Chronicle

Author: H. Hall  | Date: 1535

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H. Hall London 1908

Sir Thomas More Meets Death With a Wisecrack

[1535]

On the sixth day of July Sir Thomas More was beheaded for treason, which, as you have heard, was for the denying of the king’s Majesty’s supremacy. This man was also counted learned, and, as you have heard before, he was Lord Chancellor of England. In that time he was a great persecutor of such as detested the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, which be himself so highly favored that he stood to it until he was brought to the scaffold on the Tower Hill, where on a block his head was stricken from his shoulders and had no more harm.

I cannot tell whether I should call him a foolish wise man or a wise foolish man, for undoubtedly he, beside his learning, had a great wit. But it was so mingled with taunting and mocking, that it seemed to them that best knew him that he thought nothing to be well spoken except he had ministered some mock in the communication. When coming to the Tower one of the officers demanded his upper garment for his fee, meaning his gown, and he answered he should have it and took him his cap, saying that it was the uppermost garment that he had.

Likewise, even going to his death at the Tower gate, a poor woman called unto him and besought him to declare that he had certain evidence of hers in the time that he was in office (which after he was apprehended she could not come by), and that he would entreat she might have them again, or else she was undone. He answered:

"Good woman, have patience a little while, for the king is so good unto me that even within this half hour he will discharge me of all business, and help thee himself."

Also when he went up the stair on the scaffold he desired one of the sheriff’s officers to give him his hand to help him up, and said:

"When I come down again let me shift for myself as well as I can."

Also the hangman kneeled down to him asking him forgiveness of his death (as the manner is), to whom he said:

"I forgive thee, but I promise thee that thou shalt never have honesty of the striking of my head, my neck is so short."

Also even when he should lay down his head on the block he, having a great gray beard, struck out his beard, and said to the hangman:

"I pray you let me lay my beard over the block lest ye should cut it."

Thus with a mock he ended his life.

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Chicago: H. Hall, Chronicle, ed. H. Hall in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed December 5, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=S11CCXJLT9U9HV8.

MLA: Hall, H. Chronicle, edited by H. Hall, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 5 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=S11CCXJLT9U9HV8.

Harvard: Hall, H, Chronicle, ed. . cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 5 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=S11CCXJLT9U9HV8.