Letter to Lord Lisle about the Executions of May 1536

A letter regarding the executions that occurred in May 1536 is not uncommon. This letter was written by John Husee who was best known as the personal agent of Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle. If you are not familiar with who Lord Lisle was then you should know that he was the illegitimate son of King Edward IV – this made him uncle to Henry VIII. Lisle was governor of Calais from 1533-1540.

The execution of Anne Boleyn and the other innocent victims was well-known. This letter is written as fact with no opinion attached. One was not allowed to speak against the king and so unable to voice an opinion, especially in writing – where your words could be interceded by a member or spy of Henry’s court.

Letter from John Husee to Lord Lisle, 19 May 1536:

Pleaseth your lordship to be advertised that I have received your letter, with the spurs; and notwithstanding that I have waited diligently, and made all the friendship that I can make, I can hitherto find no ways 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) these xxiij days. So that I have been, and yet am, at a bay. I trust ere it be long, seeing that these matters of execution are past, to speak with his Grace, and then deliver your spurs according to your lordship’s writing.

The Lord Rochford, Mr. Norris, Brereton, Weston and Markes suffered with the axe upon the scaffold at Tower Hill on Wednesday the xvijth of this instant, which died very charitably. And Anne the late Queen suffered with sword this day, within the Tower, upon a new scaffold; and died boldly. Jesu take them to his mercy if it be his will.

…And now I trust to have more leisure with Mr. Secretary to put him in remembrance to motion the King’s Highness even according as he promised to do for the obtaining of something toward your lordship’s living. For in case he will be your lordship’s friend you should speed the better, undoubtedly, in all your proceedings. I will to-morrow be in hand with him and present him your brews, and then also declare unto him the matter concerning the marsh. Your lordship may be well assured that I will do as much in preferring and soliciting your causes as I may, and that ere it be now x days, to an end your lordship shall know by some likelihood how to speed…

Your hosen shall be sent within this vj days. And touching Mr. Page and Mr. Wyat, they remain still in the Tower. What shall become of them, God knowest best. The most part of the late Queen’s servants be set at liberty to seek service at pleasure. Mr. Aylmer shall show your lordship something by mouth which I will not now write. And thus I beseech Jesus send your lordship once a quiet living to your most noble heart’s contention.

From London, the xixth day of May

I can yet get no answer concerning the friar.

Your lordship’s bounden during life,

John Husee

The news that Husee said, “Mr. Aylmer shall show your lordship something by mouth which I will not now write” is in reference to the King’s marriage to Jane Seymour. The day after Anne’s execution Henry was formally betrothed to Jane.


The Lisle Letters – edited by Muriel St. Clare Byrne; pages 165-166

Encyclopedia of Tudor England; pages 632-633

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