The Tudor Society

28 April – A man involved in the falls of two queens

On this day in Tudor history, 28th April 1548 (some sources say 6 May), courtier, diplomat, soldier and Keeper of Oatlands Palace, Sir Anthony Browne, died at Byfleet in Surrey. He had been one of Henry VIII’s most important and richest courtiers and was also involved in the falls of two queens: Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves.

Find out more about this man and how he was involved in the falls of the two Annes in today's talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 28th April 1603, Queen Elizabeth I was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in a lavish funeral. Find out more in last year’s video:

And on this day in 1536, in the lead up to Anne Boleyn’s fall, there were long council meetings, experts were being consulted and the Lady Mary, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, was being given hope for the future. Something was going on!

Also on this day in history:

  • 1442 – Birth of Edward IV at Rouen, Normandy. Edward was the son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and was King of England from 1461 to 1470, until he was overthrown by the Earl of Warwick who restored Henry VI, and then from 1471 to his death in 1483.
  • 1489 – Death of Henry Percy, 4t Earl of Northumberland, magnate. He was killed when he confronted protesters at South Kilvington, near Thirsk, and his retainers failed to defend him. His unpopularity had been caused by his actions, or rather inaction, at the Battle of Bosworth, when he chose to keep his retainers out of the battle and Richard III, who his people supported, was defeated and killed.
  • 1533 – Death of Nicholas West, Bishop of Ely, diplomat and former Chaplain to Catherine of Aragon, at his manor in Downham. He was buried in Ely Cathedral, in the chantry chapel that he had built. West got into trouble in 1530, actually being charged with praemunire, for his support of Catherine of Aragon and, therefore, opposition to Henry VIII's policies. He was imprisoned briefly.
  • 1556 – Execution of Richard Uvedale at Tyburn for his involvement in Henry Dudley's plot against Mary I.
  • 1558 – Execution of eighty-two year old Walter Mylne, priest and Protestant martyr, for heresy at St Andrews, Scotland. So appalled at the planned burning of this aged man were the townsfolk that they refused to provide materials for the burning, and Mylne had to be escorted to the stake by armed guard.
  • 1572 – Burial of William Paulet, 1st Marquis of Winchester, administrator and nobleman. He was buried at Basing. Under Henry VIII he was Lord Great Chamberlain, Great Master of the Household, Lord President of the Privy Council and Lord Treasurer. He also served Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I as Lord Treasurer.
  • 1580 – Baptism of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, courtier and patron of the Arts, at St Mary's Church, Wilton, Wiltshire. Herbert was Chancellor of Oxford University and Broadgates Hall honoured him for his patronage and financial support by changing its name to Pembroke College.


28 April – A man involved in the falls of 2 queens
On this day in Tudor history, 28th April 1548 – some sources say 6 May - courtier, diplomat, soldier and Keeper of Oatlands Palace, Sir Anthony Browne, died at Byfleet in Surrey. He was aged around 48 at his death and had been one of Henry VIII’s most important and richest courtiers.
Browne was the son of another Sir Anthony Browne, who served as King Henry VII’s standard bearer and Lieutenant of Calais Castle, and he followed in his father’s footsteps as a loyal servant of the monarch. His first appointment at the royal court was in 1518, when he was appointed as surveyor and master of hunting for a number of Yorkshire properties. In the same year, he also served in a diplomatic capacity on an embassy to France.
Browne was close to the king throughout Henry VIII’s reign, and his appointments and offices included privy chamberer, knight of the body, Lieutenant of the Isle of Man, ambassador to France, royal standard bearer, privy councillor, master of the horse, and captain of the gentleman pensioners. His good friend the king appointed him as an executor of his will and guardian of Prince Edward and the Lady Elizabeth, and left him the sum of £300. It was Browne who informed Henry VIII that he was dying in January 1547. He also, along with Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, informed Edward and Elizabeth that their father had died.
Browne was married twice, first to Alice, daughter of Sir John Gage, who gave him seven sons and three daughters, and then, in 1542, he married fifteen-year-old Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, 9th Earl of Kildare. They had two sons together, Edward and Thomas, but they both died in infancy. Browne also had two illegitimate children, Charles and Anne.
Interestingly, Sir Anthony Browne was involved in the falls of two queens. In 1536, according to Lancelot de Carles, secretary to the French ambassador, Browne reported to the Crown that his sister, Elizabeth, Countess of Worcester, who was one of Queen Anne Boleyn’s ladies, had defended her own behaviour, possible adultery, saying that it was nothing in comparison to the queen, who allowed members of the court to come into her chamber “at improper hours” and that if her brother did not believe her then he could find out more from Mark Smeaton. She then said “I must not forget to tell you what seems to me to be the worst thing, which is that often her brother has carnal knowledge of her in bed.”
Then, in 1540, Browne was involved in the fall of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, giving a deposition regarding the king’s first disastrous meeting with Anne at Rochester on 1st January 1540, when he accompanied the king as his master of the horse. He told of how he was dismayed at Anne’s appearance and thought that “the King’s Highness should not content hiself with her.” According to Browne, when the king met Anne, Browne “noted in the King’s Highness countenance such a discontentment and misliking of her person, as he was very sorry of it”. The king told him after the meeting that he could see “nothing in this woman as men report of her; and I marvel that wise men would make such report as they have done”. Browne’s deposition was used as evidence of the king’s unhappiness with Anne and the idea that he had been deceived into marrying her by false reports on her appearance.
Sir Anthony Browne died on either 28th April or 6 May 1548 and was buried with his first wife in a tomb in St Mary’s Church, Battle, in Sussex. He was a wealthy man at his death, owning about 11,000 acres of land in Sussex and 8,500 in Surrey.

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28 April – A man involved in the falls of two queens