5 July 1535 – Thomas More’s Last Letter

On 5th July 1535, the day before his execution, Sir Thomas More wrote to his beloved daughter Margaret Roper from his prison in the Tower of London. He had been found guilty of high treason at a special commission of oyer and terminer for refusing to recognise Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church in England and allegedly speaking against the King.

More wrote the letter in coal and it read:

“Our Lord bless you good daughter and your good husband and your little boy and all yours and all my children and all my godchildren and all our friends. Recommend me when you may to my good daughter Cecilye, whom I beseech our Lord to comfort, and I send her my blessing and to all her children and pray her to pray for me. I send her an handekercher and God comfort my good son her husband. My good daughter Daunce hath the picture in parchment that you delivered me from my Lady Coniers; her name is on the back side. Show her that I heartily pray her that you may send it in my name again for a token from me to pray for me.

I like special well Dorothy Coly, I pray you be good unto her. I would wit whether this be she that you wrote me of. If not I pray you be good to the other as you may in her afflic-tion and to my good daughter Joan Aleyn to give her I pray you some kind answer, for she sued hither to me this day to pray you be good to her.

I cumber you good Margaret much, but I would be sorry, if it should be any longer than tomorrow, for it is Saint Thomas even, and the Vtas of Saint Peter and therefore tomorrow long I to go to God, it were a day very meet and convenient for me. I never liked your manner toward me better than when you kissed me last for I love when daughterly love and dear charity hath no leisure to look to worldly courtesy.

Fare well my dear child and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends that we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you for your great cost.

I send now unto my good daughter Clement her algorism stone and I send her and my good son and all hers God’s blessing and mine.

I pray you at time convenient recommend me to my good son John More. I liked well his natural fashion. Our Lord bless him and his good wife my loving daughter, to whom I pray him be good, as he hath great cause, and that if the land of mine come to his hand, he break not my will concerning his sister Daunce. And our Lord bless Thomas and Austen and all that they shall have.”

For those of you interested in Thomas More’s letter to his daughter, you can see a photo of it online at – http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/moremargaret.jpg. The original is in the Arundel MS (ref 152).

Notes and Sources

  • The Last Letters of Thomas More, edited by Alvaro De Silva.

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5 thoughts on “5 July 1535 – Thomas More’s Last Letter”
  1. God rest the soul of St. Thomas More. He was, by my account, a good and honest man that fell into the trap of King Henry VIII court. Since I am not of the mind set of the 16th century I can not think of why Henry could not find a way of saving his teacher mentor and friend. But, knowing that if Henry did save this man, that Henry would set a precedent that any man that did not agree with the law could use. This is very sad to say that Henry’s pride was more important than the life of Thomas More.

  2. Thank you for posting this, it is a moving letter.

    I admire the fact that, although your site focuses on Anne, you show fair-mindedness towards people on very different “sides” of the conflicts of her time.

  3. Among the things I admire about Thomas More are his devotion to his family and how that devotion was reciprocated even after his death. I read that Margaret and her husband managed to retrieve and preserve her father’s head rather than allow it to be thrown into the Thames after it had been displayed on London Bridge. Is this true?

  4. He had a nice hand even when writing in coal!

    Reading letters like these (and the surviving directions of the five men who died with Anne) are one reason I tend to doubt the “Lady In The Tower” letter. Granted, that one would have been written before her fate was sealed, but there’s a vein of solid practicality running through the other letters which the Lady in the Tower one doesn’t have. Pray for my soul, I go to God, but don’t forget to pay this debt and this item rightfully belongs to that person and please don’t try juggling with my plans for who inherits what now that I won’t be around to enforce it (at least I assume that’s what he means by telling John to “break not my will concerning his sister Daunce.”)

  5. Ever since seeing the actual letters a few years ago and reading them again in the book about his last letters, I find it very moving that Thomas More’s last thoughts are for the wellbeing of his family and his daughters and his grandchildren and their husbands. The true family man; the true husband; the heart of the man for provision from what little he had left for those he loves and left behind. Rest in peace, dear Thomas More.

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