At 13 Thomas was placed in the home of Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor, displaying merry character and brilliant intellect. Sent to Oxford in 1492 with a bare allowance from his father, he mastered Greek, spoke Latin fluidly, studied French, history and mathematics, and learned to play the flute and viol. Recalled to London in 1494, he entered at New Inn as a law student, transferred to Lincoln’s Inn in 1496 and soon became a judge, attracting himself as a lecturer of law at other schools.
He also wrote poetry, cultivated acquaintances with scholars, translated Greek into Latin, and gave church lectures on St. Augustine between 1499 and 1503. He explored his possible call to priesthood, but after vigils, fasts, and prayer, decided to take on the married state.
In 1501 he was elected to Parliament, immediately beginning to oppose large and unjust exactions of money King Henry VIII was making on his subjects.
Thomas married Jane Colte in 1505 from whom were born three daughters and a son. Jane died in 1511. His second wife, Alice Middleton, a widow, was his senior by seven years and was devoted to the care of his small children.
Already famed as a lawyer, in 1510 he became Under-Sheriff of London and in 1514 was assigned to an embassy in Flanders. Anxiously sought by ministers and the king to service the King’s Court, in 1520 he was engaged by the king and a year later knighted and made sub-treasurer to the king. In 1523 Thomas was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, also becoming High Steward of Cambridge University in 1525. By this time the Lutheran controversy flowed through Europe. By 1529 More became Chancellor of England where he dutifully enforced the laws against heretics. A few months later, Henry ordered the clergy to acknowledge himself as “Supreme Head” of the Church. Thomas More’s firm opposition to Henry’s designs in regard to the divorce, the papal supremacy and laws against heretics, lost him the royal favor. In 1532 he resigned as Lord Chancellor, lost his income and some rental properties, and for the next 18 months, lived in seclusion. Having survived his disagreement with the crowing of Anne Boleyn, bantering with Cromwell, the new Chancellor, and the removal of his name from the Bill of Attainer introduced in the House of Lords for those against Anne Boleyn, Thomas could not survive the 1534 Act of Succession requiring all to take an oath acknowledging Henry and Anne as legitimate heirs to the throne. Because of his refusal, he was moved to the Tower of London, accused of treason, had his land grants removed. Approximately a year in prison, he endured more false accusations and trials which finally led to his beheading in July, 1535.