mountains, treading Here­ticks under our feet, live not the day, that we gladly would wish to be at a league and composition with them, to let them have their Churches quietly to themselves, so that they would be con­tent to let us have ours quietly to, our selves. When his son had told him many reasons why he had no cause so to expresse himself, VVell, said he, I pray God (son Rooper) some of us live not till that day: yet shewing him no reason why he should put any doubt therein. To whom he said, By my troth, Sir, it is very desperately spoken (but withall re­cants that term:) who by these words perceiving him in some cho­ler said merrily unto him, VVel, well, son Rooper, it shall not be so, it shall not be so: whom, as I have said before, in all the time of con­tinuall residence with him, he could never perceive so much as once disturbed with anger.

But now to return again where I left; after the supplying of the imperfections of the Dispensation [Page 56]sent, as is before related, to the Commissioners into England, Sir Tho­mas More's Embassie for peace and his happy suc­cesse there­in. the King taking the matter for ended, and then intending to proceed no further in it, assigned the Bi­shop of Durham, and Sir Thomas More to goe Embassadors to Cam­bray, a place (then) neither Im­periall nor French, to treat of a peace between the Emperour, the French King, and him. In the con­cluding whereof, Sir Thomas More so worthily behaved himself (pro­curing in our league farre more advantages unto this Kingdome, then at that time by the King or his Councel was thought possible) that for his good service in that employment, the King made him Lord Chancellor, and caused the Duke of Norfolke openly to declare unto the people (as you shall see here hereafter more at large) how much all England was bounden un­to him.


  • 1 The Cardinal degraded of his Office.
  • 2 Sir THOMAS MORE made Lord High Chancellor of England.

Now upon the coming home of the Bishop of Durham, Bishop Stokely his quirk in Queen Katharines marriage. and Sir Thomas More from Cambray, the King was as earnest in perswading Sir Thomas More to agree to his se­cond marriage as before, by many and divers wayes provoking him thereunto, for which cause (as it was thought) he the rather soon after made him Lord Chancellor; and further told him, that though at his going over the sea to Gam­bray he was in utter despair thereof, yet he had conceived since some good hope to bring it about: for [Page 58]although his marriage being a­gainst the positive Lawes of the Church, and the written Lawes God, was holpen by the Dispensa­tion, yet was there another thing found out of late, he said, whereby his marriage appeared to be so di­rectly against the Law of Nature, that it could in no wife be dispen­sable by the Church, as Dr. Stokely (whom he had then preferred to be Bishop of London, and in that case chiefly credited) was able to inform him, with whom he pray­ed him in that point to conferre; But for al his conference with him, he saw nothing of such force as could induce him to change his o­pinion therein;His con­ference with Sir Thomas about it. yet the Bishop re­lating to the King their conference so favourably reported of Sir Tho­mas More's carriage therein, that he said he found him very desirous to finde some matter in his High­nesse cause, wherein he might truly serve his Grace to his conten­tation.

This Bishop Stokely being by the [Page 59]Cardinall not long before openly disgraced,Stokely under­mines the Cardinal. and awarded to the Fleet, not brooking this contume­lious usage, and thinking that (forasmuch as the Cardinal for lack of such forwardness in setting forth the Kings Divorce as his Grace ex­pected, was out of his Highnesse favour) he bad now a good occa­ssion offered him to revenge him­self of him; He yet more to incense the Kings displeasure against him, endevoured all he could to invent some colourable device for the Kings furtherance in that behalf,The Car­dinals fal. which (as is before menti­oned) he revealed to his Grace, ho­ping thereby to procure the Kings greater affection to himself, and disaffection to the Cardinall,Sir Tho­mas More elected Lord Chancel­lor. whom his Highnesse therefore soon after displaced of his Office; and (the rather to move him to in­cline to his side) committed the same to Sir Thomas More in his stead who between the Dukes of Norfolk, and Suffolk being brought through Westminster-Hall, to his place in the [Page 60]Chancery,The hono­rable Ce­remony with which he was en­stald. the Duke of Norfolk in audience of all the people there assembled, shewed that he was from the King himself streightly charged by speciall commission there openly in presence of them all, to make Declaration how much all England was beholding to Sir Thomas More for his good ser­vice, and how worthy he was of the highest preferment in the King­dome, and how dearly his Grace loved and trusted him.

A Copy of the Oration.

The Duke of Nor­folk's O­ration in behalf of Sir Tho­mas More. THE Kings Majestie (which I pray God may prove happy and for­tunate to the whole Realm of Engl.) hath raised to the most high dignity of Chancellorship Sir Tho. More, a man for his extraordinary worth and suffici­ency well known to himself and the whole Realm, for no other cause or earthly respect, but for that he hath [Page 61]plainly perceived all the gifts of Nature and Grace to be heaped upon him, which either the people could desire, or him­self wish, for the discharging of so great an Office. For the admirable wisdome,Of his worthiness for so great an employ­ment. integrity, and innocency, joyned with most pleasant facility of wit, that this man is indued withall, have been suffi­ciently known unto all English from his youth, and for these many years also to the Kings majesty himself. This hath the King abundantly found in ma­ny and weighty affairs, which he hath happily dispatched both at home and a­broad, in divers Offices which he hath borne, in most honourable Embassies, which he hath undergone, and in his daily Counsells and Advices upon all o­ther occasions. He hath perceived no man in this Realm to be more wife in deliberating, more sincere in opening to him what he thought, nor more elo­quent to adorn the matter which he ut­tered. Wherefore because he saw in him [Page 62]such excellent endowments, and that of his speciall care he hath a particular desire that this Kingdome and people might be governed with all equity and justice, integrity and wisdome: he of his own most gratious disposition bath created this singular man Lord Chan­cellor, that by his laudable performance of this Office his people may injoy peace and justice, and honour also and fame may redound to the whole kingdome.The first Lay-man that ever was made Lord Chancel­lor. It may perhaps seeme to many, a strange and an unusall matter that this Dignity should be bestowed upon a Lay-man, none of the Nobility, and one that hath wife and Children, because heretofore none but singular learned Prelates, or men of greatest Nobility have possessed this place;Good rea­sons why that old custome was now salt red. But what is wanting in these respects, the admirable virtues, the matchlesse gifts of wit and wisdome of this man, doth most plentifully recom­Pense the some; for the Kings Majesty hath not regarded how great, but what [Page 63]a man he was, he hath not cost his eyes upon the Nobility of his bloud, but on the worth of his Person; he hath res­pected his sufficiency, not his profession finally, he would shew by this choice that he hath some rare subjects amongst the row of Gentlemen, and Lay-men, who deserve to manage the highest Of­fices in the Realm, which Bishops and Noblemen think they only can deserve. The rarer therefore it was, so much both himselfe held it to be the more excellent, and [...]o his people he thought it would be more gratefull. Wherefore receive this your Chancellor with joyfull acclamati­ons, at whose hands you may expect all happinesse and content.

Sir Thomas More according to his wonted modesty, Sir Tho. Mores mo­dest and discrete reply. was somewhat abashed at this the Dukes Speech in that it sounded so much in his praise, but recollecting himself as that place and time would give [Page 64]him leave, he answerd in manner following.

Although, most Noble Duke, and you Honourable Lords and Worshipful Gen­tlemen,He ac­knowledg­eth his own un­worthi­ness. I know all these things (which the Kings Majesty, it seemeth hath been pleased it should be spoken of me at this time and place, and your Grace hath with most eloquent words thus am­plified) are as far from me as I could wish with all my heart they were in me for the better performance of so great a charge: And although this your Speech hath caused in me greater fear then I can well expresse in words, yet this in­comparable favour of my dread Sove­raign, by which he sheweth how well, yea how highly, he conceiveth of my Weaknesse, having commanded that my Meanesse should be so greatly com­mended, cannot be but most acceptable unto me.The Dukes love. And I cannot choose but give your most noble Grace exceeding thanks, [Page 65]that what his Majesty hath willed you briefly to utter, you of the abundance of your love unto me, have in a large and eloquent Oration dilated.The Kings favour & bounty. As for my self, I can take it no otherwise, but that his Majesties incomparable favour towards me, the good will and incredi­ble propension of his Royal mind (where with he hath this many years favoured me continually) hath alone without any desert of mine at all caused both this my new honour, and these your undeserved commendations of me. For who am I, or what is the House of my Father, that the Kings Highnesse should heap upon me by such a perpetuall stream of affecti­on those so high Honours? I am far lesse then any the meanest of his benifits be­stowed on me;Which he esteems beyond his deserts. how can I then think my self worthy or fit for this so peerlesse dig­nity? I have been drawn by force, as the Kings Majesty often professeth, to his Highnesse service to be a Courtier: but to take this dignity upon me, is most [Page 66]of all against my will; yet such in his Highnesse benignity, such is his bounty, that he highty esteemeth the small duti­fulnesse of his meanest Subjects; and seeketh still magnificently to recompense his Servants, not only such as deserve well, but even such as have but a desire to deserve well at his hands: in which number I have alwaies wished my self to be reckoned, because I cannot challenge my self to be one of the former; which being so, you may all perceive with me how great a burthen is laid upon my back,All which increase in him a resolution to dis­charge well this so great charge. in that I must strive in some sort with my diligence and duty to corres­pond with his Royall benevolence, and to be answerable to that great expecta­tion, which he and you seem to have of me. Wherefore these so high Praises are by so much more grievous unto me, by how much I know the greater charge I have to render my self worthy of, and the fewer meanes I have to make them good. This weight is hardly satable to my weak shoulders, this honour is not [Page 67]correspondent to my poor deserts: it is a burtheu, not a Glory; a care, not a Dignity; the one therefore I must bear as manfully as I can, and discharge the other with as much dexterity as I shall be able. The earnest desire which I have alwaies had, and do now acknowledge my self to have to satisfie by all means I can possible the most amplebenefits of his Highnesse, will greatly excite and aid me to the diligent performance of all; which I trust also I shall be more able to do,He desi­reth fa­vourable interpre­tation of his endea­vours. if I find all your good wilt and wi­shes both favourable unto me, and con­formable to his Royall munificence: be­cause my serious indeavours to do well, joyned with your favourable acceptance will easily procure that whatsoever is performed by me, though it be in it self but small, yet will it seem great and praise-worthy; for those things are alwaies atchieved happily, which are accepted willingly; and those succeed fortunately, which are received by o­thers courteously. As you therefore do [Page 68]hope for great matters and the best at my hands, so though I dare not promise any such, yet do I promise truly and af­fectionately to performe the best I shall be able.

A wise considera­tion of his predeces­sors exam­ple. When Sir Thomas had spoken these words turning his face to the high Judg-ment seat of the Chan­cery he proceeded thus:

But when I look upon this seat, when I think how great and what kind of perso­nages have possessed this place before me, when I cal to mind who he was that sat in it last of all, a man of what singular wis­dome, of what notable experience, what a prosperous and favourable fortune he had for a great space, and how at the last he had a most grievous fall and di­edinglorious: I have cause enough by my predecessors example to think honour but slippery, and this dignity not so gratefull to me as it may seem to others for both is it a hard matter to follow [Page 69]with like paces or praises a man of such admirable wit, prudence, authority and splendor, to whom I may seeme but as the lighting of a Candle when the Sun is down and also the suddain and unexpected fall of so great a man as he was,The dan­ge [...]s of high ho­nours. doth terribly put me in mind that this honour ought not to please me too much, nor the lustre of this glistering seat dazle mine eyes. Wherefore I ascend this seat as a place full of labour and danger, void of all solid and true ho­nour; the which by how much the high­er it is, by so much greater fall I am to fear, as well in respect of the very na­ture of the thing it self, as because I am warned by this late fearfull example. And truly I might even now at this first entrance stumble, yea faint, but that his Majesties most singular favour to­wards me, and all your good wils (which your joyfull Countenance doth testifie in this most honourable Assembly) doe [Page 70]somewhat recreate and refresh me: o­therwise this Seat would be no more plea­sing to me then that Sword was to Da­mocles which hung over his head tyed only by the hair of a horses tail, when he had store of delicates before him, sea­ted in the chair of state of Denys the great Tyrant of Sicilie; this therefore shall be alwaies fresh in my mind, this will I have still before mine eyes, that this state will be honourable, famous, and full of Glory unto me, if I shall with care and diligence, fidelity and wisdome endeavour to do my duty, and shall per­swade my self, that the enjoying thereof may chance to be but short and uncertain;A warn­ing to use them well. the one whereof my labour ought to per­form, the other my predecessors example may easily teach me All which being so, you may easily perceive what great plea­sure I take in this high Dignity, or in this most noble Dukes praising of me.

And he further declared to this effect, that as they had in the [Page 71]Kings name charged him uprightly to do indifferent justice to the people, without corruption or affection; so did he likewise charge them again, that if they saw him at any time in any thing digresse from any part of his duty in that honourable Office, even as they would discharge their own duty & fidelity to God and the King, so should they not fail to inform his Grace of it, who otherwise might have just occasion to lay his default wholly to their charge.


  • 1. Sir THOMAS MORE's affable behaviour and integri­ty in his Chancellorship.
  • 2. His wise remedying long delays in suits of law.
  • 3. His humble behaviour toward his Father.
  • 4. His admirable Zeal in the cause of his Religion.

Sir Tho­mas Mores behaviour to all sui­tors, espe­cially to the poorer sort. NOw upon Sir Thomas More's entrance into this honourable Office, every one might perceive a very strange alteration; for where­as the precedent Chancellor Wol­sey, would scarce look or speak to any, into whose only presence none could be admitted unlesse his fin­gers were tipp'd with gold; on the contrary, this Chancellor the [Page 73]poorer and meaner the Supplyant was, the more affably he would speak unto him, the more atten­tively he would hearken unto his cause, and with speedy tryal dis­patch him; for which purpose, he used commonly every afternoon to sit in his open Hall, that if any person whatsoever had any suite unto him, they might the more boldly come to his presence, and open their complaints before him.

No access to Bribery. Which custome of his extra­ordinary favour to all, one Mr. Dauncy his Son-in-law on a time seemed merrily to find fault with, saying, that when Cardinal Wolsey was Lord Chancellor, not only divers of his privie Chamber, but such also as were his Door-keep­ers got great gain by him; And since he had marryed one of his Daughters and gave stil attendance upon him, he thought he might of reason expect something too; but because he was so ready to hear every man, poor and rich, and kept no doors shut against them, he [Page 74]could get nothing, which was to him a great discouragement; and whereas else some for friendship, some for kindred, some for pro­fit, would gladly use his furthe­rance to bring them to his pre­sence, if he should now take any thing of them, he knew (he said) he should do them much wrong, because they might as freely pre­ferr their causes to him themselves; which thing, though he thought it in Sir Thomas very commenda­ble, yet to himself (he said) being his Son, he found it nothing pro­fitable. When he had told him this,Means how great men may do favours in justice. You say well Son (said he) I like well that you are of Conscience so scrupulous: but many other waies be there Son, that I may both do your self good, and pleasure your friends also; for sometime may I by my word stand your friend in stead, and sometimes may I by my Letter help him; or if he have a Cause depending before me, at your re­quest I may hear him before another; or if his Cause be not all the best, yet may I move the parties to fall to some reaso­nable [Page 75]end by a bitrament; howbeit Son this one thing I assure thee on my saith,Notable integrity.that if the parties will at my hands call for Justice, then all were it my Father whom I loved dea [...]ly, stood on the one side, and the Devil, whom I hate ex­treamly, stood on the other, his Cause being good, the Devil should have right. So offered he his Son, he said, as much favour as with reason he could possibly require.

And, that he would for no res­pects digresse from justice,Even a­gainst his own kin­dred. well appeareth by a plain example of another of his son [...]-in-law, Mr. He [...]en by name: for when he ha­ving a Cause depending before him in the Chancery, and presu­ming too much on his favour, would in no wise be perswaded by him to agree to any indifferent composition, he in conclusion made a flat decree against him.

Long delaies in Law the misery of poor Cli­ents, re­medied by Sir Tho. More. Now as sew Injunctions as he granted while he was Chancellor, yet were they by some of the judg­es of the Law misliked, which his son-in-law the foresaid Mr. Roo­per [Page 76]understanding, told his Father of it, who answered him that they should have little cause to find fault with him for that: and there­upon he caused Mr Crook chief of the fix Clerks to make a Docket containing the whole number and causes of all such injunctions, as either in his time had already pas­sed, or at that present depended in any of the Kings Courts at Westminster before him: which done he invited all the Judges to dine with him in the Councell-cham­ber at Westminster; where after dinner when he had broken with them what complaints he had heard of his Injunctions, and far­ther shewed them both the num­ber and causes of every one of them, in order so plainly, that upon full debating thereof, they all confessed that they in like case could have done no otherwise themselves; Then offered he this unto them, that if the Justices of every Court unto whom the Re­formation of the rigor of the Law [Page 77](by reason of their Office) most es­pecially appertained, would upon reasonable considerations by their own discretions, (as they were, as he thought, in conscience bound) mitigate and reform the rigor of the Law themselves, there should from thenceforth by him no more Injunctions be granted: Whereun­to when they resused to conde­scend, then said he unto them: For as much as your selves (My Lords) drive me to that necessity, for awar­ding out Injunctions to relieve the peo­ples injuries, you cannot hereafter a­ny more justly blame me. After that he said secretly to Mr. Rooper, I perceive, Son, why they like not so to do, for they see that they may be the verdict of the Jury cast off all quarrels from themselves upon them, which they account their chief defence, and therefore am I compel'd to abide the ad­venture of all such reports.

A pleasant Tale of a Tub. After this he took order with all the Atturneys of his Court, that there should no Subpoena's go out, whereof in general he should not [Page 78]have notice of the matter with one of their hands unto the Bil, which bearing a sufficient cause of com­plaint worthy a Subpoena, he would set his hand to, or else cancel it. And when on a time one of the Atturneys, whose name was Mr. Tub had brought unto Sir Thomas the summe of his Clients Cause, and requested his hand unto it; Sir Thomas reading it, and finding it a matter frivolous, he added thereto in stead of his own name these words, A Tale of a Tub: the Atturney going away as he thought with Sir Tho. his name unto it, found when his Client read it, but a jest.

Now was it a great wonder for any one to behold, how two great places of Westminster-hall were ta­ken up, one with the Son, the o­ther with the Father; which sure­ly never was heard of before, or since; the Son to be Lord Chan­cellor, and the Father Sir John More to be one of the antientest Judges of the Kings Bench, if not [Page 79]the eldest of all, for he was then near ninety years old.Sir: Tho­mas More's humble behaviour towards his Father the anti­entest Judg of the King­dome. Nay what a grateful spectacle was it to see the Son every day as he passed through the Hal to his place in the Chancery by the Court of the Kings Bench, (if his Father had been setere he came) to go into the Court, and there reverently kneeling down in the sight of them all duly ask his Fathers bles­sing. And if in fell out that his Father and he at reading in Lin­colns-Inne met together, (as they sometimes did) notwithstanding his High Office, he would stil of­fer the preheminency to his Father though he for his office sake would refuse to take it: such was the pi­ety and submissive mind of this humble man, such again was the provident care of the Father to­wards the Son, that one can hardly guesse which of the two were more worthy, the father of such a son, or the son of such a Father.

And as little leisure as he had to be busied in the study of holy [Page 80]Scriptures, Controversies upon Religion,His admi­rable zeal in the cause of his Reli­gion. and other such like ver­tuous exercises, being in a man­ner continually imployed about the affairs of the King and the Kingdome, yet such pains took he early and late in setting forth di­vers learned books in defence of his Religion, that the Bishops to whose pastoral care such businesses principally appertained, thinking themselves by what he had done (wherein by their own confession they were not able to compare with him) of their duties in that behalf discharged, and considering that for all his Princes favour, he was no rich man, nor advanced in yearly revenews. as his worthi­nesse deserved; therefore at a Con­vocation amongst themselves and other of the Clergy, they agreed together and concluded upon a sum of four or five thousand pounds to recompense him for his pains.A liberal reward proffered him nobly by the Bi­shops of England To the payment whereof every Bishop, Abbot, and the rest of the Clergy were, according to [Page 81]their abilities, liberal contributa­ries; hoping this sum would con­tent him. Whereupon Tunstal Bish. of Durham, and Clark Bishop and as is supposed Vessey of Exeter repaired unto him declaring how thankful­ly they esteemed themselves bound to consider him for his labours (to their discharge in Gods) bestow­ed, and that albeit they could not according to his deserts so worthi­ly would, but must referre that on­ly to the goodnesse of God; yet for a small part of recompence, in respect of his estate so unequal to his worthinesse, in the name of their whole Convocation they presented unto him that summe, which they desired him to accept of: who forsaking it, said, That like as it was no small comfort to him that so wise and learned men so well ac­cepted of his doings, As nobly and mag­nanimou­sly refused by him, only for Gods caused. for which he ne­ver intended to receive reward but at the hands of God only, to whom alone was the thanks thereof chiefly to be ascribed, so also he most humbly thanked their ho­nours [Page 80] for their bountiful consideration. When they for all their importu­nate pressing upon him, (that few would have supposed he could have refused it) could not for all that fasten any upon him; Then they d [...]sired him that they might bestow it upon his Wife and Chil­dren: Not so (My Lords) said he, I had rather seen all cast into the Thames, then I or any of mine should have the worth of one penny of it: For though your offer, my Lords, be indeed very friendly and honourable, yet set I so much by my pleasure, and so little by my profit, that I would not in good faith for so much and much more, have lost the rest of so many nights sleep as was spent upon the same: and yet wish would I for all that upon condition all Heresies were sup­pressed, that all my books were burned, & my labour utterly lost. Thus depar­ting, were they fain to restore unto every man his own again.


  • 1 Sir THOMAS MORE's penances continued in the midst of his honours.
  • 2 His charity to his poor neigh­bours of Chelsey.
  • 3 He refuseth to allow of King Henries Divorcement.
  • 4 He sues to depose his Office.
  • 5 The death of JO. MORE his Father.
  • 6 Such incredible poverty in so eminent a Person, a sure sign of incomparable Integrity.

THis Lord Chancellor for the avoiding of singularity,Sir Tho­mas More his penan­ces. would appear no otherwise then other men in his apparell and out­ward behaviour, and though out­wardly he appe [...]red honourable [Page 84]like one of his calling, yet inward­ly he was no such; for secretly next his skin he wore a shirt of hair, which his daughter More a young Gentle woman in the sum­mer as he sate at supper single in his doublet and hose,Hair-shirt. wearing thereupon a plain shirt without ruff or coller, chancing to espy, began to laugh at it; which her sister Margaret (not ignorant of his Custome) perceiving, privily told him of it, and he being sorry that she had seen it presently a­mended it. He used also sometimes to punish his body with whips, the cords knotted, which was known only to his eldest daughter Margaret Wife to the foresaid Mr. Rooper, whom for her secresie a-above all other he especially trust­ed; causing her as need required to wash the same shirt of hair.

His mer [...] ­ciful works to his poor neigh­bours. He seldome feasted Noble-men, but his poor neighbours often; whom he would visit in their hou­ses, and bestow upon them his large liberality, not groats, but [Page 85]crows of Gold; and more then that, if their wants required it. He hired a house also for many a­ged people in Chelsey, whom he daily relieved; & it was his daugh­ter Margarets charge to see them want nothing: when he was a pri­vate Lawyer, he would take no fees of poor folks, widows, or pu­pils.

Liberality to his pa­rish Church. Somewhat before he was Lord Chancellor, he built a Chappel in his Parish at Chelsey, where the parish had all ornaments belong­ing thereunto abundantly suppli­ed at his charge, and he bestow­ed thereon much Plate, often u­sing these words: Good men give it, and bad men take it away.

K. Henry desires Sir Thomas to allow his divorce. Now shortly upon his entry in­to the high Office of Chancellor­ship, the King often again impor­tuned him to weigh and consider his great businesse, supposing that he had now so strictly obliged him that he could no way have gain­said him; but he valuing more the quiet of his conscience, then any [Page 84]Princes favour in the world, fell down upon his knees before his Majestly, and humbly besought his Highness, to stand his gracious So­veraign, as ever since his entry in­to his Graces service he had sound him: adding withall, that there was nothing in the world had been so grievous unto his heart, as to remember he was not able (as he willingly would with the loss of one of his limbs) to find any thing in that matter, whereby with integrity of his Conscience he might truly serve his contenta­tion, as he that alwaies bore in mind those godly words that his Highnesse spake unto him when he first admitted him into his Noble service, the most vertuous lesson that ever Prince taught his Ser­vant, willing him first to look unto God, Sir Tho­mas Mores refusal for the time accepted by the King. & (after God) unto him, as in good faith he said he did and would, or else might his Grace well accompt him his most unworthy servant. To this the King courteously an­swered, that it he could not there­in [Page 85]with his Conscience serve, he was content to accept of his Ser­vice otherwise, and use the advice of other his learned Councell, whose consciences would well e­nough agree with it; yet that he would neverthelesse continue his wonted favour towards him, and no more molest his conscience with that businesse.

A Parlia­ment cal­led for Q. Annes marriage. But Sir Thomas More when after­wards he saw the King sully deter­mined to proceed further in the marriage of Queen Anne, and that a Parliament was called for that purpose, wherein he with the Bi­shops and Nobles of the upper House were, for the furtherance of that marriage, commanded by the King to go down to the Com­mons, to shew unto them both what the Universities as well of o­ther parts beyond the seas, as at Oxford and Cambridge, had done therein, and their seals also testi­fying the same: All which at the Kings request (not shewing of what judgment himself was therein) he [Page 88]declared unto the lower House; yet doubting lest further attempts should after follow,Sir Tho­mas sues to depose his Office. which con­trary to his Conscience (by reason of his Office) he was likely to be put unto, he made suit unto the Duke of Norfolk his singular dear friend, to be a means to the King, that he might with his Majesties fa­vour be discharged of that charge­able office of Chancellorship, wherein for certain infirmities of his body, he pretended himself unable any longer to serve.

Sir Tho­mas More's humble­ness in the height of his Ho­nours. This Duke coming on a time to Chelley to dine with him, hapned to find him at the Church singing in the Quire with a Surplice on his back: to whom after Service as they went homeward hand in hand together, the Duke said, Gods body, My Lord Chancellor, what a Parish Clerk, a Parish Clerk! You dishon our the King and his Office: Nay, said Sir Thomas, smiling up­on the Duke, Your Grace may not think your Master and mine will be of­fended with me for serving of God his [Page 89]Master, or thereby count his Office dis­honoured.

A remar­kable Re­cord, that no Cause was left undecided in the Chancery. When Sir Thomas had behaved himself in his office of the Chan­cellorship, for the space of two years and a half, so wisely, that none could mend his doings; so uprightly, that none could take exception against him or his just proceedings; and so dexterously, that (tis to be supposed) never a­ny man before or since did that which he did: for he had taken such order for the dispatching of all mens causes, that on a time sit­ting as Judge there, and having fi­nished one cause, he called for the next to be heard: whereto answer was made, that there was not one cause more depending. This he caused to be set down upon Re­cord.

The death of Sir John More. About this time it hapned Sir John More to fall sick (as some say) of a Surfeit of grapes: in his sick­nesse, his Son whom he had now seen Lord Chancellor (according to his duty) often came and visi­ted [Page 88]him, using many comfortable words unto him, and at his de­parture our of this world, with tears taking him about the neck, most lovingly kissed, and embra­ced him, commending his Soul into the merciful hands of Al­mighty God, and so departed from him: who left him now better'd but with a small increase of estate, be­cause his chief house and Lands at Gubbins in Hartfordshire, his last wife enjoyed, who outlived Sir Thomas some ten years,Sir Tho. never en­joied his Fathers inheri­tance. and therefore Sir Thomas never enjoyed almost any inhericance from his Father; inso­much, that he affirmed in his apo­logy which he wrote about this time, that in all his revenues and pensions, except that which had been granted by Letters Patents from the King of his meer libera­lity; viz. the Manours of Ducking­tan, Frinkford, and Barly-park, in Oxfordshire, all the rest he saith a­mount not to above fifty pound per annum, as those which he had either by his Father, or by his [Page 79]Wife, or by his own purchase. Surely a most rare saying,Rare po­verty in a Lord High Chancel­lor. and as honourable to him as his profes­sion: that one of the Kings Coun­cell who had gone through so ma­ny Offices for almost twenty years should not be able to purchase one hundred pounds land.


  • 1 Sir THOMAS MORE's contempt of worldly honour declared in deposing the great Dignity of Chancellor­ship.
  • 2 His Resolution to live poor­ly.
  • 3 He prepareth himself for his sufferings as foreseeing them.
  • 4 He refuseth to be present at Queen Anne's Marriage.

Upon Sir Thomas his suite to re­sign up his Office, the King gra­ciously ac­cepteth his desire. NOw when the Duke being of­ten solicited by Sir Thomas More had at length obtained of the King a clear discharge of his Of­fice: then at a convenient time by his Highnesse appointment, here-paired [Page 93]to his Grace to yield up un­to him the Great Seal of England; which as his Majesty (with thanks and praise for his worthy service in that Office) courteously recei­ved at his hands; so also he said more unto him, that for the good service he before had done him, in any suit which he should after have unto him, that either should con­cern his honour or his profit, he should find him very good unto him.

Of his Children living with him. After he had thus given over the Chancellorship, and placed all his Gentlemen Yeomen with Bishops and Noble men, and his eight Wa­termen with the Lord Audly who succeeded him in his Office, to whom also he gave his great Barge: Then calling all his Children unto him,All his Children hitherto dwelt with him. and asking their advice how they might now (in this decay of his ability, so much impaired by the surrender of his Office, that he could not now (as he was wont, and gladly would) bear out the whole charges of them all himself, [Page 92]so that from henceforth they should not be able to live and con­tinue together, as he wisht they might: when he saw them all si­lent, and none of them ready to shew their opinions therein: Then will I, said he, shew my poor mind unto you. I have been brought up at Oxford, at an Inne of Chancery, at Lincolns-Inne,An in­compara­ble resolu­tion after so great an honour to bear chearfully so low an estate. and also in the Kings Court, and so forth, from the lowest degree unto the highest, and yet have I now in yearly Revenues left me little above one hundred pounds by the year, so that we must hereafter (if we will live together) be contented to become contributaries: but by my counsel it shal not be best for us to fall to the lowest fare first; we will not there­fore descend to Oxford fare, nor to the fare of New Inne, but we will begin at Lincolns-Inne diet, where many right worshipful and of good years do live full well; which if we find our selves not able the first year to maintain then will we the next year go one step down to New-Inne fare, wherewith many an honest man is well contented: [Page 93]If that exceed our ability too, then we will the next year after descend to Ox­ford fare, where many grave, learned, and ancient fathers are continually con­versant; which if our purses stretch not to maintain neither, then may we yet with bags and wallets go a begging to­gether, and hoping that for pity some good people will bestow on us their Cha­rity, at every mans door sing a Salve Regina, and so still keep company, and be merry together. Truly a worthy resolution, wherein he seems to express much love to his Children, but more to God; taking so pati­ently whatsoever might befal him: for surely he that provides for the worst, will be much the better pre­par'd to endure lesser afflictions.

Honoura­ble pover­ty in so great a personage. And whereas you have heard before how he was by the King from a very handsome livelihood, 400 l. per annum, taken into his Gra­ces service to deal in the greatest and weightiest Causes that concer­ned his Highnesse and the King­dome in which so painful cares and trouble, as well beyond the seas as [Page 96]at home, he had spent and consu­med in effect the whole substance of his life; yet with all the gain he got theeeby, being never a wastful spender thereof, was he not able after the resignation of his Office of the Lord Chancellor, for the maintainance of himself and such as necessarily belonged unto him, sufficiently to find meat, fuel, drink, apparel, and such other necessary charges. All the land that ever he purchased (which also he pur­chased before he was Lord Chancellor) was not, saith Mr, Roo­per, above the value of twenty mark a year. And after his debts paid, (as the same Mr. Rooper testifies) he had not (his Chain excepted) in Gold and Silver left him the worth of one hundred pounds, and there­fore all his Children went to live of themselves.

And whereas upon the holy dayes, during his High-Chancellor­ship, one of his Gentlemen, when service at the Church was done, alwaies used to come to his Ladies pew, and said, Madam, My Lord is [Page 95]gone: the next holy day after the surrender of his Office and depar­ture of his Gentlemen, he came to his Wives pew himself, and ma­king a low congy, said unto her, Madam, My Lord is gone. She imagi­ning al this to be but some humour of his in order to some design, took little notice of it; but when upon the way as they were going home,A pleasant jest to di­vert his wife from sorrow. he sadly affirmed unto her that it was true what he said; for he had resigned up his Office, and the King had gratiously accepted it: she being very sorry to hear it said unto him, Tille valle, What will you do, Mr. More? will you sit and make Goslings in the Ashes? Is it not better to rule, then to be ruled? But to re­quite her brave mind, he began to find fault with her dressing, for which she chiding her daughters that none of them could espy it, they still saying they could find none: Sir Tho, merrily said, Do you not perceive that your Mothers nose stan­deth somewhat awry? |At which words she stept away from him in a rage. [Page 96]All which he did to m [...]ke her think the lesse of her decay of honour, which else would have much trou­bled her.

His re­mote pre­parations for suffe­ring. In the time somewhat before his troubles, he would discourse with his wife and children, of the joies of Heaven, and pains of Hell: of the lives of holy Martyrs, what tor­ments they endured for the love of God:Continu­al talking of spiritu­al matters. of their marvellous patience, and of their passions and deaths, ra­ther then they would offend God, and what a happy and blessed thing it was, for the love of God, to suffer losse of goods, imprison­ment, losse of lands and life also: adding with all, that upon his faith if he might perceive his wife and children would incourage him to die in a good cause, it would make him merrily run to death. He told them afore hand what troubles were like to befal him; wherewith, and the like vertuous discourse, he had so long before his troubles in­couraged them, that when he after fell into them indeed, their afflicti­ons were a great deal the lesse: Quia [Page 97]spicula praevisa minus laedunt.

A good lesson for a States­man. Within a while after the resigne­ment of his Office, came Sir Thomas Cromwel, (then in the Kings high favour) to Ghelsey to him in a mes­sage from his Highnesse, wherein when they had throughly conf [...]r'd together, Sir Thomas said unto him, Mr. Cromwel, You are now entred into the service of a most noble, wise, and li­beral Prince; if you will follow my poor advice, you shall in your Counsell gi­ving unto his Majesty, ever tell him what he ought to do, but never what he is a­ble to do; so shal you shew your self a true faithful Servant, and a right worthy Counsellor: for if the Lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.

The mar­riage con­cluded at St. Albans to be law­full. Shortly hereupon, was there a Commission granted under the Great Seal, and directed to Cran­mer then Bishop of Canterbury, to determine the marriage between the King and Queen Katharine at St. Albans: where, according to the Kings mind, it was throughly concluded; who pretending he had no justice at the Popes hands, from [Page 98]thenceforth sequestred himself and his Kingdome from the See of Rome, and so marryed the Lady Anne Bullen: which Sir Thomas More understanding, said unto Mr. Roo­per, God give grace, son, that these matters within a while be not con­firm'd with Oaths.

It fortuned not long before the comming of Queen Anne through the streets of London, Sir Tho­mas More refuseth to be at Q Anns mar­riag. from the Tower to Westminster, to her Coro­nation, that Sir Thomas received a letter from the Bishops of Durham, Bath, and Winchester, desiring him to keep them company from the Tower to the Coronation, and al­so to take twenty pounds that by the Bearer thereof they had sent him to buy him a Gown: which he thankfully receiving (yet tarry­ing still at home) at their next mee­ting said merrily unto them, My Lords, in the letters which you lately sent me, His coun­fell and predicti­on to the Bishops his friends you requested two things of me, the one whereof sith I was so well con­tent to grant you, the other therefore I thought I might be the bolder to deny you. [Page 99]And like as the one, because I took you for no beggars and my self I knew to be no rich man, I thought I might the ra­ther fulfill; so the other did put me in remembrance of an Emperour that had ordained a Law, A notable story pro­phetically applyed. that whosoever com­mitted a certain offence (which I now remember not) except it were a Virgin should suffer death, such a reverence had he to Virginity. Now so it hapned, that the first that violated this Law was a Virgin, whereof the Emperour hearing was in no small perplexity, as he that by some example would fain have that Law put in execution: whereupon when his Councel had sat long solemnly debating this Case, suddenly there rose up one of his Councel, a good plain man amongst them, and said, Why make you so much ado my Lords about so small a matter? Let her first be deflowred, and then after may she be devoured. And so though your Lordships have in the matter of the Matrimony hitherto kept your selves pure Virgins, yet take good heed, My Lords, that you keep your Vir­ginity still: for some there be that by procuring your Lordships first at the [Page 100]Coronation to be present, and next to preach for setting forth of it, His reso­lution ra­ther to be devoured then de­flowred. and lastly to write books to all the World in defence thereof, are desirous to deflowr you, and then wil they not fail soon after to devour you. Now My Lords (said he) it lieth not in my power, but that they may devour me; but, God being my good Lord I will provide that they shall never deflowr me.


  • 1 The beginning of the Kings indignation.
  • 2 Sir THOMAS MORE disposeth himself more im­mediately to suffer death.
  • 3 Divers accusations procured against Sir THO. all easi­ly avoided by his innocen­cie.
  • 4 The Nun of Canterbury first occasion of calling Sir T. M. in Question concerning Qu. Anne.
  • 5 His first examination before the Kings Deputies.
  • 6 His merry heart and gallant resolution after his Examina­tion.

IN continuance when the King perceived that he could by no [Page 102]means win him to his side; then behold the fair sunshine day of his favours became overcast,The kings displeasure & there followed a notable storm; for now he went about by terrour and threats to drive him thereto: But see how Sir Thomas prepares him­self for this valiant combat;Sir Tho­mas his more im­mediate preparati­on for death. having given over his Office of Chancel­lorship he never medled with State matters any more, but gave him­self wholy the year before his trou­bles not only to write books in de­fence of his Religion as I have said, but also addicted himself to great acts of Mortification, prayer, and piety: he lessened his family, he fold his houshold stuffe to the va­lue of one hundred pounds, he dis­posed his Children into their own houses, and many nights he slept not for thinking the worst that could happen unto him: he hired a Pursevant to come suddenly to his house when he was one time at din­ner,A Christi­an strata­gem. and knocking hastily at his door to warn him the next day to appear before the Commissioners, [Page 103]to arm his family the better for fu­ture calamities.

The first occasion of calling him in question for Q. Anne. And now begin his troubles first by occasion of a certain Nun dwel­ling in Canterbury, for her vertue and holinesse not a little esteemed of among the people in those daies: unto whom for that cause many religious persons, Doctors of Di­vinity,The Nun of Kent warned by revela­tion to rebuke K. Henry. and divers Lay-men of good repute used to resort: who affir­ming that she had revelations from God to give the King warning of his wicked life, and of the abuse of the sword and authority commit­ted to him, and understanding the Lord Rochester, Bishop Fisher, She con­ferreth her revelation with Bish. Fisher. to be a man famous for his vertuous life and learning, went to Rochester, and there disclosed unto him all her revelations, desiring his advice and counsell therein: who thereupon advised her (as she before had war­ning, and intended) to go to the King her self, and to let him un­derstand the whole circumstance thereof: whereupon she went to the King and told him all her reve­lation [Page 104]and so returned home agan to her Cloyster.

Her talk with Sir Tho. More. Not long after, she making a journey to the Nuns of Sion, by means of one Mr. Reynold a Father of that house, it hapned that she fell into discourse with Sir Thomas More concerning such secrets as had been revealed unto her. Sir Thomas (as it after appeared) in all his com­munications with her, had so dis­creetly demeaned himself that he deserved not to be blamed, but contrarily commended and prai­sed.

Accusati­ans procu­redagainst Sir Tho. More. That he impugned the Kings marriage. After the Divorce was pronoun­ced, there was a book put out by authority from the Councel, which laid down the reasons why this di­vorce was done: straight after, it was rumoured abroad, that Sir Thomas More had answered and con­futed this Book. Of which slan­der Sir Thomas cleared himself by a letter to Mr. Cromwel then Secreta­ry, and in the Kings great favour; shewing by many Arguments, that he neither would nor could con­fute [Page]that Book: whi [...] large in the latter end [...] mas his works. Butler to

[...]rrels picked a­gainst his Chancel­lorship. But for all his purging in [...] accusation came thick and [...] fell upon him; and, had he not been one of singular integrity, (that in all his great offices and doings for the King and Kingdome so many years together, had from all cor­ruption, wrong doing, or bribes taking kept himself so clear that no man was able once to blemish him therewith) without doubt every light matter (in this troublesome time of the Kings indignation to him) had been deeply laid to his charge, and of the King at that time most favorably accepted, as in the Case of one Parnel it most manifest­ly appeared. This Parnel grievous­ly complained against Sir Thomas More, because, when he was Lord Chancellor, at the suit of one Vau­ghan his adversary,A supposed Bribe pleasantly confuted he had made a decree against him; for which at his wives hand (Mr. Vaughan him­self being unable for the Gowt to [Page] [...]) Sir Thomas had re [...]eat gilt Cup as a bribe: [...]learing of which accusati­ [...] Thomas by the Kings ap­pointment being called before the whole Councel, where that matter was hainously laid to his charge, presently confessed, that forasmuch as that Cup was long after the fore­said decree brought him for a new [...] years-gift, he upon her importunat pressing on him, therefore of cour­tesie refused not to receive it. Then the Lord of Wiltshire (Queen Anns father and preferrer of this suit) (who hated Sir Thomas More, be­cause he had not consented to his daughters marriage) with much joy said unto the Lords, Lo my Lords, did not I tell you that you should find the matter true? Whereupon Sir Th [...]mas desired their honours that as they had courteously heard him tell the one part of his Tale, so they would vouchsafe of their honours indifferently to hear the other: which being granted, he further declared, that although he [Page 107]had indeed with much urging re­ceived that Cup, yet immediately thereupon he caused his Butler to fill it with Win [...], and therein drank to her; and when she had pledged him, Then as freely as her husband had given it to him, even so freely gave he the same unto her again to give unto her husband for his New-years-gift: which at his instant request, though much against her will, yet at length she was fain to receive, as her self and certain others before them there presently deposed. Thus was the great mountain converted (scarse) to a little molehill.

A courte­ous refu­susal of an honest re­ward. At another time, upon a New-years-day too, there came unto him one Mistresse Croaker a very rich Gentlewoman, for whom with no small pains he had made a Decree in Chancery against the Lord Arundel (never fearing in an act of justice, any nobility of bloud or greatnesse of personage) who presented him with a pair of Gloves and forty pounds in. An­gels in them for a New-years-gift, [Page 108]of whom he thankfully received the Gloves, but refusing the Mo­ney said unto her; Mistresse, Since it were against good manners to forsake a Gentlewomans New-years gift, I am content to take your Gloves; but as for the lining I utterly refuse it: and so caused her to take her gold again; though much against her mind.

Another of like na­ture. And one Mr. Gresham having at the same time a Cause depending in the Chancery against him, sent him, for a New-years-gift, a fair guilded Cup: the fashion where­of pleased him so well, that he cau­sed one of his own (though not in his fancy of so good a fashion, yet better in value) to be brought out of his Chamber, which he desired the messenger in recompence to deliver to his Master; and under no other conditions would he in any wise receive it.

Many things more of like effect for the declaration of this mans innocency and clearnesse from all corruption or evil affectionm might be here rehearsed, which for te­diousnesse [Page 109]sake are purposely omit­ted, it being referred to the Rea­ders by those few fore-mentioned examples wisely to weigh & con­sider:

Sir Tho­mas his first exa­minations. At the Parliament following there was a Bill put into the lower House to attach the Nun, and di­vers other religious persons of high treason; and the Bishop of Rochester, Sir Thomas More, and some other of misprision of trea­son; The King presupposing that this Bill would be so grievous and terrible unto Sir Thomas More, that it would force him to relent and condescend to his request: where­in his Highnesse, as it afterwards appeared, was much mistaken: for Sir Thomas More sued that he might be admitted into the Parliament to make his own defence personal­ly; which the King not liking as­signed the Bishop of Canterbury, The kings Deputies to attach Sir Tho­mas More. the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, and Mr. Cromwel, at a day and place appointed, to call Sir Thomas More before them.

Their fair words to win him. At whose appearance according to their appointment, they enter­tained him very friendly, desiring him to sit down amongst them, which in no wise he would do. Then began the Lord Chancellor to declare unto him, how many wayes the King had shewed his love and favour to him, how fain he would have had him continue in his Office, how glad he would have been to have heaped more favours upon him; and lastly, how he could ask no worldly honour and profit at his Highnesse hands that were likely to be denyed him, hoping by the declaration of the Kings kindnesse and affection to­mards him, to cause him to re­compense his Grace with the like again; and unto those things the Parliament the Bishops and U­niversities had already subscribed, to add his consent also.Fairly an­swered with a mild and constant refusal.

To this Sir Thomas More mildly made answer, saying, No man li­ving is there (My Lords), that would with better will do anything that should [Page 111]be acceptable to the Kings Highnesse then my self, who must needs confesse his great favours and bountiful goodness most liberally bestowed on me; howbe­it I verily hoped that I should never have heard of this matter more, considering that I have from time to time alwaies from the beginning so plainly and truly declared my mind unto his Grace, which his Hignesse to me ever seemed, like a most gracious Prince to accept, never intending (as he then said) to molest me more therewith: since which time any further thing that was able to move me to any change, could I-never find: and if I could, there is none in all the world could have been gladder of it then I.

The De­puties threats. Many speeches more concerning this were uttered on both sides, but in the end when they saw they could by no manner of perswasi­ons remove him from his former determination, then began they more terribly to threaten him, telling him that the Kings High­nesse had commanded them if they could by no gentlenesse win him, [Page 112]in his name to charge him with his great ingratitude, that never was there servant to his Soveraign so villanous, nor subject to his Prince so traiterous as he: For he by his subtile sinister sleights (most unnaturally procuring and provo­king him to set forth a book of the assertion of the seven Sacraments and maintenance of the Popes Authori­ty) had caused him to his disho­nour throughout all Christendome to put a sword in the Popes hands t [...] fight against himself.Sir Tho­mas More accused for Author of the Kings Bo [...]k for the Pope. His evi­dent refu­tation. When they had thus laid forth all the terrour they could against him.

My Lords (said he) These terrours be arguments for Children, not for me; but to answer that wherewith you do chiefly charge me, I believe the Kings Highnesse of his honour will never lay that to my charge; for none is there that can in that point say more in mine excuse then his Highnesse himself, who right well knoweth that I never was Pro­curer nor Counsellor of his Majesty thereto: but after it was finished, by his Graces appointment, and consent of [Page 113]the makers of the same, I was only a sorter out and placer of, the principal matters therein contained; wherein I found the Popes Authority highly advan­ced, and with strong Arguments high­ly defended. I said unto his Majesty, I must put your Highnesse in remem­brance of one thing, and that is this; The Pope, as your Grace knoweth, is a Prince as you are, Wise and wary counsel of Sir Tho. to the King. and in league with all other Christian Princes; it may here­after so fall out that your Grace and he may vary upon some points of the league whereupon may grow breach of amity and war between you both: I think it best that that place be amended and his au­thority more slenderly touched. Nay, said his Grace, that shall not be; we are so much bounden to the See of Rome, the King acknow­ledgeth the obligation of his Crown to Rome. that we cannot do too much honour unto it. Then did I further put him in mind of the Statute of Prae­munire, whereby a good part of the Popes pastoral cure was pared away. To that answered his Highnesse, Whatsoever impediment be to the con­trary, we will set forth that Autho­rity to the uttermost: for we received [Page 114]from the See of Rome our Crown im­perial: Which till his Grace with his own mouth told it me, I never heard of before. So that I trust, when that his Majesty shall be truly informed of this, and call to his gracious remem­brance my dealing in that behalf, his Highnesse will never speak of it more, but clear me throughly therein himself. With which words in great dis­pleasure they dismissed him and de­parted.

His mer­ry heart after his examina­tion. Then took Sir Thomas More his Boat towards Chelsey, where by the way he was very merry; which Mr. Rooper much rej [...]iced at, sup­posing that he had got himself dis­charg'd out of the Bill. When he was landed and come home they walked in his Garden, where Mr. Rooper said unto him, I trust Sir all is well because you are so merry. It is so indeed son I thank God. Are you then put out of the Parliament Bill, said Mr. Rooper? By my troth Son I never remembred that: Never remembred it! Sir, said he, a Case that toucheth your self so near, [Page 115]and us all for your sake! I am ve­ry sorry to hear it, for I verily trusted, when I saw you merry, that all had been well. Then replyed Sir Thomas, wouldst thou know son, why I was so merry? A fall gi­ven to the Devil. In good faith I re­joiced that I had given the Divel so foul a fall, and that with those Lords I had gone so far, as without great shame I coul'd never go back again.

The Kings indignati­on against Sir Tho. More. Now upon the report made by my Lord Chancellor and the other Lords to the King of Sir Thomas Mores examination, the King was so much offended with him, that he plainly told them, he was fully determined that the foresaid Par­liament Bill should certainly pro­ceed forth against him: to whom the Lord Chancellor and the rest of the Lords said, that they per­ceived the upper house so power­fully bent to hear Sir Thomas make answer in his own defence, that if he were not put out of the Bill, it would without fail be an utter [...]o­verthrow to all: but for all this, the King would needs have his [Page 116]own will, or else he said he would be personally present himself at the passing of it. Then the Lord Aud­ley and the rest, seeing he was so ve­hemently set upon it, on their knees most humbly besought his Grace to forbear, considering, that if he should in his own presence re­ceive an overthrow,Prudent and poli­tique ad­vine in so bad a Cause. it would not only encourage his Subjects ever after to contemn him, but also re­dound to his dishonour for ever throughout all Christendome: tel­ling him, that they doubted not in time to find some better occasi­on to serve his Graces turn; for in this case of the Nun, he was ac­counted, they said, so innocent and clear, that for his dealing therein men thought him worthier of praise then reproof. Whereupon at length, through their earnest perswasion, he was content to con­descend to their Petition,Procee­ding a­gainst Sir Tho. More deferred. and on the morrow after, Mr. Cromwell meeting M. Rooper in the Parlia­ment House, wished him to tell his Father, that he was put out of the [Page 117]Parliament Bill, who because he had that day appointed to dine in London, sent the message by his ser­vant to his Wise at Chelsey, where­of when she informd her father, In faith Meg, said he, Quod differtur, non aufertur.

After this the Duke of Norfolk and Sir Thomas More chanced to sal in discourse together,A gallant answer to a friends fear. and amongst other talk, the Duke said unto him, By the masse, Mr. More, it is perilous striving with Princes, and therefore I would wish you somewhat to incline to the Kings pleasure: for, By Gods Body Mr. More, Indignatio Principis Mors est. Is that all? (My Lord) said Sir Thomas: Then in good saith is there no more difference be­twixt your Grace and me, but that I shall dye to day, and you to morrow.


  • 1 Sir THOMAS MORE re­fuseth the Oath of Supremacy and succession.
  • 2 Sir THOMAS MORE's imprisonment first in West­minster, then in the Tow­er.
  • 3 His discourse with his daugh­ter Margaret.
  • 4 A Dialogue between him and his Wife the Lady MORE.
  • 5 Mr. Rich his Case.
  • 6 His Books taken from him.

The Oath of supre­macy. NOw it fell out within a month or thereabouts, after the enacting of the Statute for the Oath of the Supremacy and Ma­trimony, [Page 119]that all the Priests of London and Westminster (yet no tem­poral man but Sir Thomas More) were summoned to appear at Lam­beth before the Bishop of Canterbur­ry, Sir Tho. cited to take it. the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary Cromwell, Commissioners appointed there to tender the Oath unto them.

His pre­paration before his going. Then Sir Thomas More, as his cu­stome was alwaies, ere he entred into any businesse of importancy, (as when he was first chosen one of the Kings privy Councel, when he was sent Embassadour, appoint­ed Speaker of the Parliament, made Lord Chancellour, or took any such weighty matter upon him) first to go to Church and be con­fessed, to hear Masse and receive the Sacrament, so did he likewise in the morning early the very day that he was summoned to appear before the Lords at Lambeth: and whereas he used alwaies before at his departure from his Wife and Children whom he tenderly loved, to have them bring him to his [Page 120]Boat, and there he kissing them all bad them sarewell, now he would suffer none of them to come forth of the Gate, but pulled the wick­et after him, and with a heavy heart (as by his countenance it ap­peared) with his Son Rooper, and their four servants, he took boat towards Lambeth, wherein sitting still sadly a while, at last he roun­ded his Son in the ear, and said, Son Rooper, I thank our Lord, the field is Won. What he meant thereby his Son wist not, yet loth to seem ig­norant, he answered, Sir I am ve­ry glad of it.

His di­screet be­haviour in that cause. How wisely he demeaned him­self before the Comissioners at the ministration of the Oath unto him may be found in certain letters of his sent to his Daughter Margaret, which are printed at the latter end of his English works, the effect whereof is this: After he was cal­led before them, he requested of them to see the Oath, which when he had read unto himself, he an­swered, That he neither would find [Page 121]fault with the Oath, nor with the Au­thors of it, He resu­seth the Oath for conscience sake. nor would blame the Consci­ence of any man that had taken it, but for himself he could not take it without endangering his soul of eternal damnati­on; which if they doubted of, he would swear unto them that that was the chief cause of his refusal; in which second Oath if they doubted to trust him, how could they then trust him in the former? Which he having said, my Lord Chancellor replyed, That all there were heartily sorry he should make such an answer, for they constantly affirmed that he was the first man that denyed to take it, which would greatly aggra­vate the Kings displeasure against him. And forthwith they shewed him a Catalogue of the Nobility, and many others who had taken it, and had subscribed their names there­unto.

All the Clergie but Bish. Fisher and D. Wilson did take the Oath. Yet because he would not blame any mans conscience therein, he was commanded to walk into the Garden a while, then presently all the Clergy men, some Bishops, ma­ny Doctors, and Priests, were cal­led [Page 122]in, who all took it, except Bi­shop Fisher, and one Doctor Wilson) without any scruple at all.

Upon what con­ditions Sir Tho. offered to set down his reasons of refusal. After all these had soon dispat­ched the businesse for which they were sent for, Sir Thomas was cal­led in again, and the names of all that had taken the Oath were shewed him, whereunto for him­self he answered as before: then they often objected unto him ob­stinacy, because he would neither take it, nor give any reason why he refused it; to which he reply­ed, That his denial only would provoke the Kings indignation sufficiently against him, and therefore he was loth any fur­ther to aggravate his displeasure, shew­ing what urgent necessity drew him unto it; howbeit if his Majesty would testifie that his expressing the Causes wherefore he refused it would not provoke against him his further anger, he would not stick to set them down in writing, and if any man could satisfie those reasons to the content of his consci­ence, he would take the Oath most wil­lingly. Then Cranmer Lord Arch­bishop [Page 123]urged unto him, that seeing he was not certain of his Conscience, Sir Tho. More's of­fer pro­ceedeth not of un­certainty, but be­cause he was sure his rea­sons were unaswe­rable. but that it was a thing certain, he must o­bey his Prince, therefore was he to re­ject that doubtful conscience of his, and stick to the latter which was undoubt­ed.

And when the Abbot of West­minster had said, that he might very well suspect his own conscience to be er­roneous, because he alone would seem to controll all the Wisdome of the whole Realm, who had made and taken it: Thereto Sir Thomas answered,All Chri­stendome of more authority then all England. That if he alone should stand against so wor­thy a Kingdome, he had great cause to fear his own conscience: but, if that on his side he could produce a farre greater number, of as learned men as they; he thought himself then not bound to reform his conscience by following the consent of one Kingdome against a general recei­ved opinion of the whole Christian world.

The Oath of succes­sion. Then asked they him whether he would swear to the succession: to which he answered, That he was willing enough to do that, if the Oath [Page 124]were set down in such words as he might safely take it. Then said the Lord Chancellor, See Mr. Secretary, he will not swear to that neither, but un­der a certain form of words. No truly, replyed Sir Thomas, except I find that I may swear it without danger of perjury, and with a safe Consci­ence.

When he had thus behaved him­self, he was committed to the custo­dy of the Abbot of Westminster for four daies,Sir Tho. More's imprison­ment first in West­minster. during which time the King consulted with his Councel, what order were best to be taken with him; and although at first they resolved he should be discharged with an Oath not to be known whether he had sworn to the Su­premacy or no, or what he thought thereof, yet Queen Anne by her importunate clamour did so sore exasperate the King against him, that contrary to his former resolu­tion,Then by Q. Annes importu­nity in the Tower. he caused the said Oath of the Supremacy to be ministred un­to him: who although he made a discreet qualified answer, never­thelesse [Page 125]was presently committed to the Tower: who as he was go­ing thither (wearing as he com­monly did a chain of Gold about his neck) Sir Rich. Wink field that had the charge of his conveyance thither, advised him to send home his Chain to his Wife or some of his children, Nay Sir, said he, that I will not, for if I were taken in the field by mine enemies, I would they should somewhat fare the better for me.

At his landing Mr. Lieutenant at the Tower-gate was ready to re­ceive him,The upper garment the Por­ters Fee. where the Porter de­manded of him his upper garment, Mr. Porter, said he, here it is, and took off his C [...]p and gave it him, saying, I am sorry it is no better for thee. No Sir, said the Porter, I must have your Gown; which he gave him. And so was he by Mr. Lieutenant conveyed to his lodg­ing, where he called unto him one John Wood his servant there appointed to attend him, who could neither write nor read, and [Page 126]sware him before the Lieutenant,His mans Oath. that if he should hear or see him at a­ny time speak or write any manner of thing against the King, the Councell, or the State of the Realm, he should tell it to the Lieutenant that he might pre­santly reveal it to the Councel.

His dis­course with his daughter Margaret. Now when Sir Thomas had re­mained in the Tower something more then a month, his daughter Margaret longing to see him, at length got leave to go to him; at whose comming,Prevented with Pray­ers. after the seven Psalmes and Letany said (which whensoever she came to him, be­fore he would talk of any world­ly affairs,The com­fort he found in his impri­ [...]onment. he used to say with her;) among other discourse he said un­to her, I believe Meg that they which have put me here think they have done me a high displeasure, But I assure you on my Faith, (mine own good daugh­ter) that if it had not been for my wife and you my children whom I account the chief part of my charge, I would not have failed long ere this, to have closed my self in as straight a room as this and straighter too: But since I am come [Page 127]hither without my own desert, I trust that God of his goodnesse will discharge me of my care, and by his gratious help supply the want of my presence among you: I find no cause (I thank God) Meg to reckon my self in worse case here, then in mine own house. For me thinketh God maketh me a wanton, and setteth me on his lap and dandleth me. Thus by his gracious demeanour in his troubles, it evidently appeared, that al the calamities that ever be­fell him, by his patient sufferance of them were to him no painfull punishments, but rather profita­ble exercises of his patience.

And at another time, when he had fi [...]st enquired of his daughter concerning the order of his wife,Sir Tho­mas More. foretelleth Q Annes death. and children, and state of his fa­mily in his absence, he asked her how Queen Anne did, In faith fa­ther (said she) never better, there is nothing else in the Court but dancing, and sporting. Never better Meg! (said he) Alas, Meg, Alas, it pitti [...]th me to remember into what misery poor soul she shall shortly come, but in the mean [Page 128]time these dances of hers will prove such dances, that they will spurn our heads off like foothals.

His plea­sant an­swer to his Keepers honest ex­cuse. After this Mr. Lieutenant com­ing into his Chamber to visit him related unto him the many favours and friendships he had often recei­ved at his hands, and therefore how | much bound he was friendly and nobly to entertain him, which since (the Case standing [...]s it did) he could not do without the Kings displeasure, he trusted, he said, he would accept of his good will, and such poor fare as he had: Master Lieutenant (said Sir Thomas More again) I verily believe, as you may, so are you my good friend indeed, and would, as you say, with your best cheer entertain me; for which I most hearti­ly thank you; and assure your self, Ma­ster Lieutenant, I do not mislike my cheer, but whensoever I do, then thrust me out of your doors.

The igno­rance of the Oath makers. Now, whereas the Oath of Su­premacy, and Matrimony, was in the first statute comprised in few words, the Lord Chancellor [Page 129]and the Secretary did of the [...]r own heads adde more words unto it, to make it appear unto the Kings ears more pleasant and plausible; and that Oath so amplyfied, they then caused to be tendred to Sir Thomas More and others throughout the Kingdome: which Sir Thomas per­ceiving, said unto his daughter, I may tell thee Meg, they that have committed me hither, for refusing of this Oath not agreeable with the Statute, are not able by their own law to justifie my imprisonment: and surely daugh­ter it is great pitty that any Christian Prince should by a flexible Councel rea­dy to follow his affections, with flattery so shamefully be abused. But at length the Lord Chancellor and the Se­cretary espying their oversight in that business, were fain afterwards to cause another Statute to be en­acted for the confirmation of the Oath so amplyfied with their ad­ditions.

As Sir Thomas (looking out of his window) chanced to see one Mr. Raynolds a Father of Sion, and [Page 130]three Monks of the Charter-house, His medi­tation on death up­on the ex­ecution of 24 Religi­ous men. for the businesse of the Matrimo­ny and Supremacy going out of the Tower to their execution, he, as longing to accompany them in that journey, said unto his daugh­ter, then standing by him, Loe, dost thou not see (Meg) that these reve­rend Fathers are as chearfully going to their deaths as bridgrooms to their mar­riage; wherefore hereby maist thou see (mine own good daughter) what a great difference there is between such as have in effect spent all their daies in a straight hard, painful, and penitential life reli­giously, and such as have in the world like worldly wretches (as thy poor father) consumed all their time in pleasure and ease, licentiously: for God considering their long continued life in most sore and grievous pain, will no longer suffer them to remain here in this vale of misery and iniquity, but speedily taketh them hence to the fruition of his everlasting Deity: whereas thy silly Father (Meg) that like a most wicked Caitiffe hath passed forth the whole course of his life most, sinfully; God thinking him not worthy [Page 131]to come so soon to that eternal felicity, leaveth him here yet still in the world further to be prolonged and turmoiled with misery.

A while after Mr. Secretary coming to him into the Tower from the King,Secretary Cromwel hi [...] visit. pretended much friendship towards him, and for his comfort told him, That the King was his good and gracious Lord, and intended not any more to trouble his conscience with any thing, wherein he should have cause of scruple. As soon as Mr. Secretary was gone, to expresse how much comforted he was by his words, he wrote with a coal, (|for then he had no inke) these verses following.

Eye flattering fortune, look thou ne're so fair,
Nor ne're so pleasantly begin to smile,
As though thou wouldst my ruine all re­pair,
During my life thou shall not me be­guile
Trust I shall God to enter in a while.
[Page 132]
Thy haven of Heaven, sure and u­niform,
Ever after thy Calm look I for no storm.

A pretty dialogue between Sir Tho. More and his Lady When Sir Thomas More had con­tinued a good while in the Tower his Lady obtained leave to see him, who, at her first coming, thus bluntly saluted him: What the good year Master More, said she, I marvel that you that have been alwaies taken for so wise a man will now so play the fool, as to lye here in this close filthy pri­son, and be content thus to be shut up a­mongst mice and rats: and too when you might be abroad at your liberty, and with the favour and good will both of the King and his Councell, if you would but do as all the Bishops and best lear­ned of the Realm have done; and see­ing you have at Chelsey a right fair House, your Library, your Gallery, your Garden, your Orchard, and all other ne­cessaries so handsome about you, where you might in the company of me your Wife, your Children, and houshold bee merry: I muse what a Gods name you [Page 133]mean here still thus fondly to tarry. His an­swer. Af­ter he had a while quietly heard her, with a very chearful counte­nance he said unto her, Good Mrs. Alice tell me one thing. What is that? (said she) Is not this house as nigh hea­ven as mine own? The pri­s [...]n as neer heaven as his own house. To whom she (as not liking these words) answered after her manner, Tille valle, Til­le valle. How say you, Mrs. Alice, said he, is it not so? Bone Deus, Bone Deus man, Will this gear never be left (said she.) Well then, Mrs. Alice, if it be so it is very well; but for my part I see no great cause why I should much joy in my gay house, or of any thing be­longing thereunto, when if I should but seven years lye buried under ground, and then arise and come thither again, I should not fail to find some therein that would bid me get me out of doors, and tell me it were none of mine What cause have I then to like such a house as would so soon forget his Master? Again, tell me Mrs. Alice, how long do you think may we live and enjoy it? Some twen­ty years, said she. Truly, said Sir Thomas, if you had said some thousand [Page 134]years, Eternity to be pre­ferred be­fore Tem­porality. it had been somewhat, and yet he were a very bad Merchant, that would put him self in danger to lose Eternity, for a thousand years; how much the rather if we are not sure to enjoy it one day to an end? And thus her per­swasions moved him but little.

Not long after came there to him,Another visit. the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, with Secretary Cromwel, and some o­thers of the privy Councell at two several times, to procure him by all means, either precisely to con­fesse the Kings Supremacy, or plainly to deny it; whereunto as appeareth by his examination set out in his English works, they could never bring him, because he was unwilling to aggravate the Kings displeasure against himself, saying only, That the Statute was like a two edged sword; if he spoke a­gainst it, he should procure the death of his body; if he consented to it, he should purchase the death of his soul.

Shortly hereup on Mr. Rich, (af­terward Lord Rich) then newly [Page 135]made the Kings Solicitour, Sir Ri. Southwell and one Mr. Palmer the Secretaries servant, were sent by the King to take away all his Books: Mr. Rich pretending friend­ly discourse with Sir Thomas, said unto him (as it proved after) of set purpose: ‘Forasmuch as it is well known Mr. More, that you are a man both wise, and well learned, as well in the Laws of the Realm as otherwise, I pray you Sir let me be so bold as of good will to put unto you this case:Mr. Rich his Case Admit there were an Act of Parliament made, that all the Realm should take me for King, would not you (Mr. More) take me for King?’ Yes Sir, said Sir Thomas More, that would I. ‘I put case further, said Mr. Rich, That there were an Act of Parli­ament, that all the Realm should take me for Pope, would not you then take me for Pope?’ For answer, said Sir Thomas, to your first Case, the Parliament may well meddle with the state of Temporal Prin­ces; [Page 136]but to make answer to your other case, I wil put you this Case: Suppose the Parliament would make a Law that God should not be God, would you then Mr. Rich say that God should not be God? Surely a poor ground for an In­ditement of Trea­son. "No Sir, said he, since no Parliam. "may make such a Law: No More (as Mr. Rich reported Sir Tho should say, but yet he made no such infe­rence as he vouchsafed after to M. R. his face) could the Parliament make the King supreme head of the Church. Upon which report of Mr. Rich's Sir Thomas was shortly after indi­ted of high treason upon the new Statute of Supremacy, in which it was made treason to deny the King to be the Supream head of the Church, into which judgment were put these hainous words, Ma­litiously, traiterously, and Diaboli­cally.

An acci­dent very remarka­ble if true at the ta­king away of his Books. He had a little before this begun a Divine Treatise of the passion of Christ; and as some write, when he came to expound those words of the Gospell, (And they laid hands upon him, and held him) these Gentle­men [Page 137]took from him all his Books, Inke, and Paper, so that he could go on no further. Which being done he applyed himself wholly to meditation, keeping his Chamber windows fast shut and very dark, the occasion whereof the Lieute­nant of the Tower asking him:His merry jest upon it. He answered, When all the wares are gone the shop windows are to be shut up.

When Sir Thomas More was brought from the Tower to West­minster-Hall to answer the indite­ment, and thereupon arraigned at the Kings-Bench Bar,The sub­stance of the indite­ment. where he had often asked his Fathers bles­sing, he openly told the Judges that he would have abidden in law and demurr'd upon the inditement but that he thereby should have been driven to confesse of himself that he had denyed the Kings Su­premacy, which he protested he never did: wherefore he thereto pleaded not guilty, and reserved to himself advantage to be taken of the body of the matter after ver­dict, to avoid that in ditement: ad­ding [Page 138]withall, that if only those o­dious terms, Maliciously, Traite­rously, and Diabolically were taken out of the Inditement, he saw no­thing in it that should justly charge him of any Treason.


  • 1 Sir THOMAS MORE'S Arraignment.
  • 2 His answer to the Indite­ment.
  • 3 Mr. Rich his Oath against Sir Thomas More clearly rejected.
  • 4. Sentance of Death pronoun­ced against Sir Thomas More.

The Ar­raignment of Sir Tho. More. NOw when the King had en­devoured all means possible to get Sir Thomas his consent to his laws, (as knowing that his ex­ample would draw many more af­ter him, being a man so eminent for wisdome and rare vertues) and could no way obtain his desire, he commanded him to be called to [Page 140]his arraignment at the Kings-Bench-Barre, having been prisoner at the Tower somwhat more then a twelvemonth: whither he went leaning on his staffe, because he had been much weakned by his impri­sonment, his countenance shew­ing much chearfulnesse and reso­lution. His Inditement (which was very long and odious) was read by the Kings Atturny:His In­ditement. The Jud­ges char­ges. which being ended, the Lord Chancellor and the Duke of Norfolk, spoke to this effect unto him. You see now how grievously you have offended his Majesty yet he is so merciful, that if you will but leave your obstinacy, and change your opinion, we hope you may obtain pardon of his Highnesse.

His reso­lution. Whereunto Sir Thomas resolute­ly replyed thus: ‘Most noble Lords, I have great cause to thank your Honours for this your courtesie; but I beseech Almighty God that I may con­tinue in the mind I am in through his Grace unto death.’

After this he was permitted to [Page 141]say what he could in his own de­fence in answer to his Inditement,Sir Tho­mas his answer to the indite­ment. who thereupon began as follow­eth.

‘When I think how long my accusation is, and what hainous matters are laid to my charge, I am strucken with fear lest my memory and wit, both which are decaled together with the health of my body through a long impediment contracted by my imprisonement, be not now able to answer these things on the suddain, as I ought, and o­therwise could.’

After this, there was brought him a chair, on which when he was sat he proceeded thus.

1. How sincerely he had al­waies told the King his mind concer­ning the marriage.There are four principal heads if I be not deceived, of this my Inditement, every one of which (God willing) I purpose to an­swer in order. To the first that is objected against me, to wit, That I have been an enemy of a stubborness of mind to the Kings second marriage; I confesse that [Page 142]I alwaies told the King my opini­on therein as my conscience dic­tated unto me, which I neither would or ought to have concea­led; I am so far from thinking my self guilty of high Treason, as that, on the contrary, I being demanded my opinion by so great a Prince in a matter of such importance, whereupon the quietnesse of a Kingdome depen­deth, If I should have basely flat­tered him against my own Con­science, and not uttered the truth as I thought, then I should wor­thily have been accounted a wicked subject, and a perfidious traitor to God.

Herein I had offended the King (if it can be an offence to tell ones mind plainly when our Prince asketh us) I suppose I have been already punished enough for this fault with most grievous afflictions,The con­tinuation of his im­prison­ment and afflictions. with the loss of all my goods, and committed to perpe­tual imprisonment, having been shut up already almost these [Page 143]fifteen moneths.

2. Why he refused to tell his judgment of the law of Supre­macy.My second accusation is, that I have transgressed the Statute in the last Parliament, that is to say, being a Prisoner and twice examined by the Lords of the Councell, I would not disclose unto them my opinion (of a ma­lignant, perfidious, obstinate and traiterous mind) whether the Ki. were Supreme head of the Church or no but answerd them that this Law belonged not unto me, whether it were just or unjust, because I did not enjoy any be­nefit from the Church; yet I then protested, that I never had said or done any thing against it,Lay-men not con­cerned in this Law. nei­ther can any one word or action of mine be produced, to make me culpable; yea this I confesse was then my speech unto their Ho­nours, that hereafter I would think of nothing else, but of the bitter passion of our blessed Savi­our, and of my passage out of this miserable world. I wish no harm to any, and if this wil not keep [Page 144]me alive, I desire not to live. By al which I know that I could not transgresse any Law, or incurre any crime of treason; for neither this Statute nor any Law in the world can punish any man for holding his peace;No law can punish silence that is without malice. for they only can punish either words or deeds God only being Judge of our se­cret thoughts.

At which words, because indeed they were very urgent, the Kings Atturney interrupted him,Whether his silence were mali­cious. and said Although we have not one word or deed of yours to object against you yet have we your Silence, which is an evident sign of a malitious mind, because no dutifull subject, being lawfully asked this que­stion, will refuse to answer. To which Sir Thomas answered;

My silence is no sign of any malicious mind, which the King himself may know by many of my dealings, neither doth it convince any man of breach of your Law. For it is a Maxim amongst the Civi­lians, and Canonisty: Qui [...]acet, con­sentire videtur, He that holdeth his [Page 145]peace seemeth to consent. And as for that you say,Obedi­ence first to God, then to man. No good sub­ject will refuse to answer directly I think it verily, the duty of a good subject, except he be such a subject as will be an evill Christian, rather to obey God then man, to have more care of offending his conscience then of any other matter in the world; especially if his conscience pro­cure neither heavy scandall nor sedition to his Prince or Coun­trey, as mine hath not done; for I here protest unfeignedly, that I never revealed it to any man li­ving.

3. That he never counselled or induced B. Fisher.I now come to the third capi­tal matter of my Inditement, whereby I am accused, that I ma­liciously attempted, traiterously endeavoured, and perfidiously practised against this Statute as the words thereof affirm, because I wrote eight sundry packets of letters whilst I was in the Tower unto Bishop Fisher, by which I exhorted him to break the same [Page 146]Law; and induced him to the like obstinacy.The con­tents of his letters to the said Bishop I would have these let­ters produced and read against me, which may either free me or convince me of a lye. But because you say the Bishop burnt them al I will here tell the truth of the whole matter: Some were only of private matters; as about our old friendship and acquaintance; one of them was in answer to his, whereby he desired of me to know how I had answered in my exa­minations to this Oath of Supre­macy: Touching which, this on­ly I wrote unto him again, that I had already set led my conscience, let him settle his to his own good liking; and no other answer I gave him, God is my witnesse, as God I hope shal save this my soul and this I trust is no breach of your Laws.

4. The law of Su­premacy like a two-edged sword.The last objected crime is, that being examined in the Tower, I did say that this Law was like a two-edged Sword; for in consen­ting thereto I should endangen [Page 147]my soul, in refusing it, I should lose my life: Which answer, be­cause Bishop Fisher made the like, it is evidently gathered, as you say, that we both conspired to­gether. Whereto I reply, that my answer there was but conditi­onal; if there be danger in both either to allow or disallow this Statute and therefore like a two­edged Sword, it seemeth a hard thing, that it should be offered to me, that never have hitherto contradicted it either in word, or deed. These were my words; what the Bishop answered, I know not. If his answer were like mine it proceeded not from any con­spiracy of ours, but from the like­nesse of our wits and learning. To conclude, I unfeignedly avouch that I never spake word against this Law to any living man; al­though perhaps his Majesty hath been told the contrary.

To this full answer the Atturny replyed no more, but the word Malice, was in the mouth of all the [Page 148]Court, but no man could produce either word or deed to prove it,Mr. Rich his Oath against Sir Tho. More. yet for all this, for proof to the Ju­ry that Sir Thomas More was guilty of this Treason, Mr. Rich was cal­led forth to give evidence unto them upon his Oath; which he did affirming that which was spoken of before in their discourse in the Tower: against whom now sworn Sir Thomas began in this manner to speak: If I were a man, my Lords, that did not regard an Oath, I needed not at this time in this place (as it is well known to you all) stand as an ac­cused person. Dispro­ved by Sir Th. Oath to the contrary. And if this Oath (Mr. Rich) which you have taken be true, then I pray that I may never see God in the face, which I would not say, were it otherwise to gain the whole world.

Then did he recite before the Councell the whole discourse of all their communication in the Tow­er, according as it was truly,His excep­tion a­gainst the witnesse as unworthy of credit. adding this:

In good faith Mr. Rich I am more sorry for your perjury then for mine own peril, and know you, that neither I nor any [Page 149]man else to my knowledge ever took you to be a man of such credit, as that I or any other would vouch safe to communicate with you in any matter of impor­tance. You know that I have been acquainted with your man­ner of lite & conversation a long space even from your youth to this time; for we dwelt long to­gether in one parish, whereas your self can well tell, (I am sorry you compel me to speak it) you were alwaies esteemed very light of your tongue, a great dicer and gamester, and not of any commen­dable fame either there or at your house at the Temple, where hath been your bringing up. Can it therefore seem likely to your Ho­nourable Lordships, that in so weighty a cause I should so unad­visedly overshoot my self as to trust M. Rich, a man alwaies re­puted of me for a man of so little truth and honesty, so farre above my Soveraign Lord the King, to whom I am so deeply indebted for [Page 150]his manifold favours, or any of his noble and grave Counsellors that I would declare only to Mr Rich the secrets of my Conscience touching the Kings Supremacy, the special point & only mark so long sought for at my hands; which I never did nor ever would reveal after the statute once made either to the Kings Highnesse or to any of his noble Counsellors, as it is well known to your Ho­nours, who have been sent, for no other purpose, at sundry seve­ral times from his Majesties per­son to me in the Tower. I refer it therefore to your judgments My Lords, whether this can seem a thing credible to any of you.

If it had been true there had been no Malice. And if I had done as Mr. Rich hath sworn, seeing it was spoken but in familiar secret talk affir­ming nothing, but only in put­ting of Cases, without any un­pleasing circumstances, it cannot justly be taken for Maliciously, and where there is no malice there [...]an be no offence. B [...]sides this [Page 151](My Lords) I cannot think that so many worthy Bishops, so ma­ny honourable personages, and so many worshipful, vertuous, and well learned men, as were in the Parliament assembled at the ma­king of that Law,Malice in Law. ever meant to have any man punished by death in whom there could be found no malice, taking Malitia for Malevo­lentia, for if Malitia be taken in a generall signification for any sin no man is there that can excuse himself thereof, Quia si [...]dixerimus quod pecatum non habemus, nosmetip­sos seducimus, & verit as in nobis non est. Wherefore this word Mali­tiously is only materiall in this Statute, as the word forcible is in the Statute of Forcible Entry: for in that Case if any enter pea­ceably and put his adversary out forcibly, it is no offence; but if he enter forcibly, he shal be punished by that Statute.

Besides this, the unspeakable goodnesse of the Kings Highnesse towards me, who hath been so [Page 152]many waies my singular good Lord and gracious Sove­raign; He,The im­probabili­ty of Mr. Rich's de­position. I say, who hath so dearly loved and trusted me, even from my first coming into his Royall service, vouchsafing to grace me with the honour of be­ing one of his privie Councell, and hath most liberally advanced to offices of great credit and wor­ship: finally with the chief dig­nity of his Majesties High Chan­cellour, the like whereof he never did to any temporal man before, which next his Royal Person is the highest Office in this noble Rea [...]m, so far above my merits and qualities honouring and ex­alting me of his incomparable be­nignity by the space of these twenty years and more, shewing his continual favours towards me; and now at last it hath pleased his Highnesse at mine own humble suit to give me licence with his Majesties favour to bestow the re­sidue of my life for the better pro­vision of my soul in the service [Page 153]of God, to discharge and disbur­then me of that weighty dignity, before which he had still heaped honours more and more upon me; all this his Highnesse goodnesse so liberally extended to me, were in my mind matter sufficient to convince this slanderous accusati­on so wrongfully by this man sur­mised and urged against me, which I commit to your Lordships ho­nourable considerations whether this Oath be likely to be true or no.

Mr. Rich his witnes­ses do fail him. Mr. Rich seeing himself so evi­dently disproved, and his credit so foully defaced, caused Sir Rich. Southwel and Mr. Palmer, who in the time of their communication were in the same Chamber with them, to be there sworn what words had passed betwixt them: whereupon Mr. Palmer upon his deposition said, that he was so busie in the trussing up of Sir Tho­mas his Books into a sack that he took no heed to their talk. Sir Rich. Southwel said likewise, that [Page 154]because he was appointed only to look to the conveighing of the Books, he gave no ear unto them. And after this Sir Thomas allead­ged many other reasons in his own defence to the discredit of Mr. Rioh his foresaid evidence, and for proof of the clearnesse of his own con­science.

But for all that ever he could do or say the Jury found him guil­ty.The Jury verdict, guilty. Wherefore the Lord Chan­cellor as chief judge in that mat­ter began presently to proceed to judgment;Excepted against by Sir Tho. which Sir Thomas hea­ring said unto him: My Lord when I was towards the Law, the mannet in such Cases was to aske the prisoner before Sentence, whether he could give any reason why judgment should not pro­ceed against him: Upon which words the Lord Chancellor staying his Sentence, wherein he had already partly proceeded, asked Sir Tho­mas what he was able to say to the contrary, who presently made an­swer as followeth.

‘Forasmuch as, my Lords, this [Page 155]Inditement is grounded upon an Act of Parliament directly repug­nant to the Laws of God and his holy Church,The Act of Parlia­ment a­gainst Gods Law. the Supreme Go­vernment of which or of any part thereof no Temporal person may by any Law presume to take up­on him,No Lay­man may be head of the Church. as rightfully belonging to the See of Rome, it is therefore in Law among the Catholique Christians insufficient to charge any Christian man to obey.’ He also further declared for proof of his assertion, that like as this Realm ‘alone being but one member and a small part of the Church, might not make a particular Law disa­greeing with the general Law of the universal Catholique Church, no more then the City of London being but one poor member in respect of the whole Realm, might make a law against an Act of Par­liament to bind the whole Realm So also he further shewed that this law was contrary to the laws and statutes of the land yet unrepea­led,Against the Laws of the Kingdom. as they might evidently per­ceive [Page 156]in Magna Charta, Against the Kings own Oath where it is said, Quod Ecclesia Anglicana li­bera sit, & habeat libertates suas il­laesas: And also contrary to that sacred Oath which the Ki [...] High­nesse himself and every other Christian Prince alwaies with a great solemnity received at their Coronations.Against the peculi­ar Obliga­tion of England to Rome. Alledging moreover that no more might this King­dome refuse obedience to the See of Rome, then might the child to his natural father.’

To these words the Lord Chan­cellor replyed,The Lord Chancel­lors reply that seeing all the Bishops, Universities, and best learned men of this Realm had a­greed to this Act, it was much mar­velled that he alone should so stif­ly stick thereat, and so vehement­ly argue there against it. To which words Sir Thomas answered. That ‘if the number of Bishops and U­niversities were so material as his Lorship seemeth to make it, then do I, my Lord, see little cause why that thing in my conscience should make any change; for I [Page 157]do not doubt but of the learned and vertuous men that are yet a­live, (I speak not only of this Realm, but of all Christendome about) there a [...]e ten to one that are of my mind in this matter. But if I should speak of those learned Doctors and vertuous Fathers that are already dead, of whom many are Saints in Heaven. I am sure, that there are far more, who all the while they lived thought in this Case as I think now: And therefore, my Lord, I think my self not bound to conform my conscience to the Councell of one Realm against the generall consent of all Christendome.’

The con­demnati­on of Sir Th. More. Now when Sir Thomas had ta­ken as many exceptions as he thought fit, for the avoiding of this Inditement, the Lord Chan­cellor having bethought himself, being unwilling now to have the whole burthen of his condemna­tion to lye upon himself, asked openly there the advice of the Lord Chief Justice of England Sir John [Page 158]Fitz James, whether this Indite­ment were sufficient or no, who answered thus: My Lords all, by S. Gillian (that was ever his Oath) I must needs confesse, that if the Act of Parliament be not unlawful then in my Conscience the inditement is not insuf­ficient: Whereupon the Lord Chancellor said to the rest of the Lords, Loe my Lords, loe, You hear what my Lord Chief Justice saith: and so immediately he pronounced this Sentence.

The Sen­tence. THat he should be brought back to the Tower of Lon­don by the help of Will. Bing­ston Sheriffe, and from thence drawn on a hurdle through the City of London to Tiburn, there to be hanged till he be half dead, after that cut down yet alive, his privie parts cut off, his belly rip­ped, his bowels burnt, and his four quarters set up over four Gates of the City, his head upon London bridge.

Mitigated by the King. This Sentence was by the Kings pardon changed afterwards into only beheading, because he had born the highest Office in the Kingdome: Of which mercy of the Kings, word being brought to Sir Thomas, he answered merrily, God forbid, the King should use any more such to any of my friends, and God blesse all my posterity from such par­dons.

Sir, Tho­mas More's charity to his Judg­es. After his Sentence pronounced, the Judges courteously offered him, that if he had any thing else to alleadge in his defence, they would grant him favourable audi­ence: who answered, I have no­thing to say, my Lords, butthat, Like as the Blessed Apostle St. Paul, as we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and consented to the death of S. Stephen, and kept their cloaths that sto­ned him to death, & yet be they now both twain holy Saints in Heaven, and shal continue there friends for ever: So I ve­rily trust & shal therefore right hearti­ly pray, that though your Lordships have [Page 160]been now judges on Earth to my condem­nation, we may yet hereafter all meet together in Heaven merrily to our ever­lasting salvation. And so I pray God pre­serve you all, and especially my Soveraign Lord the King, and send him faithful Counsellors.


  • 1 The manner how Sir THO­MAS MORE was led back to the Tower.
  • 2 His daughter Margarets great expression of love to him now condemned.
  • 3 How devoutly and resolute­ly Sir T. expected his exe­cution.
  • 4 Notice of the time of his death sent him by the King.
  • 5 The manner and form of his death.
  • 6 The Kings sadnesse there pon.
  • 7 Physiognomy of Sir THO­MAS MORE.

NOW after his condemnation he was conducted from the [Page 162]Bar to the Tower again (an Axe being carried before with the edge towards him) and was led by Sir William Kingston who was then Constable of the Tower and his very dear friend,The man­ner of Sir Th. his re­turn to the Tower who when he had brought him from Westminster to the old Swan on his way to the Tower,Great constancy, courtesie, and chari­ [...]y. he there with a sad heart, the tears running down his cheeks took his leave of him: Sir Thomas M. seeing him so sorrowful, with a cheerful countenance, began to comfort him saying, Good Mr. King­stone trouble not your self, but be of good chear, for I will pray for you and my good Lady your Wife, that we may meet in Heaven together, where we shall be merry for ever and ever. A lit­tle after this, Sir William talking with Mr. Rooper thereof, said, In good faith Mr. Rooper I was ashamed of my self, that at parting with your Father, I found my heart so weak and his so stout, that he was fain to com­fort me, who should rather at that time have comforted him. But a consci­ence clear and at ease, is a comfort [Page 163]which no earthly power can either give or take away; the which, by his demeanour and expressi­ons, it doth plainly appear he had.

A great experi­ment of love in the only son of Sir Th. More. Now, that I may not omit, what before I should have spoken of, I will here mention a great experi­ment of love in the only Son of Sir Thomas More, who upon his fa­thers landing at the old Swan like a most dutifull child did cast him­self down at his feet, humbly cra­ving his blessing, not without tears whom he therefore blessed and kis­sed most lovingly.

When Sir Thomas More, was now come to the Tower wharf, his best beloved daughter Margaret, wife to Mr. Rooper, being very desirous to see her father,The great passion of his daugh­ter Mar­garet. whom she thought she should never see in this world more, diligently attended his comming at the Tower-wharf, where she was certain he must pass by, whom as soon as she had espi­ed (after she had on her knees re­ceived his fatherly blessing) she [Page 164]ran hastily unto him, and (with­out consideration or care of her self, passing through the midst of the throng and guard, who with Bils and Halberts compassed him about) there openly in the sight of them all, embraced him, took him about the neck and kissed him, not able to expresse any words but these: My Father, O my Father! He liking well this most naturall and dear affection of hers towards him gave her his blessing, and told her, That whatsoever he should suffer, though he were innocent, yet it was not with­out the will of God, and that she knew well enough all the secrets of his heart, counselling her to conform her will to Gods blessed pleasure, and bad her be patient for her losse. From whom after she was departed, she not sa­tisfied with the former Farewell, like one who had forgotten her self ravished with the entire love of so worthy a father, having neither re­spect to her self nor the presse of people about him, suddenly ran to him, took him about the neck and [Page 165]many times together most lovingly kissed him; whereat he spake not one word, but carrying still his gravity, tears also fell from his eyes, nay they were but sew in all the throng, who at the sight of this could refrain from weeping, no not the guard themselves, yet at last with a most sorrowful heart she was forced to depart from him.

A conside­ration of this mutu­all passion of father & daugh­ter. O what singular act of affection was this, for a woman of nature bashful, by education modest, to expresse such excessive grief, as that love should make her shake off all fear and shame! which sad fight piercing the hearts of the behol­ders, how do you think it moved the fathers! surely his affection and forcible love had now daunted his courage, if that a divine spirit of constancy had not inspired him to behold this most generous wo­man his most worthy daughter, en­dued with all good gifts of Nature all sparks of Piety, which are wont to be most acceptable to a loving [Page 166]father: O strange: to presse un­to him at such a time and place where no man could have accesse, hanging about his neck ere he was aware of her, holding so fast on him, as she could scarce be pluck­ed off, uttering no other words but, O my Father! O my Father! surely this could not but be a sword to his heart: and then at last being drawn away by force, to run upon him again, without any regard either of the weapons wherewith he was encompassed, or of the modesty becoming her own Sexe. What comfort did he want? what courage did he then stand in need of? and yet he re­sisted all this most valiantly, re­mitting nothing of his steady gra­vity, speaking only what is before recited, and at last of all desiring her to pray for her fathers soul.

How de­voutly and cheerfully he atten­ded his execution. Sir Tho. M. remained in the Tow­er more then a seven-night after his judgment, arming himself with prayer and meditation against the day of his execution walking about [Page 167]he chamber with a sheet about him like a corps ready to be buryed.

His plea­sant com­ceit upon a Cour­tier. In which time came to him one of the Court, whose whole dis­ourse was nothing else but ur­ging Sir Thomas to change his mind, who at last being wearied with his importunity, answered him that he had changed it; whereupon present­ly he went and told the King: and being by him commanded to know wherein h [...]s mind was changed, Sir Thomas rebuked him for his leightnesse, in that he would tell the King every word that he spoke in jest, meaning, that whereas he had intended to be shaven that he might appear to the people as befor he was wont, now he was fully resolved that his beard should take such part as his head did: which made the Courtier blank, and the King very angry.

His last letter to his daugh­ter Marga­ret. Now last of all, the day before he was to suffer, being the fifth of July, he wrote a most loving letter with a coal to his daughter Mar­garet, sending his Blessing to all his children, in which he wri­teth [Page 168]very affectionately, expressing also the great desire he had to suf­fer on the morrow after, in these words: I cumber you good Margaret much, but I would be sorry if it should be any longer then to morrow, for to morrow is S. Thomas Even, and the Uras of S Peter, and therefore to morrow long I to go to God, it were a day very meet and convenient for mee. I never liked your manners better then when you kissed me last. For I like when daughterly love and dear charity hath no leisure to look unto worldly cour­tesie. Farewel, d [...]ar daughter, pray for me, and I will pray for you and all your friends, that we may meet together in Heaven. Commend me when you can to my Son John;His bles­sing to his heir. his towardly carri­age towards me pleased me very much. God-blesse him and his good wife and their Children. With this Letter he sent also his shirt of hair,His hair-shirt and Discipline and his whip, as one that was unwilling the world should know that he u­sed such Austerity. For in his life time he by his mirth had hidden from the eyes of others his severi­ty [Page 169]to himself.

Notice gi­ven him from the King of of the day of his death. So upon the next day being Tuesday St. Thomas even, and the Ʋtas of his special Patron St. Peter (for whose Supremacy he suffered) in the year of our Lord God one thousand five hundred thirty and seven (according to his desire ex­pressed in his Letter the day be­fore) early in the morning came to him Sir Thomas Pope his singu­lar friend,Most wel­come un­to him. with a message from the King and his Councel, that he should before nine of the clock the same morning suffer death, and that therefore he should presently prepare himself for it. Mr. Pope, said he, I most heartily thank you for your good tidings, I have been much bound to the Kings Highnesse for the benefits of his Honours that he hath most bountifully bestowed upon me, yet am I more bound to his Grace (I assure you) for putting me here, where I have had convenient time and space to have remembrance of my end. And, so help me God, most of all I am bound unto him that it hath pleased his Majesty so [Page 170]shortly to rid me out of the miseries of this wretched world. He must use but few words at his exe­cution. "The Kings pleasure farther is, said Sir Thomas Pope, That you use not many words at your execution: Mr. Pope, (said he) You do well to give me warning of the Kings pleasure herein, for other­wise I had purposed at that time some­what to have spoken, but no matter wherewith his Grace or any other should have cause to be offended, howheit what­soever I intended, I am ready obediently to conform my self to his Highnesse Command: and I beseech you good Mr. Pope be a means to his Majesty, His wife and chil­dren per­mitted to be at his burial. that my daughter Margaret may be at my burial. The King is contented already, said he, that your wife, Children, and all other should have liberty to be pre­sent at it. O how much beholding then am I (said Sir Thomas) to his Grace, that unto my poor burial voucheth to have so gracious consideration.

Then Sir Thomas Pope taking his leave of him,His com­fortable courage. could not refrain from weeping, which Sir Thomas perceiving comforted him in these words: Quiet your self good Mr. Pope, [Page 171] and be not discomforted, for I trust we shall once see each other full merrily, where we shall be sure to live and love together in joyful blisse eternally. And further to put him out of his me­lancholy, Sir Thomas took his U­rinal in his hand, and casting his water said merrily: I see no danger but that this man might live longer, if it had pleased the King.

He puts on his best appa­rell that day. After which words, they parted, and when he was gone, Sir Tho­mas (as one that had been invited to a banquet) changed himself in­to his best apparel. The Lieute­nant of the Tower seeing him pre­pare himself to his death, advised him for his own benefit to put them off again, saying, he who was to have them was but a Javel. What Mr. Lieutenant, said Sir Tho­mas, shall I account him a Javel, who will do me this day so singular a benefit? Nay I assure you were it cloth of God, His libe­rality to his exe­cutioner. I would think it well bestowed on him. But the Lieutenant so pressed him, that at last for his friendship sake being loth to deny him so small a [Page 172]matter, he altered his apparel, and put on a Gown of Freese, but yet of that little money that was left him, he sent an Angel in gold to his Executioner, in token that he ma­liced him nothing, but rather lo­ved him exceedingly for it.

And so was he brought about nine of the clock out of the Tow­er,The man­ner of his death. and from thence led to the place of execution, where going up the scaffold, which seemed to him so weak that was ready to fal, he said merrily to the Lieutenant, I pray you Mr. Lieutenant see me safe up, His words at his death. and for my coming down let me shift for my self. Then desired he all the people to pray for him, and to bear witnesse with him that he should then suffer death, in, and for the faith of the holy Ca­tholique Church, a faithful ser­vant both of God and the King. Which done,His pray­ers. he kneeled down, and after his prayers ended, he turned to the Executioner, and with a chearful countenance,Words to the Exe­cutioner. said, Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not a­fraid [Page 173]to do thine office: my neck is ve­ry short, take heed therefore thou strike not awry for saving thine honesty: He cove­reth his eyes him­self. when the executioner would have co­vered his eyes, he said, I will cover them my self, and presently he did so with a cloth he had brought with him for that purpose: then say­ing his head upon the Block, he bad the Executioner stay untill he had removed aside his beard, say­ing, That that had never committed any treason. So with great alacrity and spiritual joy he received the fatall blow of the Axe, which at once severed his head from his bo­dy: Thus passed Sir Thomas More out of this world on the very same day on which himself had most de­sired.His death

The K. sadnesse at the news of his execu­tion. When news of his death was brought to the King, who was at that time playing at Tables, Queen Anne looking on, he cast his eyes upon her, and said, Thou art the cause of this mans death: and present­ly leaving his play, he betook him­self to his chamber, an there fell [Page 174]into a melancholy fit. But whe­ther this were from his heart, or to seem lesse cruell then he was in­deed, it is hard to conjecture; for on the one side, the remembrance of his faithful service so many years employed for the good of the whole Kingdome, could not but make the Kings heart somwhat to relent; and on the other side, his unmerciful dealing with his son and heir, his small allowance to his wife, his cruelty against all his children, shewed that he had an implacable hatred against him for the cause aforesaid. His daughter Margaret was the most gently dealt with,The im­prison­ment of his daugh­ter Mar­garet. and yet very sore threatned both because she kept her fathers head for a relique, (which being to be thrown off London-Bridge in­to the Thames she had procured) and that she intended to publish her fathers works, yet for all that after a short imprisonment she was at last sent home to her husband.

Sir Thomas More was of a mean stature, well proportioned, his [Page 175]complexion tending to phlegma­tick,The fa­vour and physiog­nomy of Sir Tho­mas More. his colour white and pale, his hair neither black nor yellow, but between both, his eies gray, his countenance amiable and chearful, his voice neither big nor shrill, but speaking plainly and distinctly; it was not very tuna­ble, though he delighted much in musick, his body reasonable healthful, only that towards his latter end by using much writing, he complained much of his breast. In his youth he drank much water wine he only tasted of when he pledged others, he loved salt meats, especially poudred beef, he was a great lover of milk, cheese, eggs, and fruit, and usually he did eat of brown bread,The judg­ment of Charles the fifth Emperour and King of Spain concer­ning Sir Th. More's death. which he rather used to punish his taste, then any love he had unto it.

Now when intelligence of Sir Thomas More's death was brought to the Emperour Charles the fift, he sent for Sir Thomas Eliot Embas­sador there resident, and said un­to him, My Lord Embassador; we [Page 176]understand that the King your Master hath put his faithful Ser­vant and grave Wise Counsellor Sir Thomas More to death: but Sir Thomias Eliot seeming to excuse the matter by some doubt of the report, the King told him, It was too true, and this will we say, (said the Emperour) that if we had been Master of such a Servant, (of whose doings our selves have had these many years no small experi­ence) we would rather have lost the best and strongest City of our Dominions, then have lost so wor­thy a Counsellor.

Circum­stances worthy some con­sideration in his death. To conclude, if with more care we look into the story of this wor­thy mans, life, it will not appear to us that his death could any way redound to the honour of the King: for first he was put to death by a statute wherein he had never offended, either by word or deed; and that too, which concern'd not temporal policy but religion on­ly: which (as being fearful to of­fend his conscience) though he re­fused to approve of himself, yet did [Page 177]he never reprove it, or any other m [...]n for taking it. Secondly, that he would have no respect unto his eminent qualities, who was a man of known humanity, of mild beha­viour, affability, bounty, eloquence wisdome, innocency of life, wit, learning, exceedingly beloved and admired of all men: all which might be motives sufficient to par­don a guilty offender. Thirdly, that he would not consider him that had done him so much good service, and the whole Kingdome such good offices, his faithfull Counsellor for twenty years to­gether; his wise Embassador, his just Lord Chancellor, and indeed the very flower of the Kingdome, who at last drawing towards old age, obtained an honourable dis­mission from his Office, and lived privately at home with his Wife, children, and nephews, never com­mitting the least offence against a­ny, burthensome to no man, but of such courtesie to all, and of such excellency of nature, that [Page 180]he would not suffer any one to part from him, (if any thing qualified) without some gift; none was so great a stranger to him whom he would not seek to do some favour for. To be short, his bounty had so en­graven him in every ones hearts that at his death there was a generall lamentation for his losse; Nay Erasmus saith, that he saw tears come from those men who never had seen Sir Thomas More, nor received any benefit from him; and he pro­fesses, that while he was writing of him, the tears gushed from him whether he would or no. Now Reader I will keep thy eye no longer upon this dole­full Subject, which as it made the Spectators weep, so it can­not but fetch a Tear or two from thee, if thou art any friend to an innocent worth, yet I would not send thee a­way sad neither: wherefore I have (after this Tragicall sto­ry) [Page 181]prepared an entertainment in the following Chapter, which looks like a Comedy, and may serve as Wine and Bisket at a Funerall, to allay thy sad­nesse.

A view of Sir THOMAS MORE's Wit and Wis­dome.

SIR Thomas More, (whose only merry jests and witty sayings,A witty reprehen­sion. were they all together, were suf­ficient to fill a Volume) when he lived in the City of London, being one of the Justices of peace, he u­sed to go to the Sessions at New­gate; where it fell out, that one of the antientest Justices of the Bench was wont to chide the poor men, (whose purses had been cut) for not being more carefull, tel­ling them that their negligence was the cause that so many Cut­purses were brought thither: which, when Sir Thomas More ob­served him so often to repeat, at one time especially, the night af­ter [Page 181]he sent for one of the chief Cut­purses that was in prison, and pro­mised him to save him harmlesse, and stand his friend too, if he would cut the foresaid Justices purse, the next day as he sat on the Bench, and then presently make a sign of it to him. The fellow ve­ry gladly promiseth him to do it: The next day therefore when they sat again, that thief was called a­mong the first, who being accused of his fact, said, That he did not doubt but he could sufficiently ex­cuse himself, if he were permitted to speak to some of the Bench in private, he was therefore bid to choose one, whom he would, and presently he chose that grave old man, who then had his Pouch at his girdle, (as they wore them in those daies) and whilest he whis­pered him in the ear, he cunning­ly cuts his purse, and then so­lemnly taking his leave, returns to his place: Sir Thomas knowing by a private sign that the businesse was dispatched, presently took [Page 184]occasion to move the Bench to di­stribute some almes upon a poor needy fellow that was there, and for good example, began himself to do it, when the old man came to open his purse, he sees it cut a­way, and, much wondring, said, he was confident he brought it with him when he came thither that morning: Sir Thomas replyed pleasantly, What? will you charge any of us with felony? but his choler rising, and he being asha­med of the thing, Sir Thomas cals the Cutpurse and bids him give him his purse again, and withal advised the good old Justice, hereafter not to be so bitter a cen­surer of innocent mens negligence, when as himself could not secure his purse in that open assembly.

An un­mannerly reprehen­sion, man­nerly|re­turned on the repre­hender. Another time, when he was Lord Chancellor, one of the house of the Manors, whom the King had then lately preferr'd to a great Honour, who before that had been a great friend of Sir Thomas Mores, but, perceiving now that the world [Page 185]began somwhat to frown upon him, because he was not so for­ward as other men to perswade the King to the Divorce, and be­ing desirous to pick some quarrel against him, he said unto him, My Lord, Honores mutant Mores. Sir Thomas readily replyed, It is so in­deed, my Lord, but Mores, signifieth in english Manners, not More: he was with this so put out of counte­nance that he had nothing more to say.

A bold debter handsom­ly told his own. So also, he wittily twitted a­nother to whom he had lent mo­ney, of whom when afterwards he demanded his due, he bad him remember he must die, and God knew how soon; and, that then he would have little use of money, adding the sentence in Latine, the better to please Sir Thomas, Mo­mento Morieris: to which Sir Tho­mas presently replyed: What say you Sir, Me thinks you put your self in mind of your duty herein, saying Me­mento Mori aeris, remember Mores money:

A pleasant arbitra­ment be­tween his Lady and a begger. It hapned on a time that a beg­gars little Dog which she had lost was sent to the Lady More for a Present, and she had kept it a­bout a week very carefully, but at last, the beggar having notice where her dog was; presently came and complained to Sir Tho­mas as he was sitting in his Hall, that his Lady kept her dog from her. Presently my Lady was sent for, and the dog brought with her, which Sir Thomas taking in his armes, he caused his Wife to stand at the upper end of his Hall, and the begger at the lower end, and then, (saying that he sat there to do every one justice) he bad each of them call the dog; which when they did, the dog ran pre­sently to the begger, forsaking his Lady; When he saw this, he bad his Wife be contented, for it was none of hers, yet, she repi­ning at his sentence, agreed with the beggar, and gave her a piece of Gold; so all parties were satisfied every one smiling at this strange [Page 185]discovery of truth.

A witty censure of a witlesse writing. Another time a certain friend of his taking great pains about a Book which he intended to pub­lish, (being well conceited of his own wit, which no body else thought worth commendation) and because he would Sir Thomas should oversee it, ere it were prin­ted, he brought it to him, who perusing it, and finding no thing therein worthy the Presse, said with a grave countenance, If it were inverse, it were more worth: up­on which words, he went and tur­ned it into verse, and then brought it to Sir Thomas, who looking thereon, said soberly: Yea marry, now it is somewhat; for now it is Rhime, before it was neither Rhime, nor Rea­son.

A merry mistake. And indeed whatsoever jest he brought forth, he never laughed at any himself, but spoke them so seriously, that few could discern by his look, whether he were in earnest or in jest; as, once talking with another in dispute of his Dia­logues [Page 188]by some occasion they hap­ned to speak of a dogs turd; at that very instant one of his men came to tell him, that dinner was ready, to whom he said, Look that there be better meat provided for us then that: who presently went and told his Lady, that his Lord would have better meat pro­vided for his dinner; which cau­sed a great disturbance in the house till at last the mistake being known they all fell a laughing.

Some few of Sir THO. MORE'S Apophthegms, collected out of Dr. Sta­pleton.

A Sinner saith he cannot taste spiritual delights;Sinners distasted. because all carnall are first to be abandoned.

By an excellent similitude, he teacheth us why few do fear death, thus:Why few. fear death Even as they which look up­on things afar off, see them confu­sedly, not knowing whether they be men or trees; even so he that promiseth unto himself long life, looketh upon death, as a thing afar off, not judging what it is,No man sure of long life. how terrible, what griefs and dangers it brings with it; & that none ought to promise himself long life, he proveth thus: even as two men that are brought out of Prison to the gallows, one by a long way about he other by a direct short path [Page 188]yet neither knowing which is which untill they come to the gal­lows, neither of these two can pro­mise himself longer life, by reason of the uncertainty of the way: even so a young man cannot promise himself longer life then an old mā.

Worlds vanity. Against the vanity of worldly honour, he speaketh thus: Even as that Criminal person, who is led to execution shortly, should be ac­counted vain, if he should engrave his Coat of Arms upon the prison Gate: even so are they vain, who endeavour to leave with great in­dustry, monuments of their digni­ty in the prison of this world.

Worldly losses hurt not. By a subtile Dilemma, he tea­cheth us why we are not to think that we can be hurt, by the iosse of our superfluous goods, in this manner: He that suffereth a­ny losse of his goods, he would either have bestowed them with praise and liberality; and so God wil accept his will in stead of the deed it self: or else he would have wasted them wickedly; and then he hath cause to rejoyce, that the [Page 189]matter of sinning is taken away.The folly of old misers.

To express lilvely the folly of an old covetous man, he writeth thus: A thief that is to dye to morrow, stealeth to day, & being asked why he did so, he answered, that it was great pleasure to him to be master of that money but one night; So an old miser, never ceaseth to in­crease his heap of coin though he be never so aged.

He said also,How fond it is to love this world. that those which give themselves to pleasure and i­dlenesse in the time of their pil­grimage, are like to him who tra­velling to his own house, where there is abundance of all things, would yet be an hostler in an Inne by the way for to get an Inne-kee­pers favour, and to end his life there in a stable.

Affliction more pro­fitable then plea­sure. Pleasure (saith he) doth not on­ly withdraw wicked men from prayer, but also affliction some­times; yet this is the difference, that affliction doth sometime wrest some short prayer from the wick­ed'st men alive, but pleasure cal­leth [Page 167]away even one that is in­different good, from all prayer.

Against deferring of amend­ment. Against impenitent persons, and such as defer the amending of their lives till the latter end of their daies, he saith thus: A lewd fellow that had spent all his lise in wickednesse, was wont to brag, that he could be saved, if he spoke but three words at the hour of his death: Riding over a bridge that was broken, his horse stumbling, and not being able to keep him­self from falling into the water, when he saw himself past recovery, casting away the bridle he said, The Devill take all, and so with his three words he perished in the river.

Pusillani­mity a dange­rous tem­ptation. Even as he that passeth over a narrow bridg by reason of his fear often falleth, especially if others say unto him, you fall, which o­therwise he would safely passe o­ver: even so he that is fearful by nature and full of pusillanimity, often falleth into desperation, the Devill cryiag unto him, thou art [Page 168]damned, thou art damned, which he would never hearken to, nor be in any danger of, if he should take unto him a good heart, and by wholsom counsell nothing fear the Devils outcry.

The prosperity of this world is like the shortest winters day,Danger of prospe­rity. and we are lifted up in it as an arrow shot up on high, where a hot breath doth delight us: but from thence we fal suddenly to the earth and there we stick fast, either be­mired with the dirt of infamy, or starving with cold, being pluckt out of our feathers.

Of riches and ho­nours. It is a hard thing to touch pitch and not be defiled therewith: a dry stick to be put into the fire and not to burn, to nourish a Snake in our bosome, and not be stung with it: so a most hard thing it is, to be rich and honoured in this world, and not to be struck with the dart of pride and vain glory.

Let there be two beggars who a long time begged together: one [Page 169]of whom some rich man hath en­tertained in his house,All riches of this world none of our own. put him in silk, given him money in his purse: but with this condition, as he tels him, within a short space he will thrust him out of his door [...] and take all that away from him a­gain: if he in the mean while be­ing thus gallant should chance to meet with his fellow begger would he be so foolish as for al [...] this not to acknowledge him fo [...] his companion? or would he fo [...] these few daies happinesse hol [...] himself better then he? Applyin [...] this to every mans case, who co [...] ­meth naked into this world, and [...] to return naked again.

Covetous­nesse. He compareth Covetousnesse t [...] a fire, which, by how much th [...] more wood there is laid on it t [...] burn, so much apter it is to bur [...] more still.

Bad Mer­chants. That there are many in this li [...] that buy hell with more toil, th [...] heaven might be wonne with [...] half.

If he be called stout, that hath fortitude, he hot, who hath heat,Riches are not goods wise that hath Wisdome, yet he who hath riches cannot be said presently to be good, therefore ri­ches cannot be numbred among good things. Twenty, yea a hun­dred bare heads standing by a No­ble man, do not defend his head from cold so much as his own hat doth alone, which yet he is en­forced to put off in the presence of his Prince.

The worst affection. That is the worst affection of the mind which doth delight us in that thing which cannot be gotten but by offending God. He that doth get or keep worldly wealth by offending God, let him fully perswade himself, that those things will never do him good, either God will quickly take away ill­gotten goods, or will suffer them to be kept for a greater mischief.

Almes­deeds. Even as he that knoweth cer­tainly he is to be banisht into a strange Countrey, never to return into his own again, and will not [Page 171]that his goods be transported thither being loth to want them, for that little while rather then e­ver to enjoy them after, may well be thought a mad man: so are they out of their wits, who in­ticed with vain affections to keep their goods alwaies about them, and neglective to give almes for sear of wanting, cannot endure to have their goods s [...]nt before them to Heaven, when as they know most assuredly, that they shall enjoy them alwaies there, with all plenty and with a double reward.

The world a prison. To ease his thoughts when he was in prison, he imagined that all the world was but a prison, out of which every day some one or other was called to execution.

He said it was an easie matter in some cases for a man to lose his head,To suffer for God. and yet to have no harmat all.

Prayer. He prayed thus: O Lord God, grant that I endeavour to get those things, for which I am to [Page 172]pray unto Thee.

Detracti­on. When he heard any at his Ta­ble speaking detraction, he would interrupt them thus; Let any man think as he pleaseth, I like this room very well for it is well con­trived and fairly built.

Ingrati­tude. Of an ungrateful person he would say, that they wrote good turns done unto them in the dust; but even the least injuries in mar­ble.

Faith the mistresse [...] of reason. He compared reason to a hand­maid, which if she be well taught will obey, and Faith to the Mis­tresse, which is to keep her in awe Captivans intellectum in obsequium Fi­dei.

Better prevent then re­dresse. He saith that he were a mad man that would drink poyson to take a preservative after it; but he's a wise man, that spilling the poison lea­veth the Antidote for him, that hath need thereof.

Desire of heaven. He was wont to say that he may well be admitted to Heaven who was very desirous to see God; but on he contrary side, he that doth [Page 173]not desire earnestly, shall never be admitted thither.

Bad life no mira­cle. That people should fal into bad life and lust is, as great a miracle, he saith, as stones to fall down­wards.

School Divinity. Whereas he saith, you inveigh against School Divinity, because truth is there called in doubt not without danger, we inveigh a­gainst you, because false matters are held by you undoubtedly for truth it self.

An Apo­logie for Sir Tho. M pleasant­nesse of wit. NOw because there is an Eng­lish Chronologer that terms him a scoffing man, because his writings and doings were full of witty jests, calling him a wise foo­lish man; or a foolish wise man: I think it very fit to set down in this place, the reason (out of his own writings) why he hath used so many pleasant passages in his books, it is this, ‘Even as some sick men (saith he) will take no medecines unlesse some pleasant thing be put among their poti­ons, although perhaps it be somewhat hurtful, yet the Phy­sitian suffereth them to have it: So, because many will not wil­lingly hearken to serious and grave documents, except they be mingled with some fable or jest, therefore reason willeth us to do the like.’ And in his great volume, page 1048 he saith, [Page 175] ‘that jests are as it were sawce whereby we are recreated, that we may eat with more appetite: but as that were an absurd Ban­quet in which there were few di­shes of meat, and much variety of sawces, and that an unpleasant one, where there were no sawce at all, even so that life were spent idly, where nothing were but mirth and jollity, and again, that tedious and uncomfortable wherein no pleasure or mirth were to be expected.’ Which mirth as it may well become all men, so most especially did it be­come such a one as Sir Thomas M. being a marryed man, nay a Cour­tier and companion to his Prince, of whom I suppose that may wor­thily be spoken which Titus Livi­us recounteth of Cato, thus. In this man there was such excellency of wit and wisdome, that he seemeth to have been able to make his for­tune, in what place soever he had been born: he wanted no [...] for the managing of private [Page 176]or publique businesses, he was ex­perienced both in Countrey and City affairs: some are raised to honour either because they are ex­cellent Lawyers, singularly elo­quent, or of admirable vertues, but the towardlinesse of this mans understanding, framed him so to all employments, that you would suppose him for to be born for one alone: In the practise of ver­tues you would judg him rather a Monk then a Courtier, in learning a most famous writer; if you would ask his counsell in the Law, he was most ready to advise you the best; if he were to make an O­ration, he would shew wonder­full eloquence: he was admirable in all kind of Learning, Latine, Greek, Prophane, Divine: if there were an Embassie to be undertook none more expert to finish it: in giving solid and sound counsell in doubtful Cases, none more pru­dent; to tel the truth without fear, none more free: as farre from all flattery, as he was open and plea­sant, [Page 177]full of grace in delivering his judgment; and that which Cato had not, he was most happy in: For Livie saith, that he had a sowre behaviour, and a tongue immoderately free and full of taunting, but Sir Thomas was mild, and of an humble heart, neither sad nor turbulent, and besides of a pleasant conversation, never stern, but (out of zeal) for his Religion, a great contemner ei­ther of unlawful pleasures, or of inordinate riches an [...] glory. And as Cato had much enmity with di­vers Senators, so many of them on the other side did ex­ercise his patience, that one can hardly discern whether the nobili­ty did presse him more, or he the nobility, but on the contrary, Sir Thomas More never had any private or publique grudge with any man nay surely no man can suppose a­ny to have been his enemy, being born wholly to friendship and af­fability, and as he was nothing inferiour to Cato for gravity, inte­grity and innocency (being as ex­act [Page 178]a hater of all vice, and as stern to all wicked men as he) so did he f [...]rre excell him in meeknesse, sweetnesse of behaviour and plea­santnesse of wit: nay I fear I do him too much injury to compare him with any the best of morall Philosophers, who was indued with such supernaturall perfecti­ons, and (no doubt) notwith­standing his judgment, high in the favour of God.


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