But although More strictly abstained from public activities Henry resented his absence from court and his silence. More re fused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn, and from that moment was marked out for vengeance. A first attempt made to bring him within the meshes of the law failed. He was sum moned before the privy council to answer to a charge of receiving bribes in the administration of justice. The charge was easily refuted. A bill was brought into parliament (Feb. 21, 1534) to attaint the friends of Elizabeth Barton (q.v.), the "Holy Maid of Kent." Barton turned out to have been an impostor, but she had duped More, and he had given his countenance to her supernatural pretensions. His name, with that of Fisher, was accordingly in cluded in the bill as an accomplice. When he came before the council it was at once apparent that the charge of treason could not be sustained, but he was asked why he had not expressed his approval of the king's attitude towards the papal see. He replied by repeating the substance of conversations with the king on the subject. The revelation was disconcerting, and unlikely to help More's cause in the end. But the charge of treason being too ridiculous to be proceeded with, More's name was struck out of the bill. When his daughter brought him the news, More is reported to have said, "I' faith, Meg, quod differtur, non aufertur : that which is postponed is not dropt." In March 1534 the bill vesting the crown in Anne Boleyn's issue, and imposing an oath abjuring any foreign potentate and, in the case of clergy, the authority of the pope, was passed and the oath ordered to be tendered. More was sent for to Lambeth, where he offered to swear to the succession, but steadily refused the oath of supremacy as against his conscience. Thereupon he was given in charge to the abbot of Westminster, and, persisting in his refusal, was four days (April 17) afterwards committed to the Tower. More was well treated by his gaolers, and, though he suffered in health from his confinement, he was witty and gay when his family were allowed to visit him, and he wrote cheer-. fully to his friends. In June 1535 he was found to be in communi cation with his fellow-prisoner, Fisher. He was then rigorously isolated, and was denied the use of pen and ink. He was brought to trial before a special commission and a picked jury at West minster Hall on July r. Rich, the solicitor-general, quitted the bar and presented himself as a witness for the Crown. Being sworn, he detailed a confidential conversation he had had with the prisoner in the Tower. He affirmed that, having himself ad mitted in the course of this conversation "that there were things which no parliament could do—e.g., no parliament could make a law that God should not be God," More had replied, "No more could the parliament make the king supreme head of the Church." By this act of perjury a verdict of "guilty" was procured.
The execution of the sentence followed within the week, on July 7, 1535. The head was fixed upon London Bridge. Tradition says that it was eventually rescued by his daughter, and that it was buried with her at St. Dunstan's, Canterbury. The venge ance of Henry was not satisfied by this judicial murder of his friend and servant ; he enforced the confiscation of what small property More had left, expelled Lady More from the house at Chelsea, and even set aside assignments which had been legally executed by More, who foresaw what would happen before the commission of the alleged treason. More's property was settled on Princess Elizabeth, later queen, who held it till her death.
Sir Thomas More was twice married, but had children only by his first wife, who died about 15u. His only son, John, married an heiress, Ann Cresacre, and was the grandfather of Cresacre More, Sir Thomas More's biographer. His eldest daughter, Mar garet (15o5-1544), married to William Roper (1496-1578), was a woman of high intelligence, whose devotion to her father has become a legend.
More was lawyer, wit, scholar and a great amateur of the arts. He was an intimate friend of Holbein, who first came to England as a visitor to More at Chelsea, where the painter is said to have remained for three years and probably first met Henry VIII. Holbein painted portraits of Sif Thomas and his family. More was beatified in 1886, and canonized by Pius XI in 1935.
The Epistola ad Dorpium exhibits More emphatically on the side of the new learning. It contains a vindication of the study of Greek, and of the desirability of printing the text of the Greek Testament—views which were condemned by the party to which More afterwards attached himself.
In the Utopia, published in Latin in 1516 (1st English transla tion, 1551), More wrote a delightful satire on government and society. In it he relates the conversation of himself and Peter Giles with a fictitious mariner Ralph Hythlodaye, who has sailed with Amerigo Vespucci. Hythlodaye had visited England, and has much to say of the evils of poverty and the luxury of the rich. This description is compared with that of the island of Utopia where community of goods, a national system of educa tion, the rule of work for all, and a philosophy under which the good of the individual is sacrificed to the common good, makes an ideal state. Slavery and monarchy, however, have their place in Utopia. The book derives from Plato, and has had numerous successors, but none more witty and satirical.
For a bibliography of More's numerous works see the article in the Dict. Nat. Biog. and the Catalogue of the Alfred Cock collection of books and portraits of or relating to Sir Thomas More which is preserved in the Guildhall Library, London. The more important of his works and their editions are here given. Luciani dialogi . . . compluria opuscula ab Erasmo Roterodamo et Thoma Moro . . . traducta (Paris, 1506 and 1514; Venice, Aldus, 1516, etc.) was accomplished by Erasmus and More in 15o5. The Lyfe of John Picas, earle of Mirandula . . . printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 151o, trans lated by More from the Venice ed. of 1498, was edited by J. M. Rigg for the Tudor Library in 189o. Historie of the pittiful Life and unfor tunate Death of Edward the Fifth and the then Duke of York with . . . Richard the Third was written, according to Rastell, in 1513, and first printed in a corrupt version in Grafton 's continuation of Harding in 1543 ; it is included by Rastell in his 1557 edition of More's Workes, but it has been suggested that the Latin original was by Cardinal Mor ton ; as the History of King Richard III. it was edited by J. R. Lumby for the Pitt Press in 1883. The Libellus vere aureus . . . better known as Utopia, was printed at Louvain in 1516, under the superintendence of Erasmus, and appeared in many subsequent editions, the finest being the Basel edition of 1518 produced by the Froben press under the eye of Erasmus and adorned with illustrations by Holbein. It was translated into the chief languages of Europe, and into English by Ralph Robinson as A fruteful and Pleasaunt Worke of the best State of a Publyque Weale, and of the newe Yle called Utopia (Abraham Nell, 1551) ; many modern editions of which the most famous is that pro duced by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press (1893). Other trans lations of Utopia are by Gilbert Burnet (1684) and by A. Cayley (Memoirs of More, 2 vols., i8o8). Against Luther and Tyndale Sir T. More wrote A Dyaloge of Syr Thomas More, Knt., written in 1528 and printed by John Rastell in 1529; Sir Thomas More's Answere to the fyrste parte of the Poyson'd book . . . The Souper of the Lorde (Wil liam Rastell, 1532) with a "Second Parte" in 5533. The Apologye of Syr Thomas More, written in 1533, is a defence of his own polemical style and of the treatment of heretics by the clergy. A Dyaloge of Comfort against Tribulacion, printed by Rastell in 1533, was destined primarily for More's family.