Francis Bryan was born to Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier in Buckinghamshire. He had an elder sister, Margaret. His parents were both courtiers and he grew up in the royal court.
1491 (28th June)
Francis’ sister, Elizabeth, was born to Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier.
Growing up at court, Francis Bryan was well-acquainted with Prince Henry who was just a year younger. It is likely that they became friends from an early age.
1509 (21st April)
After a long illness, King Henry VII, aged fifty-two years, died from tuberculosis at Richmond palace, Surrey. His only surviving son, Henry, became King Henry VIII.
Francis Bryan was appointed Captain of the Tudor ship ‘Margaret Bonaventure’.
Francis was given the position of Cupbearer to the King.
Bryan was created Master of the Toils and Constable of the Castle of Hertford.
Bryan’s sister, Elizabeth married Nicholas Carew.
Francis Bryan lost his position in the Privy Chamber after he and Edward Neville had been caught throwing stones and eggs at the common people in Paris while on a diplomatic mission.
Bryan was created Cipherer of the Household.
Bryan was created Constable of the Castle of Harlech. He was also a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber by this date.
Francis Bryan married Philippa Spice, widow of John Fortescue.
Bryan had been created Esquire of the Body by this date.
Bryan was knighted for bravery after serving under the Earl of Surrey and helping to secure the capture of Morlaix in Brittany.
Bryan lost an eye during a jousting match. After the accident he wore an eye patch.
King Henry VIII asked Anne Boleyn to become his mistress. He was amazed when she refused saying that she would only surrender her virginity to the man she married.
William Carey, husband of Mary Boleyn, member of the Privy Chamber died of sweatting sickness. With a position now vacant, Bryan was reinstated as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.
Francis Bryan entered parliament as member for Buckinghamshire.
1533 (25th January)
Anne Boleyn, who was pregnant, and King Henry VIII were secretly married in the King’s chapel at Whitehall by Dr Rowland Lee, one of the royal chaplains.
1533 (1st June)
Bryan attended the coronation of Anne Boleyn at St Peter’s Abbey, Westminster.
1533 (7th September)
Anne gave birth to a baby girl with red hair and her mother’s features. Henry was disappointed that the child was a girl and blamed both God and Anne for denying him a son. She was named Elizabeth
after Henry’s mother.
Bryan was created Constable of the Castle of Wallingford.
1536 (29th January)
Anne Boleyn suffered her third miscarriage. This child was badly deformed and Henry saw this as clear evidence of God’s displeasure with the marriage. He determined to end his marriage and marry Jane Seymour
1536 (late January)
Bryan distanced himself from the Boleyn family and now championed the Seymour family.
Thomas Cromwell began collecting evidence against Anne. During the course of his investigations he heard that some members of Anne’s court were admitted to her chamber at late hours. Those named were George Boleyn, Henry Norris
, Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton. Cromwell used this information to construct a case that Anne had committed adultery with all five men and that they had plotted to murder the King. The information was passed to Henry. Francis Bryan was questioned during the investigations but was not charged.
1536 (2nd May)
Henry Norris and George Boleyn were taken to the Tower of London. Anne Boleyn was also arrested and taken by barge to the Tower.
1536 (4th May)
Francis Weston and William Brereton were arrested and taken to the Tower of London on suspicion of treason.
1536 (5th May)
Thomas Wyatt and Richard Page were arrested on suspicion of committing adultery with the Queen. They were later released.
1536 (12th May)
The trial of those accused of committing adultery with the Queen, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, Francis Weston and William Brereton, took place. The Duke of Norfolk presided over the trial which found all men guilty. They were sentenced to death.
1536 (14th May)
Thomas Cromwell referred to Bryan as ‘The Vicar of Hell’ in a letter to Stephen Gardiner. He had gained the nickname for his reputation of impiety and of taking pleasure wherever he found it.
1536 (15th May)
Anne Boleyn was tried by 26 peers of the realm including her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who presided over the trial. Although Anne argued her innocence she was found guilty and sentenced to die by burning or beheading whichever the King chose. Her brother George was tried after Anne and was also found guilty.
1536 (19th May)
Anne Boleyn was executed by beheading with a single stroke of the sword. She was buried in the choir of the royal chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.
1536 (30th May)
Henry VIII married Jane Seymour in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall.
Bryan became Chief Gentleman of the King’s Privy Chamber.
Bryan was sent on a secret mission to Paris to assassinate Cardinal Reginald Pole. The plot failed after Pole was tipped off, possibly by Bryant himself.
Bryan was sent to France as ambassador to the court of Francis I. However, after the French complained about his inappropriate behaviour, gambling, drinking and womanising, he was recalled to England.
Francis Bryan’s wife, Philippa Spice, died.
Bryan was appointed Vice-Admiral of the navy.
Bryan lost his position as Vice-Admiral after refusing to obey the instructions of the Lord Admiral, John Dudley
, Viscount Lisle.
Bryan was sent to the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, as ambassador.
Francis Bryan married Joan Butler, widow of James Butler, daughter of James Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Desmond. The marriage brought him money and control of land in Ireland.
1550 (2nd February)
Francis Bryan died at Clonmel in Ireland.