April 24 – The legal machinery begins – The Fall of Anne Boleyn

Posted By on April 24, 2021

On this day in 1536, Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII, set up two commissions of oyer and terminer, one for the county of Middlesex and one for the county of Kent.

What were these commissions and what did they have to do with the fall of Anne Boleyn, if anything?

Find out in this first video of “The Fall of Anne Boleyn” series that I recorded a couple of years ago…

Here’s a transcript for those of you who prefer reading…

On 24th April 1536, six days before the first person was apprehended in the fall of Anne Boleyn, two special legal commissions were set up by Sir Thomas Audley, King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor.

These were commissions of “oyer and terminer”, the name coming from the French for “to hear and determine”, and were used to investigate and prosecute serious criminal offences, such as treason, committed in a particular county. A grand jury in the county would first investigate the alleged offence and then approve a bill of indictment, if there was sufficient evidence. The case would then go on to the commission of oyer and terminer, the court with jurisdiction to try the offence or offences.

In this case, Audley set up the commissions to investigate crimes committed in the counties of Middlesex and Kent. On 10th and 11th May 1536, the Grand Juries of Middlesex and Kent drew up indictments listing charges against Queen Anne Boleyn, her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, and Mark Smeaton, alleged to have been committed at Hampton Court Palace and Whitehall Palace in Middlesex, and Greenwich Palace, East Greenwich, and Eltham Palace in Kent. On 12th May 1536 Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton were tried for high treason by a commission of oyer and terminer at Westminster Hall.

I will, of course, be telling you more about these people and their alleged offences in the coming days.

Today is also St Mark’s Eve. St Mark’s Eve was time to divine your future husband in medieval and Tudor times, but how were you supposed to do that?

Find out how to do it:

Also on this day in Tudor history, 24th April 1558, fifteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, got married for the first time. The groom was fourteen-year-old Francis, the Dauphin of France.

Find out more about the bride and groom, their wedding and what happened to them…

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