Execution of George Boleyn, Brereton, Norris, Smeaton and Weston

Execution of George Boleyn, Brereton, Norris, Smeaton and Weston is in May 1536 Fall of Anne Boleyn.

Archaeologia Volume 23 Section V. 17 May 1536. But at his [William Brereton's] deeth these were his wordes: "I haue deserved to dye if it were a thousande deethes, But the cause wherfore I dye judge not: But yf ye judge, judge the best." This he spake iij or foure tymes. If he were gyltie, I saye therfore that he dyed worst of them all.

Archaeologia Volume 23 Section V. 17 May 1536. George. The lorde of Ratchforde (age 33), after many wordes, to the effecte sayed this. I desyre you that no man wilbe discoraged from the Gospell for my fall. For if I had lyved accordinge to the gospel as I loved it, and spake of it, I had never come to this. Wherfore sayed he Syrs for Gods love, leave not the gospel, but speake lesse and lyve better. For I had rather have one good lyver accordinge to the gospel then ten bablers.

Archaeologia Volume 23 Section V. 17 May 1536 ... And Weston sayed (age 25), I had thought to haue lyved in abhominacion yet this twenty or thrittie yeres & then to haue made amendes. I thought little it wold haue come to this: willinge all other to take example at hym. And Markes (age 24) sayed: Masters I pray you all praye for me, for I haue deserved the deeth. And the Quene (age 35) sayed: I do not entende to reason my cause, but I committe me to Christ wholy, in whome ys my whole trust, desirynge you all to praye for the Kynges maiestie that he maye longe regne over you, for he ys a veraye noble prince and full gently hath handled me.

Hall's Chronicle 1536. 17 May 1536. And all the gentlemen were beheaded on the scaffold at the Tower hyll.

Spanish Chronicle Chapter 30. 17 May 1536. How the Duke, and Norris, and Brereton, and Mark were beheaded the next day1.

We have told how the old woman was ordered to be burned in the great courtyard of the Tower, and they made the Queen see it from an iron-barred window. She said, "Why do you grieve me so? I wish they would burn me with her." To which the keeper answered, "Madam, another death is reserved for you." I do not care for all the harm they can do me now," she said, "for they can never deny I was a crowned Queen, although I was a poor woman."

The next day they brought out the Duke (age 33) and the others, and it was a surprising sight to see the great crowd there was. There came with the culprits over five hundred halberdiers, and when the Duke ascended, a gentleman said to him, "My lord Duke if you have anything to say, you can say it." Then the Duke turned to the people and said in the hearing of many, "I beg you pray to God for me; for by the trial I have to pass through I am blameless, and never even knew that my sister was bad. Guiltless as I am, I pray God to have mercy upon my soul." Then he lay upon the ground with his head on the block, the headsman gave three strokes, and so died this poor Duke.

Then Master Norris mounted, and made a great long prayer; and then, turning to the people, he said, "I do not think any gentleman at Court owes more to the King than I do, and none have been more ungrateful and regardless of it than I have. I deserve the death they condemn me to, and worse still, and so I pray to God for mercy on my soul, and acknowledge the justice of my sentence." Then he cast himself on the ground, and was beheaded. The next was Brereton, who said nothing but "I have offended God and the King; pray for me," and he was executed.

The last was Mark, and he cried in a loud voice that all could hear, "Oh, woe is me! Only four months ago I was a poor man, and my good fortune raised me to better things, and would have lifted me higher still, but for the devil's tempting, and my inability to resist the pride which has been my undoing. I thought treason would never come to light, but I confess now I erred, and do not deserve so honourable a death as that which the King has ordered me. I ask pardon of God and the King, for I have wronged him more than any other, and I beg you, gentlemen, to pray to God for me;" and then he threw himself down and was beheaded; but before he died he said, "Gentlemen, I ask pardon of Master Percy, for he would have been killed if I had not been arrested, as I had set men on to murder him;" and fortunately Master Percy was there, and answered, "God pardon thee, Mark, as I pardon thee2."

The good Wyatt was witnessing all this from a window of the Tower, and all the people thought that he also was to be brought out and executed; but Wyatt that night wrote a letter to the King, and sent it to him by a cousin of his, which letter was as follows.

Note 1. Sir Henry Norris, Lord Rochford, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, and Sir Francis Weston were beheaded on 17th May, 1536. The Chronicle makes no mention of Sir Francis Weston.

Note 2. Lingard positively asserts that Smeaton was hanged, and not beheaded; but quotes at length the letter of a Portuguese gentleman, then resident in London, to a friend in Lisbon, in which the account given of the affair agrees with the present Chronicle.

Wriothesley's Chronicle 1536. 17 May 1536. Allso the 17th day of May, beinge Weddensday, the Lord of Rochforde (age 33), Mr. Norys (age 54), Mr. Bruton, Sir Francis Weston (age 25), and Markys (age 24), were all beheaded [Note. Smeaton was hanged] at the Tower-hill [Map]; and the Lord of Rocheforde, brother to Queene Anne, sayde these wordes followinge on the scaffolde to the people with a lowde voyce: Maisters all, I am come hither not to preach and make a sermon, but to dye, as the lawe hath fownde me, and to the lawe I submitt me, desiringe you all, and speciallie you my maisters of the Courte, that you will trust on God speciallie, and not on the vanities of the worlde, for if I had so done, I thincke I had bene alyve as yee be now; allso I desire you to helpe to the settinge forthe of the true worde of God; and whereas I am sclaundered by it, I have bene diligent to reade it and set it furth trulye; but if I had bene as diligent to observe it, and done and lyved thereafter, as I was to read it and sett it forthe, I had not come hereto, wherefore I beseche you all to be workers and lyve thereafter, and not to reade it and lyve not there after. As for myne offences, it can not prevayle you to heare them that I dye here for, but I beseche God that I may be an example to you all, and that all you may be wayre by me, and hartelye I require you all to pray for me, and to forgive me if I have offended you, and I forgive you all, and God save the Kinge. Their bodies with their heades were buried within the Tower of London [Map]; the Lord of Rochfordes (age 33) bodie and head within the chappell of the Tower [Map], Mr. Weston (age 25) and Norys (age 54) in the church yeard of the same [Map] in one grave, Mr. Bruton and Markes (age 24) in another grave in the same churche yerde within the Tower of London.

Excerpta Historica Page 260. [17 May 1536]. When that sorrowful day came, which was to bring their last hour to those unhappy wretches who had bought a brief pleasure with a dreadful peril, even the peril of their life and honour, a scaffold was built up before the Tower of London, on a Wednesday, which was the 17th day of May. And then they led out of the Tower wherein they had been imprisoned, the Queen's brother and the four accused gentlemen, all closely guarded as they are wont to guard those guilty of such things. And my Lord of Reujafort, [Rochford,] for that was the name of the Queen's brother, said, three several times, with a loud voice, to the whole city there gathered together — "O ye gentlemen and Christians, I was born under the law, and I die under the law, forasmuch as it is the law which hath condemned me." And then he proceeded to speak in this wise. "Ye gentlemen here present, I come not hither to preach unto you, but to die. Nor do I now seek for any thing, in the sorrowful plight in which I here stand, save that I may soon bathe my dry and parched lips in the living fountain of God's everlasting and infinite mercy. And I beseech you all, in his holy name, to pray unto him for me, confessing truly that I deserve death, even though I had a thousand lives — yea even to die with far more and worse shame and dishonour than hath ever been heard of before. For I am a miserable sinner, who have grievously and often times offended; nay and in very truth, I know not of any more perverse or wicked sinner than I have been up until now. Nevertheless, I mean not openly now to relate what my many sins may have been, since in sooth it can yield you no profit, nor me any pleasure here to reckon them up; enough be it that God knoweth them all. And ye, Gentlemen of the Court, mine especial and ancient familiars, I beseech you, of all love, that ye take heed not to fall into the error of my ways, and that ye be warned by my example; and I pray to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons in One God, that ye may wisely profit by the same, and that from my mishap ye may learn not to set your thoughts upon the vanities of this world, and least of all, upon the flatteries of the Court, and the favours and treacheries of Fortune, which only raiseth men aloft that with so much the greater force she may dash them again upon the ground. She in truth it is who is the cause that, as ye all witness, my miserable head is now to be dissevered from my neck; or rather, in greater truth, the fault is mine, and it is I who ought to be blamed for having adventured to lean on Fortune, who hath proved herself fickle and false unto me, and who now maketh me a sad example to you all and to the whole world. And do ye all, Sirs, take notice, that in this my sorrowful condition, I pray for the mercy of God Almighty, and that I do moreover forgive all men, with all my heart and mind, even as truly as I hope that the Lord God will forgive me. And if so be that I should in aught have offended any man not now here present, do ye entreat him, when ye chance to meet him, that he also may of his charity forgive me; for, having lived the life of a sinner, I would fain die the death of a Christian man.

Nor must I fail (while it be yet time) to tell you all, gentle and simple, now hearkening to me, that I was a great reader and a mighty debater of the Word of God, and one of those who most favoured the Gospel of Jesu Christ.2 Wherefore, lest the Word of God should be brought into reproach on my account, I now tell you all, Sirs, that if I had, in very deed, kept his holy Word, even as I read and reasoned about it with all the strength of my wit, certain am I that I should not be in the piteous condition wherein I now stand. Truly and diligently did I read the Gospel of Christ Jesu, but I turned not to profit that which I did read; the which had I done, of a surety I had not fallen into so great errors. Wherefore I do beseech you all, for the love of our Lord God, that ye do at all seasons, hold by the truth, and speak it, and embrace it; for beyond all peradventure, better profiteth he who readeth not and yet doeth well, than he who readeth much and yet liveth in sin."

Having made an end of speaking, he knelt down upon his knees, and his head was stricken off. And so befell it likewise to the other four gentlemen; one was called Monsire Nestorn [Weston]; another Breton, [Brereton]; another Norris, Chamberlain to the King's Majesty; and the fourth of this sorrowful company was Mark [Smeton]; the which said no more than that they besought the bystanders to pray for them, and that they yielded themselves to death with joy and exceeding gladness of heart.

Note 1. E daquelle q' mais com emveija e ciumes q' amor q' tivesse ha El Rey, descubryo ho malvado segredo.

Note 2. Que eu fuy grande ledor e argumentador da palavra de Ds. e eu fuy hū daquelles q' mto favorecerao ho Evangello de I. C.

Letters 1536. 17 May 1536. 908. Chapuys (age 46) to Charles V.

Today1 Rochford (age 33) has been beheaded before the Tower, and the four others above named, notwithstanding the intercession of the Bishop of Tarbes, the French ambassador resident, and the sieur de Tinteville, who arrived the day before yesterday, in behalf of one named Weston (age 25). The Concubine (age 35) saw them executed from the Tower, to aggravate her grief. Rochford (age 33) disclaimed all that he was charged with, confessing, however, that he had deserved death for having been so much contaminated and having contaminated others with these new sects, and he prayed everyone to abandon such heresies. The Concubine (age 35) will certainly be beheaded tomorrow, or on Friday at the latest, and I think the King feels the time long that it is not done already. The day before the putain's condemnation he sent for Mrs. Semel [Jane Seymour (age 27)] by the Grand Esquire and some others, and made her come within a mile of his lodging, where she is splendidly served by the King's cook and other officers. She is most richly dressed. One of her relations, who dined with her on the day of the said condemnation, told me that the King sent that morning to tell her that he would send her news at 3 o'clock of the condemnation of the putain (age 35), which he did by Mr. Briant, whom he sent in all haste. To judge by appearances, there is no doubt that he will take the said Semel [Jane Seymour (age 27)] to wife; and some think the agreements and promises are already made.

Note 1. This part of the letter was written on the 17th. See further on, at the beginning of the last paragraph.

Letters 1536. 19 May 1536. Vienna Archives. 911. Anne Boleyn (age 35), Rochford (deceased), &c.

"Execution criminal hecha en Inglatierra el 16 de Mayo 15361."

The count (Viscount) Rochefort (deceased), brother of the Queen (unjustly so called) Anne Boleyn, was beheaded with an axe upon a scaffold before the Tower of London. He made a very catholic address to the people, saying he had not come thither to preach, but to serve as a mirror and example, acknowledging his sins against God and the King, and declaring he need not recite the causes why he was condemned, as it could give no pleasure to hear them. He first desired mercy and pardon of God, and afterwards of the King and all others whom he might have offended, and hoped that men would not follow the vanities of the world and the flatteries of the Court, which had brought him to that shameful end. He said if he had followed the teachings of the Gospel, which he had often read, he would not have fallen into this danger, for a good doer was far better than a good reader. In the end, he pardoned those who had condemned him to death, and asked the people to pray for his soul. After him Norris (deceased) was beheaded, then Weston (deceased) and Brereton, and Marc (deceased), the player on the spinnet, who said scarcely anything except to cry mercy of God and the King, and beg people to pray for their souls. Brereton and Marc (deceased) were afterwards quartered.

Letters 1536. 01 Jun 1536. Corpus Reform. iv., 1036. 1035. Melancthon to Wolfgang Bock.

Has not a copy of Bucer's opinion, and it is not fit that it should be published yet, as nothing is yet settled about agreement. The matter is to be referred to more on both sides. He may tell the Prince that there is good hope of concord, and that Bucer declared the same opinion that he had previously written to the people of Munster (Monasterienses), and which some people in Silesia have followed. Thinks the word of revocation should be avoided; there are many serious things. Does not wish him to disturb lightly the Prince's mind. Hopes the Prince will be pleased with Bucer's declaration. The last queen of England (deceased) has been beheaded in May for adultery, with others. Lat.

Letters 1536. 19 May 1536. R. O. 918. Antony Pykeryng to Lady Lisle.

I have delivered to William Colle 7½ oz. of gold and 2s. 6d. st. to pay for dyeing and dressing your kersey. The gold cost 5s. an oz.; you gave me 7½ cr., which is 37s. 6d., and owe me 2s. 6d. On the 17th instant Lord Rochford, Master Norys, Master Weston, Master Brwerton, and Markes of the Privy Chamber were put to death on Tower Hill.

Letters 1536. 19 May. R. O. 919. John Husee to Lord Lisle.

I have received your letter with the spurs. With all my efforts I have been unable to come to the King's presence. "His Grace came not abroad except it were in the garden, and in his boat at night (at which times it may become no man to prevent him), this 14 days." But now that these matters of execution are past I hope soon to speak with him and deliver your spuis. Lord Rocheford, Mr. Norrys, Bruriton, Weston, and Markes suffered with the axe on the scaffold at Tower Hill on Wednesday the 17th, and died very charitably.