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

BELCHIAM, THOMAS (1508–1537), a Franciscan friar of the convent at Greenwich, was imprisoned, with others of his brethren, for refusing to take the oath of the royal supremacy, and declaring the king (Henry VIII) to be a heretic. He wrote a sermon on the text, 'Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses' (Matt. xi. 8), in which he lashed the vices of the court and the avarice and inconstancy of the clergy. At the intercession of Thomas Wriothesley afterwards lord chancellor and earl of Southampton), some of the friars were released, but Belchiam was excepted. He died in Newgate of starvation on 3 Aug. 1537. A copy of his sermon, which was found in the prison after his death, was brought to Henry VIII, who was at first affected by it, but afterwards had it burnt. Another copy was preserved by the friars, and Thomas Bourchier, writing in 1583, expresses a hope that it may be published, which, as far as we know, was never done.

[Bourchier's Historia Ecclesiastica de Martyrio Fratrum Ordinis Minorum; Sanders's Historia Schismatis Anglicani, p. 127; Wadding's Annales Minorum, xvi. 418; Scriptores Minorum; Collectanea Anglo-Minoritica, pt. i. 240; Angelus a S. Francisco (N. Mason), Certamen Seraphicum Provinciæ Angliæe.]

C. T. M.