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Harvard College Library
From the E3t9te of PROF. E. W. (HURNEY
1 July, 1902
PRINTED BY C. WHITTINGHAM, TOOKS COURT.
MEMOIR OF SIR THOMAS WYATT.
His life for aye, of Fame the trump shall sound :
Sir Thomas WYATT, the contemporary and friend of the Earl of Surrey, was descended from a family of some antiquity, which was settled for several generations at Southange in Yorkshire. His father Sir Henry Wyatt was a Privy Councillor to Henry the Seventh, whose favour he gained in consequence of his adherence to the house of Tudor during the reign of Richard the Third, by which monarch he was imprisoned in the Tower,* and, unless his son was misinformed, he was racked in the usurper's presence. He purchased the castle and estate of Allington near Maidstone in Kent, which became his principal residence. As one of the King's executors he was brought conspicuously to the notice of his
* A traditional story is told, that whilst in the Tower a cat brought him a pigeon every day from a neighbouring dovecot, which supply saved him from starvation.
+ See Sir Thomas Wyatt's letter to his son.
successor, at whose coronation he was made a Knight of the Bath, and at the battle of Spurs his valour was rewarded by the honor of Knight Banneret : he was Treasurer of the King's Chamber in 1525, and filled many other important offices. By his wife Anne, daughter of John Skinner, of Reigate in Surrey, Sir Henry left three children, Thomas the Poet, Henry who lived in a private manner in Kent, and Margaret the wife of Sir Anthony Lee.
Thomas Wyatt, the eldest son, was born at Allington in 1503, and the next circumstance relating to him which is known is that in 1515 he was entered of St. John's College, Cambridge, where he took his B. A. degree in 1518, and in 1520, his Master's degree. Probably soon after quitting Cambridge, Wyatt passed a short time at Paris in conformity with the custom of the age, but whether, as Wood asserts, he visited Italy, is shewn by Dr. Nott to be very doubtful. About 1520 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Brooke, Lord Cobham; and it appears from Hall's account of a feat of arms which was performed at Greenwich at Christmas 1525, that he was one of the fourteen challengers on that occasion.
For nearly ten years after that time no information has been found about him, and the next time he is mentioned is at the coronation of Anne Boleyn in July, 1533, when he officiated as Ewerer for his father. In that long interval he
may be presumed to have served in the army, * and to have employed his leisure hours in literary pursuits; but great part of his time was undoubtedly passed at court, where his personal appearance, no less than his talents and accomplishments, attracted Henry's attention, and gained his favour. If Lloyd be correct, he exercised the influence which he possessed over his sovereign's mind in promoting the interests of his friends rather than his own, and this generous zeal on behalf of others secured him the esteem of all who knew him. But though the merits of Wyatt obtained for him a brilliant reputation, they nearly proved the source of a heavy misfortune. An attachment has been supposed to have existed between him and Anne Boleyn, though there is little other authority for the idea than a poem in which he speaks of his mistress by the name of Anna, and uses some expressions which have been tortured into an allusion to the Queen. Whether an opinion prevailed of this nature when her capricious husband's affections were withdrawn from her, or to speak more correctly, when his passion for her person was satiated, or whether Wyatt's attractive qualities rendered him an eligible individual upon whom to fix the charge of a criminal
* Leland speaks of his martial fame, and in the Dedication of the Penitential Psalms by Sir John Harington it is said that he was renowned “ for his valiant deeds in martial feats as well as for his singular learning.” See page 202.