Able, Thomas

, an English divine, was educated at Oxford, where he took the degree of B. A. July 4, 1513, and that of M. A. June 27, 1516, and afterwards proceeding in divinity, became doctor of that faculty. He was not only a man of learning, but a great master of instrumental music, and well skilled in the modern languages. These qualifications introduced him at court, where he became domestic chaplain to queen Catherine, wife of Henry VIII. and tauoht her music and grammar. Strype calls him “the lady Marie’s chaplain.” In 1530 queen Catherine gave him the living of Bradwelljuxta-mare, in Essex; and the affection he bore to his royal mistress engaged him in that dangerous controversy which was occasioned by king Henry’s determination to divorce Catherine that he might be at liberty to marry Anne Bullen. Able opposed this divorce both by word and writing, publishing a tract, entitled, “Tractatus de non dissolvendo Henrici et Catherinæ matrimonio.” Tanner mentions this, or perhaps another tract, by the name of “Invicta Veritas: An answer, that by no manner of Jaw it may be lawful for the king to be divorced from the queen’s grace, his lawful and very wife.” It is not improbable that this was a distinct tract from the former, as in the Stat. 25 Henry VIII. c. 12, he is mentioned as having “caused to be printed divers books against the said divorce and separation animating the said lady Catherine to persist in her opinion against the divorce procured divers writings to be made by her by the name of Queen-­abetted her servants to call her Queen.” In 1534 he was prosecuted for being concerned in the affair of Elizabeth | Barton, called the Holy Maid of Kent, and was found guilty of misprision of treason. He was also one of those who denied the king’s supremacy over the church; for which he was imprisoned, and afterwardshanged, drawn, and quartered in Smithfield, July 30, 1540. In a room in Beauchamp’s Tower, in the Tower of London, anciently a place of confinement for state prisoners, are a great number of inscriptions on the wall, written by the prisoners, and among others, under the word Thomas a great A upon a bell, a punning rebus on his name. 1


Biog. Brit.—Tanner.—Pitts.—Dod’s Church History.—Wood’s Athenæ, vol. I.—Archæologia, vol. XIII. where the inscriptions in the Tower are explained by Mr. Brand.