The Clerk in the Country

Tuesday 4th August 2020

A true Yorkshireman

On Yorkshire Day, when we celebrate Yorkshire people, past and present, my thoughts often turn to Lord Thomas Darcy.  Had I been living here in the early 16th century, he would have been a neighbour and my landlord.  Although in 1536 he was already 69 and not in good health, “Old Tom” as he was apparently known in these parts, was persuaded to become one of the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising against Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Given the opportunity to escape punishment by handing over fellow leader Robert Aske, who as a lawyer was much beneath him in status, Old Tom’s reply was brave and uncompromising: “…ever ye … choose (ie think) me a man to be of any such sort or fashion to betray or disservice any living man, Frenchman, Scot, yea, or Turk; of my faith, to get and win me and mine heirs four of the best duke’s lands in France, or to be king there, I would not do it to no living person.”

Thomas Darcy was executed on 30th June 1537 on Tower Hill in London, where he is listed on a plaque commemorating those who “for the sake of their faith, country or ideals staked their lives and lost”.