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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/157

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Bryan
Bryan
151

sent to Rome by Henry to obtain the papal sanction for his divorce from Catherine Bryan was especially instructed to induce the pope to withdraw from his friendship with the emperor and to discover the instructions originally given to Campeggio Much to his disappointment Bryan failed in his mission Soon after leaving England he had written to his cousin Anne Boleyn encouraging her to look forward to the immediate removal of all obstacles between her and the title of queen but he subsequently 5 May 1529 had to confess to the king that nothing would serve to gain the pope's consent to Catherine's divorce On 10 May 1533 Bryan with Sir Thomas Gage and Lord Vaux presented to Queen Catherine at Ampthill the summons bidding her appear before Archbishop Cranmer's court at Dunstable to show cause why the divorce should not proceed but the queen who felt the presence of Bryan a relative of Anne Boleyn a new insult informed the messengers that she did not acknowledge the court's competency In 1531 Bryan was sent as ambassador to France whither he was soon followed by Sir Nicholas Carew his sister's husband and at the time as zealous a champion of Anne Boleyn as himself Between May and August 1533 Brvan was travelling with the Duke of Norfolk in France seeking to prevent an alliance or even a meeting between the pope and the king of France and he was engaged in similar negotiations together with Bishop Gardiner and Sir John Wallop in December 1535.

Bryan during all these years remained the king's permanent favourite. Throughout the reign almost all Henry's amusements were shared in by him and he acquired on that account an unrivalled reputation for dissoluteness. Undoubtedly Bryan retained his place in the king's affection by very questionable means. When the influence of the Boleyn family was declining, Bryan entered upon a convenient quarrel with Lord Rochford which enabled the king to break with his brother-in-law by openly declaring himself on his favourite's side. In May 1536 Anne Boleyn was charged with the offences for which she suffered on the scaffold, and Cromwell—no doubt without the knowledge of Henry VIII—at first suspected Bryan of being ono of the queen's accomplices. When the charges were being formulated Cromwell who had no liking for Bryan, hastily sent for him from the country; but no further steps were taken against him and there is no ground for believing the suspicion to have been well founded. It is clear that Bryan was very anxious to secure the queen's conviction (Froude, ii. 385, quotes from Cotton MS. E. ix. the deposition of the abbot of Woburn relating to an important conversation with Bryan on this subject), and he had the baseness to undertake the office of conveying to Jane Seymour, Anne's successor, the news of Anne Boleyn's condemnation (15 May 1536). A pension vacated by one of Anne's accomplices was promptly bestowed on Bryan by the king. Cromwell in writing of this circumstance to Gardiner and Wallop calls Bryan the 'vicar of hell'— a popular nickname which his cruel indifference to the fate of his cousin Anne Boleyn proves that he well deserved. Bryan conspicuously aided the government in repressing the rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace in October of the same year. On 15 Oct 1537 he played a prominent part at the christening of Prince Edward (Strype, Mem. ii. i 4). In December 1539 he was one of the king's household deputed to meet Anne of Cleves near Calais on her way to England, and Hall, the chronicler, notes the splendour of his dress on the occasion. At the funeral of Henry VIII on 14 Feb 1546-7, Bryan was assigned a chief place as 'master of the henchmen.’

As a member of the privy council Bryan took part in public affairs until the close of Henry VIII's reign, and at the beginning of Edward VPs reign he was given a large share of the lands which the dissolution of the monasteries had handed over to the crown. He fought as a captain of light horse under the Duke of Somerset at Musselburgh 27 Sept. 1547, when he was created a knight banneret. Soon afterwards Bryan rendered the government a very curious service. In 1548 James Butler, ninth earl of Ormonde, an Irish noble, whose powerful influence was obnoxious to the government at Dublin, although there were no valid grounds for suspecting his loyalty, died in London of poison under very suspicious circumstances. Thereupon his widow, Joan, daughter and heiress of James FitzJohn Fitzgerald, eleventh earl of Desmond, sought to marry her relative, Gerald Fitzgerald, the heir of the fifteenth earl of Desmond. To prevent this marriage, which would have united the leading representatives of the two chief Irish noble houses, Bryan was induced to prefer a suit to the lady himself. He had previously married (after 1517) Philippa a rich heiress and widow of Sir John Fortescue (Morant, Essex, ii. 117); but Bryan's first wife died some time after 1534, and in 1548 he married the widowed countess. He was immediately nominated lord marshal of Ireland, and arrived inDublinwith his wife in November 1548. Sir Edward Bellingham the haughty lord-deputy resented his appointment but Bryan's marriage gave him the com-