24 April 1536 – Sir Thomas Audley sets up special commissions

.Thomas Audley  English Heritage, Audley End HouseOn 24th April 1536, six days before the first arrest in the fall of Anne Boleyn, two commissions of oyer and terminer were set up by Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, for the counties of Middlesex and Kent.

‘Oyer and terminer’ comes from the French ‘to hear and to determine’ and denotes a legal commission formed to investigate and prosecute serious criminal offences committed in a particular county. Crimes covered included misprision, treason, rebellion, felonies, murder, homicide, rioting, plotting, insurrection, extortion, oppression, contempt, concealment, ignorance, negligence, falsities, deception, conspiracy and being an accessory to these crimes. It is not known whether they were set up specifically to try the men who would later be charged with committing adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn and plotting to kill the king, but they were used for that purpose.

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2 thoughts on “24 April 1536 – Sir Thomas Audley sets up special commissions”
  1. He looks a very powerful man. His coat is amazing I wonder what it was made of and how much it cost. I wager not many on the country could afford such clothing.

  2. Even though oyer and terminer hearings were determining if a crime had been committed or that the evidence was there, it is clear in the case of Anne that the legal mechanisms are just being used to fix the charges, not to see if there is a case to answer or to investigate the allegations. They are being used in this case just to go through the motions. Cromwell and his plot is coming into place and the legal mechanism is being introduced to ensure that it is given an appearance of being bonified and fair. In fact although the actual charges that will be made against the five men are not clear and specific, Cromwell is setting his traps up to make sure those he questions fall into them.

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