Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre

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Fiennes,Thomas Baron Dacre.jpg

Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre (ca. 1515 – 1541) was an English aristocrat notable for his conviction and execution for murder.

Dacre was the son of Sir Thomas Fiennes and Jane Sutton daughter of Edward Sutton, 2nd Baron Dudley. When his father died in 1528 he became heir apparent to his grandfather's title and the family seat at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, and he succeeded to the title at the age of approximately 19 in 1533. In 1536 he married Mary Nevill, daughter of George Nevill, 5th Baron Bergavenny.

He was a member of the jury at the trial of Anne Boleyn in 1536, and of Thomas, Lord Darcy, and John, Lord Hussey in May 1537 (for their part in the Pilgrimage of Grace), and of Baron Montagu and the Marquess of Exeter in 1538 for the Exeter Conspiracy.

Hans Eworth's portrait of Dacre's wife, Mary Nevile/Nevill, with a posthumous image of her husband behind

On 30 April 1541 Dacre led a party of gentlemen including his brother-in-law John Mantell, John Frowds, George Roidon, Thomas Isleie, and two yeomen Richard Middleton and John Goldwell, to poach on the lands of Sir Nicholas Pelham of Laughton. During the escapade they encountered John Busbrig (or Busbridge), James Busbrig, and Richard Summer who were servants of Pelham. The encounter turned into an affray during which John Busbrig was fatally wounded. Dacre and several others were charged with murder and arraigned before the Lord High Steward, Lord Audley of Walden on 27 June. Dacre originally entered a plea of not guilty but was later persuaded to change it to guilty and throw himself upon the King's mercy in the hope of a reprieve. Unlike many of his contemporaries he was not executed by beheading but was hanged at Tyburn on 29 June 1541. An account of the execution in Hall's Chronicle says:-

he was led on foot between the two sheriffs of London from the Tower through the city to Tyburn where he was strangled as common murderers are and his body buried in the church of St Sepulchre ; Hall's Chronicle, 842.

Mantell, Frowds and Roidon were also executed for the crime.

Dacre's family were stripped of their lands and title, but the title was restored to his second son Gregory in 1558 (the elder son Thomas died before the restitution aged 15).

In Popular Culture[edit]

Fiennes' case was briefly mentioned in the Showtime historical series, The Tudors.

References[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Fiennes
Baron Dacre
1533/34–1541
Succeeded by
Forfeit
(restored in 1558
for Gregory Fiennes)