On This Day in Tudor History: 28 January 1549

On the 28th of January 1549, Sir Robert Tyrhwitt wrote to the Lord Protector letting him know that he has tried everything suggested to get the Lady Elizabeth to confess, however, she claims she has told everything she already knows. In the letter, Tyrwhitt also states that he believes that there was a secret promise between my Lady, Mistress Ashley, and the Cofferer, never to confess to death. That same day the Lady Elizabeth wrote to Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset.


Here is the Lady Elizabeth’s letter:

My Lord, your great gentleness, and good will towards me, as well in this thing as in other things, I do understand, for the which, even as I ought, so I do give you most humble thanks. And whereas your Lordship wills and councils me, as an ernest friend, to declare what I know in this matter, and also to write what I have declared to Master Tyrwhitt, I shall most willingly do it.

I declared unto him first, that, after that the Cofferer had declared unto me, what my Lord Admiral answered for “Alin’s Matter”, and for Durham Place, (that it was appointed to be a Mint,) he told me that my Lord Admiral did offer me his house for my time being with the King’s Majesty; and further said, and asked me, whether if the Council did consent that I should have my Lord Admiral, whether I would consent to it or no: I answered that I would not tell him what my mind was. And I inquired further of him, what he meant to ask me that question, or who bade him say so: He answered me and said, nobody bade him say so, but that he perceived (as he thought) by my Lord Admirals inquiring whether my patent were sealed or no, and debating what sh spent in his house, and inquiring what was spent in my house, that he was given that way rather than otherwise.

And as concerning Kat Ashley, she never advised me unto it, but said always (when any talked of my marriage) that she would never have me marry, neither in England nor out of England, without the consent of the King’s Majesty, your Grace’s, and the Council’s. And after the Queen departed, when I asked of her what news she heard from London, she answered merrily, “They say there that your Grace shall have my Lord Admiral, and that he will come shortly to woo you.” And more over I said unto him, that the Cofferer sent a letter hither, that my Lord said, that he would come this way, as he went down to the country. Then I bade her write as she thought best, and bade her show it to me when she had done; for she write that she thought it not best, for fear of suspicion, and so it went forth. And my Lord Admiral, after he had heart that, asked of the Cofferer why he might not come as well to me, as to my sister: And then I desired Kat Ashley to write again (left my Lord might think that she knew more in it than he) that she knew nothing in it, but suspicion. And also I told Master Tyrwhitt, that to the effect of the matter, I never consented unto any such thing, without the Council’s consent thereunto.

And as for Kat Ashley or the Cofferer, they never told me that they would practice it. These be the things which I both declared to Master Tyrwhitt, and also whereof my conscience beareth me witness, which I would not for all earthly things offend in any thing, for I know I have a soul to save, as well as other folks have, wherefore I will above all things have respect unto this same.

If there be anymore things which I can remember, I will either write it myself or cause Master Tyrwhitt to write it. Master Tyrwhitt and others have told me that there are rumors abroad, which be greatly both against my honor, and honesty, (which above all other thinks I esteem) which be these; that I am in the Tower; and with child by my Lord Admiral. My Lord these are shameful slanders, for the which, besides the great desire I have to see the King’s Majesty, I shall most heartily desire your Lordship that I may come to the court after your first determination; that I may show myself there as I am.

Written in haste, from Hatfield this 28th of January.

Your assured friend to my little power,


On This Day in Tudor History: 25 January 1549

The Examination of the Lord Admiral,

25 January 1549

Whither he hath commoned wyth onny perfon or perfones, tochyng an alterafhon of the Order of the Perfon of the Kyng’s Magyfte, and his Confell; and what be theyr names, with whom he hath confer’d?

Thomas’ response:

I anfour, as I defeyer to be faved, to my remembrance fene the laft Parlement I never confer’d with any creatur levyng, but wyth my Lord of Rottland, upon occafhon of talk of the Kyng’s Magyfte’s towardnes, whom I fayed wold be a man thre yeres befor onny chyld levyng; and that I thowght within to or thre yeres, he wold defeyer more lieberte, and the honor of his own thyngs; and forther fayed, Yf then his Highnes ded command me to mak the mofhon to my Lord my brother, and the Confell, I wold do it; and moreover fayed, that I wold my Lord my brother fhould be the cheff derecter of his Grace’s Afferres in the Confell. And as to the alterafhon of ony other of the Confell, I never talked wyth hym, nor ony other to my remembrance. And yf I ment ony hurt to my Lord’s Grace my brother, more then I ment to my sowlle, then I defeyer nether lyff nor other favor at his hand. And fo far I defeyer you my Lordes to anfour to his Grace in my behalff; wharein ye fhall bynd me, duryng my lyff, to be at your commandment.

Your Lordfhipes to Command,


Endorsed to: my very good Lordes my Lord grett Mafter, my Lord Prevy Selle, my Lord of Shrewfberey, my Lord of Southampton and Mr. Controller, and Mr. Smeth

In his examination, Thomas Seymour admits that he believed that the King should come of age soon and then if he chose to be the master of his own things that Thomas would back him up. He also states that he believes his brother (Lord Protector) should, in that situation, be the Chief Director of His Grace’s affairs in the Council. He states that he meant no harm to his brother and if he did that he would not desire life nor favor on his behalf. He asked the men to relay the information to his brother.

screen shot 2019-01-25 at 8.10.44 am
Letter courtesy of Hatfield House archives

Thomas also wrote a letter to his brother, the Lord Protector:

After my umbell commendashons unto your Grace. Sene the fenychyng of my letter, as yesterday, to my Lord grett Matter, (wharin I affewer your Grace on my faith, I wrott all that came to my remembrance,) fene whyche time I do remember, that when I came firft to Hamptown Cort, with your Grace out of Wylshere, on night as the Kyng’s Magesfte walked in the gallery, I began to fey unto his Grace, that fene I fa hyme laft, he was growen to be a goodly gentlman and trusted that within thre or four years, he fhuld be ruler of his own thyngs; whereunto his Highnes fayed, Nay. I marvelled that at to my felf and began to nomber his yeres, and fayed, within this four yeres his Grace fhuld be fixteen yere old, and fayed, that I trufted be that tyme, his Grace should help his men hymfelf, wyth fuch thyngs as fell in his Grace’s gyft, or lek wordes in effect; whare at his Grace fayed nothing. And then I fell in other talke of other materes, but what, I remember not; and whether I told this to Mr. Fowler or nott, I am not farten; and if ever I thought of it fene, to my remebrance tyll this mornyng, I pray God I leve nott tyll none. Wharein I confefs my felf to be over fenne, and that I ded otherwyffe then became me; requyryng your Grace to be my good Lord, and to remett my overfight, as your Grace hath done to a nomber of other. But yff I ment ether hurt or difplefur to your Grace, in this or ony ohter thyng that I have done, then puneche me be extremyte. And thus I umbly take my leve of your Grace.

Your Graces to Command, and Brother,


In the letter to his brother he reiterates what was in his examination. He ends the letter with: ‘If I meant either hurt or displeasure to your Grace, in this or any other thing that I have done, then the punishment should be extreme’.


John Harrington was a servant of Thomas Seymour – in what aspect is currently unknown to me. On the 25th of January 1549 Harrington was examined regarding his master. The same day Thomas Seymour has also been examined by Russell, Southampton and Petre.

Harrington was asked: What communication had been between him and my Lord Admiral, as concerning an order to be taken for the Government of the King’s Majesty and the order of his Council:

He answered, That as concerning the order of government of the King’s, or of an such matter, he never heard privately the Lord Admiral speak to him any thing; but openly he hath heard once the Lord Admiral say before others, about a yere now past, that i was never seen, that in the minority of a king, when there hath been two brothers, that the one brother should have all rule, and the other none; but if that the one were Protector, then the other should be Governor. Another time, he heard him say, if it were offered unto him to have either the one or the other, meaning the Protectorship or Governorship, he would wish the earth opened, and swallowed him, if he would take it. And since that time he never heard him say anything touching such matters. And for the Council, he never heard him say anything.

On this day Harrington was questioned on many matters, but I chose to share this part since it was on the same subject as what Seymour said.

Robert & Elizabeth Tyrwhitt

Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife Elizabeth served in the household of Katheryn Parr: Robert as a Master of Horse and his wife, Elizabeth as a gentlewoman of the Queen.

The Council notified Robert and his wife that they should move to Hatfield House to care for the Lady Elizabeth, while Kat Ashely and Thomas Parry were being questioned in the Tower of London.

Robert Tyrwhitt also had the unfortunate duty of interviewing the cunning Lady Elizabeth for the Council. Those conversations would be reported back. On 25 January 1549 Robert wrote a letter to the Lord Protector (here are a couple parts of it):

Robert Tyrwhit’s Confession

About Michelmas last past, my Lord Admiral lay with me one night at Mourclek Park, and after Supper he talked with my wife. And passing by him he called me, and said these words, “Master Tyrwhitt I am talking with my Lady your wife in divinity.” I made him answer, that my wife was not seen in divinity but she was half a scripture woman. “I will tell you the matter,” said he, “I have told her, that I wished to my  Lord my brother, that the crown of England may stand in as good a “surte” as the Crown of France; for there it was well known from one to another, who should have it by descent; and so should it be here, if my Lady Mary and my Lady Elizabeth were married”: I answered him that that was divinity indeed, for whosoever married one of them without the consent of the King’s Majesty, and them whom he he put in trust  for the same, I would not wish me.

One day at Sudeley, walking in the park, among many communications, the Queen’s Grace said thus; “Master Tyrwhitt, you shall see the King when he cometh to his full age. He will call his lands again, as fast as they be now given from him”: Marry, said, I, then is Sudeley Castle gone from my Admiral? “Marry, I do assure you, he intends to offer them to the King and give them freely to him at that time.”


On This Day in Tudor History: 23 January 1549

Six Days After Arrest

On the 23rd of January 1549, something interesting was recorded. The King’s Council issued a proclamation that prohibited the carrying of weapons or wearing of armor within three miles from court. Why would they do that?

In some of my original research on Thomas Seymour I came across a story about how “they” had found a cache of weapons, or rather a weapons making area, in the woods. Where exactly I do not recall, but they had been allegedly tied to Thomas Seymour.

With a history as the Master of the Ordnance, the accusation seemed plausible to me. The only problem with that is that it was the only time I had read that specific claim. Red flag. I checked Thomas’ Act of Attainder to see if it was mentioned. Nada. Surely, if it were true it would have been mentioned. There is no mention.

This leads me to back to the proclamation that prohibited the carrying of weapons or wearing of armor within three miles from court – someone must have falsely confessed to a threat of weapons being used to free Thomas from the Tower that they were worried enough to make this proclamation. If King Edward VI was located at Westminster Palace then that was where court would be. Westminster is three miles from the Tower of  London. So not only were they protecting the King and his court but they were also making sure that covered the Tower of London and Thomas Seymour as well.

Thomas Seymour was well liked, and that made him a threat to the men in charge. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick was instrumental in convincing Thomas to strive for more power and he was instrumental in his downfall – convincing his brother Edward, Lord Protector that he was in danger. In a letter to his brother, Thomas once said, “my death is your death.” How prophetic.

Also on this Day

John Ashley committed to the Fleet for the matter of the Admiral. John was married to Kat Ashley, Lady Elizabeth’s governess who had been arrested just days earlier.

NPG 6768,John Astley,by Unknown artist
John Astley in a portrait from 1553-4. Wikipedia

On This Day in Tudor History: 21 January 1549

Yesterday we discussed the confession of a Mr. Wyghtman – servant to Lord Seymour, who relayed information about Mr. Parry’s visits to Seymour Place prior to Thomas’ arrest. It is my belief that his statement is what caused two of the Lady Elizabeth’s servants to to be committed to the Tower of London for questioning.

Everything appeared as normal the morning of 21 January at Hatfield House until a couple of men arrived on horseback – Lord St. John and Sir Anthony Denny. When Elizabeth’s cofferer, Thomas Parry, discovered the two men had arrived he fled to his chamber where he found his wife Anne, also terrified. He tore the chain of office from his person and removed his rings and began to pace. He stated, “I would I had never been born, for I am undone.”

When I read the above description in Elizabeth Norton’s “The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor” I wondered why Parry was so nervous – Surely he had heard of Seymour’s arrest four days earlier and must have realized that soon he would be questioned. Did he just fear questioning, or was he indeed guilty of something?

Kat Ashley was Lady Elizabeth’s governess and she, Parry and his wife Anne greeted the visitors together, but not before making sure they all kept the proper secrets and did not reveal any involvement in a conspiracy, especially any discussion of Lady Elizabeth marrying Lord Seymour.

That evening, Thomas Parry and Kat Ashley were unexpectantly arrested for their involvement with Seymour – they were whisked away without a chance to dress properly. You can imagine their fear. That night they rode to the Tower of London with St. John and Denny for questioning.


On This Day in Tudor History: 20 January 1549

In yesterday’s post we discovered that not only was Thomas Seymour locked away in the Tower of London but also his friends and ‘alleged’ cohorts, Sir William Sharington and John Fowler.

On this day 470 years ago Thomas Seymour was charged with treason. From Acts of the Privy Council on ‘Sondaye’, the 20 January 1548 (we know as 1549 due to the calendar change).

Forasmych as very many dyd comme to declare syche thinges as they had hard and perceyved to apperteyn to the said heynous attempt of the Admirall, my Lord Protectour, with thadvis of the rest of the Counsaile, dyd appoinct my Lord Pryvy Seale, therle of Southampton and Mr. Secretary Peter to take their examinacions by writing or otherwise.

If you are less than comfortable reading the way they wrote before standardized spelling, I’ll help you here:

For as much as very many did come to declare such things as they had heard and perceived to appertain to the said heinous attempt of the Admiral, my Lord Protector, with the advise of the rest of the Council, did appoint my Lord Privy Seal (John Russell), the Earl of Southampton (Thomas Wriothesley) and Mr. Secretary Peter to take their examinations by writing or otherwise.

Sharington Interrogation:

During Sharington’s interrogation he appeared to reveal everything he had been involved in. Not only does he admit he worked with Seymour but he also admitted that he been stealing money for his own purposes (will discuss that later):

Touching my Lord Admiral, I do declare I heard him say, as I have called to my remembrance, why should not the King’s daughter’s be married within the realm; and that he said so much to some of the council: And that they were able to say little unto it.

Sharington admits that Seymour stated that it was wrong for his brother to go against the late King’s (Henry VIII) wishes:

I have also heard him say, that he thought it was not the King’s will that “dead” is, that any one man should have both the government of the King that now is, and also realm. And that in time past, if there were two uncles, being of the mother’s side, the one should have the one, the other the other.

And it appears that Seymour was not naive that the Council was on his brother’s side:

I have also heard him say, that none of the council would say anything otherwise at any time, then was liking unto my Lord’s Grace.

It’s obvious to everyone, whether in 16th century England or the 21st century world that Thomas Seymour was an ambitious man – they all were back then. He was really no different than any of them in this matter:

I have known him much desirous of stewardships, and to entertain gentlemen, but to what end I did never know, otherwise to serve the king, as he did always say.

Sharington continues to sing like a canary, probably out of fear of torture, or worse:

I did hear him say, that he would never consent or agree, that the King should be kept as ward, til he came to the years of 18; whereby he misliked my Lord his Grace’s patent.

Sir William Sharington’s confession is almost as long as Kat Ashley’s, but we’ll leave that for a future post.

Wyghtman’s Confession:

Wyghtman was a servant of Sir Thomas Seymour. He actually had not worked for Seymour very long before his master was arrested an imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of treason. It is currently unknown what his role was as a servant but my guess is he was his secretary.

Wyghtman evidently was witness to many comings and goings of his master and his guests and was more than willing to share that information. In his confession she mentions a Mr. Hammond and Mr. Parry (Elizabeth’s cofferer) but admits that he cannot necessarily give dates.

The information in Wyghtman’s confession may explain the events of 21 January 1549….





On This Day in Tudor History: 19 January 1549

Only two days after Thomas Seymour’s arrest more information about an alleged conspiracy continued to come forward. Anyone who was an acquaintance or a servant of the Lord Admiral was questioned.

In Tudor England we know that being questioned was a serious matter. If you were brought to the Tower to be questioned then there was a real concern of torture. This is a topic we will come back to when we discuss the confessions of Kat Ashley and Thomas Parry, Lady Elizabeth’s servants – but for now, just keep it in mind.

On the 19th of January 1549, it appears in the privy council register that more information about a ‘conspiracy’ came forward through Sir William Sharington, Vice Treasurer of the Mint at Bristol, and Mr. Fowler of the Privy Chamber, for that and other matters the two were sent to the Tower. (‘Acts of the Privy Council 1547-50, page 239)

So, as of the 19th, the Tower of London held not only Thomas Seymour but also his two ‘conspirators’ Sharington and Fowler. We will learn more about their involvement as this story continues to unfold.

Sir William Sharington

At some point in the last two days Thomas Seymour wrote to his lawyer/council Richard Weston from the Tower. On the 19th Weston replied to his master’s letter and stated he would try to get many good men to vouch for him. Unfortunately for Seymour this would be a battle Weston could not win for his master – the wheel of misfortune was already turning. Neither of the men could have prepared for the swiftness of his ‘guilt’.




On This Day in Tudor History: 18 January 1549

The first quarter of 1549 was a difficult time for Thomas Seymour. He had been accused of attempting to kidnap the King, his nephew, from Hampton Court Palace. It was the evening of 16 January and it was also alleged that Seymour killed the King’s dog while attempting the kidnapping.

There are only two accounts (that I’ve discovered) of the events. Neither of the accounts were written by anyone notable or anyone who wasn’t an ambassador. The first account was by François van der Delft, who was the Imperial ambassador on 27 January 1549:

Sire, I have heard here that the Admiral of England, with the help of some people about the court, attempted to outrage the person of the young King by night, and has been taken to the Tower. The alarm was given by the gentleman who sleeps in the King’s chamber, who, awakened by the barking of the dog that lies before the King’s door, cried out “Help! Murder!”

Everybody rushed in; but the only thing they found was the lifeless corpse of the dog. Suspicion points to the Admiral, because he had scattered the watch that night on several errands, and because it has been noticed that he has some secret plot on hand, hoping to marry the second daughter of the late King, the Lady Elizabeth, who is also under grave suspicion. On my arrival in England, however, I will write the truth more fully to your Majesty, having nothing now to go upon beyond the information given by those who repeat common report.

The other account was written on the 15th of February 1549 from John Burcher, a well-know reformist in Strasbourg to Henry Bullinger, one of the most influential theologians of the Reformation in the 16th century.

From Tudor Nobility, Professor G.W. Bernard states that this letter gives a clue to how Seymours alleged plans were discovered. If, all the events listed in the letter are true then this indeed explains how it all went down.

In “Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation: Written During the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, and Queen Mary : Chiefly from the Archives of Zurich, Part 2”:

The uncle of our king (I do not mean him who we call the protector of the kingdom, but his brother) has attempted, by an unheard of treachery and cruelty, to destroy with his own impious hands, in the deep silence of the night, our innocent king. The tragedy was thus acted. He obtained from one of the king’s chamberlains, who was privy to his design, a key, by means of which there is the nearest access by a door to the royal bed-chamber, which he entered in the dead of night, accompanied by the accomplices of his crime. There was a space between the door at which he entered and the king’s chamber, where was lying hid a little dog, the most faithful guardian of the youth, having been accidentally shut out of the chamber; and when he perceived the assassin hurry towards the king’s chamber door, he betrayed the murderer by his barking. The enraged assassin first killed the dog, and, had not God prevented, would have killed his master also. A faithful guardian of the royal person, roused by the noise, came out, having awakened some of those who from their office are called body-guards. As soon as he beheld with astonishment the murderer at the door of the royal chamber, he demanded of him what was his business there at the very dead of night. the man replied with trembling, that he wished to know whether the prince was safely guarded. But this excuse did not avail him, and on the next morning he was committed to the Tower of London as a traitor; as was also shortly after the king’s chamberlain, who had supplied him with the key by which he gained admission. And unless the king had accidentally bolted the inner door of his chamber, which is done very seldom, it would certainly have been all over with him before that other person could have run to his assistance. Together with the traitor was seized also a certain knights who was the warden of the king’s mint at Bristol, which is the richest sea-port in England. Here then you have the happy issue of this tragedy. They have, I doubt not, suffered at length the due punishment of such wickedness.

In another letter to Bullinger on 1 April 1549 he adds a post statement to the letter:
The traitor who plotted death of our king was condemned to death on the 12th of March, and there is no doubt but that he will be brought to execution.
Now if we go back to this day, 18 January 1549, we will notice how quickly the hands of justice clamped down on Sir Thomas Seymour.
Hugh Paulet (diplomat) and Sir Thomas Chaloner (administrator), as well as John Yernley (unknown position) were instructed to search Seymour’s house at Bromham in Wiltshire. Paulet took charge of Bromham as well.
Also on this day, 470 years ago, by order of the Council, the Signets of the Admiral were taken from his secretary and delivered to Mr. Secretary Smith to keep; and Harington his man was sent to the Tower by decree of the Council. (‘Acts of the Privy Council 1547-50, page 239’)
What is a signet you ask? It’s a small seal, especially one set in a ring, used instead of or with a signature to give authentication to an official document.
Seymour Signet: Circular bezel of gold signet ring (1400-1464) engraved with a device of a hawk’s lure with the wings bound with cord.
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.
As we continue to unfold the events of early 1549 I am hoping we will uncover the truth. Not the truth that we have been told for 470 years but the actual truth. What really happened and was Thomas Seymour a victim to those threatened by him?