The death of More

Sir Thomas More having remained a Prisoner in the Tower about a Week after his Sentence, on the 6th of July early in the Morning, his old Friend Sir Thomas Pope came to him with a Mes­sage from the King and Council, to acquaint him, That his Execution was appointed to be before nine that Morning. Whereupon Sir Thomas said, He thanked him heartily for his good News. I have been, says he, much obliged to his Majesty for the Benefits and Honors he has most bountifully conferred upon me; yet I am more bound to his Grace, I do assure you, for confining me in this Place, where I have had convenient Place and Opportunity to put me in mind of my last End. I am most of all bound to him, that his Majesty is pleased to rid me out of the Miseries of this Wretched World. Then Sir Thomas Pope acquainted him, it was the King’s Pleasure he should not use many Words at the Place of Execution. Sir, said he, you do well to acquaint me with the King’s Pleasure; for I had otherwise designed to have made a Speech to the People; but it matters not, and I am ready to conform myself to his Highness’s Pleasure. And beseech you, Sir; you would become a Suitor to his Majesty, that my Daughter Margaret may attend my funeral. To which Pope replied, that the King was willing his Wise and Children, and other Friends should be present. Sir Thomas Pope being about to take his Leave, could not restrain from Tears. Whereupon Sir Thomas More said, Let not your Spirits be cast down, for I hope we shall see one another in a better Place, where we shall be free to live and love in Eternal Bliss.  And to divert Pope’s Grief, he took up his Urinal and shook it, saying merrily, I see no Danger- but that this Man may live longer, if the King pleases.

About Nine he was brought out of the Tower; his Beard was long, his face pale and thin, and carrying a Red Cross in his Hand, he often lift up his Eyes to Heaven; a Woman meeting him with a cup of Wine, he refused it saying, Christ at his Passion drank no wine, but Gall and Vinegar. Another Woman came crying and demanded some Papers she said she had left in his Hands, when he was Lord Chancellor, to whom he said, Good woman, have Patience but for an Hour and the King will rid me of the Care I have for those Papers, and every thing else. Another Woman followed him, crying, He had done her much Wrong when he was Lord Chancellor, to whom he said, I very well remember the Cause, and is I were to decide it now, I should make the same Decree.

When he came to the Scaffold, it seemed ready to fall, whereupon he said merrily to the Lieutenant, Pray, Sir, see me safe up; and as to my coming down, let me shift for myself. Being about to speak to the People, he was interrupted by the Sheriff, and thereupon he only desired the People to pray for him, and bear Witness he died in the Faith of the Catholic Church, a faithful Servant both to God and the King.  Then kneeling, he repeated the Miserere Psalm with much Devotion; and, rising up the Executioner asked him Forgiveness. He kissed him, and said, Pick up thy Spirits, Man, and be not afraid to do thine Office; my Neck is very short, take heed therefore thou strike not awry for having thine Honesty. Laying his Head upon the Block, he bid the Executioner stay till he had put his Beard aside, for that had commit­ted no Treason. Thus he suffered with much Cheerfulness; his Head was taken off at one Blow, and was placed upon London-Bridge, where, having continued for some Months, and being a­bout to be thrown into the Thames to make room for others, his Daughter Margaret bought it, in­ closed it in a Leaden Box, and kept it for a Relique.