Sir Thomas More to King Henry the Eighth:
I would …like your Highness to call to your gracious remembrance, that at such time as of that great weighty Rome and office of your Chancellor, with which, (was) so far above my merits or qualities… Which your Highness… in your incomparable goodness, honoured and exalted me. You were so good and gracious to me and at my poor humble suit to discharge and unburden me; giving me licence with your gracious favour to bestow the residue of my life to come about the provision for my soul in the service of God, and to be your bedisman (man of prayer) and pray for you.
…So is it now gracious Sovereign that worldly honour is the time where I have resigned both the possession and the desire, in the resignation of your most honourable office; and worldly profit I trust experience proves, and daily more and more shall prove, that I never was very greedy….
But now it is my most humble suit to your excellent Highness, …to beseech you that no sinister information might move your noble Grace to have any more distrust of my truth and devotion toward you than I have or shall during my life gave you …cause.
For in this matter of the wicked woman of Canterbury, I have unto your trusty Counsellor Mr Thomas Cromwell, by my writing, as plainly declared the truth as I possibly can, which my declaration, of his duty toward your grace and his goodness toward me, he has, I understand, declared unto your grace; in any part of all which my dealing, whither any other man may peradventure put any doubt, or move any scruple of suspicion, that can I neither tell nor lie in my hand to let; but unto myself it is not possible any part of my said demeanour to some evil: the very clearness of my own conscience knows in all the matter my mind and intent so good. Wherefore most gracious Sovereign I neither will, nor it can become me, with your Highness to reason or argue the matter; but in my most humble manner prostrate at your gracious feet I only beseech (beg) your Majesty with your own high prudence, and your accustomed goodness, consider and way the matter: and that if, in your so doing, your own virtuous mind shall give yow that notwithstanding the manifold excellent goodness that your gracious Highness has by so many ways used… me.
I be a wrench of such a monstrous ingratitude as could with any of them all or any other person living digressed from my bound in duty of allegiance toward your good Grace, than desire I no further favour at your gracious hands than the loss of all that ever I may lese, goods, lands, liberty, and my life with all, whereof the keeping of any parte unto myself could never do me penny worth of pleasure. But only should my comfort be, that after my short life and your long (which with continually prosperity to Gods pleasure our Lord for his mercy send you)
I should …meet your Grace and be merry again with you in heaven, where among my other pleasures this should yet be one, that your Grace should surely se there than, that howsoever yow take me, I am your true bedisman (man of prayer) now, and ever have bene, and will be till I dye, how so ever your pleasure be to do by ine. How be it, if in the considering of my cause, your high wisdom and gracious goodness perceive, as I verily trust in God yow shall, that I now otherwise have demeaned myself than well may stand with my bounden duty of faithfulness toward your Royal Majesty; than h , in my most humble wise, I beseech your most noble Grace that the knowledge of your true gracious persuasion in that by half may relive the torment of my present heaviness, conceived of the dread and fear by that I here such a grievous bull put by your learned Council into your high Court of Parliament against me; lest your Grace might by some sinister information be moved anything to think the contrary, which if your Highness do not (as I trust in God and your great goodness the mater by your own high prudence examined and considered you will not,) than in my most humble manner I beseech your Highness further, (able it that in respect of my former request this other thing is very slight,) yet saith your Highness has here before of your mere abundant goodness heaped and accumulate upon me, though I was there to very far unworthy, from time to time, both worship and great honour, to saith I now have left all such things, and nothing seek or desire but the life to come and pray for your grace the while it may like your highness of your accustomed benignity somewhat to tender my pore honesty, and never suffer by the mean of such a bill put forth against me any man take occasion hereafter no. ‘then. untruly to slander me; which thing should yit by the peril of their own soul do themselfs more harm than me which shall I trust settle my heart with your gracious favour, to depends upon the comfort of the truth and hope of heaven, and not upon the fallible opinion or some spoken words of lightsome changeable people. And thus, most dread and most dear sovereign Lord, I beseech the blessed Trinity preserve your most noble Grace, both body and soul and all that are your well-wishers, and amend all the contrary; among whom if ever I be or ever have been one, than pray I God that he may with my open shame and destruction declare it. At my poor house in Chelsea the 5th day of March by the known rude hand of your most humble and most heavy faithful subject and bedisman
Thomas More Knight
From the Chapter house at Westminster
Letter edited by Nicola Harris
Source: Original letters, Illustrative of English History, Henry Ellis. London 1825. Vol 2. Second Edition.