11 August 1534 – The Friars Observant Expelled from their Houses

Catherine of Aragon, the Queen they supported
Catherine of Aragon, the Queen they supported

On this day in 1534, or shortly before, the Friars Observant (Observant Friars of Greenwich) were expelled from their houses due to their support of Catherine of Aragon and their refusal to accept the King’s supremacy. Some were sent to houses of the Grey Friars where, according to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, “they were locked up in chains and treated worse than they could be in prison”.1 Others were imprisoned in London and a few fled abroad.

Those who remained in England were treated abominably, and we know from Letters and Papers that out of the one hundred and forty friars who were expelled in August 1534, at least thirty-one died soon after:

“John Spens died at London; also Thos. Artte, Thos. Kellam, Jeremy Manson, John Kinge, John Kyxe and Nic. Harfforthe. Judocus Asterdam died at Canterbury; Andrew Danolde at Greenwich; John Scryvner at Reading; also Ant. Lenes. Alex. Hyll died in patria; Theodoric Barkham at Greenwich; James Wylyamson at Colchester; Cornelius Symondys in patria; also Edw. Pope and John Biltone. Wm. Ellell at Dancaster. Gerard Dyryson in patria. John Martyne at Newcastle. Rob. Bynkys at Reading. Fras. Caro at Bristol. Hen. Heltryne in patria; also Adrian Dehohe, Thos. Danyell and Fras. Carre. Lewis Wylkynson at Canterbury. Bryan Fysshborne at Yarmouth. Wm. Hasarde at Dunwyche. John Wells at Ipswich. Robt. Bakare at Doncaster.”1

Thomas Bourchier, a friar in Mary I’s reign, wrote of further deaths. He mentioned Anthony Brockby, who was strangled with his own cord after being imprisoned and tortured so badly that “for twenty-five days he could not turn in bed or lift his hands to his mouth”; Thomas Cortt, who died in Newgate prison and Thomas Belchiam, who died of starvation in the same prison.

(Taken from On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway)

Notes and Sources

  1. LP vii. 1095
  2. LP vii. 1607

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One thought on “11 August 1534 – The Friars Observant Expelled from their Houses”
  1. They were members of Henry VII’s favourite order, and provided his confessors. It was an OF who gave Henry VII the news that his son Arthur had died. Imagine what kind of righteous rage Henry VIII must have worked himself up into to treat them so mercilessly.

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