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Thomas Ruthall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Ruthall
Bishop of Durham
ChurchRoman Catholic
DioceseDiocese of Durham
In office1509–1523
PredecessorChristopher Bainbridge
SuccessorThomas Wolsey
Other postsDean of Bocking (1495–?)
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (1503–1504)
Dean of Salisbury (1505–1508)
Dean of Wimborne (c. 1508–1509)
Lord Privy Seal (1516–1523)
Ordination1490 (deacon)
Personal details
BornCirencester, Gloucestershire, England
Died(1523-02-04)4 February 1523 (aged c. 55)
Westminster, Middlesex, England
BuriedSt John's Chapel, Westminster Abbey
ResidenceDurham Place (at death)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford

Thomas Ruthall (also spelled Ruthal, Rowthel or Rowthall; died 4 February 1523) was an English churchman, administrator and diplomat. He was a leading councillor of Henry VIII of England.[1]

Education and early career

He was born at Cirencester. He was educated at the University of Oxford, ordained a deacon on 10 April 1490 at Worcester, and incorporated DD at Cambridge in 1500. Before this date he had entered the service of Henry VII of England. In June 1499, then described as prothonotary, he went on an embassy to Louis XII of France, and on his return occupied the position of king's secretary.[2][3]

Church and court career

Ruthall had a long series of ecclesiastical preferments. In 1495 he had the rectory of Bocking, Essex (whose priest is called the Dean of Bocking), in 1502 he became a prebendary of Wells, and in 1503 Archdeacon of Gloucester, Dean of Salisbury and chancellor of Cambridge. In 1505 he was made prebendary of Lincoln; Henry VII, who had already made him a privy councillor, appointed him Bishop of Durham in 1509, but Henry died before Ruthall was consecrated. Henry VIII confirmed his appointment, and continued him in the office of secretary. He was part of the skeleton council that accompanied Henry VIII to the Tower of London at the beginning of his reign, following the death of Henry VII.[4] In 1510, with Richard Foxe and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, he negotiated a fragile peace with France.[2][5]

He went to France with the king in 1513 with a hundred men, but was sent back to England when James IV of Scotland threatened war. He took a part in the preparations for defence, strengthened Norham Castle, and wrote to Thomas Wolsey after the Battle of Flodden (1513). He was present at the marriage of Louis XII and the Princess Mary Tudor in 1514, and in 1516 was made Lord Privy Seal.[2]

In 1518 he was present when Wolsey was made a papal legate, and was one of the commissioners when the Princess Mary was betrothed to the Dauphin, Francis III, Duke of Brittany. He was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and was again at Calais with Wolsey in 1521. When Buckingham was examined by the king, Ruthall was present as secretary. A hardworking official, he did a great deal of the interviewing necessary in diplomatic negotiations. Brewer represents him as Wolsey's drudge, and Giustinian speaks of his "singing treble to the cardinal's bass." He died on 4 February 1523 at Durham Place, London, and was buried in St John's Chapel, Westminster Abbey.[2]


As a benefactor he repaired the bridge at Newcastle, and built a great chamber at Bishop Auckland. He also increased the endowment of the grammar school at Cirencester which had been established by John Chedworth, in 1460.[2] He was a patron of Erasmus.[6] Thomas More was a colleague in government, and a friend, and dedicated his edition of Lucian to Ruthall.[7]

Styles and titles

See also


  1. ^ G. R. Elton, The Tudor Revolution in Government (1953), p. 122.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ruthall, Thomas" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. ^ Gairdner, Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII, Rolls Ser. i. 405, &c.; Cal. State Papers, Venetian, i. 795, 799.
  4. ^ David Starkey, Henry VIII: A Biography
  5. ^ Thomas Fowler, The history of Corpus Christi college (1893), p. 15.
  6. ^ H. C. Porter, Fisher and Erasmus, p. 87 in Brendan Bradshaw, Eamon Duffy (editors), Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher (1989).
  7. ^ Letter to Ruthall, in The Yale Edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More Volume 3, Part 1, Translations of Lucian


  • M. Johnson, 2004, Ruthall, Thomas (d. 1523)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Academic offices
Preceded by
George Fitzhugh
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
John Fisher
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Edward Cheyne
Dean of Salisbury
Succeeded by
William Atwater
Preceded by
Hugh Oldham
Dean of Wimborne
c. 1508–1509
Succeeded by
Henry Hornby
Preceded by
Christopher Bainbridge
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Thomas Wolsey
Political offices
Preceded by
Dr Owen King
Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Richard Pace
Preceded by
Richard Foxe
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Henry Marney
This page was last edited on 15 February 2021, at 21:23
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