Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/68

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Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries

understood by his subsequent dealings with them. "Of Crumwell," writes Mr. Brewer, "it is enough to say that even at this early period of his career his accessibility to bribes and presents in the disposal of monastic leases was notorious."[1] For some years before the cardinal's fall, report had spoken badly of Thomas Crumwell. "Loud outcries reached the king's ears of the exactions and peculations of Wolsey's officers, in which the name of Crumwell was most frequently repeated, and more than once the king had to express his grave displeasure at the conduct of a man who soon after was destined to occupy the highest place in his favour." [2]

"In 1527, when Wolsey was at Amiens and proposed to send Dr. Allen to England with a message to the king, Knight, who was afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells, wrote to warn the cardinal against his selection. "And, sir," he said, "in case Mr. Allen be not departed hitherwards on your message, or may be in time revoked, your grace might use better any about you for your message unto the king than him. I have heard the king and noblemen speak things incredible of the acts of Mr. Allen and Crumwell."[3]

In subsequent times the superiors of religious houses endeavoured to buy off the threatened dissolution by presents and bribes or by readily acceding to requests which were tantamount to demands. Under Wolsey they tried to purchase favour by offers of gifts to the cardinal's college. The bishop of Lincoln, who greatly aided this foundation in more ways than one, put great pressure on the abbot of Peterborough to resign, or to bestow the large sum of 2000 marks on the undertaking. He tried much the same system of blackmail on the prior of Spalding. The prior, however, would not resign, "though all legal means were tried."[4] There are also many indications of distinct bribes offered for various offices. One man promises 500 marks and other considerable presents to the college, if the cardinal will make him under-treasurer.[5] When the prior of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, was sick of the plague and likely to die, the friends of "William Finch, cellarer of the same," offer Wolsey "£300 to your college

  1. Brewer, ut supra.
  2. Ibid., p. 394.
  3. State Papers, i. p. 261.
  4. Calendar, iv. Nos. 2378, 4708.
  5. Ibid., No. 4452, also 4483.