On July 5 1535, Sir Thomas More penned his last letter. He was imprisoned in the Tower, scheduled to be executed the following day – all for refusing to accept the authority of the Church of England. His captors gave him no pens, so he wrote the letter with a bit of coal. It was addressed to his beloved daughter, Margaret, who he raised to be what Wikipedia describes as “one of the most learned women of sixteenth-century England.” After More’s execution, his head was displayed on a spike at London Bridge. Somehow, Margaret got hold of the head (bribe is the guess). One rumor has her preserving it by pickling it in spices – the same rumor claims that her widowed husband William Roper took charge of the head after Margaret’s death in 1544 and that is is buried with him.
Our Lord bless you.
My dearly beloved daughter, good daughter and your good husband, and your little boy, and all yours, and all my children, and all my godchildren, and all our friends. Recommend me when you may to my good daughter Cecily, whom I beseech our Lord to comfort. I send my blessing to her and to all her children and pray her to pray for me. I send her an handekercher and God comfort my good son her husband. My good daughter Daunce hath the picture in parchment that you delivered me from my Lady Coniers; her name is on the back side. Show her that I heartily pray her that you may send it in my name again for a token from me to pray for me.
I like special well Dorothy Coly, I pray you be good unto her. I would wit whether this be she that you wrote me of. If not, I pray you be good to the other as you may in her affliction and to my good daughter Joan Aleyn to give her I pray you some kind answer, for she sued hither to me this day to pray you be good to her.
I cumber you good Margaret much, but I would be sorry, if it should be any longer than tomorrow, for it is Saint Thomas eve, and the Vtas of Saint Peter and therefore tomorrow long I to go to God, it were a day very meet and convenient for me. I never liked your manner toward me better than when you kissed me last, for I love when daughterly love and dear charity hath no leisure to look to worldly courtesy.
Farewell my dear child and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends that we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you for your great cost.
I send now unto my good daughter Clement her algorism stone and I send her and my good son and all hers God’s blessing and mine.
I pray you at time convenient recommend me to my good son John More. I liked well his natural fashion. Our Lord bless him and his good wife my loving daughter, to whom I pray him be good, as he hath great cause, and that if the land of mine come to his hand, he break not my will concerning his sister Daunce. And our Lord bless Thomas and Austen and all that they shall have.