While the Tower of London has a grim history of death and torture, most of the deaths actually took place outside the Tower, on a plot of land that is today marked by a small memorial.

That the deaths took place outside is that they were a public spectacle, and thousands of people would throng to come and see a traitor executed. Contrary to popular opinion, public executions were fairly rare, and even less so for traitors, so people would clamour to be allowed to watch one take place.

A few very special people were granted permission to be killed within the Tower, in private, but most would be dragged out from the Tower to the hill on the north side for a public display of death.

Here on Tower Hill, in 1485 a permanent scaffold was erected for the use of executions.

“To commemorate the tragic history and in many cases the martyrdom of those who for the sake of their faith, country or ideals staked their lives and lost. On this site more than 125 were put to death, the names of some of whom are recorded here.”

Quite why only a few names are recorded rather than the full 125 that are known to have died here is a bit of an oddity.

Those remembered here are:

1381 – Simon of Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury (executed by the Peasants Revolt)

1381 – Sir Robert Hales (executed by the Peasants Revolt)

1388 – Sir Simon de Burley, KG (impeached by Parliament)

1397 – Richard Fitzalan, 3rd Earl of Arundel (opposed King Richard II)

1440 – Rev. Richard Wyche, Vicar of Deptford (follower of the heretical Lollard doctrine)

1462 – John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford (A Lancastrian loyalist during reign of King Edward IV)

1470 – John Tiptolt, Earl of Worcester (Executed following the fall of King Edward IV)

1495 – Sir William Stanley, KG (Convicted of treason for supporting the pretender to the Throne, Perkin Warbeck.)

1497 – James Tuchet, 7th Baron Andley (Commander of the Cornish Rebellion)

1499 – Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick (A claimant to the Throne, executed for assisting Perkin Warbeck to escape.)

1521 – Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (Accused of treason against the King)

1535 – John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (refused to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England)

1535 – Sir Thomas More (refused to accept Anne Boleyn as Queen)

1537 – Thomas Darcy, Lord Darcy of Templefurst KG (Supporter of the northern uprising against King Henry VIII)

1538 – Henry Courtenay, Earl of Devon (Support of the Pope and the Cornish rebellion)

1540 – Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, KG (Executed for treason and heresy)

1547 – Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (Executed for treasonably quartering the royal arms)

1552 – Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (Executed for attempting to overthrow the King’s council)

1554 – Sir Thomas Wyatt (Leader of rebellion against Queen Mary)

1572 – Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (Plotted to put Mary, Queen of Scots in the English Throne)

1641 – Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford (Impeached by Parliament for misrule in Ireland)

1645 – William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (On the Royalist side of the Civil War)

1662 – Sir Harry Vane (Executed following restoration of the monarchy)

1683 – Colonon Algernon Sidney (Accused of plotting against King Charles II)

1685 – James, Duke of Monmouth (Lead the unsuccessful rebellion to depose his uncle, King James II and VII.)

1716 – James Ratcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater (English Jacobite and leader of a northern rebellion against the King)

1747 – Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat (among the Highlanders defeated at the Battle of Culloden)


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One comment
  1. Local Lad says:

    Thomas More’s indictment was to do with the Act of Supremacy (Henry VIII as Head of the Church), not the Act of Succession (Anne Boleyn as Queen). As a lawyer, he made no refusal other than that of taking the Oath accepting the Supremacy.

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