Thomas Wyatt the Younger

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Sir Thomas Wyatt
Portrait of Thomas Wyatt the Younger circa 1540–42
Thomas Wyatt the younger

Chatham, Kent
Died11 April 1554 (aged 3233)
Tower Hill, London
Resting placeSt. Mary the Virgin and All Saints Churchyard, Boxley, Kent
OccupationPolitician and Rebel leader
Spouse(s)Jane Haute
Parent(s) Sir Thomas Wyatt
Elizabeth Brooke

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger (1521 – 11 April 1554) [1] was an English politician and rebel leader during the reign of Queen Mary I; his rising is traditionally called "Wyatt's rebellion". He was also the son of the English poet and ambassador Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Wyatts rebellion popular uprising in England in 1554

Wyatt's Rebellion was a popular uprising in England in 1554, named after Thomas Wyatt, one of its leaders. The rebellion arose out of concern over Queen Mary I's determination to marry Philip of Spain, which was an unpopular policy with the English. Queen Mary's overthrow was implied in the rebellion, although not expressly stated as a goal.

Thomas Wyatt (poet) English poet and diplomat (1503-1542)

Sir Thomas Wyatt was a 16th-century English politician, ambassador, and lyric poet credited with introducing the sonnet to English literature. He was born at Allington Castle near Maidstone in Kent, though the family was originally from Yorkshire. His family adopted the Lancastrian side in the Wars of Roses. His mother was Anne Skinner, and his father Henry had been a Privy Councillor of Henry VII and remained a trusted adviser when Henry VIII ascended the throne in 1509. Thomas followed his father to court after his education at St John's College, Cambridge. Entering the King's service, he was entrusted with many important diplomatic missions. In public life his principal patron was Thomas Cromwell, after whose death he was recalled from abroad and imprisoned (1541). Though subsequently acquitted and released, shortly thereafter he died. His poems were circulated at court and may have been published anonymously in the anthology The Court of Venus during his lifetime, but were not published under his name until after his death; the first major book to feature and attribute his verse was Tottel's Miscellany (1557), printed 15 years after his death.



Wyatt was the son of Sir Thomas Wyatt who introduced the sonnet into English literature, a form of verse later popularized by Shakespeare. [2] His mother was Elizabeth Brooke, daughter of Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham, by Dorothy Heydon, daughter of Sir Henry Heydon and Elizabeth or Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn. He was the grandson of Sir Henry Wyatt and Anne Skinner, the daughter of John Skinner of Reigate, Surrey. [3]

Sonnet form of poetry with fourteen lines; by the thirteenth century it signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure

A sonnet is a poetic form which originated at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. The 13th century poet and notary Giacomo da Lentini is credited with the sonnet's invention and the Sicilian School of poets who surrounded him is credited with its spread. The earliest sonnets, however, no longer survive in the original Sicilian dialect, but only after being translated into Tuscan dialect.

Thomas Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham was a Tudor baron in England.

Sir Henry Heydon was the son of John Heydon of Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, 'the well-known opponent of the Paston family'. He married Anne Boleyn, the daughter of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, great-grandfather of Henry VIII's queen Anne Boleyn.


Born the eldest of four boys, Thomas Wyatt the Younger was raised a Roman Catholic. His godfather, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk had a significant influence on Wyatt's upbringing. Throughout his childhood, Thomas accompanied his father on a delegation to Spain where the Inquisition began. Subsequently, at the young age of sixteen, Thomas was married to Jane Haute.

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk English politician

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk was a prominent English politician of the Tudor era. He was an uncle of two of the wives of King Henry VIII, namely Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both of whom were beheaded, and played a major role in the machinations affecting these royal marriages. After falling from favour in 1546, he was stripped of the dukedom and imprisoned in the Tower of London, avoiding execution when Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547.

Spanish Inquisition The most substantive of the three different manifestations of the wider Catholic Inquisition along with the Roman Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition, was established in 1478 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms and to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which was under Papal control. It became the most substantive of the three different manifestations of the wider Catholic Inquisition along with the Roman Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition. The "Spanish Inquisition" may be defined broadly, operating in Spain and in all Spanish colonies and territories, which included the Canary Islands, the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, and all Spanish possessions in North, Central, and South America. According to modern estimates, around 150,000 were prosecuted for various offenses during the three-century duration of the Spanish Inquisition, out of which between 3,000 and 5,000 were executed.

He inherited at his father's death in 1542 Allington Castle and Boxley Abbey in Kent, but found both estates encumbered by debt. Further financial difficulties arose from the fact that, having been unfaithful to his wife (rumour had it that they were both unfaithful), the elder Wyatt separated from her. He had a child named Francis Wyatt, whose mother was Elizabeth Darrell, an unmarried daughter of Sir Edward Darrell of Littlecote House in Wiltshire. The elder Sir Thomas left Elizabeth property in Dorset, thus diminishing his son's inheritance. Nonetheless, the younger Thomas was evidently on friendly terms with his half-brother Francis, to whom he made a gift of his manor of Tarrant.

Allington Castle stone-built moated castle in Allington

Allington Castle is a stone-built moated castle in Allington, Kent, just north of Maidstone, in England. The first castle on the site was an unauthorised fortification, built during The Anarchy of the early 12th century and torn down later in the century when royal control was reasserted. It was replaced by a manor house, which was fortified with royal permission in the 13th century. Various alterations and expansions were made by successive owners over the following two centuries. The property was developed into a fortified compound with six towers at irregular intervals along the curtain wall and domestic buildings in the interior, including one of the first long galleries built in England. In 1554 it was seized by the Crown in the course of dispossessing its owner, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, after the failure of his rebellion against Queen Mary.

Boxley Abbey abbey

Boxley Abbey in Boxley, Kent, England was a Cistercian monastery founded c.1146 by William of Ypres, leader of King Stephen's Flemish mercenaries, and colonised by monks from Clairvaux Abbey in France. Some of its ruins survive, some four miles north-east of Maidstone.

Edward Darrell (died 1530) politician

Sir Edward Darrell, of Littlecote, Wiltshire, was an English politician. He is chiefly remembered as the father of Elizabeth Darrell, who was a maid of honour to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth had a notorious affair with the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, by whom she had several children, and was later rumoured to have planned to become the sixth Queen of Henry VIII.

He was described as a young man of somewhat wild and impulsive temperament, and in 1543, along with other young noblemen, including Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, he was in trouble with the authorities for causing a serious public disturbance in London. In the autumn of 1543, Wyatt and Surrey joined a group of volunteers to take part in the Siege of Landrecies. [4] Wyatt established himself as a prominent figure in the military and was praised by the professional soldier Thomas Churchyard. Next, Wyatt took part in the Siege of Boulogne with a responsible command. In 1547, he was elected Member of Parliament for Kent. In 1550, he was given the title of commissioner to delimit the English frontier in France but became ill and incapable of performing his duty. [4] Later, Wyatt claimed to have assisted Queen Mary I against the Duke of Northumberland when the Duke claimed the throne for his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 16th-century English nobleman

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, KG,, was an English nobleman, politician, and poet. He was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry and the last known execution by King Henry VIII. He was a first cousin of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard, second and fifth wives of King Henry VIII. His name is usually associated in literature with that of Wyatt, was the younger poet of the two. He was the son of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and when his father became Duke of Norfolk (1524) the son adopted the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey. Owing largely to the powerful position of his father, Surrey took the prominent part in the Court life of the time, and served as a soldier both in France and Scotland. he was a man of reckless temper, which involved him in many quarrels, and finally brought upon him the wrath of aging and embittered Henry VIII. He was arrested, tried for treason and beheaded on Tower Hill.

Thomas Churchyard, English author, was born at Shrewsbury, the son of a farmer.

The First Siege of Boulogne took place July and 18 September 1544 and the Second Siege of Boulogne in October 1544.

Wyatt's Rebellion

Stemming from experiences with the Spanish Inquisition while accompanying his father, Wyatt developed an aversion to the Spanish government, which greatly affected him when he learned of Queen Mary's decision to marry Philip of Spain. Thomas Wyatt viewed this decision as an injustice to the nation. According to Wyatt, he never planned on protesting against the Queen's marriage until he was approached by Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, who wished to prevent the Queen's plan.

Philip II of Spain King of Spain and King of England by marriage to Mary I

Philip II of Spain was King of Spain (1556–98), King of Portugal, King of Naples and Sicily, and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland. He was also Duke of Milan. From 1555 he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.

Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon English peer, d. 1556

Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon was an English nobleman during the rule of the Tudor dynasty. Born into a family with close royal connections, he was at various times considered a possible match for the two daughters of Henry VIII, both of whom became queens regnant of England. He was a second cousin to Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I through King Edward IV.

When the official marriage announcement was published on 15 January 1553–54, Wyatt and friends joined at Allington Castle to discuss plans of resistance. [4] After several instigators were arrested, Wyatt became the leader of the rebellion. He then published a proclamation at Maidstone stating that his plan had been approved by 'dyvers of the best shire'. People were told to secure the advancements of 'liberty and commonwealth' which were being threatened by 'the Queen's determinate pleasure to marry with a stranger.’

Wyatt proved himself to be a responsible leader, earning the praise of the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles. Soon, Wyatt was responsible for commanding 1,500 men. He set up his command headquarters in Rochester.

Shortly after he had established his headquarters, Queen Mary was informed of Wyatt's plan. The Queen offered a pardon to followers of Wyatt who retreated peacefully to their homes within twenty-four hours. Despite this, Thomas Wyatt encouraged his followers to stay by falsely announcing imminent support from France and victorious uprisings in other areas. He was given a surprising advantage when the government instructed the Duke of Norfolk to approach Wyatt and his forces. The Duke's forces were inferior to Wyatt and the rebels. When the Duke came into contact with Wyatt, many of his own men joined the rebellion, which led the Duke to flee to Gravesend.

Following these events, Wyatt and the four thousand men who accompanied him marched through Gravesend and Dartford to Blackheath in January 1553–54. [4] The government addressed this issue with great seriousness. In an effort to gain time, the government offered Wyatt an opportunity to establish demands; however, this was only a formality. By this point, Wyatt had been deemed a disloyal adversary in the eyes of the monarchy. On 2 February 1554, over twenty thousand men volunteered to aid the Queen as defenders against Wyatt and his troops. [4] In addition to these precautions, other security measures were also taken. The court and the Tower of London were under especially heavy guard. Furthermore, a lucrative reward was offered in exchange for Wyatt's capture: a valuable sum of land would be awarded to anyone who handed Wyatt over as captive.

Upon entering Southwark, Wyatt and his companions soon discovered the high security measures that had been implemented. As a result, many of his followers abandoned him, forcing him to leave Southwark. He instead headed towards Kingston-on-Thames, with new plans to surprise Ludgate and intentions to capture the Queen’s refuge in St James's Palace. The government soon found out about his strategy, and responded by allowing him to progress into the city, only to corner him from all sides. After several skirmishes along the way, with the numbers of his followers dwindling continually, Wyatt eventually admitted defeat. He was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. On 15 March, after a trial which was little more than a formality, he was sentenced to death for high treason. [4]


On 11 April 1554, the scheduled date of his execution, Wyatt asked permission of John Brydges, 1st Baron Chandos, the Lieutenant of the Tower of London, to speak to the Earl of Devonshire, Edward Courtenay. [4] During their half-hour-long meeting, Wyatt knelt down before Courtenay and begged him "to confess the truth of himself," as Wyatt believed Courtenay was the original instigator of the crime. However, when on the scaffold, Wyatt confessed his own blame and was determined to exculpate Mary I's half-sister Elizabeth and Courtenay. After Wyatt was beheaded, his body was further punished according to the standards of treason. His head, before it was stolen on 17 April, was hung from a gallows. [4] His limbs were then circulated among towns and also hung up.

Marriage and issue

In 1537, Wyatt married Jane Haute, the daughter of Sir William Haute (d.1539) of Bishopsbourne, Kent, by Mary, the daughter of Sir Richard Guildford. [5] They had five sons, George, Richard, Charles, Arthur and Henry, and four daughters, Joyce, Ursula, Anne, and Jane. [5] Three of their children married and continued the lineage. [4] Anne married Roger Twysden, whose grandson was Sir Roger Twysden. Sir Roger inherited Wyatt the Younger's son George Wyatt's manuscript on Anne Boleyn's life, entitled Extracts from the Life of Queen Anne Boleigne, by George Wyat. Written at the close of the XVIth century. [4]

His estates were afterwards partly restored to his son, George. George's son, Sir Francis Wyatt (d. 1644), was governor of Virginia in 1621–26 and 1639–42. [4] A fragment of the castle of Allington is still inhabited as a Grade 1 listed building, near Maidstone, on the bank of the Medway. A great-grandson of note was explorer and interpreter, Captain Henry Fleete of Maryland and Virginia.

See James Anthony Froude, History of England.

In literature

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger is a central character in the history play Sir Thomas Wyatt (published in 1607) by John Webster and Thomas Dekker. The younger Sir Thomas Wyatt features in the historical novel Kett's Oak by Anne Stevens, published on Amazon c 2018.


  1. "Wyatt, Sir Thomas." The Oxford Companion to British Literature. Ed. Cannon, John.1997. Print.
  2. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger and Wyatt's Rebellion. Taylor, James D. Algora Publishing, New York, 2013. ISBN   978-1-62894-009-1 Biography
  3. Richardson IV 2011 , pp. 381–3.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wyatt, Thomas (1521?-1554)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 63. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. 1 2 Richardson IV 2011 , p. 382.

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Further reading

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger and Wyatt's Rebellion. Taylor, James D. Algora Publishing, New York, 2013. ISBN   978-1-62894-009-1 Biography