The Tudor Society

14 June – Two courtiers in trouble for supporting Mary

On this day in Tudor history, 14th June 1536, not long after the fall of Anne Boleyn, two courtiers, Sir Anthony Browne and Sir Francis Bryan, were interrogated regarding their alleged support of Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII by Catherine of Aragon.

Both men had been involved with the Catholic conservatives and Seymours who had worked to bring Anne Boleyn down and who wanted Mary restored to the succession, but now they found themselves in a spot of trouble.

What happened and how did Bryan and Browne get out of trouble?

Find out more in today's talk.

You can find out more about Sir Francis Bryan in my video from 2nd February:

Book recommendation - Sir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII's Most Notorious Ambassador by Sarah-Beth Watkins. Sarah-Beth is also the June 2020 expert speaker for the Tudor Society and her talk is on Bryan - see

Also on this day in Tudor history, 14th June 1571, Sir Christopher Danby died. He died a natural death even though he’d been implicated in a rebellion. How did he survived that? Find out in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1557 – William Peto was made cardinal and papal legate, replacing Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury, as legate. During Henry VIII's Great Matter, Peto had been Catherine of Aragon's Confessor and had preached in support of her, comparing the King to Ahab.
  • 1572 – Death of Thomas Warton, 2nd Baron Warton, soldier, Justice of the Peace, member of Parliament and a member of Mary I's Privy Council. He died at home, in Cannon Row, Westminster, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
  • 1598 – Death of Sir Henry Knyvet, MP and soldier, at Charlton in Wiltshire. He was buried in the church at Charlton in July 1598. Knyvet was a Gentleman Pensioner to Elizabeth I, a Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, Deputy Lieutenant, member of Parliament and soldier. He also wrote “Defence of the Realm.”
  • 1612 – Death of Giles Tomson, Bishop of Gloucester, at Windsor Castle. He was buried in Bray Chapel at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He had only been Bishop a year and hadn't even visited his diocese.


On this day in Tudor history, 14th June 1536, Sir Anthony Browne and Sir Francis Bryan were interrogated regarding their alleged support of Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII by Catherine of Aragon.

Back in 1534, following the birth of her half-sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, the First Act of Succession had been passed making Mary illegitimate and removing her from the line of succession. On 8th June 1536, the Second Act of Succession confirmed Mary’s status as illegitimate and removed from the succession, and also made Elizabeth the same. The king now had no legitimate children, just three illegitimate ones, twenty-year-old Mary, two-year-old Elizabeth, and seventeen-year-old Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

In the lead-up to Anne Boleyn’s fall in the spring of 1536, a group of Catholic conservatives, supporters of Mary, were working alongside the Seymour family to coach Jane Seymour in how to appeal to King Henry VIII, how to act with him and what to say to him regarding his second marriage. This group included Sir Nicholas Carew, the Marquess and Marchioness of Exeter, the Countess of Kildare and Baron Montagu. They were also close to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, and appear to have joined forces with Thomas Cromwell when it became clear that he was working to bring down Anne Boleyn. Sir Francis Bryan, someone who’d previously been connected with his relatives the Boleyns, had become close to the Seymours by the spring of 1536 and Sir Anthony Browne, a conservative Catholic, along with Sir William Fitzwilliam, helped Thomas Cromwell in May 1536 with the machinery involved in Anne’s fall. According to Lancelot de Carles, secretary to the French ambassador, Browne’s sister, the Countess of Worcester, had told Browne in an argument over her own immoral behaviour, that Queen Anne was far worse, being inappropriately close with a musician and her brother.

Despite their help with getting rid of Anne Boleyn, once Anne was out of the way, Cromwell appears to have turned on the Catholic conservatives. Carew, Montagu and Exeter ended up being executed as traitors for allegedly conspiring with Cardinal Pole against King Henry VIII, Sir William Fitzwilliam was briefly removed from the Privy Council, and Sir Francis Bryan and Sir Anthony Browne were interrogated regarding their alleged support of Mary.

During his interrogation, Browne stated that he had “never thought the marriage between the King and the Dowager lawful” after the king had raised his doubts about it and requested an annulment. He went on to say that when Carew had shown him a letter from Mary and told him that Cromwell had written to her advising her to submit to the king, that he, Browne, “prayed God to give her grace so to [do]”. When he was examined as to why he had such affection for Mary, Browne answered “that he was only moved thereunto for [the] love he beareth to the King, for he nev[er receive]d letter, message, token, or recommendations fro[m her, nor] hath sent her any.” Browne also denied wishing Mary’s “preferment” over a daughter by the present queen, stating that he only thought her to be “a meet heir apparent” if the king did not have issue by the present queen.

When Sir Francis Bryan was interrogated on whether he had “heard a[ny] other person say anything concerning the lady Mary”, he stated that he had heard “fellows of the privy chamber”, including Browne and Carew, “speak generally of the lady Mary, sa[ying] that they rejoiced that the King had escaped this great pe[ril and] danger, and that the issue the King might have, if he took another wife, should be out of all doubt; but if the King wished to make an heir-apparent in defect of such issue, they thought lady Mary was meet if it stood with the King's pleasure”, and he also told of how Bess Darrell, who was Thomas Wyatt’s mistress, when she had sought his help to recover money that Catherine of Aragon had bequeathed her, had mentioned that “she saw no hope in [the lad]y Mary, for she heard say that she would not be obedient to the King”. He went on to deny hearing of any “communication of the validity” of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine or mention of the term “bona fide parentum” with regards to Mary’s status, i.e. that she was born in good faith and so should be legitimate.

Both Browne and Bryan managed to allay the king’s suspicions and both men went on to prove their loyalty by helping to put down the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion in late 1536. They survived the blip of summer 1536 and served the monarch until their deaths, Browne in 1548 and Bryan in 1550.

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14 June – Two courtiers in trouble for supporting Mary