ABT 1503 - Allington Castle, Kent, England
BEF 11 OCT 1542 - Clifton Maybank, Sherborne, Dorset, England
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Sir Thomas Wyatt was a poet, a politician, and a knight. He was accused of having an affair with Anne Boleyn and charged with treason.
Thomas attended St. John's College, Cambridge, but it is not known if he graduated. He followed his father's footsteps and entered the royal court. He served in many roles for King Henry VIII as an ambassador and diplomat. He became known as the poet of the court and was good friends with Thomas Cromwell.
Thomas was a student of foreign literature and brought the sonnet from Italy to England. He adapted the structure to the familiar format of three quatrains and a couplet that is still used today. In addition to sonnets he also wrote rondeaus, epigrams, lyrics and satires.
Thomas married Elizabeth Brooke in 1520 or 1521. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Brooke and Dorothy Heydon. They had only one child. Thomas was believed to have had several affairs that damaged their relationship, and they informally separated around 1525. His most famous rumored affair was with Anne Boleyn. Thomas and Anne had known each other since childhood and traveled in many of the same circles. Some of Thomas' poems can be analyzed and read to be about Anne. In 1536 when Anne was married to King Henry VIII, Thomas was arrested and charged with treason. He was held in the Tower of London along with Anne and probably witnessed her execution. Thomas was eventually pardoned after interventions by his father and Thomas Cromwell. Some researchers have theorized that he was arrested a warning that other's close to the King could be suspected of crimes or that he was held as a possible witness against Anne.
After being pardoned Thomas returned to diplomatic work and oftentimes took his son with him on trips around Europe including France, Spain, and Portugal. He took as mistress, Elizabeth Darrell, and had three more sons. He suspected that his wife had been unfaithful to him as well by having an affair with King Henry. After Henry put Thomas Cromwell to death in 1540 Thomas Wyatt was recalled and again charged with treason, this time for verbal treason by wishing for the death of the king. It is said that Thomas confessed his guilt and received a pardon on the condition that he return to his wife, Elizabeth.
In 1542 Thomas fell ill while traveling to Falmouth. He died at the home of Sir John Horsey, in Clifton Maybank, Dorset. He was buried at the church of Sherborne, Dorest in the Horsey family vault on October 11th.
Thomas has been called by some, the father of English poetry. During his life his works had never been published under his name although it is believed that they circulated in the King's court. He collected his works in a book that passed to his son. Thomas Wyatt Jr transcribed additional poems by his father into the book and even copied two letters that his father had written to him into the volume. In the letters Thomas Jr was advised to study moral philosophy, to live contentedly with his wife, and follow the good example of his grandfather rather than the past behavior of his father. The book still survives today and is held by the British Library.
- Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. 4 vols., ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition. (Salt Lake City, UT: the author, 2011), vol. IV, page 382 WYATT 14.
- Wiki Tree. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wyatt-247.
- Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.