Sir Ralph Sadlier and current progress on his and his family's tombs

+1 vote
I received correspondence from Toby Spencer. He is from Hertfordshire, England, and  a descendant of Sir Ralph Sadlier. Sir Ralph Sadlier  was an English statesman, who served Henry VIII as Privy Councillor and Secretary of State.   Sir Ralph Sadlier's tomb is in St. Mary's church in the village of Standon, Hertfordshire along with his son, Thomas and wife, Gertrude.  Toby Spencer and a committee of villagers  are in the process of restoration work and the preservation of these tombs. They will need professional work, including repairs, to restore them to their original beauty.

For those interested in learning more about Sir Ralph Sadlier and these tombs I have included the following links given to me by Toby.
WikiTree profile: Ralph Sadler
in The Tree House by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 8 (83.7k points)

1 Answer

+3 votes

I have given guided tours of the fascinating home he built for his family (prior to building Standon Lordship) at Sutton House in Hackney.  At one point I wrote the following brief summary; I don't know if it's any use for the editors of his profile.

Ralph Sadler, born in 1507, was by 1518 placed in the house of his father's patron, Thomas Cromwell as his secretary.  There Ralph learned Latin, Greek and French, whilst gaining practical experience in administration.  He also met Helen Barre, a deserted wife and mother of two, who was presumed widowed and they decided to marry in 1533.

Ralph became one of Thomas's most trusted employees, helping him with the dissolution of the monasteries and coming to the attention of Cromwell's own master, King Henry VIII.  In 1535, the same year that he build Sutton House, Ralph was taken directly into the King's service.

In 1537 Ralph headed the first of his diplomatic missions to Scotland.  He promoted links between the Scottish and English royal families, whilst trying to diminish French influence north of the border, eventually trying to bring about a marriage between the heirs to the two kingdoms.  Although unsuccessful, Ralph became a recognised expert in Scottish affairs.

In 1540 Ralph and Thomas Wriothesley were made joint Principal Secretaries, taking over this important role from Cromwell, whose fall from power led to his execution the following year.  Ralph was briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London in the wake of his old master's ruin, but his reliability and industry saw him swiftly back at work, where his letters show him working as early as four in the morning until nearly midnight.

In 1544 Ralph and Helen's marriage was found to be bigamous, when her first husband returned to London.  Ralph had a private bill passed in Parliament legitimizing his children, but the scandal probably led to Helen avoiding life at court and prevented Ralph being enobled in recognition of his services.  Within two years, Ralph had built a grand new house for his family at Standon in Hertfordshire.

At the battle of Pinkie in Scotland in 1547, Ralph fought bravely, showing himself a master of the sword as well as the pen, something in which he took great pride to the end of his long life, with trophies from the battle featuring strongly in his funerary monument.

Ralph sold Sutton House in 1550 and, as a staunch protestant, withdrew from court life upon the accession of Queen Mary I in 1553, although he continued to play a major role at the county level.  He returned to court as a Privy Councillor after Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558.  His Scottish expertise continued to be called upon, particularly after Mary Queen of Scots fled to England in 1568.  Ralph was a compassionate gaoler of the Scottish queen, whom he had known from her infancy, but was nevertheless forced to recommend her execution for the safety of the realm and one of his last public duties was as a judge at her trial in 1586, just one year before his own death and burial at Standon.

The sources were the ODNB entry and Mike Gray's "Sutton House". The National Trust, 1992.

by Chris Weston G2G6 Mach 1 (13.8k points)
edited by Chris Weston
Thank you Chris for the background on Sir Ralph Sadlier. So often we hear of the major figures in Medieval or Tudor times and overlook those who had significant influence and contributions.  I believe Sir Ralph Sadlier was portrayed in the Wolf Hall series.  I'm so glad that Sutton Hall was saved as it had become derelict in the 1980s. That is such a beautiful building. One of my favorite things is to research and study the manors, homes, castles, etc. and their fascinating history.  Is there no portrait that exists of Sir Ralph Sadlier?  I know of the one from Hans Holbein but that is not confirmed.
Hi James,

Yes, Ralph features in the Wolf Hall books and BBC adaptation.  For a long time the view was that, unusually for such an important member of Henry VIII's administration, there was no reliable portrait.  When I last discussed this (maybe three years ago now) with the Sutton House curators, the Holbein portrait at the Met and associated sketch in the Royal Collection seemed to have gained considerable credence, but I think it's still uncertain.



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