Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another of Henry VIII's "Thomases": Thomas Audley

Thomas Audley, lst Baron Audley of Warren died on April 30, 1544--he managed to die safely in his bed with his head intact by serving Henry VIII very well. A lawyer by training, Audley served Cardinal Wolsey and served in Parliament, representing Essex and he continued to rise in office throughout Henry VIII's reign.

Audley participated in the trials and executions of not only Thomas More and John Fisher, but also of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell, and he sentenced the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace to death. For these and other services (the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves, for instance), he was not only knighted but became a member of the Order of the Garter. Audley was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal from 1532, when he succeeded Thomas More, to 1544, when he resigned it on April 21. He also succeeded Thomas More as Speaker of the House of Commons in 1529 and a Lord Chancellor in 1533.

Audley also benefitted from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, receiving grants of Holy Trinity Priory in Aldgate, London (which had been founded by Queen Matilda or Maud, Henry I's wife) and Walden Abbey, where his grandson, Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk built Audley End, which is now part of the English Heritage program. He founded Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge in 1542, after the Benedictine's Buckingham College was closed.

Audley's title as lst Baron Audley of Warren died with him.

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