|The Right Honourable
Sir Ralph Sadler
Knight banneret, PC
|Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster|
16 May 1568 – 15 June 1587
|Preceded by||Sir Ambrose Cave|
|Succeeded by||Sir Francis Walsingham|
|Died||31 March 1587 (aged 79–80)
|Resting place||St. Mary's Church, Standon, Hertfordshire|
Sadler was possibly born in Hackney, Middlesex, the elder son of Henry Sadler. Roger Ascham compared Sadler's appearance in terms of complexion, countenance and beard to Duke Maurice, although the Duke was taller. Sadler is also represented by his tomb effigy at Standon, and he may have been painted by Hans Holbein the Younger. Sir Ralph's father was originally from Warwickshire, but later settled in Hackney. He was a minor official in the service of the Marquess of Dorset and Sir Edward Belknap.
At a young age, Ralph Sadler was taken into the household of Thomas Cromwell. Ralph's name appears in the list of administrators named for Catherine of Aragon's will. Around 1536, he was made a gentleman of the King's privy chamber, became M.P. for Hindon, Wiltshire.
During his long career in royal service, Sadler was to hold many offices, including:
- Clerk of the Hanaper 1535 - 1587
- Gentleman of the Privy Chamber by May 1536
- Ambassador to Scotland 1537, 1540, 1542
- Jointly (with John Godsalve, Gregory Railton and Francis Kempe) prothonotary, Chancery 1537-1587?
- Principal Secretary April 1540 - April 1543
- Privy Councillor 1540-1553, 1566-1587
- Master of the Great Wardrobe 1543-1553
- Justice of the Peace Hertfordshire 1544-1547, 1558/59-1561, Gloucestershire 1547, Hertfordshire 1562-1587
- Chamberlain or receiver, Court of General Surveyors by 1545
- Commissioner for Musters, Hertfordshire 1546, loan 1546, 1562, goods of churches and fraternities 1550, relief, Hertfordshire and London 1550, ecclesiastical causes 1572
- Duchy of Lancaster Steward of Hertford and Constable of Hertford Castle December 1549 – 1554, 1559-1587
- Warden of the East and Middle Marches 1559-1560
- Custos rotulorum Hertfordshire. by 1562-1587
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1568-1587
- Lord Lieutenant, Hertfordshire 1569
In January, 1537, Sadler was sent to Scotland to investigate complaints made by Margaret Tudor, the King's sister, against her third husband, Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven, and to improve Anglo-Scottish relations. He succeeded in both respects. On 1 April 1537, Ralph met James V of Scotland, newly married to Madeleine of Valois, at Rouen.
The King was pleased with Sadler's work, and sent him again to Scotland, this time to discourage the King of Scotland, James V, from accepting Cardinal Beaton's proposed Franco-Scottish alliance. Sadler failed in that respect, but the King was nonetheless impressed with his work. In 1538 he was knighted and in 1539 elected knight of the shire (MP) for Middlesex. In 1540, he became one of the two Secretaries of State, made a privy councillor, and began more than 30 year of service representing Hertfordshire in Parliament. He later (1545) represented Preston.
After the Battle of Solway Moss, Sadler was sent to Scotland again, this time to arrange a marriage between the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, and Edward, Prince of Wales; he was again successful, although the marriage was not concluded. On 10 August 1543 he wrote to Henry VIII describing a visit to Mary of Guise and the infant Queen at Stirling Castle;
"(Mary of Guise) is very glad that she is at Stirling, and much she praised there about the house, and told me, "That her daughter did grow apace; and soon," she said, "she would be a woman, if she took of her mother;" who indeed, is of the largest stature of women. And therefore she caused also the child to be brought to me, to the intent I might see her, assuring your majesty, that she is a right fair and goodly child, as any that I have seen for her age."
By November Sadler moved from Edinburgh to Tantallon Castle, which belonged to the Earl of Angus and with his commission to Scotland revoked, the Earl's kinsmen conveyed Sadler to Berwick upon Tweed on 11 December 1543. All of his work in solidifying Anglo-Scottish relations, was for naught because war broke out, after the Scots rejected the marriage treaty made at Greenwich in December 1543.
Sadler accompanied the Earl of Hertford on his campaign as treasurer of the army, then filled that position again in 1545. Sadler had been replaced by William Paget as Secretary of State, owing to his frequent absences on diplomatic missions, but was appointed Master of the Great Wardrobe in 1543. When Henry VIII died in 1547, he had already appointed Sadler onto the council of regency that would rule England during Edward VI's minority and left him £200 in his will.
Sadler again accompanied Lord Hertford, this time at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh as High Treasurer of the Army. In recognition of his services during the fighting, Sadler was made a knight banneret, a position "above a knight and next to a baron". Sadler was present when Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, was arrested, and he also accompanied the force that put down Robert Kett's Norfolk Rebellion. He was one of the signatories of Edward's will, but remained in semi-retirement during Queen Mary of England's reign.
During Elizabeth's reign Sadler was sent to Scotland 8 August 1559 to arrange an alliance with the Scottish Protestants, and forward the cause of the Lords of the Congregation and Duke of Chatelherault. After the English became directly involved in the fighting at the Battle of Leith, he was one of the architects of the Treaty of Edinburgh. In 1568 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and when Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England, Sadler was unwillingly appointed to meet with the Scottish commissioners regarding that problem. He was sent to arrest the Duke of Norfolk during the Rising of the Northern Earls, and was unwillingly appointed gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots. After the Babington Plot, Sadler was also on the council that sentenced Mary to death.
Marriage and issue
- Thomas, named after Thomas Cromwell, who succeeded him.
- Edward of Temple Dinsley, Hertfordshire
- Henry of Everley, Wiltshire;
Ellen had been married to Matthew Barre of Sevenoaks in Kent, and in 1545 it was discovered that Barre was still alive. A version of Ellen's story was given by an Elizabethan writer, Nicolas Sander, and cast doubt on her character. Sander claimed that Ellen was related to Thomas Cromwell, and she had worked for him as a laundress. The 17th-century historian Gilbert Burnet considered that Sander's story was a fiction. Sander was a Jesuit, a Catholic recusant writing with an agenda. He took delight in attempting to discredit leading public figures in England. It is significant that there was no scandal surrounding the marriage between Ellen and Ralph when it took place in 1533.
Ellen Mitchell and Matthew Barre had been legally married in 1526, in Dunmow in Essex. Ellen had two daughters by him, however Barre had abandoned her and their children and gone abroad. Ellen stayed in Dunmow for about a year making extensive enquiries about her husband's whereabouts. She then became a servant of the prioress at the nunnery of Clerkenwell. Determined to find her husband, she then went to her husband's place of birth where together with her brothers-in-law made further enquiries which were again fruitless. Finding herself in despair, she returned to Clerkenwell. 'Soon after which, a man belonging to the city of Salisbury, positively assured her that her husband was dead.'  By the recommendation of the Prioress of Clerkenwell, Ellen entered the service of Thomas Cromwell's mother-in-law, Mercy Pryor, and was residing in his house when Ralph Sadler became enamoured of her. Ralph Sadler and Ellen married, believing that Matthew Barre was dead.
More than eleven years later, much to the devoted couple's dismay, Matthew Barre returned to claim his wife. Since their marriage, Ralph and Ellen had seven surviving children, and Ralph was now a very wealthy and influential man at court whose reputation was at stake. In October 1545, Sadler returned from his work negotiating in Scotland. 'Master Sadler took his matter very heavily,' Wriothesley reported to Secretary Paget.</ref>
Sadler was therefore obliged to have his children legitimized by a private Act of Parliament. In 1546, this Act of Parliament (37 Hen. VIII, c.30) was passed on Sir Ralph Sadler's behalf. The Act set aside Ellen's marriage to Matthew Barre and made her marriage to Ralph Sadler a true and proper union. Sadler managed to prevent the publication of the Act and its details never appeared with the statutes of the period. The only contemporary reference to the Act appears in a document entitled 'The Unprecedented Case of Sir Ralph Sadleir' found among obscure manuscripts in the Public Record Office. Matthew Barre disappeared from the scene.
This episode had damaged Sadler's reputation but not irretrievably. His marriage to Ellen was saved and couple lived on happily for many years.
Ellen was still alive in 1569, however there is no record of her after that and there is no surviving tomb for her. Sir Ralph died on 31 March 1587. His tomb is in St. Mary's Church, Standon, Hertfordshire.
Sadler is one of the few Renaissance statesmen for whom we have extant Parliamentary orations, including a speech on succession in 1563 and one on subsidy in 1566. Copies of these orations appear the three volume 1809 publication of his letters, which includes a biography by Walter Scott.
Sadler is one of the major characters in Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall, which gives a fictional portrayal of Sadler's youth and early manhood in the household of Thomas Cromwell. Sadler also appears prominently in Bring Up the Bodies, Ms. Mantel's 2012 sequel to Wolf Hall. He is also a minor character in Philippa Gregory's book The Other Queen, with an account given of the time he spent as the Queen of Scots' gaoler.
- Roger Ascham, Report of the state of Germany, English Works, ed. Wright, William, Cambridge (1904), 163.
- Drummond 1969, pp. 239–240
- Stoney 1877, p. i plate of tomb.
- "Sadleir Web Mike Gray, Sadleir of Sutton House and Standon Lordship: An Iconography, 2000, p. 4-6 From: Hackney History, vol. 6, published by the Friends of Hackney Archives, 2000" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 1 part 2, (1822), 253.
- Coros 1982
- Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 7 (1907), 21.
- Sadler State Papers, vol.1 (1809), p.253: calendared in Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol.18 part 2 (1902), no.22.
- Sadler State Papers, vol. 1 (1809), pp.348-349: calendared in Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol.18 part 2 (1902), no.483, 12 December 1543, Sadler to Lord Suffolk
- Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. i (1898), 241-2.
- In the sixteenth century, there was no standardised spelling. Variants of spelling for names were then commonplace. Hence we have Ellen, Ellyn Elene, Ellene as well as Helen appearing in sources as well as Barre in some sources and Barrow in others. To add to the confusion, Major F. Sadleir Stoney gave her name as Margaret Mitchell, in error. Neither Nicolas Sander nor Sir Walter Scott provide a first name for her at all.
- "The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii, (new series), January to June inclusive, London, 1835, p. 264". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "Tall Tales from the Trees: SIR RALPH SADLEIR (1507-1587) AND THE GOSSIPS". Talltalesfromthetrees.blogspot.com.au. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- Drummond 1969, pp. 11–15
- "Nicolas Sander, ''Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, Translated with an Introduction by David Lewis'', 1877, pp. 176-177". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- The State Papers and Letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, Knight-Banneret, To Which is Added A Memoir of "The Life of Sir Ralph Sadler", With Historical Notes by Walter Scott, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1809, p. iv
- F. Sadleir Stoney, A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Right Honourable Sir Ralph Sadleir, London, 1877, pp. 13-14
- "The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii, (new series), January to June inclusive, London, 1835, p. 260-264". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "Nicolas Sander, ''Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, Translated with an Introduction by David Lewis'', (1877), pp. 176-177 & footnotes". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "Gilbert Burnet,''The History of the Reformation of the Church of England'', Nicholas Pocock, editor, Clarendon Press, 1865, p. 593". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii, (new series), January to June inclusive, London, 1835, p. 261". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii, (new series), January to June inclusive, London, 1835". Archive.org. p. 261. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- Letters & Papers, Henry VIII, vol.20 part 2 (1907), no. 697 Wriothesley's letter, (British History Online)
- An Act for the Legitimation of the Children of Sir Ralph Sadler, Knight, passed in anno 37 Henry VIII. No. 28 [Transcript in Harl. MS 7089, f. 453]
- "An Act for the Legitimation of the Children of Sir Ralph Sadler and Ellene his Wife". Nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii, (new series), January to June inclusive, London, 1835, p. 262-264
Transcript of An Act for the Legitimation of the children of Sir Ralph Sadler, Knight, passed in anno 37 Henry VIII. No. 28 [Transcript in Harl. MS 7089, f. 453] is presented here.
- Listed in: A Catalogue of the Printed Books and Manuscripts in the Library of the Inner Temple, arranged in classes, London, (1833), p. 277
- Drummond 1969, p. 12
- Drummond 1969, p. 214
- Drummond 1969, p. 239
- Burke, Bernard (1912). Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (new edition ed.). London: Harrison & Sons. pp. 615–618.
- Burke, John (1837). Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, vol. 5 (small paper ed.). London. p. 2673.
- Clifford, Arthur, ed. (1809). The State Papers and Letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, vol. I. Edinburgh: A. Constable and Co.
- Clifford, Arthur, ed. (1809). The State Papers and Letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, vol. II. Edinburgh: A. Constable and Co.
- Coros, D. F. (1982). "SADLER, Ralph (1507-87), of Hackney, Mdx., Standon, Herts. and Lesnes, Kent". In Bindoff, S. T., ed. Members. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558. Historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- Drummond, Humphrey (1969). Our Man in Scotland. London: Frewin. ISBN 0090965108.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Sadler, Ralph". Dictionary of National Biography 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 109.
- Phillips, Gervase (2004). "Sadler, Sir Ralph (1507–1587)". Oxford Dictionary of National Bigraphy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Slavin, A. J. (2008). Politics and profit: A Study of Sir Ralph Sadler 1507-1547. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521089333.
- Stoney, F. Sadleir (1877). A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Right Honourable Sir Ralph Sadleir. London: Longmans, Green & co.
- Clifford, Arthur, ed., Sadler State Papers, vol. 1, Edinburgh (1809)
- Clifford, Arthur, ed., Sadler State Papers, vol. 2, Edinburgh (1809)
- Gray, Mike, Sadleir of Sutton House and Standon Lordship: An Iconography
- National Register of Archives, holdings indexed as relating to Sir Ralph Sadler
- Sadleir Stoney, F., Life and Times of Ralph Sadleir, Longman (1877)
- SADLER, Ralph (1507-87), of Hackney, Mdx., Standon, Herts. and Lesnes, Kent. History of Parliament Online
- Sir Ralph Sadleir Find A Grave
- The Sadleir Web A repository of historical information for the Sadleir family history
- Salter, Colin, Sir Ralph Sadleir (1507-1587) and the Gossips
Sir Thomas Parry
|Custos Rotulorum of Hertfordshire
bef. 1562 – 1587
Sir John Brograve
Sir Ambrose Cave
|Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Sir Francis Walsingham