Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Question from Mike - Nicolas Udall

This is in reference to the question on homosexuals in the Tudor era. I may be wrong but, I had read somewhere about a man by the name of Nicolas Udall (the spelling maybe wrong) a cleric I believe, who was also charged under the "Buggery Act". Is there anyone familiar with this gentleman?

2 comments:

TudorRose said...

I am familliar with Nicholas udall.
Nicholas udall born 1504-1556.A protestant He lived through the reigns of four out of the five Tudor monarchs.
Nicholas udall was a playright and a schoolmaster.He taught boys at Eton.First he taught at a london grammar school in 1533 and then in 1534 he transfered to Eton where he became a headmaster until 1541.
It was during this time he was forced to leave after being convicted of the buggery act 1533.
He confessed to sexually abusing and physically abusing a number of his pupils.After he wrote a plea to his old friends at cromwell's household who were Thomas wriothesley and Ralph sadler the king's principles of state.If anyone found guilty of buggery they were sentenced to die by hanging but luckily for Nicholas he had a lucky escape his sentence was commuted from death by hanging to spendind just lees than a year in prison.A few years later a former pupil called Thomas Tusser who became a poet told about the things that happened behind closed doors with Nicholas Udall.

PhD Historian said...

Nicholas Udall was not a cleric, but was instead a schoolmaster at Eton and Westminster, as well as a translator, well-known and still famous playwright, and a poet.

TudorRose has the facts more or less correct, with one or two important exceptions.

Udall was not charged with buggery under the Buggery Act of February 1533/4. Instead, he was questioned in relation to a theft conspiracy that included two of his students, one of whom was a relation of Thomas Cheney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and a personal favorite of Anne Bolyen (which is why the case received such unusual attention from the central government). In an attempt to explain or evade the involvement with theft, Udall spontaneously confessed to having had sexual relations with the Cheney boy. He spent a brief amount of time in Marshalsea Prison, but my research indicates that he was never formally indicted or convicted of buggery.

After a number of years, he recovered his reputation sufficiently well to be a client of Queen Katherine Parr and named a canon of Windsor in 1551 (the office of canon was a secular rather than a clerical office in the Edwardian church). He was schoolmaster at Westminster at the time of his death.

As with almost every case of same-sex behavior in England during the Tudor period, Udall was first charged with other crimes, and during the course of investigating those crimes "buggery" or "sodomy" was discovered or alleged. Udall was not charged solely with buggery or sodomy ... and appears never to have been formally charged with it at all.