Thursday, 19 February 2015

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” The trial of Sir Thomas More. – Tim Veater

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”
The trial of Sir Thomas More.
We know that the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP is keen on British history. May I
suggest when he, and the rest of the government get a free moment, they might
usefully spend it reprising the case of Sir Thomas More? Sir Thomas was of
course found guilty of a capital offence and subsequently executed, despite his
obvious innocence of any treasonous act. It should be noted the judges were
biased, the jury stacked and the witnesses corrupt. Juries, though important,
are not always the guarantee of justice you will note. The outcome was not good
for More (it was far worse for others) but at least we know what was said at the
trial because even in 1535 the proceedings were reported. More, the author of
Utopia, one of the first attempts to imagine a perfect society, was a loyal
servant of King Henry VIII. Nevertheless he was condemned not for actions but
for the sincere beliefs that he held and which prior to his trial he had
judiciously kept to himself. He had fallen from grace by refu
sing to attest to the supremacy of the King in the English church, when as a
traditional Christian and as a member of the one catholic faith, he believed
this was a role only the Pope could fill. More had responsibility for many
deaths of those he considered heretics so he was not whiter than white himself,
and one wonders if this thought passed through his mind during those months in
the Tower and as he approached death? However one cannot escape the notion that
his was a clearer conscience when he met his end, than those that sought and
facilitated it. Politicians, even the most luminary, are very transient (as are
we all), whereas their decisions and actions remain for all recorded time and
are judged accordingly. It is a universal law that national leaders of the world
need constantly to be reminded, and perhaps now more than ever. Can there be any
doubt of the parlous state of the world; the greatly increased dangers on all
fronts; the lies we are told by those with a
duplicitous agenda? The More trial is not only a warning and reminder how
systems of justice are manipulated by the powerful to achieve their political
ends but also reiterates the importance of conscience and individual autonomy
against the increasing emphasis on state inspired uniformity, conformity and
intimidation. END.
The Trial of Sir THOMAS MORE Knight, Lord Chancellor of England, for High-
Treason in denying; the King’s Supremacy, May 7, 1535. the 26th of Henry VIII.
Thomas More’s daughter, Margaret Roper, rescuing More’s head
(From A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceeding Upon Impeachments
for High Treason, etc (London, 1719))
Bill being preferred in Parliament, No¬vember 1534. to attaint Elizabeth Barton,
and several others of High-Trea¬son, Bishiop Fisher and Sir Thomas Moore were
also brought into it for Misprision of Treason, for the refusing of the Oath of
Succession— Says my Lord Herbert. The fame Au¬thor avows the Bill did so
pass; but Sir Thomas’s Great-Grandson, in his Life, shews the contrary, and that
notwithstanding the Archbishop of Can¬terbury, the Lord Chancellor, Duke of
Norfolk, and Secretary Cromwell, by the King’s Command, went to him and pressed
him to a Compliance; yet the Chancellor influenced the King so far, that the
matter of Misprison was dropt.
Sir Thomas was also examined at other times by the Lord Chancellor, Dukes of
Norfolk and Suffolk, Mr. Secretary, and others of the Privy-Council, who press’d
him, with all the Arguments they could think of, to own the King’s Supremacy in
direct and open Terms, or plainly to deny it; but he being loth to aggravate the
King’s Displeasure, would say no more than that the Statute was like a two-edged
Sword, for if he spoke against it, he should be the Cause of the Death of his
Bo¬d ; and if he assented to it, he should purchase the Death of his Soul. Those
Examinations being over, Richard Rich, newly made Sollicitor Ge¬neral, and
afterwards Lord Rich, with Sir Ri¬chard Southwell, and Mr. Palmer, Secretary
Crom¬well’s Man, were sent by the King to take away his Books. Rich pretending
Friendship to him, and protesting he had no Commission to talk with him about
the former Affair of the Supremacy, he put a Case to him thus: If it were
enacted by Par¬liament that Richard Rich
should be King, and that it should be Treason in any body to deny it, what
Offence it were to contravene that Act? Sir Thomas Moore answered, That he
should offend if he said so, because he was bound by the Act; but, that this was
casus levis. Whereupon Sir Tho¬mas said, he would propose a higher Case:
Sup¬pose it were enacted by Parliament, Quod Deus non sit Deus, and that it were
Treason to contra¬vene, whether it were not an Offence to say it according to
the said Act,? Rich reply’d, yea; but said withal, I will propose a middle Case,
be¬cause this is too high: The King, you know, is constituted supreme Head of
the Church upon Earth; why should not you, Master More, accept him for such? as
you would me, if I were made King by the aforesaid Supposition. More answered,
the Case was not the same, because, said he, a Parliament can make a King, and
depose him; and that every Parliament Man may give his Consent hereunto, but
that a Subject cannot be bound so in the Case of
Supremacy. Quia consensum ab eo ad Parliamentum praebere non potest (so says
my Lord Herbert) it is in my Copy if it be not mistaken, & quanquam Rex sic
acceptus sit in Angha, plurima tamen Partes exterae idem non affirmant.
Sir Thomas having continued a Prisoner in the Tower somewhere more than a
Twelvemonth, for he was committed about the middle of April 1534, and was
brought to his Trial on the 7th of May, 1535. he went into the Court leaning on
his Staff, because he was much weakened by his Im¬prisonment, but appeared with
a cheerful and composed Countenance. The Persons constituted to try him, were,
Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor, Sir Richard Leicester,
Thomas Duke of Norfolk, Sir John Port,
Sir John Fitz-James, Sir John
Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Baldwin Sir Walter Luke,
Anthony Fitz-Herbert.
The Indictment was Very long, but where to procure a Copy of it, I could never
learn; it’s said in general, it contain’d all the Crimes that could be laid to
the charge of any notorious Malefactor; and Sir Thomas professed it was so long,
that he could scarce remember the third part of what was objected therein
against him. It was read aloud by the Attorney-General; and Sir Thomas’s mortal
Sin seem’d plainly to be his refusing the Oath of Succession, already mention’d.
To prove this, his double Examination in the Tower was all edged against him,
the first before Secretary Cromwell, Thomas Beade, John-Tregonnel, & c. to whom
he professed he had given over all Thoughts of Titles either to Popes or
Princes, tho the whole World should be given him, he be¬ing fully determined
only to serve God. The second time before the Lord Chancellor, the Duke¬ of
Suffolk, Earl of Wiltshire, and others, before whom he compared that Oath to a
two-edged Sword, as before observed.
Presently after the Indictment was read, the Lord Chancellor, and the Duke of
Norfolk spoke to him to this effect:
You see now how grievously you have offended his Majesty ; yet he is so very
mer¬ciful, that if you will lay aside your Obstinacy, and change your Opinion,
we hope you may obtain Pardon and Favour in his sight. But Sir Thomas stoutly
reply’d, Most Noble Lords, I have great reason to return thanks to your Honours
for this your great Civility, but I beseech Almighty God, that I may continue in
the Mind I am in, thro’ his Grace, unto Death.
Then having Intimation given that he might say what he thought fit in his own
Defence, he began thus: When I consider the length of my Accusation, and what
heinous Matters are laid to my charge, I am struck with Fear, left my Memory and
Understanding, which are both impaired, together with my bodily Health, thro’ a
long Indisposition contracted by my Imprison¬ment, should now fail me so far, as
to make me incapable of making such ready Answers in my Defence, as otherwise I
might have done.
The Court being sensible of his Weakness, or¬dered a Chair to be brought in,
wherein he might feat himself, which he did accordingly, and then went on thus.
This my Indictment, if I mistake not, consists of four principal Heads, each of
which I purpose, God willing, to answer in order. As to the first Crime objected
against me, that I have been an Enemy out of stubbornness of Mind to the King’s
second Marriage; I confess, I always told his Majesty my Opinion of it,
according to the Dictates of my Conscience, which I neither ever would, nor
ought to have concealed: for which I am so far from thinking my self guilty of
High-Treason, that on the contrary, being re¬quired to give my Opinion by so
great a Prince in an Affair of so much importance, upon which the Peace of the
Kingdom depended; I should have basely flatter’d him, and my own Conscience, had
not I spoke the Truth as I thought: Then indeed I might justly have been
esteemed a molt wicked Subject, and a perfidious Trai
tor to God. If I have offended the King herein; if it can be an Offence to tell
one’s Mind freely, when his Sovereign puts the Question to him; I suppose I have
been sufficiently punish’d already for the Fault, by the great Afflictions I
have en¬dured, by the loss of my Estate, and my tedious Imprisonment, which has
continued already near fifteen Months.
The second Charge against me is, That I have violated the Act made in the last
Parliament: that is, being a Prisoner, and twice examined, I would not, out of a
malignant, perfidious, obstinate and traitorous Mind, tell them my Opinion,
whether the King was Supreme Head of the Church or not; but confessed then, that
I had no¬thing to do with that Act, as to the Justice or Injustice of it,
because I had no Benefice in the Church: yet then I protested, that I had never
said nor done any thing against it; neither can any one Word or Action of mine
be alleged, or pro¬duced, to make me culpable. Nay, this I own was then my
Answer to their Honours, that I would think of nothing else hereafter, but of
the bitter Passions of our Blessed Saviour, and of my Exit out of this miserable
World. I wish no body any harm, and if this does not keep me alive, I desire not
to live; by all which I know, I would not transgress any Law, or become guilty
of any treasonable Crime: for this Statute,
nor no other Law in the World can punish any Man for his Si¬lence, feeing they
can do no more than punish Words or Deeds; ’tis God only that is the Judge of
the Secrets of our Hearts.
Attorney. Sir Thomas, tho we have not one Word or Deed of yours to object
against you, yet we have your Silence, which is an evident sign of the Malice of
your Heart: because no dutiful Subject, being law¬fully ask’d this Question,
will refuse to answer.
Sir Thomas More. Sir, my Silence is no sign of any Malice in my Heart, which the
King him¬self must Own by my Conduct upon divers Occasions; neither doth it
convince any Man of the Breach of the Law: for It is a Maxim amongst the
Civilians and Canonists, Qui tacet consentire videtur, he that holds his peace;
seems to give his Consent. And as to what you say, that no good Subject will
refuse to give a direct Answer; I did really think it to be the Duty of every
good Subject, except he be such a Subject as will be a bad Christian, rather to
obey God than Man; to be more cautious to offend his Conscience, than of any
thing else in the whole World ; especially if his Conscience be not the Occasion
of same Sedition and great Injury to his Prince and Country : for I do here
sincerely protest, that I never revealed it to any Man alive.
I come now to the third principal Article in my Indictment, by which I am
accused of malicious Attempts, traitorous Endeavours, and perfidious Practices
against that Statute, as the Words there¬in do alledge, because I wrote, while
in the Tower, divers Packets of Letters to Bishop Fisher; whereby I exhorted him
to violate the same Law and encouraged him in the like Obstinacy. I do insist
that these Letters, be produced and read in Court, by which I may be either
acquitted or convinced of a Lye; but because you say the Bishop burnt them all,
I will here tell you the whole truth of the matter. Some of my Letters related
only to our private Affairs, as about our old Friendship and Acquaintance: One
of them was in answer to his, wherein he desired me to let him know what Answers
I made upon my Examinations concerning the Oath of Supremacy; and what I wrote
to him upon it was this, That I had already settled my Conscience, and let him
satisfy his according to his own Mind. God is
my Witness, and as I hope he will save my Soul, I gave him no other Answer;
and this I presume is no Breach of the Laws.
As to the principal Crime objected against me, that I should say upon my
Examination in the Tower, That this Law was like a two-edged Sword; for in
consenting to it, I should endanger my Soul, and in rejecting it should lose my
Life: it’s evidently concluded, as you say, from this Answer, because Fisher
made the like, that he was in the fame Conspiracy. To this I reply, That my
Answer there was conditional, if there were both danger either in allowing or
disallowing that Act; and therefore, like a two-edged Sword, it seem’d a hard
thing should be put upon me; who had never hitherto contradicted it either in
Word or Deed. These were my Words; what the Bishop answered, I know not: if his
Answer was like mine, it did not proceed from any Conspiracy of ours, but from
the Similitude of our Learning and Understanding. To conclude, I do sincerely
avouch, that I never spoke a Word against this
Law so any Man living, tho perhaps the King’s Majesty has been told the
contrary, There was little or no reply made to this full Answer by Mr.
Attorney, or any body else; the word Malice was what was principally insisted
on, and in the mouths of the whole Court; tho for proof of it no body could
produce either Words or Actions: nevertheless, to set the best gloss that could
be upon the Matter, Mr. Rich was called to give Evidence in open Court upon
Oath, which he immediately did, affirming what we have already related
concerning a Conference between him and Sir Thomas in the Tower, To which Sir
Thomas made answer, If I were a Man, my Lords, that had no regard to my Oath, I
had had no occasion to be here at this time, as is well known to every body, as
a Criminal; and if this Oath, Mr. Rich, which you have taken be true, then I
pray I may never see God’s Face, which, were it otherwise, is an Imprecation I
would not be guilty of to gain the whole World.
More having recited in the Face of the Court all the Discourse they had together
in the Tower, as it truly and sincerely was, he added: In good Faith, Mr. Rich,
I am more concerned for your Perjury, than my own Danger; and I must tell you,
that neither my self nor any body else to my knowledge, ever took you to be a
Man of such Reputation, that I or any other would have any thing to do with you
in a Matter of Im¬portance. You know that I have been acquainted with your
manner of Life and Conversation long time, even from your Youth to the present
Juncture, for we lived in the same Parish; and you very well know, I am sorry I
am forced to speak it, you always lay under the Odium of a very lying Tongue, of
a great Gamester, and of no good Name and Character either there or in the
Temple, where you was educated. Can it therefore seem likely to your Lordships,
that I should in so weighty an Affair as this, act so unadvisedly, as to trust
Mr. Rich, a Man I had al¬ways so mean an
Opinion of, in reference to his Truth and Honesty, so very much before my
So¬vereign Lord the King, to whom I am so deeply indebted for his manifold
Favours, or any of his noble and grave Counselors, that I should only impart to
Mr. Rich the Secrets of my Conscience in respect to the King’s Supremacy, the
particular Secrets, and only Point about which I have been so long pressed to
explain my self? which I never did, nor never would reveal; when the Act was
once made, either to the King himself, or any of his Privy-Counselors, as is
well known to your Honours, who have been sent upon no other ac¬count at several
times by his Majesty to me in the Tower. I refer it to your Judgments, my Lords,
whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships.
But supposing what Mr. Rich has swore should be true, seeing the Words were
spoke in familiar and private Conversation, and that there was nothing at all
asserted, but only Cases put without any offensive Circumstances; it cannot in
justice be said, that they were spoke maliciously, and where there is no Malice,
there is no Offence. Besides, my Lords, I cannot think so many reve¬rend
Bishops, so many honourable Personages, and so many virtuous and learned Men, of
whom the Parliament consisted in the enacting of that Law, ever meant to have
any Man punish’d with Death, in whom no Malice could be found, taking the Word
Malitia for Malevoentia; for if Malitia be taken in a general Signification for
any Crime, there is no Man can be free: Therefore this Word Maliciously is so
far significant in this Sta¬tute, as the Word Forcible is in that of Forcible
Entry; for in that Case is any enter peaceably and puts his Adversary out
forcibly, it is no Of¬fence, but is he enters forci
bly; he shall be punished by that Statute.
Besides, all the unspeakable Goodness of his Majesty towards me, who has been so
many ways my singular good and gracious Lord, who has so dearly loved and
trusted me, even from my first Entrance into his Royal Service, vouchsafing to
honor me with the Dignity of being one of his Privy-Council, and has most
generously promoted me to Offices of great Reputation and Honor, and lastly to
that of Lord High-Chancellor, which Honor he never did to any Lay¬man before,
the same being the highest Dignity in his famous Kingdom, and next to the King’s
Royal Person, so far beyond my Merits and Qualifications; honoring and exalting
me by his Incomparable Benignity, for these twentyYears and upwards, heaping
continual Saviors upon me; and now at last, at my own humble Request, giving me
liberty to dedicate the Re¬mainder of my Life to the Service of God for the
better saving of my Soul, has been pleased to discharge and free me from that
weighty Dignity; before which he had still heaped m
ore and more Honors upon me: I say, all this his Ma¬jesty’s Bounty, so long and
so plentifully conferred upon me, is enough, in my opinion, to invalidate the
scandalous Accusation so injuriously surmised and urged by this Man against me.
This touched the Reputation of Mr. Rich to the very quick, and was a Slur that
could not be effaced, without the utmost difficulty; and the on¬ly way to do it,
was, is possible, to produce substantial and creditable Witnesses to attest the
contrary: and therefore he caused Sir Richard Southwell, and Mr. Palmer, who
were in the same Room with Sir Thomas and Mr. Rich when they conferred together,
to be sworn as to the Words that passed between them. Whereupon Mr. Pal¬mer
deposed, what he was so busy in thrusting Sir Thomas’s Books into a Sack, that
he took no notice of their Talk, And Sir R, Southwell likewise swore, that
because his Business was only to take care of conveying his Books away, he gave
no ear to their Discourse.
[Verdict and Sentence]
Sir Thomas having urged other Reasons in his own Defense, to the discrediting of
Mr. Rich’s Evidence; the Judge proceeded to give the Charge to the Jury. Whether
Sir Thomas had challenged any of the Panel, when they were return¬ed to serve,
does not appear; but the twelve Persons on whose Verdict his Life now depended;
were these:
Sir Thomas Palmer, KNT. Falper Leake, Gent.
Sir Thomas Peirt, Knt. William Browne, Gent.
George Lovell, Esq; Thomas Billington, Gent.
Thomas Burbage, Esq; John Parnel, Gent.
Geoffry Chamber, Gent. Richard Bellame, Gent.
Edward Stockmore, Gent. George Stoakes, Gent.
Now the Jury having withdrawn, scarce were out a quarter of an Hour before they
returned with their Verdict, by which they found the Prisoner guilty; upon which
the Lord Chancellor, as chief in the Commission for this Trial, immediately
began to proceed to Judgment: which Sir Thomas observing, he said to him, My
Lord, when I was concerned in the Law, the Practice in I am sure there are far
more, who all the while such Cases was to ask the Prisoner before Sentence,
whether he had any thing to offer why Judgment should not be pronounced against
him. The Lord Chancellor hereupon stopping his Sentence, wherein he had already
proceeded in part, asked Sir Thomas, What he was able to say to the contrary.
Who presently made Answer in these words: For as much as, my Lords, this
Indictment is grounded upon an Act of Parliament, directly repugnant ,to the
Laws of God and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which, or of any part
thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume
to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special
Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter,
and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only, whilst he lived, and was personally
present here on Earth: it is therefore, amongst Catholic Christians,
insufficient in Law, to charge any Christian to obey it. And in order to the
proof of his Assertion, he declared among other things, that whereas this
Kingdom alone being but one Member, and a small part of the Church, was not to
make a particular Law disagreeing with the general Law of Christ’s universal
Catholic Church, no more than the City of London, being but one Member in
respect to the whole Kingdom, might enact a Law against an Act of Parliament, to
be binding to the whole Realm: so he shewed farther, That Law was ,even contrary
to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be
seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia An
glicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And
it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and
every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their
Coronations. So great was Sir Thomas’s Zeal, that he further alleged, that it
was worse in the Kingdom of England to rest1se Obedience to the See of Rome,
than for any Child to do to his natural Parent: for, as St. Paul said to the
Corinthians, I have regenerated you, my Children, in Christ; so might that
worthy Pope of Rome, St. Gregory the Great, say of us Englishmen, Ye are my
Children, because I have given you everlasting Salvation: for by St. Augustine
and his followers, his immediate Messengers, England first received the
Christian faith, which is a far higher and better Inheritance than any carnal
Sather can leave to his Children; for a. Son is only by generation, we are by
Regeneration made the spiritual Children of Christ and the Pope.
Here the Lord Chancellor took him up and said; that seeing all the Bishops,
Universities, and the most learned Men in the Kingdom had agreed to that Act, it
was much wondered that he alone should so stiffly stickle, and so vehemently
argue there against it.
HIS Answer was, That Is the Number of Bishops and Universities were so material
as his Lordship seemed to make it; then, my Lord, I see no reason why that thing
should make any Change in my Conscience: for I doubt not, but of the learned and
virtuous Men now alive, I do not speak only of this Realm, but of all
Christendom, there are ten to one of my mind in this matter; nut if I should
take notice of those learned Doctors and virtuous Fathers that are already dead,
many of whom are Saints in Heaven, I am sure there are far more, who all the
while they lived thought in this Café as I do now. And therefore, my Lord, I do
not think my self bound to conform my Conscience to the Counsel of one Kingdom,
against the general Consent of all Christendom.
Here it seems the Lord Chancellor, not willing to take the whole Load of this
Condemnation up¬on himself, asked In open Court the Advice of Sir John
Fitz-James, the Lord Chief Justice of England, Whether the Indictment was valid,
or no? Who wisely answered thus: My Lords all, By St. Gillian (for that was
always his Oath) I must needs confess, that if the Act of Parliament be not of
unlawful, then the indictment is not in my Conscience invalid. Some have wrote,
That the Lord Chancellor should hereupon say, Quid adhuc desideramus
testimonium, reus est mortis, and then presently proceeded to give Sentence to
this effect:
That he should be carried back to the Tower of Lon¬don, by the Help of William
Kingston, Sheriff, and from thence drawn on a Hurdle through the City of London
to Tyburn, there to be hanged till he should be half dead; that then he should
be cut down alive, his Privy Parts cut off, his Belly ripped, his Bowels burnt,
his four Quarters sit up over four Gates of the City: and his Head upon
This was the Judgment pronounced upon this great Man, who had deserved so well
both of the King and Kingdom, and for which Paulus Jovius calls King Henry VIII
another Phalaris.
This severe Sentence was afterwards, by the Kings Pardon, changed to beheading,
because he had borne the greatest Office in the Kingdom; of which mercy of the
King’s, word being brought to. Sir Thomas he merrily said, God forbid the King
should use any more such Mercy to any of my Friends, and God bless all my
Posterity from such Pardons.
When he had received Sentence of Death he spoke thus with a resolute and sedate
Aspect: Well, seeing I am condemned, God knows ,how justly, I will freely speak
for the disburdening my Conscience, what I think of this Law. When I perceived
it was the King’s Pleasure to sift out from whence the Pope’s Authority was
derived; I confess I studied seven years together to find out the truth of it,
and I could not meet with the Works of any one Doctor, approved by the Church, ,
that avouch a Layman was, or ever could be the Head of the Church.
Chancellor. Would you be esteemed wiser, or to have a sincerer Conscience than
all the Bishops, learned Doctors, Nobility and Commons of this Realm?
More. I am able to produce against, one Bishop which you can produce on your
side, a hundred holy and Catholic Bishops for my Opinion; and against one Realm,
the Consent of Christendom for a thousand years.
Norfo!k: Sir Thomas, you shew your obstinate and malicious Mind.
More. Noble Sir, it’s no Malice or Obstinacy that makes me say this, but the
just necessity of the Cause obliges me to it for the Discharge of my Conscience
; and call God to witness, that nothing but this has excited me to it.
After this the Judges kindly offering him their favorable Audience if he had any
thing else to say; but that as the blessed Apostle St. Paul, as we read in the
Acts of the Apostles, was present, and consenting to the Protomartyr Stephen,
keeping their Clothes that stoned him to death, and yet they are both now holy
Saints in heaven, and there shall continue Friends to Eternity; so I verily
trust, and shall therefore heartily pray, that albeit your Lordships have been
on Earth my Judges to Condemnation, yet that we , may hereafter meet joyfully
together in Heaven to our everlasting Salvation: and God preserve you,
especially my Sovereign Lord the King, and grant him faithful Counselors.
Sir Thomas, after his Condemnation, was conducted from the Bar to the Tower, an
Axe being carried before him, with the Edge towards him.
Sir Thomas More having remained a Prisoner in the Tower about a Week after his
Sentence, on the 6th of July early in the Morning, his old Friend Sir Thomas
Pope came to him with a Mes¬sage from the King and Council, to acquaint him,
That his Execution was appointed to be before nine that Morning. Whereupon Sir
Thomas said, He thanked him heartily for his good News. I have been, says he,
much obliged to his Majesty for the Benefits and Honors he has most bountifully
conferred upon me; yet I am more bound to his Grace, I do assure you, for
confining me in this Place, where I have had convenient Place and Opportunity to
put me in mind of my last End. I am most of all bound to him, that his Majesty
is pleased to rid me out of the Miseries of this Wretched World. Then Sir Thomas
Pope acquainted him, it was the King’s Pleasure he should not use many Words at
the Place of Execution. Sir, said he, you do well to acquaint me with the King’s
Pleasure; for I had otherwise designed to h
ave made a Speech to the People; but it matters not, and I am ready to conform
myself to his Highness’s Pleasure. And I beseech you, Sir; you would become a
Suitor to his Majesty, that my Daughter Margaret may attend my funeral. To which
Pope replied, that the King was willing his Wise and Children, and other Friends
should be present. Sir Thomas Pope being about to take his Leave, could not
restrain from Tears. Whereupon Sir Thomas More said, Let not your Spirits be
cast down, for I hope we shall see one another in a better Place, where we shall
be free to live and love in Eternal Bliss. And to divert Pope’s Grief, he took
up his Urinal and shook it, saying merrily, I see no Danger- but that this Man
may live longer, if the King pleases.
About Nine he was brought out of the Tower; his Beard was long, his face pale
and thin, and carrying a Red Cross in his Hand, he often lift up his Eyes to
Heaven; a Woman meeting him with a cup of Wine, he refused it saying, Christ at
his Passion drank no wine, but Gall and Vinegar. Another Woman came crying and
demanded some Papers she said she had left in his Hands, when he was Lord
Chancellor, to whom he said, Good woman, have Patience but for an Hour and the
King will rid me of the Care I have for those Papers, and every thing else.
Another Woman followed him, crying, He had done her much Wrong when he was Lord
Chancellor, to whom he said, I very well remember the Cause, and is I were to
decide it now, I should make the same Decree.
When he came to the Scaffold, it seemed ready to fall, whereupon he said merrily
to the Lieutenant, Pray, Sir, see me safe up; and as to my coming down, let me
shift for myself. Being about to speak to the People, he was interrupted by the
Sheriff, and thereupon he only desired the People to pray for him, and bear
Witness he died in the Faith of the Catholic Church, a faithful Servant both to
God and the King. Then kneeling, he repeated the Miserere Psalm with much
Devotion; and, rising up the Executioner asked him Forgiveness. He kissed him,
and said, Pick up thy Spirits, Man, and be not afraid to do thine Office; my
Neck is very short, take heed therefore thou strike not awry for having thine
Honesty. Laying his Head upon the Block, he bid the Executioner stay till he had
put his Beard aside, for that had commit¬ted no Treason. Thus he suffered with
much Cheerfulness; his Head was taken off at one Blow, and was placed upon
London-Bridge, where, having continued for some M
onths, and being a¬bout to be thrown into the Thames to make room for others,
his Daughter Margaret bought it, in¬ closed it in a Leaden Box, and kept it for
a Relique. Hall’s Chron. Vol. 2. S. 2.

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