Tag Archives: Sir William Kingston

On this day in 1540 – Sir William Kingston died

Sir William Kingston was born around 1476 and grew up in Painswick, Gloucestershire and first appeared in court life in June 1509 as a yeoman of the guard and again in 1512 as an under marshal in the army. During his time in the army he was on the Spanish coast at San Sebastian with Dr William Knight. He is noted as being involved in discussions regarding the best course of action for the English troops that were under the leadership of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset.

Kingston was also present at the Battle of Flodden and was knighted in 1513 (you can read more about the Battle of Flodden here – https://wordpress.com/post/85308923/809/)

Kingston was appointed as High Sheriff of Gloucestershire for 1514-1515. Kingston was present in the French court during 1520 after Sir Richard Wingfield wrote to King Henry VIII that the French Dauphin had taken a liking to Kingston. King Henry VIII had also taken to Kingston and he was present with the King at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and later at the meeting with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Henry was so impressed with Kingston he presented him with a horse.

For the next few years Kingston remained a country magistrate as well as courtier and acted on the King’s behalf levying men in his home county, when he was in London he stayed with the Black Friars.

In April 1523 Kingston joined Lord Dacre on the northern frontier and Kingston along with Sir Ralph Ellerker were assigned some of the most dangerous posts including being at the capture of Cessford Castle. He returned to London suddenly and was appointed Captain of the Guard and a Knight of the King’s Body. On 30th August 1523 along with Charles Brandon he landed at Calais and on 28th May 1524 he was appointed Constable of the Tower with a salary of £100, in addition to this he also signed the petition to Pope Clement VII regarding the King’s divorce in July 1530.

Kingston would be involved in some of the biggest political events of the 1530’s in November 1530 went to Sheffield Park, Nottinghamshire to take charge of Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey was concerned as he was once told that he would meet his death at Kingston, although Kingston tried to reassure him that he was not there to kill him he was with Wolsey when he died and later rode back to London to inform the King of the news.

Kingston travelled to Calais with Henry VIII for a second meeting with Francis I at Boulogne and on 29th May 1533 he greeted Anne Boleyn at the Tower of London where she would stay before her coronation.

He remained the Constable of the Tower and on 2nd May 1536 he received Anne Boleyn once again at the Tower who had been sent to the Tower accused of adultery. Kingston would report to Thomas Cromwell regarding Anne and her movements whilst imprisoned. He sent his first report on 3rd May where he documented Anne’s arrival and her musings regarding her arrest. He would go on to escort Anne to the scaffold after already telling her that her execution had been postponed.

On 9th March 1539 Kingston was made controller of the household and on 24th April he was made a Knight of the Garter, the King gave Kingston granted Flaxley Abbey to Kingston.

Sir William Kingston attended his last Privy Council meeting on 1st Septmeber 1540 and died on 14th September at his home in Painswick.

Kingston Letter about George BoleynA letter from Sir William Kingston to Thomas Cromwell

about George Boleyn

On this day in 1536 – The execution of Queen Anne Boleyn

Queen Anne Boleyn was sentenced to death at her trial but it was left up to the King to decide how she would die. The normal death for a female traitor was to be burned at the stake; however King Henry VIII had decided to change this to beheading but at the hands of a French swordsman instead of the typical axe. With the manner of her death decided the date of her execution was set for the 18th May 1536.

Anne was prepared to die at 9am on the 18th May. John Skip, the Queen’s almoner arrived at 2am to pray with the Queen, they were still praying when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer arrived to perform mass and hear the Queen’s final confession. Anne also took the sacrament and swore twice in front of the Constable of the Tower, Sir William Kingston that she was innocent of all charges.

Eustace Chapuys reported to the Holy Roman Emperor that;

“The lady who had charge of her has sent to tell me in great secrecy that the Concubine, before and after receiving the sacrament, affirmed to her, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never been unfaithful to the King.”

When 9am passed and no one came to collect the Queen to deliver her to her fate she called for Sir William Kingston again to try to learn what the cause of the delay was. However, Kingston had already been told not to inform the Queen that the execution had been delayed until the following day until the Tower was emptied of any diplomats. Instead he tried to comfort Anne about her upcoming execution and that it would not be painful. It was reported that Anne responded that; “I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.”

Anne was informed after midday that her execution had been put off until the following day.

John Skip arrived at Anne’s room once again to perform mass and to offer the sacrament and at 8am Kingston informed the Queen to prepare herself as the time was approaching for Anne to climb the scaffolding to her death. Anne was already ready having dress herself in a ermine trimmed grey damask robe and a crimson kirtle, instead of her usual French style hood she wore an English style gable hood. Her outfit was planned to show her status as Queen as well as that of being a martyr.

Anne took the long walk to the scaffold where she climbed up to address the crowd that awaited her. Instead of protesting her innocence she simply followed what was expected of her in order to protect her daughter. She said to the crowd;

“Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die. For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.”

Anne-Boleyn-Execution-German-Engraving

With her final words Anne paid the executioner his fee and her ladies approached to remove Anne’s hood and placed her hair within a linen cap. She knelt down in front of the executioner and one of her ladies covered her eyes. As Anne waited for her fate she began to pray by saying;

“O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul. To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul.”

The swordsman approached Anne and with some misdirection from an assistant he struck the Queen’s neck and Anne died.

With the execution over Anne’s ladies wrapped her body and head in white cloth and transported her body to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula for burial. As no coffin had been provided a guard found an empty chest that once stored arrows. With this the Queen was committed to the ground and buried. Henry was now free to move on to his next wife and Anne was free to be at peace.

Grave Marker of Anne BolelynDSC_0076Above – A German engraving of Anne Boleyn’s execution

Middle – The plaque to mark Anne Boleyn’s body in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London

Below – The monument to commemorate those who were executed within the Tower of London’s walls