Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bedyll, Thomas

BEDYLL, THOMAS (d. 1537), clerk of the privy council, was educated at New College, Oxford, and took the degree of B.C.L. on 5 Nov. 1508. In 1520 he was acting as secretary to William Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, whom he served in that capacity till the archbishop's death in August 1532. Within a month afterwards the king (Henry VIII) took him into his service as one of the royal chaplains, and on 14 Oct. he signs a letter to the king as clerk of the council, a post to which he had quite recently been appointed. His former master, the archbishop, speaks of his ‘approved fidelity and virtue,’ and he soon was equally high in the favour of Cromwell and Cranmer, whose views on ecclesiastical polity he thoroughly adopted. His first public employments were in connection with Henry's divorce from Katharine of Arragon. After being sent to Oxford to obtain opinions from the university in the king's favour, he accompanied Cranmer to Dunstable as one of the counsel on the king's side, when the archbishop pronounced the final sentence of nullity of marriage. Several letters from him are extant recording the course of the trial and the pronunciation of the sentence, in the drawing up of which he had some share. In the next two years (1534 and 1535) he was engaged in endeavouring to obtain the oaths of the inmates of several religious houses to the royal supremacy; in conducting as one of the king's council the examination of Bishop Fisher and of Sir Thomas More, when tried for treason for refusing the oath; and in assessing the values of ecclesiastical benefices in England. When the smaller monasteries were suppressed by act of parliament in 1536, Bedyll visited many of them in the neighbourhood of London to obtain the surrenders of the houses; and about the same time presided over a commission appointed to examine papal bulls and briefs conferring privileges on churches and dignities in England, with a view to their confirmation or abolition (Pat. 28 Hen. VIII. p. 1, m. 8). The ‘book’ that was circulated throughout England as a basis for sermons on the futility of the pope's claims to authority in England, was revised and corrected by him. He has left no literary remains, but many of his letters are extant in the Public Record Office and among the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum. He died in the beginning of September 1537, his death being mentioned in a letter from Richard Cromwell to his uncle on 5 Sept.

The following is a list of his ecclesiastical benefices:—Rectory of Halton, Bucks, 24 Aug. 1512; chapels of Bockyngfold and Newstede, Cant. dioc. 1 March 1514; Sandhurst, Kent, 1516; East Peckham, Kent, 29 Dec. 1517; prebend of South Scarle, Linc., 13 Nov. 1518; Bocking rectory, Essex, 1522; rectory of St. Dionis Backchurch, London, 12 March 1527; prebend of Milton Ecclesia, Linc., 1 Dec. 1529; Hadley church, in deanery of Bocking, 15 May 1531; Wrotham church, Kent, 12 April 1532; archdeaconry of Cleveland, June–Aug. 1533; archdeaconry of London, 5 Aug. 1533 to 19 Dec. 1534; prebend of Mapesbury, London, 17 Dec. to 22 Dec. 1534; rectory of Allhallows-the-Great, 30 Dec. 1534; archdeaconry of Cornwall, 2 March 1535; prebend of Masham, York, 1536; prebend of Lytton, Wells; rectory of Bishopsbourne, Kent; prebend of Appledram and Hampstead, Chichester. The dates of institution to these last are not known, but Bedyll held them in 1535.

[Wood's Fasti Oxon. i. 25; Newcourt's Repertorium; Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ; Erasmi Ep. xv. 7, xix. 46; Calendar of State Papers of Henry VIII, vols. iv.–vii.; Strype's Eccl. Mem. i. 299, ii. 213; Memorials of Cranmer, 87; Wright's Suppression of the Monasteries; Valor Ecclesiasticus, vols. iii. and iv.; Cott. MSS., Otho, c. x., Cleop. E. iv. vi., Brit. Mus.]

C. T. M.