Wolsey's signature up for auction

A 500-YEAR-OLD document featuring the rare signature of an honoured citizen of Suffolk's county town is to go under the hammer at auction.Ipswich-born Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was Henry VIII's confidant and the power behind his throne, signed the document, which is expected to fetch £4,000 on Wednesday.

A 500-YEAR-OLD document featuring the rare signature of an honoured citizen of Suffolk's county town is to go under the hammer at auction.

Ipswich-born Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was Henry VIII's confidant and the power behind his throne, signed the document, which is expected to fetch £4,000 on Wednesday.

It is one of three items connected to East Anglia that feature in a collection owned by Brigitte Spiro, the widow of an American art collector. Christie's is auctioning the documents and letters signed by kings, queens and famous figures for an expected £1.2 million.

Cardinal Wolsey, who fell from favour after he could not annul the King's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and dashed his dreams of establishing a college in Ipswich, authorised the letter along with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.


You may also want to watch:


The Duke was secretly married in Paris to Mary, the sister of Henry VIII and the young widow of the French king Louis XII. He accompanied the Duke of Norfolk on the difficult mission of informing Catherine of Aragon that Henry VIII had married Anne Boleyn.

The document is a claim for expenses "of the diete of my lord cardinalls grace & other of the kynge" and also includes accounts for wine.

Most Read

Cardinal Wolsey, who died in 1530, was mindful of the power and dignity of the church and is said to have asserted that a cardinal should have more dishes at a table than a lord of parliament.

Priscilla Thomas, consultant on manuscripts at the auction house, said: "His signature on documents is rare and not much featuring him comes up for sale.

"It is not a particular event's expenses but just for meals during the Easter and Trinity terms. It is normal for someone holding the great office estate to sign the accounts prepared by his department.

The collection also includes a letter from Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's wives, to Cardinal Wolsey, valued at £2,000-3,000.

As Henry VIII's ambassador to Francis I, of France, he relates the friendly signals given by the French court in his letter to Cardinal Wolsey, who was making the lavish preparations for the meeting between the king and the French prince at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

The third East Anglian document in The Spiro Family Collection, to be auctioned is a manuscript signed by Admiral Lord Nelson and his wife, Frances, which is also expected to £2,000-3,000. The document confirmed the sale of their matrimonial home near Ipswich, called Roundwood, where Nelson never stayed.

Sally Dummer, collections manager at Ipswich Museum, said she was interested in the Admiral Nelson document because of its strong Ipswich link and the fact the admiral, his mistress and her husband controversially stayed at the Great White Horse in the town.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter