On the 13th May, 1536, Sir Francis Weston wrote a final letter to those closest to his heart: his parents, Sir Richard Weston and Anne Sandys, and his wife, Anne Pickering. Only the day before, Francis, along with William Brereton, Henry Norris, and Mark Smeaton, had been found guilty of treason and adultery with the Queen, Anne Boleyn. The four men, along with George Boleyn, who was tried separately, were executed just four days after this letter was written.
This is the only surviving letter from any of the accused men. We can only begin to imagine the emotions Francis was feeling whilst writing it. With no hope of reprieve, Francis could only hope to face death with a conscience clean of debt, and therefore asked his family to honour the debts he had incurred.
‘Father and mother and wife, I shall humbly desire you, for the salvation of my soul, to discharge me of this bill, and for to forgive me of all the offences that I have done to you, and in especial to my wife, which I desire for the love of God to forgive me, and to pray for me: for I believe prayer will do me good. God’s blessing have my children and mine.
By me, a great offender to God
My cousin Dyngley with my father, John Horseman, Barnarde my father’s cook, Mr. Harve, Farfax, John Rutter, Wyngfyld, Browne the draper, Domyngo, Genenes, the page of the chamber, Peter Hoseer, Hocrofte, my lord of Wiltshire, William Horant, Pope, Bradbe the broderer, Brydges my tailor, Parson Robynson, a poor woman that Hannesley of the tennis play had married for balls I cannot tell how much, Cornelius the goldsmith, Harde Derman at the gate, Henry Semer, Mr. Bryan, the King for 40l. and 50 mks., Mr. Locke, Henry Parcar, page, Thomas Dyer, Sir William Peccarynge, William the broderer for 35l., whereon he has a gown, a coat, and a doublet of cloth of gold, my sadler, George Node, my shoemaker, Ambrose Barcar, Codale at Greenwich, Crester my barber, Richard Gresscham, Percake of the stable, Chr. Melyner, Askewe in Watlyngstrete, my lady Mosgrave 50l. whereon she has plate of mine, Jocelyne that was Mr. Norreys servant, John Norres, Secheper that playeth at the dice, Temple the fletcher, the King’s broderer.
Total, 925l. 7s. 2d.’
Top image: Portrait possibly of Francis Weston, by an unknown artist