Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

article - Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of WaldenKG, PC, KS (c.1488  30 April 1544), was an English barrister and judge who served as Lord Chancellor of England from 1533 to 1544.

“Thomas Audley” redirects here. For the rugby player, see Tom Audley.
The Lord Audley of Walden
Lord Chancellor
In office
26 January 1533  1544
Preceded by Thomas More
Succeeded by The Earl of Southampton
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
1529–1533
Preceded by Thomas More
Succeeded by William FitzWilliam
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
5 November 1529  26 January 1533
Preceded by Thomas More
Succeeded by Sir Humphrey Wingfield
Keeper of the Great Seal
In office
1532  21 April 1544
Preceded by Thomas More
Succeeded by The Earl of Southampton
Personal details
Born ca. 1488
Earls Colne, Essex
Kingdom of England
Died 30 April 1544(1544-04-30) (aged 56)
Saffron Walden,
Kingdom of England
Spouse(s) Christina Barnardiston
Elizabeth Grey
Children 2, including Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk
Arms of Sir Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, KG: Quarterly per pale indented or and azure, in the 2nd and 3rd an eagle displayed of the 1st on a bend of the 2nd a fret between two martlets of the 1st.[1] The fret or knot is a reference to the arms of Audley, Baron Audley, which family died out in the male line in 1391, and to which he does not appear to have been related.
Garter stall plate of Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Inscribed: Le no(ble) Seigneur Thomas Audeley de Walden et Grande Channcellier d’Angleterre fuist enstallé 8 joure de May in l’an du reig(n)e n (ot)re soveraygne le Roy Henry le 8 32 (“The noble lord Thomas Audley of Walden and Grand Chancellor of England was installed on the 8th day of May in the 32nd year of the reign of our noble sovereign King Henry the Eighth”)

. . . Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden . . .

Audley was born in Earls Colne, Essex, the son of Geoffrey Audley, and is believed to have studied at Buckingham College, Cambridge, now known as Magdalene College.[2] He was educated for the law, entered the Inner Temple, was named town clerk of Colchester in 1514, and became Justice of the Peace for Essex in November 1520.[3]

In 1523 Audley was returned to Parliament for Essex, and represented this constituency in subsequent Parliaments. In 1527 he was Groom of the Chamber, and became a member of Wolsey’s household. On the fall of the latter in 1529, he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the same year Speaker of the House of Commons, presiding over the famous assembly styled the Reformation Parliament, which abolished the papal jurisdiction. The same year he headed a deputation of the Commons to the king to complain of Bishop Fisher’s speech against their proceedings. He interpreted the King’s “moral” scruples to parliament concerning his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, and made himself the instrument of the King in the attack upon the clergy and the preparation of the Act of Supremacy.[3]

In 1531 he had been made a serjeant-at-law and king’s serjeant; and on 20 May 1532 he was knighted, and succeeded Sir Thomas More as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, being appointed Lord Chancellor on 26 January 1533. He supported the king’s divorce from Catherine and the marriage with Anne Boleyn; and presided at the trials of Fisher and More in 1535, at which his conduct and evident intention to secure a conviction has been criticised by some. Next year he was part of the trial of Anne Boleyn and her “lovers” for treason and adultery. The execution of the king’s wife left him free to declare the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth a bastard, and for Henry to marry Anne’s maid, Jane Seymour. Audley was a witness to the queen’s execution, and recommended to Parliament the new Act of Succession, which made Jane Seymour‘s issue legitimate.[3]

In 1537 he condemned to death as traitors the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace. On 29 November 1538 he was created Baron Audley of Walden;[3] and soon afterwards presided as Lord Steward at the trials of Henry Pole, Lord Montacute, and of the Marquess of Exeter. In 1539, inclining to the Protestant Reformation, he made himself the King’s instrument in enforcing religious conformity, and in the passing of the Six Articles Act.[4]

. . . Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden . . .

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. . . Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden . . .