Not all Speakers of the House of Commons left gracefully….


Painted Chamber, Westminster

Well, while researching the Painted Chamber of Westminster Palace, with particular reference to the “Good Parliament” of 1376, I couldn’t help imagining today’s House of Commons faced, not with someone like John Bercow (whose birthday it is today and is quite short with a head), but Edward the First! Can you just imagine old Longshanks putting up with all the parliamentary shenanigans we’re witnessing today? He’d see there were so many heads displayed on London Bridge there wouldn’t be any room left!

Patrick McGoohan as Edward I
I don’t know about you, but I found his portrayal of Longshanks really chilling!

Which leads me to combine the subjects of Speakers and beheadings. How many of them actually met with this fate? If you go to this list you’ll be able to see all the Speakers until 1707. There is a link to subsequent Speakers. The man to be accepted (now) as the first true Speaker was Sir Peter de la Mare, although the title Speaker was not yet established.

It would seem that the following unfortunates were executed: Sir John Bussy (died 1399), Sir Thomas Tresham (died 1471),William Catesby (died 1485), Sir Richard Empson (died 1510), Edmund Dudley (died 1510), and Sir Thomas More (died 1536). Sir William Tresham, father of Thomas, was murdered/lynched in 1450. Back then it didn’t do to enter politics if your name was Tresham!

Maybe there were others who met a sticky end, if so, no doubt you will tell me!


  1. Viscountessw,

    Certainly the Treshams’ – father and son – met a bit of tough going, but could any name be more prone to execution, death in battle (or misadventure) than the earls of Northumberland, the Percys (and not just the earls, their family in general! I’m looking past the WoTR to include the Percys’ who were caught up in the Pilgrimage of Grace – but I suppose H8 considered that uprising more political than religious? Still, a very unlucky name!)

    And I agree, McGoohan, I think, stole the movie Braveheart (I can’t talk about the historical errors, they make me queasy) but he played Edward1 as if the film was about him, that’s chutzpah!

    In respect to linkages, which I also find fascinating, consider this – I don’t know but I would have to think a king considers the date of their actual coronation to be significant, the public nature of the event, the anointing, the location, the crown and regalia, etc, and for Richard that date was 6 July 1483. Move ahead 52 years and the writer/ authority /source cited for far too many of what I would describe as intentional misstatements about Richard (ok, lies) was executed on 6 July 1535 by Henry VIII, a man named Thomas More. Move ahead 18 years from More’s execution and exactly 70 years after Richard’s coronation and Edward VI died, terminating the male Tudor line on 6 July 1553. I like to think that link is ‘karma.’

    Every so often friends ask what I think I am accomplishing with all my books and ‘research’ on the WoTR and Richard specifically I’ve developed a quick response because most people know the Tudor material (thank you BBC et al), it’s easier to just say Bosworth was ONE day and I’m done with Tudor apologists having their way for 500+ years, it’s Richard’s turn now and I am part of the corrective! If they want to rad something I suggest Matt Lewis, to start!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. sorry, I got on an emotional rant, and I should have said ‘we’ are part of the corrective.


  2. Great article, not something I’ve thought about much, but interesting.
    As an aside, I just get a bit annoyed with people seeming to think there was no history before the Tudors, when in fact the best of history was before them!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great article, not something I’d thought of much, but interesting.
    I agree, Patrick McGoohan was the best thing to come out of Braveheart, nothing else was much good!
    As an aside, I get annoyed by people who seem to think that history only started with the Tudors, when in fact the very best of our history was before them.

    Liked by 3 people

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