England: Sir Thomas More Resigns His Office as Lord Chancellor of England
Sir Thomas More was born on the 7th February 1478. More’s political career began modestly enough, but rose through the ranks of power to become Lord Chancellor in 1529. However, he eventually ran into conflict with the king over the issue of papal authority versus that of the king. It was to be his undoing before Henry VIII, as he was unable to accept the Act of Supremacy.
On this day in 1532, Sir Thomas More resigned his office as Lord Chancellor of England, citing health issues. The true cause of his resignation was undoubtedly his position on the royal claim to supremacy in England.
Eventually his position led to his total fall from grace and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was then tried for treason and finally beheaded on the 6th July 1535.
More had been an aggressive and vocal opponent of the reformation within Henry VIII’s inner circle. He was a severe persecutor of the Protestants and the church, being a staunch Roman Catholic (recognized by Roman Catholicism as a saint) to the bitter end.
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William Bligh: Mutiny on the Bounty
William Bligh was born on the 9th September 1754 to Francis and Jane Bligh in St Tudy, Cornwall. He was signed up for a career in the Royal Navy when aged 7 in 1761.
In 1776, Bligh was with Captain James Cook as Sailing Master on the Resolution for Cook’s third and final voyage during which Cook was killed. Following this Bligh served on various ships and saw military action at a number of locations including Gibraltar in 1782.
In 1787 Bligh was made commander of the Bounty. On this day in 1789, the mutiny on the Bounty took place. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Bligh and a large number of the crew were provided with a ship’s launch and a small amount of provisions and Bligh made for Timor (from near Tonga). The journey was completed in 47 days and covered a remarkable distance of 6 700km.
It is thought that the mutiny took place in order to escape from the hardline discipline of Bligh and to escape to the island pleasures of Tahiti. Evidence would suggest that Bligh was far more easy going than other captains, though the future ‘mutiny’ in Sydney (see below) would suggest otherwise. Bligh was treated well in the court-martial and was acquitted.
From the Bounty, Bligh served in various roles, including Governor of New South Wales from the 13th August 1806 to the 26th January 1808. His post ended with the Rum Rebellion, which essentially was an on land mutiny by the New South Wales Corps under Major George Johnston. He succeeded Philip Gidley King and was replaced by Lachlan Macquarie.
Bligh’s rise through the ranks of the Royal Navy continued until he was appointed Vice Admiral of the Blue in 1814, though he never again received an active command. He died on the 7th December 1817.
As an interesting side point, the current premier of Queensland (Anna Bligh) is a descendant of William Bligh.
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