Thomas Audley

On 24th April 1536, Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and Thomas Cromwell’s right-hand man, set up two commissions of oyer and terminer at Westminster.

These particular commissions were for offences committed in the counties of Middlesex and Kent and covered the crimes of misprision, treason, rebellion, felonies, murder, homicide, rioting, plotting, insurrection, extortion, oppression, contempt, concealment, ignorance, negligence, falsities, deception, conspiracy and being an accessory to these crimes. A grand jury in each county would first investigate the alleged offences and then, if there was sufficient evidence, approve a bill of indictment. The case would then be forwarded to the commission of oyer and terminer to try the defendant

Were these commissions set up with Anne Boleyn and the five men in mind or is it just a coincidence that they were tried for offences in Middlesex and Kent? Was this, in Paul Friedmann’s words, “virtually a death warrant for Anne”?

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