At this point in 1536, the five men accused with Anne Boleyn had been convicted and were scheduled to be executed on May 17. On May 16, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower, wanted to make sure he discharged his duties appropriately and wrote to Thomas Cromwell.
Kingston covered a number of issues that give an interesting window into this dark time. The weightiest issue was to remind Cromwell of George Boleyn’s need to clear his conscience about a monk who owed him £100. The monk had been promoted with Cromwell’s help, but his Abbey had since been suppressed. Since all debts owed to George would revert to the Crown upon his execution, George was looking for assurances that the King would forego payment on that debt.
Kingston went on to gently remind Cromwell that Dr. Aldryge had not yet arrived – this was the man who would serve as confessor to George and the others. Kingston also mentioned that in the aftermath of Cranmer’s visiting Anne Boleyn, she was hopeful that she would be spared execution and allowed to enter a nunnery.
Knowing what we do now, this good letter from an honest man is chilling.
Sir, this day I was with the King’s grace and declared the petitions of my Lord of Rochford, wherein I was answered. Sir, the said lord much desireth to speak with you, which toucheth his conscience much, as he saith. Wherein I pray you I may know your pleasure, for by cause of my promise made unto my said lord to do the same, and also I shall desire you further to know the King’s pleasure touching the Queen, as well for her comfort as the preparation of scaffolds and other necessaries concerning. The King’s grace showed me that my lord of Canterbury should be her confessor, and was here this day with the Queen, and not in that matter.
Sir, the time is short, for the King supposeth the gentlemen to die tomorrow, and my lord of Rochford, with the residue of gentlemen, is as yet without Doctor Aldryge [his confessor], which I look for, but I have told my Lord of Rochford that he be in a-readiness tomorrow to suffer execution, and so he accepts it very well and will do his best to be ready; notwithstanding, he would have received his rights, which hath not been used, and in especial here.
Sir, I shall desire you that we here may know the King’s pleasure here as shortly as may be that we here may prepare for the same which is necessary; for the same we here have no man for to do execution.
Sir, I for pray you have good remembrance in all this for us to do, for we shall be ready always to our knowledge. Yet this day at dinner the Queen said that she should go to a nunnery and is in hope of life.
And thus, fare you well.
Cavendish, George; Singer, Samuel Weller (1827). The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, by George Cavendish, His Gentleman Usher. With notes and other illustrations by Samuel Weller Singer (2nd ed.). London: Harding and Lepard.
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