The Life of St Thomas More



The Life of Thomas More


St. Thomas More was born on February 7th, either 1477 or 1478. The exact year is unknown. He was born to John and Agnes More in Milk Street, London. John More, Thomas’s father, was a lawyer of London and born around 1450. His father was William More. He was a citizen and baker of London and married Johanna. She was the daughter and heiress of John Joye who was a citizen and brewer of London. More’s relatives were all from London and Thomas lived there for 45 years before moving.

At the age of 7, Thomas attended St. Anthony’s School in London. He went there for 5 years and then 2 years later became a student at Oxford University. More enjoyed his studies there so much that his dad got scared and after 2 years made him transfer to study pre-law at New Inn. Even though this program was among the best law programs and very demanding, More still found time to continue his studies of Greek, philosophy, literature, and theology.

Meanwhile, More kept getting better and better at his studies at the New Inn. After 2 years, he read through the law again at Lincoln’s Inn until he was 20. He was then chosen to be a reader at Furnivall’s Inn and re-appointed for 3 years in a row. During these years of studying and teaching, More also led an intense life of prayer. He decided to find what his vocation was. By the age of 25, he was convinced that his place was with city and family, not monastery and cell. At age 27, he was elected to Parliament, and at age 28, he married Jane Colt. He had 4 children with Jane: Margaret (1505), Elizabeth (1506), Cecily (1507), and John (1509). Jane died in 1511, leaving More alone with 4 children. For their sake, a month later, More re-married to Alice Middleton.

In 1509, Henry the VIII was crowned. Later, More was called to serve the King at court. This is a position More did not wish to fill, but he considered it “the duty of every good man” (Wegemer) to help serve his country, so he did. Once in the King’s service, More was Henry VIII’s personal secretary but had some administrative and diplomatic responsibilities as well. Over the next 10 years, More continued to rise, and became Chancellor in 1529. He was Chancellor for only 31 months. He resigned the day after Henry VIII decided to manipulate Parliament to take away the traditional freedom of the Church, a freedom that had been written into English law since the Magna Carta. Henry wanted More to sign an oath claiming him to be the "Supreme Head" of the Church "as far as the law of God will permit" (Hudleston). Also, Henry VIII wanted an annulment from his current wife, Anne Boleyn, and More disagreed and refused to grant it to him. For this, More was convicted for high treason and imprisoned for 18 months before he was beheaded.

From the time he was a young man, More started each day with a personal prayer, spiritual reading, and Mass, no matter how many other duties he had. He cared for the poor and needy, and involved his own children in the same work. He loved the Blessed Virgin Mary, and prayed to her regularly and prayed the rosary. More was executed on July 6th. The execution took place on Tower Hill before nine o’clock. His body was buried in the Church of St. Peter ad vincula. The head was exposed on London Bridge for a month when Margaret Roper bribed the man, whose business it was to throw it into the river, to give it to her instead. In 1824, a lead box was found in the Roper vault at St. Dunstan\'s, Canterbury, and was found to contain a head that was claimed to be More\'s. He was canonized on May 19th, 1935 and has become a symbol of professional integrity, famous for balanced judgement, good humor, and courage that led him to be known as “the man for all seasons” (Wegemer).

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