Last letter of Sir Thomas More to Henry VIII
Shelfmark: Cotton Ms. Cleopatra E vi, f.177v
Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor on 16 May 1532 and Henry had allowed him to live as a private citizen.
However, in 1533 More incurred the enmity of Anne and Henry by refusing to attend Anne’s coronation and by publishing The Apology of Sir Thomas More, a defence of the old Catholic order in which he advised every good Christian to stand firm to the old faith.
Attempting to win More’s compliance to his second marriage and to his growing belief that he was Head of the Church of England, Henry grew increasingly impassioned and vindictive as he realised he was likely to fail. In late February 1534, he decided to add More’s name, along with Fisher’s, to the Bill for the Attainder (for treason) of Elizabeth Barton.
In this, the last of his six extant letters to Henry, More began by giving an account of his resignation, saying that Henry, then, had promised ‘that for the service which I byfore had done you (which it than lyked your goodnes far above my deserving to commend) that in eny suit that I should after have un to your Highnes… I should fynd your Highnes good and graciouse lord unto me’.
Now, taking Henry up on his offer, More accordingly petitioned the King not to listen to such ‘sinistre information’ as might have been given against him. He protested his honesty and sincerity in Barton’s case, and urged that, if the King, after reconsidering the matter, still suspects him to be ‘a wreche of such a monstrouse ingratitude’, then his only comfort would be that ‘I shold onys mete with your Grace agayn in hevyn, and there be mery with you.’