Thomas ABEL

 B approx 1497 d 30 July 1540 Rector and Royal Confidant

Thomas Abel belonged to the wealthy Abel family who dealt in the clothing trade via their estates at Colchester, Wix and Aldham.

His brother Was a Prior at Earls Colne monstary

Thomas Abel studied at Oxford University obtaining a BA in 1514 and a MA four year later.

Like many graduates he entered the priesthood and in 1528 became chaplain and instructor of music and language  to Catherine of Aragon and entered a court full of intrigue and theological debate about the divorce that King Henry wanted from Catherine.

Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon

As a trusted follower Catherine entrusted him with a secret  commission to Emperor Charles V concerning her divorce from Henry VII which he skillfully completed despite efforts of Cardinal Wolseley to stop his mission. As thanks for the completion of this task on 23rd June 1530 she presented him with the Rectorship at Bradwell on Sea.

Abel continued to voice his strong opposition to the divorce in Court and as a result was banned from the court by King Henry.

King Henry VII obtained a divorce and published a booklet detailing his case . Thomas continued to preach against and published a booklet entitled - "Invicta Veritas, an answer to the determination of the most famous Universities, that by no manner of law it may be lawful for King Henry to be divorced from the Queen's grace, his lawful and very wife". This booklet gathered some support in both Parliament and the country and resulted in Abel being imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1532 to 1533 when he was released.

Despite this of imprisonment Thomas contained to preach against the divorce and referred to Catherine as the Queen instead of her official tile of Princess Dowager. 

Further unrest was led by the Duke of Suffolk resulting in the arrest for treason of a group of pro Catherine supporters including Abel.

Abel was once again was imprisoned in the Tower of London this time for 6 years.

He was found guilty of treason as he refused to acknowledge the Act of Supremacy and with two of the other arrested men  he died a martyrs death on 30 July 1540 when he was  hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn .

In 1886 he was beatified by the Pope as a martyr.

The only traces of Abel today are his listing on the Rectors Board in the Parish Church at Bradwell on Sea and in the Beauchamp Tower at the Tower of London where he spent a lengthy 6 years in prison, during which he engraved a letter A and underneath an ornate bell.


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