Europe, British Isles, England, Tower of London, St Peter ad Vincula Church [Map]

St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London is in Tower of London [Map].

1535 Execution of Bishop Fisher and Thomas More

1536 Execution of George Boleyn, Brereton, Norris, Smeaton and Weston

1536 Execution of Anne Boleyn

1540 Execution of Thomas Cromwell

1542 Catherine Howard Tower of London Executions

1549 Trial and Execution of Thomas Seymour

1552 Trial and Execution of Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset and his Supporters

1554 Execution of Lady Jane Grey and her Faction

1572 Ridolphi Plot

1601 Essex Rebellion

On 12 Dec 1534, some sources say the 13th, Gerald Fitzgerald 9th Earl of Kildare (age 47) died whilst imprisoned at the Tower of London [Map]. He was buried at the St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. His son Thomas "Silken" Fitzgerald 10th Earl of Kildare (age 21) succeeded 10th Earl Kildare. His son, and five of his brothers were executed just over two years later - see Execution of the Fitzgeralds.

Execution of Bishop Fisher and Thomas More

On 06 Jul 1535 Thomas More (age 57) was beheaded on Tower Hill [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

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

On 17 May 1536 George Boleyn Viscount Rochford (age 33), Henry Norreys (age 54), Francis Weston (age 25), William Brereton and Mark Smeaton (age 24) were beheaded at Tower Hill [Map]. They were buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

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.

Execution of Anne Boleyn

Ellis' Letters S1 V2 Letter CXXIII. Sir William Kingston (age 60) to Lord Cromwell (age 51), apparently May 18th 1536

[MS. COTTON. OTHO c. x. foL 223. Orig.]

Syr thys shalbe to advertyse you I have resayved your Lett' wherin yo ...aa have strangerys conveyed yowt of the Towre and so thay be by the ... of Richard Gressum, & Will-m Loke, & Wythepoll, bot the umbrb of stra ... not xxx. and not mony; Hothe and the inbassit'of the emperor had a ... ther and honestly put yowt. Sr yf we have not anowrec serten ... d be knowen in London, I thynke hee wilbe bot few and I thynk ...f humburg ware bes: for I suppose she wyll declare hyr self to b ... h woman for all men bot for the Kyng at the or of hyr dei ... mornyngk she sent for me that I myght be with hyr at ... asshe reysayved the gud lord to the in tent I shuld here hy ... towchyng hyr innosensy alway to be clere & in the writy ... she sent for me, and at my commyng she sayd M. Kyngston I he ... l not dy affore none, & I am very sory ther fore; for I thowth ... be dede ... d past my payne. I told hyr it shuld be now payne it w ... m hard say the executr was very gud and I have a lyt ... rn hand abowt it lawyng hartely.

I have sen also wemen executed and atp they have bene in gre ... ige. Thys Lady hasse meche joy and plesur in dethe ... newaly with hyr and hasse bene syns ij of the co ... the effect of hony thyng that ys here at t ... well.

Your ....

Willm Ky

To Mastr. Secretory.

Note a. f. you would have. b. number. c. an hour. d. as it may be. L. Herb. e. here. f. a reasonable. g. L. Herb. h. be a. L. Herb. i. death. k. for this morning. L. Herb. l. I heard say I shall not. L. Herb. m. was so sotell. Herb. n. a lyttel neck and put her hand. Herb. p. that,

The names of those who were called Anne Boleyn's accusers have occurred in the preceding Letters.

The close of her catastrophe shall be detailed in the words of Burnet :

"A little before noon, being the 19th. of May, she was brought to the Scaffold, where she made a short speech to a great company that came to look on the last scene of this fatal Tragedy : the chief of whom were the Dukes of Suffolk (age 52) and Richmond (age 16), the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary Cromwell (age 51), with the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, and Aldermen of London. She said she was come to die, as she was judged by the Law ; she would accuse none, nor say any thing of the ground upon which she was judged. She prayed heartily for the King ; and called him a most merciful and gentle Prince, and that he had been always to her a good, gentle, sovereign lord : and if any would meddle with her cause, she required them to judge the best. And so she took her leave of them and of the world ; and heartily desired they would pray for her. After she had been some time in her devotions, being her last words 'to Christ I commend my Soul,' her head was cut off by the hangman of Calais, who was brought over as more expert at beheading than any in England : her eyes and lips were observed to move after her head was cut off, as Spelman writes ; but her body was thrown into a common chest of elm tree, that was made to put arrows in, and was buried in the chapel within the Tower [Map] before twelve o'clock.

"Her brother (deceased) with the other four did also suffer. None of them were quartered, but they were all beheaded, except Smeton, who was hanged. It was generally said, that he was corrupted into that confession, and had his life promised him ; but it was not fit to let him live to tell tales. Norris had been much in the King's favour, and an offer was made him of his life, if he would confess his guilt, and accuse the Queen. But he generously rejected that unhandsome proposition, and said that in his consciiaice he thought her innocent of these things laid to her charge ; but whether she was or not, he would not accuse her of any thing, and he would die a thousand times rather than ruin an innocent person."a

On the day of the execution, Henry the Eighth put on white for mourning, as though he would have said, "I am innocent of this deed:" and the next day was married to Jane Seymour (age 27).

The good Melanchton, whose visit to England was prevented by the afflicting news of the Queen's execution, has elegantly expressed his opinion of her innocence, in a letter to Joachim Camerarius, dated on the fifth of the ides of June 1536:

"Anglicas profectionis cura prorsus liberatus sum. Postquam enim tarn tragic! casus in Anglia acciderunt, magna consiliorum mutatio secuta est. Posterior Regina, Magis Accusata quam Convicta Adulterii, ultimo supplicio affecta est. Quam mirabiles sunt rerum vices, mi Joachime, quantam Dei iram omnibus hominibus denunciant, in quantas calamitates etiam ex summo fastigio potentissimi homines hoc tempore decidunt Haec cum cogito, etiam nobis aerumnas nostras et nostra pericula asquiore animo ferenda esse dispute."b

To some it has been a cause of surprize, that Anne Boleyn should have passed an encomium upon Henry the Eighth at her death. Indeed it is remarkable that at almost every execution hi that sanguinary period, the praise of the Sovereign was pronounced by those who fell upon the scaffold. It seems to have been so directed by the Government. Tyndale, from whose "Practice of Prelates" we have already made an extract respecting the disclosure of Confessions, has another passage upon this point, too important not to be given here:

"When any Great Man is put to death, how his Confessore entreateth him ; and what penance is enjoyned him concerning what he shall say when he cometh unto the place of execution. I coude gesse at a practyse that might make mennes eares glowe."e

In Anne Boleyn's case, however, it may be in part ascribed to anxiety for the safety of her daughter.

Anne Boleyn's execution was a fatal precedent for succeeding times. Henry having beheaded one Queen, proceeded fearlessly to the beheading of another. Elizabeth familiarized the application of the axe to royalty one step farther ; for she beheaded a foreign Queen who had taken shelter in her dominions. Half a Century later, and the people beheaded their Sovereign.

Note a. Burnet, Hist. Reform, vol. i. p. 205.

Note b. Melancht. Epist. 8 Lips. 1569.

Note c. Pract. of Prelates, 12" Marborch, 1530.

On 19 May 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn of England (age 35) was beheaded at Tower Green, Tower of London [Map]. Unusually a sword was used. Her execution was witnessed by Charles Brandon 1st Duke of Suffolk (age 52), Catherine Carey (age 12) and Henry Fitzroy 1st Duke Richmond and Somerset (age 16). Marquess Pembroke extinct.

She was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. There is myth that her corpse was subsequently removed for burial at the Boleyn family church Church of St Peter and St Paul, Salle [Map] as described in Agnes Strickland’s 1852 Lives of the Queens of England Volume 4. Page 212.

Chronicle of Greyfriars. 20 Jun 1537. Also the 20th day of June the Lord Darcy (age 70) was beheaded at Tower-hill [Map], and buried within the Tower [Map].

Execution of Thomas Cromwell

On 28 Jul 1540 Thomas Cromwell (age 55) was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map]. Earl Essex, Baron Cromwell of Wimbledon in Surrey forfeit. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

Catherine Howard Tower of London Executions

On 13 Feb 1542 Queen Catherine Howard (age 19) and Jane Parker Viscountess Rochford (age 37) were beheaded at Tower Green [Map]. Henry Howard (age 26) attended. They were both buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

Mary Boleyn (age 43) was the heir of Jane Parker Viscountess Rochford (age 37) being the sister of her deceased husband George Boleyn Viscount Rochford.

Trial and Execution of Thomas Seymour

On 20 Mar 1549 Thomas Seymour 1st Baron Seymour (age 41) was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. Baron Seymour of Sudeley forfeit.

Catherine Willoughby Duchess Suffolk (age 29) became guardian to his daughter Mary Seymour.

Trial and Execution of Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset and his Supporters

On 22 Jan 1552 Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset (age 52) was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. Duke Somerset, Earl Hertford, Viscount Beauchamp forfeit. His great-grandson William Seymour 2nd Duke of Somerset was restored to the titles in 1660.

Henry Machyn's Diary. 22 Jan 1552. The xxij of January, soon after eight of the clock in the morning, the duke of Somerset (age 52) was beheaded on Tower hill [Map]. There was as] grett compeny as have bene syne .. the kynges gard behynge there with ther ha[lbards, and a] M [Note. 1000]. mo with halbards of the prevelege of the Towre, [Ratcliffe,] Lymhowsse, Whytchapell, Sant Kateryn, and Strettford [Bow], as Hogston, Sordyche; and ther the ij shreyfs behyng th[ere present] seyng the execusyon of my lord, and ys hed to be [smitten] of, and after shortely ys body was putt in to a coffin, [and carried] in to the Towre, and ther bered in the chyrche, of [the north] syd of the qwyre of sant Peters [Map], the wyche I beseeche [God] have mercy on ys sowlle, amen! And ther was [a sudden] rumbelyng a lytyll a-for he ded, as yt had byn [guns] shuttyng [Note. shooting] and grett horsys commyng, that a M [Note. 1000]. fell [to the] grond for fere, for thay that wher at the on syd [thought] no nodur butt that one was kyllyng odur, that [they fell] down to the grond on apon anodur with ther halb[ards], they thought no nodur butt that thay shuld .... sum fell in to [the] dyche of the Towre and odur plasys, ... and a C. [Note. 100] in to the Towre-dyche, and sum ran a way for [fear.]

Note. The duke of Somerset's execution. A narrative of this, with the last speech delivered by the duke, somewhat different from that in Stowe, has been printed from the Cottonian charters, by Sir Henry Ellis, in his Second Series of Original Letters, vol. ii. p. 215.

On 26 Feb 1552 Miles Partridge and Ralph Fane were hanged. Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle (age 50) and Michael Stanhope (age 45) were beheaded at Tower Hill [Map] for plotting to assassinate John Dudley 1st Duke Northumberland (age 48).

Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle (age 50) was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

After 22 Aug 1553 John Dudley 1st Duke Northumberland (age 49) was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

Execution of Lady Jane Grey and her Faction

Chronicle of Queen Jane and Two Years of Queen Mary Feb 1554. 12 Feb 1554. The monday, being the xij th of Februarie, about ten of the clocke, ther went out of the Tower to the scaffolde on Tower hill, the lorde Guilforde Dudley (age 19), sone to the late duke of Northumberland, husbande to the lady Jane Grey (age 18), daughter to the duke of Suffolke (age 37), who at his going out tooke by the hande sir Anthony Browne (age 25), maister John Throgmorton (age 30), and many other gentyllmen, praying them to praie for him; and without the bullwarke Offeleya the sheryve receyved him and brought him to the scaffolde, where, after a small declaration, having no gostlye fatherb with him, he kneeled downe and said his praiers; then holding upp his eyes and handes to God many tymesc; and at last, after he had desyred the people to pray for him, he laide himselfe along, and his hedd upon the block, which was at one stroke of the axe taken from him.

Note, the lorde marques (age 42)d stode upon the Devyl's towre, and sawe the executyon. His carcas throwne into a carre, and his hed in a cloth, he was brought into the chappell [Map] within the Tower, wher the ladye Jane (age 18), whose lodging was in Partrige's house, dyd see his ded carcase taken out of the cart, aswell as she dyd see him before on lyve going to his deathe, a sight to hir no lessee then deathf.

Note a. Sir Thomas Offley; see note in Machyn's Diary, p. 353.

Note b. He had probably refused the attendance of a Roman Catholic priest, and was not allowed one of his own choice.

Note c. Misread by Stowe with teares.

Note d. The marquess of Northampton (age 42).

Note e. no lesse in MS., not worse as given by Stowe and Holinshed.

Note f. "Great pitie was it for the casting awaye of that fayre Ladye, whome nature had not onely so bewtified, but God also had endewed with singuler gyftes and graces, so that she ignorantly receaved that which other wittingly devised and offred unto her.

"And in like manner that comely, vertuous, and goodly gentleman the lorde Gylford Duddeley most innocently was executed, whom God had endowed with suche vertues, that even those that never before the tyme of his execution saw hym, dyd with lamentable teares bewayle his death." Grafton's Abridgment, 1563.

On 12 Feb 1554 Guildford Dudley (age 19) was beheaded at Tower Hill [Map]. An hour later his wife Lady Jane Grey (age 18) was beheaded at Tower Green [Map] by order of Queen Mary I (age 37). They were buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].

Ridolphi Plot

On 02 Jun 1572 Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk (age 36) was executed for his involvement in the Ridolphi Plot. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. Duke Norfolk forfeit..

On 21 Jun 1585 Henry Percy 8th Earl of Northumberland (age 53) committed suicide at Tower of London [Map]. He was found dead in his bed in his cell, having been shot through the heart. A jury was at once summoned, and returned a verdict of suicide. He was buried in St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. His son Henry "Wizard Earl" Percy 9th Earl of Northumberland (age 21) succeeded 9th Earl of Northumberland, 12th Baron Percy of Alnwick, 20th Baron Percy of Topcliffe, 3rd Baron Percy of Alnwick, 11th Baron Poynings. Dorothy Devereux Countess Northumberland (age 21) by marriage Countess of Northumberland.

On 19 Oct 1595 Philip Howard 20th Earl of Arundel (age 38) died of dysentery at Tower of London [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map], reburied at Arundel Cathedral, Sussex [Map] and then reburied in the Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle [Map]. Earl Arundel Sussex, Earl Surrey, Baron Maltravers, Baron Arundel, Baron Mowbray, Baron Segrave forfeit.

He had been imprisoned for ten years and had never seen his son and heir Thomas Howard 21st Earl of Arundel 4th Earl of Surrey 1st Earl Norfolk (age 10) who had been born three months after he was imprisoned.

Essex Rebellion

Brief Lives: Charles Danvers 1568 1601. [711]Sir Charles Danvers (age 33) was beheaded on Tower-hill [Map] with Robert, earle of Essex (age 35), February the 6th, 1600[712]. I find in the register of the Tower chapell [Map] only the sepulture of Robert, earl of Essex (age 35), that yeare; wherfore I am induced to beleeve that his body was carryed to Dantesey[CX] in Wilts to lye with his ancestors. Vide Stowe's Chronicle, where is a full account of his and the earle's deportment at their death on the scaffold.

With all their faylings, Wilts cannot shew two such[713] brothers.

His familiar acquaintance were...[714], earl of Oxon (age 50); Sir Francis (age 40) and Sir Horace Vere (age 36); Sir Walter Ralegh (age 47), etc.-the heroes of those times.

Quaere my lady viscountesse Purbec and also the lord Norris for an account of the behaviour and advice of Sir Charles Danvers in the businesse of the earl of Essex, which advice had the earle followed he had saved his life.

[715]Of Sir Charles Danvers, from my lady viscountesse Purbec:-Sir Charles Danvers advised the earle of Essex, either to treat with the queen-hostages..., whom Sir Ferdinando Gorges (age 36) did let goe; or to make his way through the gate at Essex house, and then to hast away to Highgate, and so to Northumberland (the earl of Northumberland maried his mother's (age 51) sister), and from thence to the king of Scots, and there they might make their peace; if not, the queen was old and could not live long. But the earle followed not his advice, and so they both lost their heads on Tower-hill.


[711]. MS. Aubr. 8, fol. 25v.

[712]. i.e. 1600/1.

[713]. Dupl. with 'shew the like two brothers,' scil. as Sir Charles Danvers and his brother Henry, earl of Danby.

[714]. Edward Vere, seventeenth earl of Oxford (age 50).

[CX]In MS. Aubr. 3, fol. 46, Aubrey writes, in reference to burials at Dantesey, 'quaere, if Sir Charles Danvers that was beheaded?-He was buryed in the Tower chapell.' Aubrey's description of the burial-place of the Danvers family (MS. Aubr. 3, fol. 46), with the inscriptions, is printed in J. E. Jackson's Aubrey's Wiltshire Collections, pp. 223-225; the pedigree of Danvers is there given at p. 216.

On 13 Jul 1683 Arthur Capell 1st Earl Essex (age 51) committed suicide at the Tower of London [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map]. He was said to have been discovered in his chamber with his throat cut whilst awaiting execution for treason. His son Algernon Capell 2nd Earl Essex (age 12) succeeded 2nd Earl Essex.

On 10 Nov 1710 Edward Griffin 1st Baron Griffin (age 59) died having been imprisoned for being a Jacobite at Tower of London [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].His son James Griffin 2nd Baron Griffin (age 42) succeeded 2nd Baron Griffin of Braybrooke.

On 18 Aug 1746 William Boyd 4th Earl Kilmarnock (age 41) was executed at Tower Hill [Map]. He was buried at St Peter ad Vincula Church, Tower of London [Map].