The Hans Holbein Foundation resource centre for research and development

Vol. V, No. 3., August 2004.






The disappearance of two boy princes from the Tower of London in 1483 remains the greatest,

most baffling and longest running case of missing persons in the history of royal England. It is unsolved.


Read the remarkable “Sir Thomas More and The Princes in the Tower”

-- encrypted messages for posterity by More’s friend Hans Holbein the Younger.

Holbein claims he met both princes, now married with families, in More’s house in the reign of Henry VIII.

Holbein gives us their cover names. We know where they are buried. Holbein’s claim is “testable” -- by DNA profiling.








The Author

Jack Leslau was born in London in 1931. His discovery of the so-called Holbein Codes surprised the academic world

since it was unpaid work by a self-taught amateur.



What the UK Media say about Jack Leslau :


“How Holbein Hid a Royal Secret”

‘The picture on the right may or may not have been painted by Holbein in Chelsea in 1540. According to Jack Leslau, this

portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family contains clues proving that Richard III did not murder the little princes in the Tower

– and that no such murders took place at all.’ Report by Geraldine Norman, SPECTRUM Article, The Times, 25 March 1983, p. 12


“Painting unveiled again.”

‘The Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, talks to Lord St. Oswald after yesterday’s unveiling of the painting.’

Article by Michael Hickling, The Yorkshire Post, 26 March 1983, p. 3


“Princes in the Tower lived on with secret identities.”

Article by Annabel Ferriman, The Observer, 11 August 1991, p. 7


“Genetic Hunt for Princes in the Tower.”

Article by Peter Pallot, The Daily Telegraph, 13 August 1991, p.14


“DNA may solve Princes’ riddle.”

Article by Lewis Smith, Sunday Express, 6 August 1995, p. 31

“Will DNA prove the princes lived?”

Article by Annabel Ferriman, Independent on Sunday, 6 August 1995, p. 8


“The Princes in the Tower”

‘The true fate of Edward and Richard, the two young princes who disappeared from the Tower of London in 1483, is under

multi-disciplinary review. “The greatest mystery in English history will be resolved by scientists,” says Jack Leslau of the

Friends of Thomas More. Scientists in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States will test Leslau’s theory that the

princes were in fact not murdered and that the story was a successful Tudor deception.’ Article by Sir Gordon Wolstenholme,

former Harveian Librarian, Royal College of Physicians, BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, Vol. 303, p. 382, 17 August 1991.



‘Dear Jack Leslau, Thank you very much for coming to Broadcasting House to take part in our arts pilot programme.

I thought your remarks during the discussion were fascinating and I shall watch news of your bid for the DNA tests

with great interest.’ Signed, Sheila Cook, Senior Producer, BBC News & Current Affairs Programmes, 22 August 1991.


RICHARD III SOCIETY Patron H. R. H. The Duke of Gloucester

‘Dear Jack, Many thanks indeed for your lecture on Tuesday last. Next time, maybe we should start specially early so as

not to run out of time! I hope you felt it was worth while: we certainly did, and we had our all time maximum audience – 108.’

Signed E. M. Nokes, General Secretary, dated 17 September 1992.


“Copy or Original?” The Family of Sir Thomas More

‘A number of tests carried out during its recent restoration, and extensive research carried out by Jack Leslau, have once again

reopened the controversy as to its authorship, date and interpretation. The restored canvas, measuring 12ft by 9ft, was unveiled

last month by More’s successor in office Lord Hailsham, and is once again on view at Nostell Priory, Wakefield, Yorkshire.

Article by Susan of COUNTRY LIFE, p. 924, 14 April 1983.


“Pass Notes” No. 667: The Princes in the Tower

‘Ages?: That depends.

On what? On whether Richard III had the two princes done in at the ages of 14 and nine.

Everyone knows he did. You try telling that to Jack Leslau…’

The Guardian, Weekend Front 2/3, August 1995.



Comment from abroad : USA, Europe, Asia and Oceania


“University of Arizona confirms Holbein painting is authentic.”

Article by Carla McClain, Tucson Citizen, 2 March 1983, p.4


 “The Hidden Rebus in Hans Holbein’s Portrait of the Sir Thomas More Family.”

‘Although the authenticity of the Nostell Priory portrait of the Thomas More family as a Holbein original has become the subject

of a raging controversy in art history circles, the discovery of the hidden rebus in the painting may cause significant change

in the recorded history of 16th-century Tudor England.’ Article by Thomas Van Ness Merriam, EXETER,

Bulletin of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N. H. 03833, USA. Summer 1983.


“How Holbein hid a royal secret.’

Sydney Morning Herald, N. S. W., 18 June 1983, p. 42



‘Dear Mr. Leslau, The Holy Father has directed me to acknowledge your letter and to thank you for the copy of your lecture.

His Holiness appreciates the sentiments which prompted this devoted gesture and he invokes upon you and your colleagues

the peace and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also have the honour to convey his Apostolic Blessing. Yours sincerely,’

Signed, C. Sepe, Assessor, dated 28 February 1989.


“11 January 1990. Jack Leslau delivers a lecture, filmed for a TV documentary, on the Princes in the Tower,

at the Athenaeum Club, London.”

BULLETIN THOMAS MORE, January 1990, p. 21 (Moreana, the bi-lingual [French and English] review of Thomas More Studies,

serves as bulletin to the International Association Amici Thomae Mori, at the Catholic University of the West at Angers, France.


 “Historian finds clues to 500-year-old whodunit.”

Article by Lee Levitt, JEWISH CHRONICLE, London, 23 August 1991, p. 5


“Centuries on, they’re still arguing about Richard III.”

Article by Randi Hutter Epstein, SAUDI GAZETTE, Riyadh, 26 August 1991, p.1


“The Craziest Story I Ever Heard.”

‘It is a wonderful story and my hands itch to get those skeletons over here.’ The speaker is Vice-Rector Herman Van Den Berghe

of the Catholic University of Louvain (KUL) whose Centre of Human Genetics has worked out a technique with which the history of England

can be rewritten. ‘It started when Nobel Prize winner De Duve called me. Next was the craziest story I ever heard but that was in fact

as probable as the other version of the history of The Princes in the Tower.’ Article by Peter Van Dooren, Science Editor, De Standaard,

4 September 1991, p. 12








The mystery of the Princes in the Tower has an uncomfortable feel about it.


But no longer. A witness left testimony in a painting and no one saw it

because it was hidden and in code. Not everyone knows that !


The witness is POSITIVELY identified, the codetext decoded and interpreted.


If you want to know on.







More than five hundred years after the disappearance of two English princes, thirteen-year-old Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, people still dispute and contradict what happened.


Since the princes disappeared from the Tower of London in the reign of Richard III, one side say Richard had them killed, relying on a confession made some nineteen years later by a person promptly beheaded by order of Henry VII. The other side says it was a false confession extracted under torture. ‘Why wasn't there a public trial ?’


And so the dispute was born.


And as the turbulent history receded further back into the past, the likelihood of discovering new evidence of the true fate of the princes became more and more improbable. But the outcome of this royal tragedy, which saw the birth of the Tudor dynasty in England, the story of its remarkable consequences and the extraordinary way in which those consequences came to be interactive and inextricably intertwined with our story, begins very simply.


It begins with a painting.



The person who broke the code tells the story…..


JACK LESLAU : ‘I would like to introduce you to the persons depicted in this painting. But first, I want you to see if there is anything strange about the picture itself. For instance, the clock door above Thomas More’s head is open.


To the right, in front of an unstrung table harp there is an extremely odd vase with each handle upside-down in relation to its companion handle.


In the right foreground, two sisters wear dresses with sleeves made from material of the other sister’s bodice : red velvet and cloth-of-gold.



There are more than eighty anomalies in this painting and you may conceivably decide to identify them, work out what they mean and what the artist is trying to communicate. You will have help.


For the present, I have to draw attention that this painting has been in the possession of the More family since it was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543) during the artist's second visit to England (1532-1543). Recent investigation revealed an anti-Catholic slogan on the painting, which appeared in the mid-18th century and was later over painted with a spurious date and signature, 'Rowlandas Locky 1530' or '1532'. Since the only Rowland Lockey in the literature is known from about 1593, the latest examinations in the UK and USA give this beautiful painting to Holbein, the radiocarbon date corroborating authentic documentation and traditional More family history. The scientific reports are published for the first time today. (See : BOOKSTALL).



Point and click first :


  Thomas MERRIAM “Unveiling of the More Family Portrait at Nostell Priory” Moreana XX 79-80 (Nov. 1983) 111-116

■ Thomas MERRIAM “John Clement : his identity and his Marshfoot House in Essex” Moreana XXV 97 (March 1988) 145-167

■ Jack LESLAU “The Princes in the Tower” Moreana XXV 98-99 (Dec.1988) 17-36

■ Jack LESLAU “The More Circle : the Antwerp/Mechelen/Louvain Connexion”

(Amici Thomae Mori International Symposium MAINZ 1995)

See also: EUROPA: Wiege des Humanismus und der Reformation Publ. PETER LANG, 1997 p.167-172


Sir Thomas More and his Family is reproduced by kind permission of the owner, the Lord St Oswald and Trustees, and is on view to the public at Nostell Priory, Nr. Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Further details are available from the National Trust Office in York. Photograph, by Sir Geoffrey Shackerley.






The Contents of this Web site link directly to the above published articles :
48.2MB in 510 Files: 



by Hans Holbein the Younger


Part One

¶The “new” History Theory


Part Two



The case for a Holbein attribution

The artist’s communication security

Art and Information theory

Art and Academia

Art and NIET


Notes & References

¶The royal styling on the tomb of Lady of Jane Guildford,

Duchess of Northumberland,

In the Thomas More Chapel of Old Chelsea Church

‘Ye Right Noble and Excellent Princess’ :

an interpretation.


Photograph of the memorial plaque on the Northumberland Monument.


The rank and styling of:

Sir Richard Guildford

Sir Edward Guildford


The ‘High and Mighty’ styling of:

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.


Why is the Duchess of Northumberland buried in an obscure parish church ?

Why isn’t the Duchess buried in one of the Dudley family vaults ?

The contemporary witness Holbein provides compelling new evidence to explain the mystery.


The roles played by Chroniclers :

Edward Hall

Raphael Holinshed


“Royal Cousins”

Anecdotal history of a great grandson of Edward IV,

Sir Philip Sidney --

(“a rightful heir”)

And a great granddaughter of Edward IV,

Elizabeth I --

(“a legal heir”)


James IV of Scotland: the King James Version of the Bible.


The on going inquiry: Elizabethan, Jacobean & Stuart.





Addenda & Corrigenda

¶Benedictus Smythe : The illegitimate son of John Clement.




The on going method of inquiry

Negative Intelligence Evaluation Theory (NIET)


Investigation in Flanders



Investigation in England



The Saint

¶Reactions to John Guy’s BBC documentary



Henry VIII : ‘A sexual impediment of some consequence’ : an article

Read :

1. Holbein’s cryptic comment on the prime cause of the re-marriages of the king

2. The published opinions of Royal Physicians on Henry VIII’s medical case history

3. The NIET investigation of the genetic case history

The amazing and definitive conclusion


Readers’ Comments


National Security Agencies

Agency Comments


Writers and Publishers

¶B. Fields ; G. Tournoi ; A.J. Pollard ; A. Weir ; D. Wilson ; D. Baldwin.

“ Gentlemen versus Players

The amateur takes on the professionals in a one-wicket match.

The professionals have batted (five centuries) and now it’s the turn of the amateur.

He is using the latest bat made by science : A “Nike DNA Profile”.

The fielding side do not have modern technology.

They move in ever decreasing circles.

The batter bats steadily on.

“Read and Reap”


”The Female of the Species”

(A translation of history into drama for the stage)

If you are sensitive to this sort of thing, Jack Leslau’s “Female of the Species” (2003) outstrips in horror Akiro Kurosawa’s “Ran” (1985)’

The number is 5.


John Clement MD : Scholar/Warrior.


¶Thomas Clement MA, son of John Clement, Godson of Thomas More.


¶Caesar Clement DD : the illegitimate son of Thomas Clement


¶The Will of Caesar Clement

(‘Wills and daily books of record are meat and drink to a researcher!’)



¶’Talking Pictures’

#4. Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci.

Parts I & II

1503 : Leonardo tells us his model is Magdalena Offenburg in the world’s most famous painting.

1526 : Holbein confirms this identification in the same secret method of communication invented by Leonardo.

Both men paint a famous hetæra.

Magdalena Offenburg, now in a position of distinction, is scandalized.

Holbein is more interested in his tribute to Leonardo.

There is more. For instance, the unknown provenance of the Holbein and Leonardo items in the Royal Collection.

For the first time we have a complete theory.

It is new. It is astounding !


#3. The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger.

1. The restoration of The Ambassadors at the National Gallery, London : a scientific analysis.

2. North J.D. The Ambassadors’ Secret ; a critical review.

3. The artist’s secret method of communication : the cryptosystem.

4. Interpretation of the personal and political information : the decrypts.

‘Jack Leslau points to a major anomaly post-restoration by the National Gallery’.


#2 Henry Pattison : “The Henry VIII ‘look-alike’”

Holbein claims this former servant of Thomas More lost the Lord Mayor ‘s sword!

(The Sword Bearer still carries the giant ceremonial sword in procession on Lord Mayor’s Day)


#1. Sir Henry and Lady Mary Guildford : “New” evidence from the Court of Henry VIII

 ‘Up close personal and political’.


#0 “Figs and Figments”.

The fig leafs in the Holbein paintings : an interpretation.



The LESLAU Conjecture

Richard III

Sir James Tyrrell

Perkin Warbeck



General History

Sovereigns since the Norman Conquest

Genealogical Charts I to VIII


Lancaster & York






Dukes of Buckingham


¶Calendar of Events







An introduction to Tudor history

The play : The Debt.


What’s the difference between an overt and a covert rebus?




From direct inspection, this drawing above is obviously a puzzle and you are invited, in an open way, “Solve the puzzle !” This is an overt rebus and I am today inviting YOU to solve it. You will have help at


On the other hand, the covert rebus is not at all obvious. Encryption adds the element of secrecy to the word transformations. OK ? Decryption strips away the secrecy leaving the linguistic equivalents, which make sense (they MUST make sense!), relevant to known history.


Please don’t worry if you do not immediately grasp the significance of the remarkable covert rebus. You are in good company. It took nearly five hundred years to work out that Holbein was risking his life to communicate personal and political history for posterity, for US, and how brave and clever he was.







Thomas MERRIAM                                                    Moreana XX, 79-80 (Nov. 1983), 111-16





On the afternoon of Friday, 25th March 1983 (Lady Day), the Right Honourable, the Lord Hailsham of St. Marylebone, Lord Chancellor of England, unveiled the newly restored 8 x 12 foot (2,5 x 3,5 meters) Group Portrait of Sir Thomas More and His Family at Nostell Priory, Wakefield, West Yorkshire before a distinguished audience. It was a glittering occasion with flashbulbs and television lights, contrasting in their brilliance with the sombre stone hall. Lord Hailsham chose his words with care and precision worthy of the senior law officer. He spoke of his admiration of the painting and his belief it was by Holbein. He suggested a parallel between the situation of More and Boethius, whose << De Consolatione Philosophiae >> features in the painting.


The family portrait 1 is one of several versions that appear to be based upon a Holbein sketch in Basel (No. 402). A modified copy by Rowland Locky hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. This painting measures approximately 7 x 11 feet and is curious in its including four descendants of More, who were alive in 1593, with seven of the Thomas More family, as portrayed from life in the 1520s (No. 404). A much smaller Locky version in the Victoria and Albert Museum contains further minor variations (No. 405).


Sir Roy Strong states, in his Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, that the Nostell Priory painting is a copy by the same Elizabethan miniature painter, Locky 2. The evidence he adduces for the attribution is the signature in the lower right-hand corner of the canvas. The name – Richardus, Rogerus, or Rolandus /Rowlandas Locky – bears with it the date 1530 or 1532. Sir Roy has rejected the apparent date (Locky was probably born in the 1540s) and has assumed it to be variously 1592 or 1593. 3 The Holbein original painting, from which it is presumed to have been copied, is believed to have been destroyed by fire in 1752 at Kremsier, Germany (No. 401).


The Winn family have been in possession of the Nostell portrait since the marriage of Sir Rowland Winn to a Roper heiress in the eighteenth century. At that time it was taken from Well Hall, Eltham, to Yorkshire. The family tradition has held the painting to be a Holbein painted for Margaret Roper and her husband William. Both John Lewis and George Vertue described it as a Holbein in their time. In 1717 Lewis remarked on items in the painting only three inches from where the Locky signature appears today, without mentioning the Locky attribution.


Is it possible that the signature was added after 1717 ?


The present owner, Lord St. Oswald, had received some highly interesting information before the unveiling. On 7th January 1982, Dr. Paul Damon of the Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry at the University of Arizona received for radiocarbon dating a strip of the original canvas, cut from the lower sight edge of the painting during restoration. After he had washed the linen free of paint and animal glue, the original eight grams shrank to four grams of pure linen cord. These four grams were insufficient to create the required volume of carbon dioxide gas for the 2.5 liter counters operated at three atmospheres. Dr. Damon had to dilute the specimen gas with pure inert CO2, containing no carbon 14. Additional delays were caused by contamination of the sample with radon gas ; a month was required for storing the gas to allow the radon to decay to insignificance.


Finally, on February 14, 1983, he produced his report with its startling conclusion the << the calendar age of the harvesting of the flax lies between A.D. 1400 and A. D. 1520 >>. Thus it was << compatible with the painting being an authentic Holbein the Younger >>. It was, in other words, unlikely that Rowland Locky had chosen a seventy-year-old canvas to execute a difficult major work in or about 1593.


Armed with this new piece of knowledge, Lord St. Oswald informed the press. The first announcement in the national press was a short article by Donald Wintersgill in << The Guardian >> of March 2, 1983, headed << Painting of More could be a Holbein >>. Sir Roy Strong, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was quoted as doubting the conclusion of Dr. Damon : << How developed as a science is the carbon dating of the canvas ? >> he asked. << In my opinion, in no way is this a Holbein. It is a very complicated subject. The original was confiscated when More fell from power. >>


One edition of << The Guardian >> for the same day contained a further quotation from Sir Roy : << If canvas can be carbon dated, it would be of great significance. I would like to see it done on authentic paintings of which the dates are known. >>


When I queried this quotation, he wrote me that it was not quite true that he stated that it was doubtful that canvas of the sixteenth century could be carbon dated. The important point, he emphasised, was that the canvas was signed and dated Rowland Locky, 1592. 4


Not only was this prominent art historian opposed to the Arizona findings ; E. T. Hall, of the Oxford Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, reported to Geraldine Norman of << The Times >> (25 March 1983) that the odd << hump >> in the radio carbon calibration chart for the sixteenth century made it impossible to distinguish the early years from the late ones. Dr. Damon’s dilution of carbon dioxide in order to << stretch >> it, moreover, made the results liable to error of 150 years. Professor Hall wrote to me that he believed the dates 1580 and 1620 were as likely as the date 1520 cited by Paul Damon. 5


Dr. V. R. Switsur, of the Sub-Department of Quaternary Research at the University of Cambridge, was more favourable to Dr. Damon’s report. He estimated the dates 1407 and 1495 as the limits for the 95 per cent level of confidence, using the data from Arizona. Should the level of confidence be increased to 99 per cent, there was a slight possibility of a confusion between 1525 and the 1600-1620 period. 6


Writing in May to Mr. Jack Leslau, Dr. Damon referred to the successful completion of a << blind inter laboratory test >> which gave confirmation to his findings on the dating of the canvas of the Nostell portrait. Dr. Switsur was Dr. Damon’s choice as an expert on radiocarbon calibration in the United Kingdom.


Although the scientific controversy has still to be resolved, Lord St. Oswald was sufficiently satisfied by the reports from Dr. Damon and Dr. Switsur to invite the present Lord Chancellor to officiate at the elegant ceremony at Nostell. After its restoration in a Chelsea stable, formerly part of More’s estate, the newly framed painting was resplendent.


But what of the signature on the painting and the disputed date, 1530/1532 ?


An infra-red photograph, taken in 1951 at the National Portrait Gallery, revealed interference and a partially disfigured date, possibly 1752. An examination by microscope in January 1987 by the Courtauld Institute indicated that an original eighteenth century date had apparently been changed by additions of brown/grey and blue/black semi-transparent << overpaint >> to create the 1530 or 1532 now visible. 7 Further examination by the Hamilton Kerr Institute of Cambridge indicated that the Locky signature was a later addition and spurious. A pig’s snout had been clearly superimposed on the nose of the little dog, directly in front of St. Thomas More, probably at the same time as the other alterations.


On the day of the unveiling, << The Times >> published a long article by Geraldine Norman, entitled << How Holbein hid a royal secret >>. It described the discovery by Jack Leslau in 1976 of a concealed rebus in the Nostell painting, similar to others in the work of Hans Holbein the Younger. Seen from a special point of view, the single glove held by Elizabeth Dauncey may read << le pair lui manque >> for << le père lui manque >>, and covertly refers to the illegitimacy of her visible pregnancy.


The purple peony on the left of the canvas is an unconventional symbol ; it secretly << marks >> one of the persons with the symbol of << royalty >> and << medicine >>. (<< Peony >> was a nickname for a doctor, as Paion was physician to the gods in Greek mythology).


Another flower is a << Richard-Lion-Heart >> and << marks >> an alleged Plantagenet in the painting. The carpet on the sideboard signals a cover-up -- << faire la tapisserie à la crédence >> or << cacher la crédence sous le tapis >>.


The cover-up referred to is the concealed existence of the younger son of Edward IV, Richard, Duke of York, as Dr. John Clement. His alleged murder by Richard III, described by More thirty years after his disappearance, was a << blind >> to protect him. << Est-ce (esses) gauche ou réflexion faite, est-ce (esses) à droite? >> ask the reversed S’s on the chain (of the Duchy of Lancaster) that hangs from More’s neck. Clement stands, depicted at half his age, in the doorway ; he is dressed in the Italian style, having studied medicine at Siena and probably at Padua.


<< The Times >> later published four letters referring to Geraldine Norman’s article. Mark Bostridge (April 4, 1983) argued that the Nostell painting was a Locky copy of the lost Holbein original, given to William Roper, son of William and Margaret Roper. Holbein would not have dared paint a huge canvas for the Ropers while serving as court painter to Henry VIII after the martyr’s execution. Furthermore, the date 1530 was incompatible with Holbein’s sojourn in London. The cramped perspective was inconsistent with Holbein’s practice. If John Clement was in fact Richard Plantagenet, he would have died at the unlikely age of ninety-nine in 1571.


One point should be made in passing : the painting was not given to a son of William Roper of the same name. No such person existed and the error is traceable to a publication of the National Portrait Gallery ; Angela Lewi’s The Thomas More Family (1974), p. 7. 8


A second letter, from Lady Jacynth Fitzalan-Howard (April 6, 1983), accused Mr. Leslau of an exuberant imagination. The single glove was merely a mark of rank in Tudor Portraits. The customary place for carpets in the period was on tables and the tops of cupboards. The purple peony was a mistake by the artist, like the five-petalled Madonna lilies in the Locky version at the National Portrait Gallery.


A third letter found fault with Mr. Leslau’s French. P. J. Barlow (April 9, 1983) claimed that joncachet was not French for a rush-strewn floor. Faire tapisserie means << to be a wallflower >>. Crédence did not mean << belief >>, and a Turkish carpet was a tapis, not a tapisserie.


Finally, a fourth letter by Eric Lyall (April 15, 1983) took issue with Mr. Barlow’s criticisms. Mr. Lyall claimed jonchée was near enough to Jean caché to serve as a sixteenth century rebus pun for a hidden John Clement. Tapisserie could also mean a carpet and crédence was << belief >>. He concluded with an opinion based on a different interpretation of one of Mr. Leslau’s rebuses. Porter à faux means << to be inconclusive >>.


Thus ended the correspondence to << The Times >>. Jack Leslau’s rebuttals to the three critical letters were not printed. 9 Although many letters were received by << The Times >> in connection with the Geraldine Norman article, popular interest had by this time, no doubt, shifted to the feigned Hitler Diaries. Had it not been for Jack Leslau’s absorbing interest and energy in the face of numerous rebuffs, however, the Nostell portrait would never have been closely examined by the Courtauld and the Hamilton Kerr Institutes. The carbon dating would not have taken place. Without the carbon dating, is it likely that Lord Hailsham would have lent his dignity to the unveiling of a work commonly held to be a copy ? Jack Leslau’s hours of work deserve more than an unconsidered dismissal by art historians and scholars, and, above all, lovers of St. Thomas More.


Basingstoke, Thomas MERRIAM.




1. See The Likeness of Thomas More by Stanley Morison and Nicolas Barker, London, 1963, chapters 6 & 7, for a discussion. The Nostell portrait is catalogued by Morison as No. 403. Figures in parenthesis refer to this book.


2. Roy Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, London 1969. Vol. I, p. 349.


3. Ibid, p. 349 << Locky executed three versions in all : (i) an exact copy of the Holbein as it then was. This is now at Nostell Priory and, although it bears the impossible date 1530 it would seem reasonable to conclude that it was painted at the same time as no. ii in 1593…>> The reference no. i is to Morison’s No. 403 ; no. ii is to Morison’s No. 404. In a letter to the author, Sir Roy Strong stated the Nostell portrait was dated 1592. See our next note.


4. The undated letter was received from Sir Roy Strong in May 1983 in answer to the author’s request for a clarification of his newspaper statement published in << The Guardian >>. The author stated that he was preparing an article for a journal. Sir Roy said in the letter, <<…The important point is that regardless of the date of the canvas, the picture is signed and dated by an Elizabethan artist, Rowland Locky, 1592. In respect of canvas dating, I feel that this is an area of research that may prove to be highly interesting but at the moment could hardly be regarded as in any way being beyond an exploratory stage. >> (End of letter) The author further queried Sir Roy Strong’s date in the light of evidence that the signature and date are spurious. Sir Roy has yet to reply.


5. Letter from Professor E. T. Hall, dated May 20 1983, with specific permission to quote from it. Calibration charts included.


6. This information is contained in a detailed letter to Lord St. Oswald, dated March 21 1983, calibration charts included.


7. << An infrared photograph of the inscription on the Group Portrait at Nostell, taken at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1951, revealed an hidden and partially disfigured date, possibly ‘1752’, which has been inexplicably overlooked in the past. A preliminary and inconclusive microscopic examination of the portrait in January 1978 by Robert Bruce-Gardner, Acting Director of the Technology Department, The Courtauld Institute, revealed (in part) three separate applications of paint and the relevant missing outline of the date (identified by me) which I deduce was probably due to the interference reported in writing by the National Gallery in 1951. The recommendation was made that the date and inscription should be examined further, the possibility of my date-identification not excluded ; and although Bruce-Gardner was willing to do this the portrait was too large to permit entry to the workrooms of the Courtauld Institute. >> Jack Leslau wrote this in The Ricardian, Vol. V, No. 64, (March 1978), p. 24.


8. Kai Kin Yung, Registrar of the National Portrait Gallery, confirmed in a letter to the author, April 26 1983, that this was an error.


9. They are dated April 7, 9 and 14, 1983.





In the summer 1983 issue of Exeter, the bulletin of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, Summer 1983, the leading article, by Thomas V. N. Merriam (class of 1950), is entitled << The Hidden Rebus in Hans Holbein’s Portrait of the Sir Thomas More Family. >> The illustrations, essential for the thesis, include the portrait of Richard III (p. 12), since Jack Leslau finds a resemblance between him and the young man standing in the doorway of the Nostell painting, and uses this << air de famille >> as further evidence for identifying the young man as Richard of York. The Basel sketch of the More family group (p. 13) and the Nostell canvas (pp. 58-59) are reproduced, so we are challenged to detect some of the eighty-odd differences in lay-out and detail which J. Leslau interprets as symbols giving cumulative support to his << revisionist history of the Tudor period >>. A few photographs show Jack Leslau with the author, and with Lord Hailsham and Lord St. Oswald. Much is made of negative evidence : thus the total absence of any portrait or any holograph record (were it only a signature) of Dr. John Clement while he was President of the College of Physicians is exploited to confirm that he was a << notional person >>, merely destined to cover the identity of Prince Richard, << rightful heir >> to England’s throne from 1528, after the death of Edward V (covered by another notional person, Sir Edward Guildford). Other elements – carbon dating against Locky’s claims, etc. – are touched in much the same was as in Mr. Merriam’s article (supra, pp. 111-16). We reproduce the Basel drawing to invite comparison with the Nostell painting.



Last Reviewed : 14 June 2000

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Thomas MERRIAM                  Moreana XXV, 97 (March 1988), 145-152


John Clement :

his identity and his Marshfoot House in Essex.


Students of More need no introduction to John Clement, the << puer meus >> of Utopia. His origins and date of birth are unknown. He is said to have attended St. Paul’s School in London, studying under the classicist William Lily. There appears to be no independent corroboration from school records. By the year 1514 he is reported to have been a member of More’s household, where he was tutor to More’s children in Latin and Greek. Unless this be part of More’s affabulation, he took << the boy Clement >> along to Bruges and Antwerp on his 1515 embassy. In More’s house Clement met his future wife, More’s << adopted >> daughter, Margaret Giggs, whose age in 1527, according to the sketch of the More family portrait in Basel, was 22, exactly the same as her cognata Margaret More Roper.


In 1518 or 1519 Clement is reported to have been appointed Cardinal Wolsey’s reader in rhetoric (Latin) at Corpus Christi College, a college founded by Bishop Richard Foxe of Winchester and dedicated to the new humanistic curriculum. 1 Somewhat later, Clement was made reader in Greek at Oxford 2 and he lectured to a larger audience than anyone before. 3 Nonetheless he left Oxford in the 1520s in order to study medicine in Italy. He appears to have travelled via Louvain and Basel, where he met Erasmus. 4 He brought a copy of Utopia to Leonico at Padua in 1524. 5 By March 1525, he received his M. D. at Siena ; his combined skills in classics and medicine enabled him to help Lupset, his successor at Oxford, complete the Aldine edition of Galen at about the same time. 6


In 1525 Clement was a member of the royal household as Sewer [Server] of the Chamber ultra mare. 7 His name, listed as from London, is included among the other sewers of the chamber in the accounts for 1526. 8 On his return to England, Dr. Clement was admitted to the College of Physicians in London on 1 February 1527-8. He was in the king’s service when sent with two other royal doctors under Dr. Butts in 1529 to attend Cardinal Wolsey, now out of favour and languishing at Esher. 9 In 1535, he was consulted on the liver of John Fisher, then a prisoner in the Tower. 10 Three years later, the records show him receiving from the royal household a salary of £10 semi-annually. 11 In 1539, however, the salary was cancelled. 12 Clement was made president of the College of Physicians in 1544. Jack Leslau has found that the College possesses no documents signed by him as president. This has been confirmed the Wellcome Foundation. 13


The biographical article in the DNB fails to mention a number of curiosities regarding John Clement. It is customarily assumed that he was born around 1500 making him a boy when he first joined the More Household, and hence the puer meus of Utopia (1516). 14 There is, nonetheless, an entry in the register of the University of Louvain of the enrolment of a << Johannes Clemens >> on 13 February 1489, with the note << non juravit >> added. 15 The name John Clement is not common on the Continent except as a combined Christian name. The note << non juravit >> is unusual in the Louvain register, and it is remarkable to find the undoubted John Clement of our account appearing in an entry of January 1551 with the unique note :


Joannes Clemens, medicine doctor, anglus, nobilis (non juravit ex rationabili quadam et occulta sed tamen promisit se servaturum consueta). 16


The chances of there having been two non-juring John Clements without family background or specific place of origin within sixty-two years of each other are negligible.


It is interesting to read also of Clement’s imprisonment in the Fleet following More’s own imprisonment in the Tower. A letter written by John Dudley to Thomas Cromwell on 11 October 1534 states :


<< farthermore as towchyng maistr Clements mattr I beseche your maistership not to gyue to much credens to some great men who peraventure wyll be intercessours of the matter and to make the beste of it for Mr Clement / by cause peraventure they theym selves be the greatest berers of it / as by that tyme I have shewed you how whotly the sendyng of Mr Clement to the flete was taken, by some that may chawnce you thynke to be your frende / you wyll not a little marvayle / … >> 17


One authority states that Clement was imprisoned in the Tower with More refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. 18


In 1545 John Clement and his wife were granted the lease of Friar’s Mede, Marshfoot in Hornchurch, Essex, for thirty years at 20 shillings per annum by New College, Oxford. 19 In 1549, Friar’s Mede was leased, as it were, from under Clement : the new regime under Edward had begun. Clement left the country for Louvain. He lost his extensive library at his town house in Bucklersbury, consisting of 180 books, and was unable to regain them on his return to England in the reign of Mary. 20


The site of Marshfoot is discernible today at Ordinance Survey grid reference TQ 513 825. It lies not far from the electric railway linking Rainham with Dagenham. Slightly sunken from the lane, the plot can be made out on the edge of the former marsh land which stretches south towards an invisible River Thames.


The Public Record Office in Chancery Lane contains an inventory of Marshfoot house listing the items which were confiscated by Sir Anthony Wingfield with the approval of no less a personage than Sir William Cecil, the future Lord Burghley. The inventory is dated 28 August 1552, twelve days after the death of Wingfield. 21 The complete listing is too tedious to transcribe. In the chamber over the hall there were << cusshins with dragons pictures >> and << an olde turkey carpet >> among other items including << a shefe of arrows >>, << ij paire of splents ij salletes / an armyngswerd(e?) a poole axe / iii bills >>. Whether such weaponry was common among physicians of the time, I am unable to say.


There was a chapel chamber in Marshfoot and it contained the following items, which were notably Catholic : << an awlter / a picture of our Lady / a picture of the v wowndes / a masse booke / ij cruetes >>, << a surples >>, << iij latten candlesticks for tapers >>, << a hallow water potte >>, << a portesse with claspes of silver and gilte / >>.


The picture of the Five Wounds calls to mind the banner insignia of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the most serious of all the rebellions under Henry VIII. But the picture may have been common in such a liturgical context. There is a touch of poetry in the << dove house with a smalle flight of doves / with a hansom garden place but overgrowne with grasse / >>. It is a description of a place waiting for the overdue return of its owner. Clement was unable to regain his lost possessions after he returned to England on 19 March 1554. Nonetheless, his former importance was restored under Mary. In 1554 his son, Thomas Clement, M.A., was granted a royal annuity of £20. 22 With Mary’s death and the accession of Elizabeth in 1558, the Clements took leave of England for the last time. Four years later (March 1562) John Clement appears in the Louvain register : << Dominus Joannes Clemens, nobilis, Anglus. >> 23 The similarity with the previous entry in January 1551 is unmistakable. What is the meaning of nobilis ? Why Dominus ? Nothing in the known history of the More family suggests that the Greek and Latin tutor was of noble birth.


The last Louvain entry, dated 1568, is brief : << Dominus Joannes Clement, in theologia >>. 24 The possible span of the Louvain register entries is an astonishing 79 years ; it merits further examination.


Shortly before his death Clement moved from Bruges to Malines. He took up residence at 1 Blokstraat, a few feet from the church of Saints Peter and Paul, where lie the remains of Margaret of Austria, 25 aunt of Charles V and patroness of Erasmus, More, 26 and Josquin Des Prés. Margaret Clement died on 6 July 1570, the anniversary of More’s execution, and was buried in St. Rombout’s cathedral in the Grote Markt. Clement himself died on 1 July 1572 in the year that the Spanish sacked the ancient imperial town, and was buried beside his wife near the high altar of the cathedral. 27



Thomas Merriam

35 Richmond Road

Basingstoke, Hants RG21 2NX




*The author would like to acknowledge the kind assistance of the following : Dr. Marjorie McIntosh, Mrs. Anne Hawker, Mr. Jack Leslau, New College Oxford, Corpus Christi College, Essex County Records Office, the Rijksarchief Antwerp, the Royal College of Physicians, the Wellcome Foundation, the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London, and the Public Record Office.






1. The Dictionary of National Biography, IV, 489. Mention should be made of the one published biography, John Clement by E. A. Wenkebach (Leipzig, 1925).


2. DNB, IV, 489. Sir Kenneth Dover, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford wrote to the author, 22 February 1984, as follows : << So far as I can discover (from Fowler’s very detailed History of C.C.C.) (pp. 88, 369) the sole evidence for Clement as lector is Harpsfield. Hist. Eccl. Angl. p. 644. Clement was lector in Greek (not rhetoric & humanity) from 1518(?) to 1520, & there is no record of his ever having been a student at the College. The fact that his appointment was in Greek makes all the difference, I think : there weren’t many people around who could teach Greek. >>


3. Maria Dowling, Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII (London, 1986), p. 31.


4. A. B. Emden, A Bibliographical Register of the University of Oxford A.D. 1501-1540 (Oxford, 1974), p. 121.


5. F. A. Gasquet, Cardinal Pole and His Early English Friends (London, 1927), pp. 69-71.


6. Emden, p. 121.


7. A. W. Reed, << John Clement and His Books >>. The Library, 4th Series, vi (1926), p. 330


8. Letters & Papers of Henry VIII (17 Henry VIII, 1526), IV, Part I, No. 1939(8).


9. DNB, IV, 489.


10. L & P Henry VIII (27 Henry VIII, 1535), VIII, No. 856 (45).


11. L & P Henry VIII (30 Henry VIII, 1538), XIII, Part 2, No. 1280 (f. 11b). This was the same amount as he received from the same source in 1529 ; see L & P Henry VIII (20-23 Henry VIII), V, 310.


12. L & P Henry VIII (31 Henry VIII, 1539), XIV, Part 2, No. 781 (f. 68).


13. Most of the information on John Clement contained in this article was uncovered by Jack Leslau and is taken from his research article << Holbein and the Discreet Rebus >>.


14. The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Vol. IV: << Utopia >> ed. Edward Surtz, S. J., and J. H. Hexter (New Haven, 1965), p. 40


15. A. Schillings, Matricule de l’Université de Louvain, III, Août 1485 – 31 Août 1527 (Brussels, 1958), Entry No. 128, p. 42. Jack Leslau has pointed out that this entry stands out among the adjoining entries it its absence of family, place of origin, or qualifying status.


16. A. Schillings, Matricule IV, Février 1528- Février 1569 (Brussels, 1961), entry no. 86, p. 423. During the period covered by volume IV, out of some 26,000 students inscribed, the classification << non juravit >> was applied in eight other cases, five of them due to absence of the student at time of registration.


17. L & P Henry VIII (26 Henry VIII, 1534), VII, No. 1251, PRO SP 1/86. p. 75.


18. Sir Michael McDonnell, The Register of St. Paul’s School 1509-1748 (privately printed for the Governors, 1977).


19. Marjorie McIntosh, << References to people surnamed Clement in the Havering/Hornchurch/Romford materials used by Marjorie McIntosh >> (Unpublished research report).


20. A. W. Reed, pp. 329-39. His library contained 40 books in Greek, 139 in Latin, and one in English. Reed estimates their monetary value at £30 13s 4d, or about US $50,000 today according to my estimate.


21. PRO SP10/14/71


22. Calendar of Patent Rolls (1 Mary, 1554) I, 309, dated 8 May 1554.


23. A. Schillings, Matricule IV, entry no. 3, p. 634.


24. A. Schillings, Matricule IV, entry no. 55, p. 738.


25. For the place of residence, DNB. Notice the proximity of 1 Blokstraat to the church. I was informed by the Mechelen tourist office that part of the body of Margaret of Austria is buried behind the altar of the church.


26. See Elizabeth F. Rogers, << Margaret of Austria’s Gifts to Tunstal, More and Hacket (1529) >> in Moreana 12 (Nov. 1966), pp. 57-60.


27. Jack Leslau, art cit. Part II, p. 5. Also DNB, IV, p. 489. See The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. Elizabeth Frances Rogers (Princeton, 1947), p. 79. Also De illustribus Angliae Scriptoribus, item 768 -- << In exilio Confessor obijt Mecliniae primo die Julij, anno post aduentum Messiae 1572, & sepultus est in Ecclesia S. Romboldi prope tabernaculum, iacentque in eodem tumulo coniuges…>>






The following additional document concerns the age and status of John Clement. To my knowledge, it is unique among written materials in tending to confirm the evidence otherwise available solely from continental sources ; first, for Clement belonging to an earlier generation than indicated by the presumed birth date of 1500, and, second, for being of noble birth.


There is a listing in Letters & Papers Henry VIII (2 Henry VIII), I, Part 2, Appendix, p. 1550 (f. 10d) of the challengers and those answering the challenge at a feat of arms << pas d’armes >> planned for the afternoon of Wednesday, 1 June 1510. The list is as follows :



King – Lord Howard                       King – John Clement


Knyvet – Earl of Essex           Knevet – Wm Courtenay


Howard – Sir John Awdeley     Howard – Arthur Plantagenet


Brandon – Ralph Eggerton              Brandon – Chr. Garneys



It would appear that each challenger took on two opponents during the afternoon. Of the ten participants besides Henry VIII himself, Lord Howard, Thomas Knyvet or Knevet, the Earl of Essex, William Courtenay, and Arthur Plantagenet were closely related by blood or marriage to the king.


Two participants, Lord Howard and Charles Brandon, were to become the premier peers of the realm as the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk.


Those related to the king belonged all to the generation of the king’s mother, Elizabeth of York. Who were the five relatives ?


Lord Thomas Howard was to become better known as the third Duke of Norfolk when his father, the second Duke, died in 1524. Born in 1473, he was 37 or thereabouts in June 1510. The king was less than 20. Thomas Howard II was then married to Anne Plantagenet, sister of King Henry’s mother. He was the king’s uncle by marriage.


Sir Thomas Knyvet or Knevet was the son of Eleanor Tyrrell, sister of Sir James Tyrrell, reputed murderer of the Princes in the Tower. He was married to the sister of Lord Thomas Howard. His brother Edmund seems to have studied under Colet, being named in Colet’s Will.


Henry Bourchier, second Earl of Essex, was Henry’s cousin, the son of his great aunt, Anne Woodville, sister of Elizabeth Woodville. He too belonged to the older generation, possibly born in 1471. If this is true, he would have been about 39 in 1510.


William Courtenay, 18th Earl of Devonshire, was married to Henry’s aunt Catherine, sister of Elizabeth of York.


Arthur Plantagenet was the illegitimate son of Edward IV by his mistress Dame Elizabeth Lucy. He was therefore half-brother to the king’s mother and to the wives of Lord Howard and William Courtenay.


Howard, Bourchier, Courtenay and Plantagenet were of the blood royal in their own right, irrespective of other links in the case of ties by marriage.


Charles Brandon, future Duke of Suffolk, would become Henry’s brother-in-law after his marriage to the king’s sister Mary on the death of her husband, the French king. He was younger than the others, having been born in 1484.


If we look at the ages of the noble guests on the afternoon of 1 June 1510, we find that the conventional John Clement, puer meus of ten years of age, would be notably out of place. However, a John Clement who had been in his teens at Louvain in 1489 would be a contemporary. Furthermore, a noble John Clement would be an appropriate answerer to the king’s challenge in the company of such distinguished companions.



Résumé en français.


Pour le Dictionary of National Biography, John Clement est un homme de naissance modeste qui à 15 ans accompagne More à Bruges en 1515, étudie puis enseigne à Oxford, devient docteur en medecine a Padoue, épouse une fille adoptive de More, preside le Collège des Médecins, s’exile outre Manche sous Edward VI puis sous Elizabeth, meurt à Malines en 1572. Ce curriculum vitae ne rend pas compte de tout. Non content de l’étoffer en décrivant le manoir occupé dans l’Essex par Clement et l’inventaire de ses biens, Thomas Merriam relève son nom dans plusieurs documents qui suggèrent une ascendance mystérieuse :


En 1510 (postscript) John Clement participe à un pas d’armes avec Henry VIII et des seigneurs de la plus haute noblesse, tous nés au 15e siècle. Un Joannes Clemens anglais immatriculé à Louvain en 1489 puis en 1551 est dispensé du serment, la seconde fois << pour une raison occulte >>. Les 62 ans d’intervalle peuvent suggérer deux personnages, mais ce nom est rare, et la dispense exceptionnelle. En 1534, Cromwell fait allusion à un secret concernant John Clement et parle des ‘grands porteurs’ de ce secret. Bref, le dernier mot n’est pas dit sur le puer meus de l’Utopie. Jack Leslau essaie avec l’auteur de résoudre l’énigme de John Clement.

G. M.


Last Reviewed: 14 June 2000

ã 2000 Holbein Foundation. All rights reserved. Terms of Use.


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Jack LESLAU                                              Moreana XXV, 98-99 (Dec. 1988), 17-36


The Princes in the Tower


In her clever novel The Daughter of Time (1951) Josephine Tey presents an intriguing defense of Richard III (1452-1485) in the matter of the death of two princes in the Tower of London (1483?). In her book, it was not Richard III but the first Tudor king Henry VII (1457-1509) who was responsible for the death by murder of Edward V (b. 1470) and Richard, Duke of York (b. 1473), the sons of Edward IV (1442-1483).


Since historic evidence to date has not produced conclusive proof that the two boys were killed at all, 1 leaving the case open to renewed examination, I propose to consider a third option ; that they were not in fact killed but were destined to live on under false names and identities as << notional persons >> (persons who only apparently exist). 2


A considerable amount of research and professional assistance from various disciplines will be required in order to verify this thesis. In the present article I can only point to a number of indications, which seem to support the theory and my personal view. In this connexion, I will have to introduce a negative intelligence (or evidence) evaluation theory (NIET), which may, for its own sake and on its own merits, attract a scholar’s attention. 3


I will summarise my initial observations and findings under three headings :


1) Interpretation of Thomas More’s manuscript/book (1513-1518), The History of King Richard the Third  ;  4


2) Interpretation of Holbein’s large portrait of More’s household, in comparison with the sketch he made in Chelsea (1526-1528) ; 5


3) Certain documentary evidence regarding Doctor John Clement, one-time secretary of More and member of his household, who married (in 1526?) More’s adoptive daughter Margaret Giggs. 6





Section 1

The History of King Richard the Third

by Thomas More



A worrying feature of the material I have to present shows that these matters were being canvassed over a substantial period of time. 7 Interested parties raised the inherent contradictions as a subject for discussion. It is not at all clear that the problems were read and minuted for systematic objections. My reservations concern the official response to the public interest – which was required to assume that all was well. 8 This is a little troubling and we will revert to it later.


The time-honoured practice before tackling a work on which official reliance is placed is to ask whether that reliance is well placed.


At the time of writing his book (which later circulated as a manuscript and was not printed until 1557), Thomas More was Reader at Lincoln’s Inn and Under-Sheriff of the City of London. His public career ended as Lord Chancellor of England (1529-1532). He was put to death for High Treason, a martyr for the unity of the Church. He was also known as the cleverest lawyer in Europe and he indeed acts as a patron saint of common lawyers. He was canonised in 1935.


At another level, he was the most famous intellectual of his day in England. It might seem foolish to challenge the trustworthiness of a book written by an author of such high intellectual and moral standing. And yet, at the time that the princes disappeared, he was not much more than six years old. Thomas More had no direct first-hand knowledge of the events he so graphically and dramatically relates. He names no source. To be blunt, he was repeating thirty-year-old street gossip.


A lawyer risks his reputation as a serious person by allowing his name to be associated with a book of unsubstantiated hearsay evidence. 9


The central most serious allegation in the book – written down by a well-known and much respected person – is that the princes had been murdered at the instigation of their paternal uncle, Richard III.


The impression is of a lawyer lending respectability to the story that the princes were dead. 10


However, at no time does the author say that these things really happened. This is negative evidence (see Note 3). Close reading shows that what the author does say is that << Men really say >> these things happened.


My reservations are concerned with those officials responsible for permitting a misreading of matters of fact. 11


Some points are not contradicted and are not in dispute. It is a matter of common agreement that 191 years after the disappearance of the two princes (1483), the skeletons of two young bodies were found by workmen in the Tower of London (1674). Investigation reveals that the remains were of two children (sex uncertain) aged about 13 and 10 years respectively at death. 12 An inquirer may be surprised to read that no evidence of identity was present with the remains. What is the basis for the assumption that the bodies were indeed those of the princes ?


It is widely agreed that reliance has been placed upon the information contained in More’s book, commenced in 1513 (some 161 years before the discovery of the bodies in 1674) ; i.e. the alleged murder of the two princes at the ages of about 13 and 10 years.


The time period between the undoubted disappearance of the princes (1483) and the date when the book was written (1513-1521), some 30 years, merits further investigation, just as does the evidence of identity based upon the apparent ages of the remains of two young bodies.


For the moment, my reservations are concerned with the remains, which were removed to their final resting place in Westminster Abbey. We may safely conclude that official approval was sought and was given – and the public interest required to assume all was well. 13


And yet, we must return to the simple fact that the negative evidence was omitted. The negative evidence – what was not there and which, reasonably, we might have expected to find there – was disregarded.


First, the negative evidence concerning the mother of the two princes, Elizabeth Woodville (1437?-1492).


When a mother does not claim that her sons are dead or missing, we may reasonably conclude that her sons are neither dead nor missing. 14


Neither did the mother attribute responsibility for their undoubted disappearance to her deceased brother-in-law (Richard III), nor to her living son-in-law (Henry VII).


We may assume there was considerable risk of disclosure by the mother should either her brother-in-law or her son-in-law attempt to abduct her two children against her will.


This negative evidence directly contradicts the official view that the princes were murdered and that the person responsible was either the mother’s brother-in-law or her son-in-law. 15


My reservations concern the possibility that the princes were neither dead not missing but had disappeared from public view with the knowledge and consent of the mother, her brother-in-law and, later, her son-in-law.


An inquirer may be surprised to read that the possibility of a collusive arrangement between the principals, which resulted in the disappearance of two young children, was never tested.


It was overlooked that the disappearance of two male children from a contested dynasty might be directly related to the silence of their mother and the subsequent marriage of their sister (in 1486) to the leader of the contesting dynasty.


To save her life and children’s lives and ensure the continued well-being of her large family, the widow of Edward IV remained silent upon the continued existence of her two sons and consented for her daughter, Elizabeth of York (1465-1503), to marry the newly-crowned Henry VII – a collusive arrangement with her son-in-law.


The impression is of danger to an entire country from Henry VII in the event of any show of non-compliance ; and the activities required of a dirty tricks department and their conscious and unconscious agents in Richard III, Henry VII, Henry VIII and thereafter. 16


For the present, we may safely assume all was not well – far from it – and that there is a case to answer on why the official view prevails and is regarded as definitive.


We may also decide that there was a motive for the official reliance placed upon a misreading of the book. Similarly, that there was a motive behind the writing of the book. That motive becomes cogent if the princes lived on, as conjectured.


Fear of disclosure was that motive, from first to last.


Upon the assumption that secret history is true history, I must now introduce the new evidence of a contemporary witness, Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543), that More’s story was a blind to lay down a smokescreen over the continued existence of the two York princes, the uncles of Henry VIII, the brothers of the Tudor king’s mother. 17



Section 2

The Group Portrait of Sir Thomas More and his Family

at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire.


The portrait is the property of the Lord St. Oswald and Trustees and has not been out of family possession since it was painted for Margaret and William Roper, daughter and son-in-law of Sir Thomas More. Family documents show that it was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger, probably in the Great Hall of the Roper family home of Well Hall, at Eltham in Kent, some time during his second visit to England, after 1532. The painting descended to the present owner after the marriage, in 1729, of a young Roper co-heiress, Susannah Henshaw, to Sir Rowland Winn ; who, after payment to two brothers-in-law, in order to gain sole ownership, brought the painting from Eltham to Nostell, where it is on view to the public. 18


I now have to draw attention to the discreet placement by the artist of conventional symbols in an end-on relationship with unconventional symbols (and other unconventional elements) in the composition of this large oil-on-canvas painting (approximately, 3,5 x 2,5 metres). But first, I have to inform the reader of the results of my own amateur investigations into the art world.


Because there is no authority in this particular field – indeed, the unconventional symbols are unrecorded – I tested the theory that these latter were pictorial representations of linguistic equivalents ; and I repeated the experiment upon several hundred similar unconventional elements contained in seventy-three works attributed to Holbein, successfully.


I concluded that the artist had left information for posterity – personal and political, concerning his sitters, mostly in the French language – in a hitherto unknown secret method of communication, some sort of rebus, which I named a covert rebus. 19


I then made a comparative study of Holbein’s original sketch of the family group (made in 1526? and taken by him to Basel in 1528?) and observed one major and some eighty minor changes in composition in the post-1532 portrait. In each case the changes were relevant to the rebus. We may usefully consider one of those changes, which concern us.


The most striking change is the artist’s inclusion of another figure in the family group, omitted from the sketch, the man in the doorway.


For a substantial period of time this person has been conjecturally identified as John Harris, More’s secretary. And yet he is depicted highest in the portrait (a position conventionally reserved for the person of highest status). The fleur-de-lys marks him (a symbol of the French kings, from whom the Plantagenets are descended). The artist also marks him with a buckler, a warrior’s status symbol (Oxford English Dictionary : ‘buckler’ – ‘to deserve to carry the buckler’, ‘to take up the bucklers’ – which has early associations with ideas of ‘worthiness’, ‘to enter the lists’).


These conventional symbols are in close relationship with unconventional symbols – which conjecturally identify John Harris reading a book in a back room.


The person of highest status is marked by unconventional symbols which indicate a notional person who holds the right and title of nobility, a doctor who is royal, husband of Margaret Clement, whose real identity is Richard, Duke of York (depicted wearing Italian style of dress), conjecturally identified as Dr. John Clement, who did gain his M.D. in Siena. 20


Clement is depicted with dark hair, of medium height and build. The pose is a close reflected mirror image of the standard portrait of Richard III and might be said to favour the cingularis image. 21  Although a Neville descendant, like his uncle, Richard III, Clement does not favour the tall, blond, beefy Neville men. Perhaps it should be mentioned here, without wishing to imply that the artist’s information is prime evidence, that upon the death of his elder brother, Edward V (who conjecturally lived under the cover name of Sir Edward Guildford and allegedly died in July 1528), Clement became the rightful heir to the throne of England.


We may conceivably conclude that the story that Richard, Duke of York, was murdered (1483) is false and that the book was indeed More’s blind to lay a smokescreen over the continued existence of the princes and their descendants (who must be protected from retrospective identification). 22


Although we cannot be certain how the artist obtained his information, Holbein appears to say he is deeply concerned that More is risking his life in such a way, that the writing of the manuscript and its circulation may be clumsy or clever – implying that time will tell.


However, More may have served rightful heirs as well as legal heirs. This remains to be assessed. The artist has sacrificed the aesthetic quality for the sake of the rebus in some 73 pictures, something unheard of in the world of great art and, in conclusion, I must return again to the witness, Holbein. 23


We will have to consider carefully his paintings and whether he suffered from mythomania and if we should believe him. Or, was it all a pack of lies ?


We must also look for a motive and explanation for the method in which he left his information.


Clearly, he could have left his story in a diary, possibly in code, hidden somewhere in a building, or buried in the ground for someone to find at a later date. In this way, there would be little personal risk. But again, why should the story be believed at any future time ? It is this central point of risk to which I must finally draw attention.


It might seem undeniable that Holbein’s paintings were left by him, literally ‘on the wall’, for anyone to see. They were not hidden away. There could be no guarantee of security for his method of communication. At any moment an enemy might have seen and understood. There was a considerable risk of discovery, of which we may assume he was aware. In the event, the risk was not merely confiscation of goods and chattels, but death.


Perhaps we should listen with respect, neither believing nor disbelieving, but just remembering one brave man among many. Alternatively, we may conclude that Holbein was a credible and independent witness at the English court, a German observer and competent reporter of the great persons and events of the sixteenth century – a man whose art concealed his art for posterity — which may require some change to the recorded history of Tudor England. It is a matter for the reader to decide what recommendations should be made and to ensure that those recommendations should not be shuffled off until another century.



Section 3

John Clement and negative intelligence

(or ‘evidence’) evaluation theory.


A slightly worrying feature of the material I have to present shows that we have often allowed ourselves to rely on positive evidence, such as documents and artefacts, over a substantial period of time, without a proper system of checks and balances. My reservations concern a system that apparently placed reliance upon positive evidence without proper checking of the negative evidence as, for instance, in the case of the genealogies of the royal houses of Europe.


Few records were better kept, if any, or were more officially authenticated. The royal genealogies are widely regarded as unchallengeable. And yet, we must return to the simple fact that the negative evidence was overlooked. Because of this, the risk existed that any conclusion based upon the positive evidence was solely the product of the criteria applied and those criteria had omitted the negative evidence which was not there ; namely, the multiple births.


In a sample of some 50,000 royal births since the fifth century, there is not one set of twins recorded. And yet the incidence of twins is well known and can be predicted : at least one in one hundred births, ten in a thousand, and some 500 in 50,000. We must not invent a new biology for royal families. Clearly there is a case to answer concerning the apparent non-records of the incidence of royal multiple births.


We may further conclude that positive evidence can be faked by commission or omission -– but not negative evidence. This is our central point.


In this section we are concerned with methods and, as in this developing case, the method of approach to a problem is sometimes more important – in order to obtain a correct hypothesis – than the seemingly all-important problem itself, which may be resolved by other means.


In the case of Dr. John Clement, we observe that he became president of the College of Physicians without any record of family credentials, place of origin or birth. The position was in the gift of the king.


The most careful search has revealed no official document bearing his signature. Signatures or records of their former existence remain extant for every president since the granting of the letters patent to the college in 1518 – except for Dr. John Clement. Similarly, portraits or records of their former existence remain for every president up to the present day – except Clement. This NIET negative evidence has been confirmed by the Royal College of Physicians and the Welcome Foundation Medical Museum, London.  However, an entry in the register of the University of Louvain, for January 1551 (already quoted in Moreana No. 97, p. 146), states (in full):


Dominus Joannes Clemens, medecine doctor, anglus, nobilis (non juravit ex rationabili quadam et occulta causa), sed tamen promisit se servaturm juramenta consueta.


     Author’s translation :


<< The Lord John Clement, doctor of medicine, English, of noble birth 24 (has not sworn the oath for a reasonable hidden cause), but has nevertheless promised to keep the customary oaths. >>


The entry is in the rector’s hand, in accordance with university custom and rule. The rector’s bracketed explanation is unique for the period 31st August 1485 to February 1569, when a total of 49,246 names were inscribed.


We may assume the rector was not naïve and realised that Clement was not the name of a noble family, that he indeed knew who he was and that he could not permit Clement to swear the oath under a false name, that perjury was a serious matter, and the university might lose its right to the privilegium tractus if discovered. Similarly, if this were to happen, that Clement would no longer be protected from prosecution by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and that his name must be on the register in order to gain the privilege.


The open declaration by the rector of Clement’s noble status implies that he was aware Clement was living under an assumed name, though not for any fraudulent purpose. This was not illegal. Clement’s profession and country of origin are openly stated. The rector could prove that John Clement had never sworn nor had need to swear the customary oath, that he was a special case, for, as far back as 13th February 1489, a John Clement was first inscribed. (See : Matricule de l’Université de Louvain, Vol. III, ed. A. Schillings, publ. Louvain, 1958, p. 42. # 128,  Johannes Clemens (non juravit) Feb 13 1489’. 25)


In 1489 the customary age for entry to university was between sixteen and seventeen years. On August 17 in that same year, Richard, Duke of York, born 1473, would have reached sixteen years of age. More’s possible role in providing a false early background for Clement, essential for a notional person, remains to be assessed. 26


Fortunately, advances in modern technology enable the case to be tested, reliably and conclusively. 27


If Sir Edward Guildford and Dr. John Clement were indeed brothers, it is scientifically possible to prove (or disprove) consanguinity from a genetic study of a suitable sample taken from each body – a small residue of tissue, or hair. If the test proves negative, the present historical case falls to the ground. If the test proves positive : we have grounds for further investigation of the claim that these men were notional persons, either one or the other, or both. At the same time, since we know that the genetic material in every human being is derived from each parent at conception and that approximately half is paternal and the other half maternal in origin and identifiable in the offspring, a reasonable point of departure might be a similar examination of a sample taken from the bodies of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, the parents of the two princes, in order to fully verify the present argument concerning the real identities of Sir Edward Guildford and Dr. John Clement. 28


The solution to this scientific problem provides a solid core for on-going historical conjecture based on NIET criteria. (See Note 3 et passim)


If what Holbein states is found to be true on the point of the real identity of Dr. John Clement, the reader may not be surprised that due to a family difference of opinion the younger prince was exiled or exiled himself to Flanders where (except for the Marian period when he returned to England) he lived for the rest of his life with his family and much of More’s circle. He remained true to the old religion, lived to an advanced age, and was buried beside the high altar of St. Rombaut’s Cathedral, Mechelen, in 1572. At the time, burial at the high altar was reserved for the scions of the royal house of Burgundy, the family-by-marriage of his paternal aunt, Margaret of Burgundy, née Margaret of York, whose court was at Mechelen, former capital of Flanders.


Finally, all this does not imply that academia has failed in its duties. This is not the case. Those duties have been carried out with great care and undoubted success over a substantial period of time. My reservations are concerned with what appears to be a system that had developed which did not match advances and procedures in other scientific fields. There must be a proper and effective checking procedure and the inquiry will want to know what was the system for checking : was it a good one and was it operating properly.


I have argued that any method which omits to state criteria or fails to follow systematic verification (and falsification) or all known evidence, positive and negative, without offering a best-fit hypothesis based soundly upon a balance of probability, in an on-going method of inquiry, is an inherently inadequate procedure. However, I trust that the initial evidence presented above, both positive and negative, is sufficient to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt required to justify and make possible an open minded and multi-disciplined re-opening of the case.



10 Glenwood Grove                                          Jack LESLAU


London NW9 8HJ





1. For the most authoritative argument, I will rely on The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, ed. G. E. C. Cokayne, Vol. XII (2), 1959, Richard, Duke of York, with special reference to Appendix J. The impression is that all writers on the princes, before and since Cokayne, omit the present thesis, first presented by the author in 1976. See : << Did the Sons of Edward IV Outlive Henry VII? >>, The Ricardian, Journal of the Richard III Society, Vol. IV. No. 62. Sept 1978, pp. 2-14. See also << Ricardiana in Moreana >> by M.-C. Rousseau, published in  Moreana 87-88 (Nov. 1985), pp. 175-176. Re. The actual fate of the princes, Cokayne documents conclusively that there exists no conclusive proof ! (See Appendix J, op. cit. pp. 32-39).


2. For an insight into the theory of notional persons, I recommend The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939-1945 by J. C. Masterman, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1972.


3. Evidence that is not there is defined as << negative evidence >>, and evidence, which is there, is defined as << positive evidence >>. We assume that positive evidence can be fake – negative evidence cannot – and thus investigate the potentially more reliable evidence. The significant absence of information is tested on the basis of negative evidence -- people, things and ideas –- which is not there and which we might reasonably expect to find there. We test the assumption that negative evidence is, fundamentally, positive evidence (negative evidence does not mean ‘negative’ evidence, which latter uniquely implies falsification of an hypothesis). In Conan Doyle’s short story << Silver Blaze >>, ‘the dog that did not bark’ is negative evidence. Sherlock Holmes stressed the importance of what was not there and what, reasonably, he expected to find there. The dog did not bark because the << unknown >> thief was its master.


4. The History of King Richard the Third written in or about 1513 (according to his nephew William Rastell, publisher of the 1557 edition of More’s Workes) facsimile by Scolar Press, 1978.


5. See The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger by Paul Ganz, First Complete edition, Phaidon London 1950, pp. 282-283.


6. Margaret Clement (d. 1570). Daughter of Thomas and Olive Gygges of Burnham in Norfolk. Kratzer says ‘Margaret’s cognata’, referring to More’s eldest daughter, Margaret (G. Marc’hadour conjectures << co-born >>). There is indeed pictorial evidence that they were born in the same year (1505, after Holbein). More does not speak of adoption or wardship. He only ‘numbers her among my own’ and ‘she’s no less dear to me than if she were my child’ (The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, E. F. Rogers, ed., Princeton, 1947, letters 43 & 107). Curiously, More does not include her name in the poem to his children, which unlike the letters from court, was published by him. About 1526, she married Dr. John Clement, out of More’s house. (I wish to thank the Canonesses of Windesheim for kindly permitting publication of research into contemporary and other material on the Clement family in the archives now at The Priory of Our Lady, Sayers Common in West Sussex, formerly of St. Augustine’s Priory, Newton Abbot in Devon ; community now disbanded since 1983).


7. See Cokayne, Note 1, above.


8. The Tudor theory concerning the disappearance of the princes: It is not at all clear, but there does exist a contemporary rumour, unsupported by documentation and from an uncertain source, that sometime during the period April 9-July 6, 1483; i.e. from the death of Edward IV to the coronation of Richard III – a claim was made that a pre-contract between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler invalidated the king’s second secret marriage. The Bishop of Bath & Wells, Robert Stillington, had claimed in Parliament that indeed he had performed the ceremony. When challenged he protested that he had been overtaken by later events, but now that the question of the rightful royal succession was laid before him, his conscience made him speak out. Parliament agreed that if the second marriage was bigamous, the children were indeed illegitimate. A full hearing of the case was envisaged and a date set down, but there is no official record that it did indeed take place. It was about this time Richard saw his chance and usurped the throne. From other reports, the princes disappeared from the Tower later that year. The current rumour was that before the death of their uncle Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth (22 August 1485), the princes had been murdered. The major implication is clear : Richard was responsible for their deaths.


The York theory assumes that the princes were not killed at all. If Stillington’s allegation was true as claimed – and he did not retract it – Richard III was the rightful and legal heir in descent from Edward III. However, the accession was announced openly and defined narrowly in the highly unconventional ‘title of king’ (The Act of Titulus Regius). The negative evidence shows that Elizabeth Woodville and Eleanor Butler at no time are reported to have either publicly acknowledged or denied or confirmed the central major implication of Stillington’s allegation. Information left for posterity in Holbein’s method implies Richard loyally tried to cover up his elder brother’s extremely bad behaviour but was obliged by force majeure to declare an impediment in the children. The future victor at Bosworth (later Henry VII) saw the main chance and prepared to invade England from France. For the protection of the realm, Richard took charge in the title of king. The two princes were hidden for their own safety with friends, the Tyrrells, with maternal consent. The over-anxious and ambitious Elizabeth Woodville still felt at risk from the traditional York families (who had not forgotten her undistinguished entrapment of the late king). Richard’s repeated attempts at reassurance failed. Rather than run with the York hounds she knew, the widow of Edward IV fell prey to a Tudor fox she came to know, whose dirty tricks department notionally murdered her sons. To be assessed.


9. The very fact that More did not go into print suggests two possible motives : (a) a circulating manuscript has a stronger gossip-effect ; (b) More would not like to see a pack–of-lies in print ; it might make him more formally responsible to his friends for all the nonsense therein.


10. Dirty (and other) Tricks: In security agency jargon, the person who tells an official lie, knowingly, is a << conscious agent >> ; and the person who repeats the lie, unknowingly, is an << unconscious agent >>. If the princes indeed lived on, the investigation reveals the existence of conscious and unconscious agents reporting the << blackwashing >> of Richard III. Requiring assessment (see Cokayne, loc. cit.):

1) Thomas More (conscious) – in The History of King Richard the Third.

2) The contemporary author of The Chronicles of Croyland (conscious) – who never identified himself.

3). Dominic Mancini (unconscious) – an Italian visitor to England (See: De Occupatione Regni Angliae, edited and translated by C. A. J. Armstrong, London, 1936.)

4) Polydore Vergil (conscious ?) – an Italian resident in England, royal historiographer, who for many years held the position of sub-collector to Cardinal Adrian de Corneto, Bishop of Bath & Wells, who held the office of Collector for England in Henry VII’s reign. Arguably, in the pay of the Tudors. See Letters & Papers, Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII, Vol. I, part I, 1509, ed. R. H. Brodie, publ. HMSO, London 1920, p. xiv. See also Polydore Vergil’s Anglia Historia, ed. Denis Hay, Camden Society 1950, and cf. Denis Hay, Polydore Vergil, Oxford, 1952.


We may be surprised to read that the wartime technique is described as a tactical muddying of the watersand leaving them muddy (Masterman). We may also be surprised that in order to cause harm to an individual or individuals, false information is deliberately planted in fertile soil in order to grow. Similarly, misinformation is scattered (also known as ‘trailing birdseed’) to be picked up by hungry little chatterboxes and deposited far away for consumption by others. Essentially, the information is intended, quite deliberately, to distort others’ perceptions of matters of fact, and the method is widely used as part of the overall strategy of a special dirty tricks department within a national security agency. (Masterman. See Note 2)


11. See Richard III, by R. S. Sylvester, The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1963, Vol. 2, p. lxxviii:


In actuality his narrative seldom claims to be more authoritative than his sources it asks us first of all to credit not that what ‘men say’ really happened, but that men really say that it did happen. If we construe these appeals to authority as merely rhetorical devices which lend an aura of objectivity to arrant falsehood then we are forced to deny the demonstrable fact that other men had indeed ‘said’ what More makes them say in his narrative.


See also Richard III and his Early Historians 1483-1535 by A. Hanham, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1975, p. 190, << Sir Thomas More’s Satirical Drama >> :


As a joke against historians, the History of King Richard the Third has indeed had a success brilliant beyond anything that its creator can have intended.


12. Thomas More wrote that the bodies of the murdered princes had been buried at the foot of a staircase in the Tower of London. There is no earlier account of the alleged place of burial. Like ‘The Man who Never Was’, the bodies may have been a plant. Alternatively, there may be some other reason for their burial there. Upon the basic assumption that the princes lived to maturity, it follows that the remains of the two young bodies now resting in Westminster Abbey cannot be those of the princes. This still has to be assessed.


13. The remains of the bodies were found in 1674, during the reign of Charles II (1630-1638) who, we may assume, authorised their reburial. Investigation reveals that << Sir Edward Guildford >>, allegedly a notional person whose real identity was Edward V (1470-1528?), the elder of the two princes, was appointed Standard Bearer by Henry VIII (1491-1547). His descendants remained close to the Court there after ; for instance, his grandsons Guildford Dudley (1530?–1554), husband of Queen Jane Grey (1537-1554) and Robert Dudley (1532?–1588), the famous Earl of Leicester, during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603). The rightful heir was courting the legal heir. The present descendant is Viscount de L’Isle & Dudley who, no doubt, expects me to convince the historians of his descent from the Princes in the Tower !


14. From the death of her husband in 1483 until her own death in 1492 there is no report of a claim by Elizabeth Woodville, the one undoubtable source, that her children were either dead or missing.


15. Objection by historians (See Cokayne, cf. Note 1). The principal objection of some historians, lest blame for murder be attributed to Henry VII, is that the princes disappeared during the lifetime of Richard III. My reservations concern the unsafe assumption of murder, and only murder, in order to account for their disappearance.


16. On July 21 1978, an injustice done to Sir Thomas More more that 400 years ago was remedied in the House of Commons by the passage through all its stages of the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill, a consolidated measure, which had already passed the House of Lords. The Bill repealed 222 Acts dating from 1421 to 1977 and 136 parts of Acts and a Church measure on the grounds that they were no longer practical. Among them was an Act of 1535 that had taken away from Sir Thomas More a conveyance, on the grounds that he had obtained his land at Chelsea, fraudulently. Mr. Arthur Davidson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers’ Department, in charge of the Bill said:


It seems to suggest that in the court of Henry VIII there was a dirty tricks department, and a very effective one.


(For summary report, see << The Times >> of London, July 22nd, 1978, p. 1)


17. Erasmus tells a story of More taking him to visit ‘the royal children’ at Eltham in 1499. The impression is that More, as a young man, was on friendly terms with the Queen of England. Remaining to be assessed. (See Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, P S & H M  Allen, Oxford, Vol. I, No. 1)


18. Investigation of reports from the National Gallery, London (1951), the Courtauld Institute at the University of London, the Hamilton Kerr Institute at the University of Cambridge (1981), and radiocarbon dating of the canvas in the Department of Geosciences of the University of Arizona at Tucson (1983), substantially verifies the family documentation. Despite a raging controversy in the art history world, that the Group Portrait is a copy, the evidence gives the painting to Holbein. Upon receipt of the news from Arizona, the painting was re-dedicated before a distinguished audience, in the presence of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham of St. Marylebone – a tribute to a former Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More. (Reported in the Spectrum article << How Holbein hid a royal secret >> by Geraldine Norman, in << The Times >> of London, 25. 3. 1983) See also << Unveiling of the More Family Portrait at Nostell Priory >> by Thomas Merriam, Moreana 79-80 (Nov. 1983) 111-116. The radiocarbon findings were challenged on the possibility of error in the time scale. (See << The Times >>, loc. cit.) Merriam followed up the objections in << The Times >> (see Moreana, loc. cit.)


19. It is not yet possible to quantify the probability (so-called) of the cryptographic concealment. Such an assessment must be based on statistical arguments, and to be valid, large samples are necessary. The evidence described here is sufficient to suggest that a thorough investigation of the area is justified. Holbein’s paintings and drawings should be brought together and assembled for open discussion in a public exhibition. The mathematical and cryptographic techniques needed to reach a conclusion should also be of interest.


20. Clement is depicted in clothes normally associated with the Italian style, notably the sleeves and hat. John Clement was promoted M.D. at Siena, 30/31st March 1525 : << Mr Io Clemens, Anglus, filius mri Ruberti, in art. et med. doctorandus >>, Arch. di Siena, Vol. III, fol. 59v. See also : inconclusive research of E. Wenkebach in John Clement, ein Englishcher Humanist und Arzt des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1925, Anmerkungen, n. 49 ‘filius mri Ruberti’, et passim.


21. Richard III was known to be physically different from his brothers. His badge was a white boar, given to him by his father, the old Duke of York. The colour white was a symbol of the House of York. << Cingularis >> is the Latin word for a young boar at birth (when its back is striped, not unknown in human babies) – a near-homophone of << singularis >> or ‘one who is different’ or, ‘singular’. Only More attributed the famous humpback and withered arm. For a substantial period of time, some thirty-three years, Richard III’s lifetime, there is no report that he had some physical impediment. Investigation of certain portraits of Richard III reveal subsequent over painting of a hump, a withered arm, and coarse features – suggesting the dirty tricks department at a time when most people could not read but, like children, understood pictures. Remaining to be assessed.


(I wish to thank M.-C. Rousseau for kindly revealing to me the connexion of the cingularis/singularis homophone and its historical significance. I also thank G. Marc’hadour for pointing out that sanglier comes from singularis and that, to some etymologists, this means the inherent ‘singleness’ [non-gregarious character] of the wild boar.)


22. The reader may not be surprised that investigation into the offspring, based upon the theory of notional persons, has provided circumstantial evidence that points retrospectively to a cover up of the noble ancestry of both << Sir Edward Guildford >> and << Dr. John Clement >>.


23. Hans Holbein’s first visit to England began in 1526 as a guest in More’s house. He returned to Basel in 1528. He came back to England in 1532 and remained here except for journeys abroad on the King’s business until he died of the plague in 1543 in London.


24. In Utopia, More refers to John Clement as puer meus. This tallies with the vita that places his birth about 1500. More does not refer to his noble ancestry. See : << John Clement his identity, and his Marshfoot house in Essex >> by T. Merriam, Moreana 97 (March 1988), pp. 145-152. Since publication of Merriam’s article, the College of Arms supports his view, on the basis of the English documentary evidence, that Clement was indeed of gentle or noble birth, and that this goes without saying. Similarly, the Rijksarchief in Antwerp, on the basis of the evidence in Flanders, is satisfied that the contemporary nobilis descriptions in the Matricules de L’Université de Louvain conventionally reflect the status of nobility, and that John Clement was indeed of noble birth. In view of the absence of any evidence of << ennoblement >> (Lord Spiritual or Temporal), this negative evidence suggests the foregoing authoritative opinions upon substantive matters may also be correct in fact ; requiring verification (See : Note 27, below)


25. Matricules de l’Université de Louvain

See : (1) Vol. III, ed. A. Schillings, publ. Louvain, 1958. 31 August 1485 – 31 August 1527. During this 42-year period, 23,479 names were inscribed : an average of 559 each year.


See : (2) id. Vol. IV, ed. A. Schillings, publ. Louvain, 1961. Feb 1528 – Feb 1569. During this 41-year period, 25,767 names were inscribed : an average of 628 each year.


Before entry, at minimum age of about 16 years, each student was required to swear the following oath (text taken from Vol. III, fol. 2) :


Juramenta intitulandorum in manibus rectoris prestanda. Primo quod observabitis jura, privilegia, libertates, statuta, ordinationes et consuetudines laudibiles universitatis studii Lovaniensis ad quemcumque statum deveneritis. Secundo quod observabitis pacem, tranquillitatem et concordiam dicti studii in se, suis facultatibus et membris, sub regimine et obedientia unius rectoris. Tertio quod universitati et ejus rectori pro tempore existenti in licitis et honestis parebitis, ac debitum honorem sibi impenditis. In principio libri precedentis habentur, et ibi vide de stipendio rectoris quo ad sigillum de modo recipiendi scolares et familiares ad usum privilegiorum de qualificatione transportium et scolarium in quos fiunt.


See Schillings’s note in Vol. III, (p. xii) :


Prendre un engagement solennel sous la foi du serment revient évidemment à accomplir un acte juridique pour lequel if faut avoir la capacité requise.


Obviously, for a student to swear an oath under a false name would be a serious crime, namely perjury.


See also the note of FEES in Vol. III (p. xiii) :


Les étudiants devaient payer un minerval pour leurs études. Au début, cette somme était remise entre les mains du recteur. Plus tard, elle sera payée au receveur de l’Université. Le montant de la somme était fixé.


It is not at all clear if Clement had to pay his fees direct into the hand of the rector – or, as a political refugee, whether he paid any fees at all. However, at a later date (see. p. xiv), we find :


…que les nobiles payaient plus que les divites et que la somme soldée par ces derniers était supérieure à celle des pauperes.


Nobility paid more for their tuition than the commoners and paupers. Dr. W. Rombaut, Director of the Rijksarchief at Antwerp, notes that upon occasion, nobles failed to declare their noble ancestry, in order to pay less !


See also Vol. III (p. xiv), re. the origin, significance and practical importance of privilegium tractus :


Lors de sa fondation l’Alma Mater reçut beaucoup de privilèges notamment en matière d’impôts. Le plus important de ceux-ci ètait incontestablement le privilegium tractus ou le privilège de juridiction. Les fondateurs avaient estimé que l’Université ne pouvait pas jouir d’une indépendance complète si ses members n’étaient pas soutraits à toute autorité ecclésiastique et civile autre que celle du recteur, president du tribunal de l’Université.


And also, Vol. III (p. xv) :


Mais l’inscription dans les matricules était la condition indispensable pour pouvoir invoquer les privileges.


And, Vol. III (p. xv) :


L’étudiant n’était inscrit qu’une seule fois, lors de son entrée à l’Université. Toutefois il n’était pas exclu que pour des motifs sérieux, par example une longue absence ou interruption, on jugeât utile d’immatriculer une seconde fois (renovavit juramentum). Le recteur devait inscrire les noms des étudiants de sa main propre (which the editor discusses in the text).


According to custom and rule, the rector is directly involved with the actual registration, which must be made in his own hand. John Clement was unconventionally re-registered by more than one rector (see below) without the formally required renovavit juramentum. The impression is that the rectors are implicated in a collusive arrangement with Clement. The best-fit hypothesis is that the rectors were loyally protecting the person known as John Clement, and that they knew his real identity.


From the rectors’ point of view, it was essential for Clement’s name to be on the register (in order to protect him from possible prosecution by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities) but they could not permit him to swear the oath under a false name, which, in the case of discovery or denunciation, might lose the university its right to the privilegium tractus and cost the rector his job !


The impression is that the problem was honestly solved (almost !) by the earliest rector when he registered a John Clement, without the students’ oath, on 13th February 1489.


Either this rector was an old man, forgetful and incompetent, or he deliberately omitted details of status and origin.


In the latter case, the rector risked the possibility that the classification ‘non juravit (or similar) would be applicable (on just thirteen occasions from August 1485 to February 1569) to privileged college servants (Schillings) and absentees, with customarily given status and/or origins – except in the case of John Clement and that this first entry would be revealed as unique for the period.


In Vol. III :


Tulpinus Causmans, servitor et pistor Mgri Johannis Moeselaer regentis in Castro, solvit jura intitulationis et non juravit. (p. 4, #58. 27.11.1485)


Denea filia Wissonnis ancilla Mgri Johannis Petri de Capella, solvit jura intitulationis et non juravit. (p. 4, #59. 17.12.1485)


Johannes Clemens (non juravit). (p. 42, #128. 13.2.1489)


Bartolomeus de Stapel, servitor laicus Spierinck non juravit. (p. 115, #103. 9.1.1495)


Urbanus Andree de Florenis, non juravit quia absens. (p. 368, #252. 2.10.1508)


In Vol. IV :


Joannes Pierz de Ostendis (non juravit). (p. 12, #1. 31.8.1528)


Jacobus de Namursi (iste non prestitit juramentum quia non comparavit). (p. 87, #8. March 1533)


Carolus le Dusereau, Lymaliensis (non juravit). (p. 521, #435. 26.8.1555)


Arnoldus Proeven de Trajecto Superiori, non juravit. (p. 526, #161. Feb 1556)


Nicolaus Bahuet, Bruxellensis, non juravit propter ejus absentiam. (p. 541, #95. Jan 1557)


Urbanus Beringerius, Cameracensis, non juravit quia absens erat. (p. 541, #101. Jan. 1557)


Johannes Op den Berch, Bruxellensis, non juravit quia absens (p. 543, #177. Jan 1557)


Wilhelmus Bonen, Velpensis, non juravit quia absens. (p. 544, #189. Jan 1557)


The unique John Clement entry presupposes a unique cause and/or a most compelling reason. The rectorship of Mgr Balduinus Wilhelmi of Delft commenced the last day of August 1487. The rectorship of Conrardus de Sarto commenced on the sabbath before the last sabbath in the month of August 1488 and lasted until 26 February 1489, when the new rector was Petrus de Thenis. However, the Clement entry was recorded earlier, under the rectorship of Mgr Balduinus Wilhelmi, and the entry is in his hand. There is no fully satisfactory explanation except that pre-inscribing of an under-age student was not unusual – indeed, it was common.


See also :

Dominus Doctor Joannes Clemens, nobilis, Anglus. (Vol. IV, [op. cit.], #3, March 1562)

Dominus Johannes Clement, in theologia. (Vol. IV, [op. cit.], #55, 3 June 1568)



26. The true year of birth of John Clement :

The 1518 edition of Utopia contains a frontispiece showing Clement as a young boy. It is still uncertain who drew the original sketch, either Hans Holbein or Ambrosius Holbein, his brother. However, the impression is that Hans Holbein deduced Clement’s age (as we have done) from the text and may have further confirmed this with Erasmus who was living at the time in the home of the Basel printer, Johannes Froben, probably seeing his friend More’s work through the press. We may imagine Holbein’s surprise when he met John Clement for the first time in More’s house in London in 1526-1527. He was expecting to meet a man of about 27 years (born about 1500) and instead he was introduced to a man of 54 years. There was little point in Thomas More insulting his guest’s intelligence by denying what he had written and that Erasmus was involved. This extraordinary story of Clement’s alleged real age and true year of birth (1473) is referred to in the rebus in the Group Portrait Sir Thomas More and his Family.


27. See : Testing Times for fathers by Liz Gill in << The Times >> of London, 20th July 1987, p. 15. See also DNA ‘advance of the century’ by Craig Seton in << The Times >> of London, 14th November 1987, p. 3 and, Genetic fingers in the forensic pie in << New Scientist >> by Steve Connor, 28 Jan 1988, pp. 31-32.


28. Precedents : The coffin of Edward IV was opened at Windsor in 1789. (See : Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, Compact Edition, Vol. I, D-F, p. 500). The supposed remains of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, were inconclusively examined in 1933. (See Cokayne, op. cit.) The remains of Anne Mowbray (1472-1481), the child bride of Richard, Duke of York, were examined upon the instruction of the coroner, after being found in a coffin buried in a sealed vault on the former site of a medieval nunnery belonging to the order of St. Clare. On May 31, 1965, with the approval of the Dean & Chapter of Westminster, she was re-interred in Westminster Abbey, where she had been buried originally in the Chapel of St. Erasmus. (See: << The Times >> of London, Jan 15th 1965)


Footnote :

For the best defence of Richard III in a work of fiction (acknowledged by Cokaynes’s The Complete Peerage), see The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. (cf. beginning of the present article and Note 1)






The Princes in the Tower disappeared in 1483, aged 13 and 10 years. In his History of King Richard III, More curiously repeats what ‘men say’, that they mere murdered by their ambitious uncle, Richard of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Why does a man of truth take on board a rumour from a previous century – not to be printed during his life time ? No less impressive : why doesn’t the mother of the princes, Elizabeth Woodville, claim that her children are either missing or dead ? Could the children have re-appeared under false names and identities, the elder as Sir Edward Guildford and the younger as John Clement, the latter in the More family ? The presence of Richard, Duke of York, is confirmed by the artist Holbein in the Group Portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family. Upon the death of his elder brother, Clement-the-rightful-heir occupies the position of honour highest in the portrait, marked by fleur de lis. The theory of royal status is supported by what we find in the registers of the University of Louvain. Do not these trails merit deeper investigation ?





Les enfants de la Tour, neveux et rivaux potentials de l’ambitieux Richard de Gloucester, disparurent en 1483, ages 13 et 10 ans. Dans son History of King Richard III, More accrédite leur assassinat en répétant ce que << men say >> (les gens disent). Mais lui, l’homme intègre qui mourra pour la vérité, se garde bien de prendre à son compte cette rumeur. En outré, son oeuvre, rédigée entre 1513 et 1518, ne sera pas publié de son vivant. Pourquoi une telle reserve ? Un autre << silence >> n’est pas moins impressionnant ; celui de la mère des jeunes princes, Elizabeth Woodville. Alors, les enfants n’auraient-ils pas simplement disparu sous des noms d’emprunt, l’un de Sir Edward Guildford, l’autre de John Clement, ce dernier appartenant à la maisonnée de More? C’est ce que confirmerait la présence de ce John, sous ‘nom de guerre’ de Heresius, dans une grande composition, La Famille de Thomas More, par Hans Holbein. Clement-Heresius-Richard d’York y occupe une position honorifique inattendue, et ce dans un cadre de fleurs de lis. L’hypothèse de l’ascendance royale du personage est confortée – du moins elle n’est pas ébranlée – par ce que nous apprennent de John Clement les registres d’inscription de l’Université de Louvain. Toutes ces pistes ne méritent-elles pas des investigations plus poussées ?





The holograph page 17v of the Louvain register shows the ‘Johannes Clemens’ entry with ‘non juravit’ abbreviated in the left hand margin (tenth line). The handwriting changes with the entry : ‘Johannes Mere de Aldenardo filius Wilhelmi, Tornacen, dyoces, stud. in fac. artium.’ (12.2.1489, eighth line) Note that each name in this section is followed by an identifying qualifier except ‘Johannes Clemens’ (13.2.1489).


Reproduced by courtesy of the Archives Générales du Royaume, 2-4-6 Rue de Ruysbroeck, 1000 Brussels with many thanks to Dr. E. Persoons. (See text above, p. 15)


Last Reviewed: 14 March 2004

ã2000 Holbein Foundation. All rights reserved. Terms of Use.


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5th International Thomas More Symposium

"Europe -- Cradle of Humanism and the Reformation"

Mainz, Germany, May 20-27, 1995.

MAINZ 1995


The More circle : the Antwerp/Mechelen/Louvain connexion

Jack Leslau


This new research paper "The More circle : the Antwerp/Mechelen/Louvain connexion" (1985-1995) has numbered Notes & References joined in its final printed version. Early research and findings (1976-1985) are described and explained in "The Princes in the Tower" (Leslau J, MOREANA XXV, Vol. 98-99, Dec. 1988, pp.17-36). Readers are cordially invited to submit questions on any matter under review.


The members of the More circle in Flanders have come under close scrutiny by readers of Moreana, as perhaps we should expect, following publication of "The Princes in the Tower". We focus once more on John and Margaret Clement, their family and extended family ; firstly, the documentation that the Clements were buried in Mechelen, 1 three children were buried in Louvain, 2 and Sir Edward Guildford was buried in England. 3


Let me say, first of all, that thanks to advances in certain modern technology, namely the self-describing 'geo-radar', which, very simply, finds holes in the ground -- we have found a vault in precisely the location shown in an old painting, and confirmed by document, of the long-lost Rastell tomb in St Peter's church in Louvain. 4 Of this, there can be no measure of doubt. Similarly, we have probably found the Clement tomb in St Rombold's cathedral in Mechelen, though not all experts agree. 5 Application has therefore been made to pass an endoscope into each vault with a view to possible exhumation and further investigation by DNA profiling of the remains. 6 Permission has not been granted to date.


The grounds for these exhumations, as already described and made clear ("Princes" p. 28), are, firstly, that on the ninth day of April in the year 1483, King Edward IV of England died. Secondly, that some three months later, on sixth of July 1483, his younger brother, Richard of Gloucester -- oddly ignoring the hereditary claims of the two sons of Edward IV, namely Edward V and Richard, Duke of York -- ascended the English throne as King Richard III. Thirdly, and finally, the two boy-princes disappeared forever ; the greatest and most baffling case of missing persons in the royal history of England.


As we now know from More's nephew, William Rastell : some thirty years later, in or about the year 1513, the most famous intellectual in the reign of Henry VIII, "our" Thomas More, began to write down the central and most important allegation in his History of King Richard the Third ("Princes" p. 18) : that the princes were dead.


We further know that Hans Holbein flatly contradicts Thomas More in his group portrait Sir Thomas More and his Family some fourteen or more years later, after 1527. Holbein shows the survival of the two princes ("Princes" p. 31). Now, More and Holbein cannot both be right. One of them is wrong. But which one ?


Holbein affirms the recent death (mid-July 1528) of Edward V (also known as Sir Edward Guildford) and the continued existence of Richard, Duke of York, (also known as John Clement), married to More's adoptive daughter, Margaret (née Joan Giggs), 7 living openly with Margaret in More's house in Chelsea. More was Clement's "father-in-law".


If we want one safe, single reason for More's Richard ; that would do. If we want one more : William Rastall, More's publisher, was Clement's son-in-law (married to Winifred Clement). There is also More's part in saving Clement and his family from an early death and England from a coup d'état and the horrors of probable, almost certain, civil war in the 16th century. But there is more.


I have to inform you, and first of all, that no one has come up with a better interpretation of the significance of the hidden messages in the Nostell painting to date. Second, if the central allegation of the survival of the princes is proven beyond reasonable doubt with science : then, More's Richard was indeed a “blind” to lay down a smokescreen over the continued existence of the two princes. Lastly, if true, it would certainly verify my 'no-other-option' of the survival of the two princes, making any contra-argument extremely difficult ;  providing historians with an extremely strong case for a new approach to the study of Tudor history.


In this connexion, I am able to inform you that the former Harveian Librarian of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Gordon Wolstenholme, supports this view. In addition to missing official documents, presidential signatures and his uniquely missing portrait in the archives, the evidence that Richard, Duke of York, was also known as John Clement might go some way to explain, firstly, Clement answering the royal challenge of Henry VIII at a pas d'armes tournament at Greenwich on 1 June 1510 (See : Merriam T, "John Clement: his identity, and his Marshfoot House in Essex", MOREANA XXV, Vol. 97, March 1988, pp. 145-152). Henry's challenge was to his answerer-uncle, his mother's brother, the friendly Richard, Duke of York, also known as John Clement ; and Henry subsequently underwrote his meteoric rise to fame within the hierarchy of the Royal College.


If true, it means that More authorially killed-off the person known as John Clement (Richard, Duke of York, b.1473) in More's Richard (after 1513) ; and replaced him with a notional John Clement (born about 1500) in Utopia (after 1515). The aim of the cleverest lawyer in Europe, as we should expect, was to dead-end any retrospective investigation into the real identity of either John Clement. If true, it also means that each odd detail of Clement's life should now, theoretically, fit neatly into place and it does.


G. Wolstenholme expertly describes the rise to eminence in the Royal College as 'slow'. Clement's extremely rapid rise to fame is considered 'unique'. After gaining an MD abroad, 30/31st March 1525, in Siena, Clement was admitted a Fellow, on 1 February 1527, and notwithstanding that we do not know the nature of the competition in those days, it is odd indeed that some three months later, on 16 April 1528, Clement was admitted an 'elect' extremely important position within the College. The seniority enabled high fees to be charged by holders of the office : conjecturally providing substantial (and essential) financial support for a VIP notional person, Clement, following the theory of notional persons. 8


If we continue the case for just one minute : the conjectured case officer blundered by not finding and destroying this particular record of the pas d'armes at Greenwich, as we should expect, since the document was not an official record but merely a single parchment found hanging on a tree, pinned to a shield, at the tournament ground. (See : Letters & Papers, Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII (2 Henry VIII), I, Part 2, Appendix, p. 1550 (f. 10d), 'pas d'armes' 1 June 1510, H.M.S.O.)


Thanks to this interest of the Royal College in an early president, possibly King Richard IV, a successful recommendation was made to Clement's alma mater in Flanders, the ancient Catholic University of Louvain (KUL), to the department of human genetics (Centrum voor Menselijke Erfelijkheid), where certain new techniques of DNA profiling have been perfected. Briefly, with the kind agreement and consent of the vice-rector, H. van den Berghe, the DNA scientists and other forensic experts will test each separate strand of the "testable" history theory on the princes and publish all findings for independent assessment. They merely await the opportunity.


Those persons who would rather think good than ill of a person will indeed be delighted if it can be shown that the two princes were not murdered by Richard III after all, as we had been brought up to believe. If ever there were a royal history in which believable myth was unnecessary, where simple fact could be left unadorned, it would be the story of the Princes. For more than five hundred years, that has not been the historical case. The case-list of myths and misconceptions about the royal mystery in the Dictionary of National Biography is equally a long one. Politically correct historians declared that they died in the Tower : and authoritarian editors stuck limpet-like until they lost nerve and muscle. The location was then revised. The time, place and perpetrator, and "new" studies downplayed the part of Thomas More, suggesting that his part was smaller and grimmer than the view generally accepted today. 9 This is the hidden legacy of The Princes in the Tower. After investigation, another remarkable battle begins : who controls the meaning of the Louvain findings ? After more than half a millennium : facts now prevail. But even in the silence of their tombs the Princes cannot rest in peace. The name alone means instant recognition, a symbol of monstrous crime, the shedding of innocents' blood.


In the past, many erroneously believed that the story was created to denigrate Richard III. The facts are more complex. And if the facts are less well known, it is because there were almost no survivors who could testify to what happened without immediate terminal risk to their families, property and themselves. Certain news items began to spread some time before the war between the legal heirs and the rightful heirs began in 1485. Subversive groups received word, and were heard, on the missing princes. In the post-war era, the Tudors imposed their ideological version of the fate of the York princes : oddly extolling the wisdom and heroism of their own timely ascent to the English throne. In the 16th century, a dispute between Catholics and Anglicans triggered angry accusations that each group was denying and refusing to acknowledge the true Morean symbolism of the Princes for the other. To ease these tensions, officialdom set up loose-knit groupings made up of many groups. Although critics charge that the pace was too slow, the situation has changed significantly since then. The expert British batting-list was ousted in the offending Dictionary of National Biography and certain signs were exchanged to emphasize that the new playing field was open to all-comers. Such changes have helped. In the new climate, different groups can finally recognize each other’s claims to the legacy of the history, no longer fearing that this somehow diminishes their own scholarship. 10


Finally, as already described and made clear, the work is on going. Research in the Plantin-Moretus museum, Antwerp, shows new evidence of the Clement family. This evidence was misread and therefore misinterpreted in the past : confirmed by the museum authorities. 11 Other new research suggests that if this case were presented for review in a court of law, with only the new scientific and documentary evidence obtained to date, and in the absence of any concrete evidence to the contrary, we would have judgment and a positive verdict from the court...that we have probably found the two missing persons. However, the 'balance of probability' finding is probably insufficient in this truly remarkable case.


In conclusion, one 30-minute television documentary programme ALLE VIJF BRT1 has been shown in Benelux (23 May 1995). A British TV documentary HOLBEIN AND THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER has been made (by CLASS Productions) but not yet broadcast in UK. Each programme argues the need for the higher proof of the DNA findings. I agree. Thank you.


Jack LESLAU                             Organized by Dr. H. Boventer

10 Glenwood Grove                 Thomas-Morus-Gesellschaft e,V.

Kingsbury                                 Deutsche Sektion der intenationalen Vereiniging

London NW9 8HJ                      "Amici Thomae Mori"

                                                 Hubertshöhe 9

                                                 Bensberg 51429


                                                 Bergisch Gladbach







These notes are hopefully in keeping with allotted space in the published volume.


1. '...the Clements were buried in Mechelen :'

    1. An English visitor abroad wrote down the text of the epitaph on the tomb of John and Margaret Clement (d.1572 & d.1570) near the High Altar in St Rombold's cathedral, Malines. (See: PITS J, De illustribus Angliae Scriptoribus, 768, “De Ioanne Clemente” [British Library] publ. 1600 ) :


     ...falté hoc vnum epitaphium vxoris lux hic subnectere minimè pigebit :


Clementis coniux hoc Margarita sepulchro

Dormit, qua nulli charior vlla fuit.

Hac mihi plus quàm quadriginta et quatuor annos

Iuncta fuit, rara norma pudicitiae

Gnatos et gnatas docuit Graecè atque Latinè,

Sed magis instituit iussis tenere Dei.

Ex his pars nupsit Christo, pars altera mundo,

Utraque sed viuit dispare sorte Deo.

Posthabuit Christi fidei patriamque domumque,

Aula peregrino credere membra solo.

Margarita vale mihi dilectissima coniunx,

Moribus eximijs et pietate pari

Vos sursum pater et fili, nataque valete,

at pro ... abiduae fundite, quaeso preces.


In exilio Confessor obijt Mecliniae primo die Iulii, anno post adventum Messiae 1572, et sepultus est in Ecclesia S. Romboldi prope tabernaculum, iacentque in eodem tumulo coniuges, illa autem ante maritum integro ferè biennio diem suum obierat sexto videlicet Iulii anno Domini 1570, regnante in Anglia Elizabetha.


See also : 2


"The Life of Mother Margaret Clement" (d.1612) by Sister Elizabeth Shirley (d.1641), in the Chronicles of St Monica's, Louvain with acknowledgement, and many thanks, to Sister Mary Salomé and the Canonesses of Windesheim, at The Priory of Our Lady, Hassocks, Sussex :


...her body [Margaret Clement, mother of Mother Margaret Clement] was buried at ye Cathedrall church of St. Romwals [Sint Romuldus, St Rombaut, or St Rombold] behind ye hygh Aullter before ye memory of our Blessed Sauiour lyinge in his graue, wher allso her husband was layd by her within two years after. [p. 9]


2.  '...three children were buried in Louvain :'

The Exhibition catalogue of the English Convent in Bruges (1972), item 161, refers to the Obituary List of St Ursula's Monastery 1415-1786 (later, St Monica's). This document shows that the prioress, Mother Margaret Clement, and her only brother, Thomas Clement M.A., died and were buried at St Monica's, Louvain. Their sister, Winifred Rastell (née Clement) (d.1553), was buried beside her husband, William (d.1565), in the Rastell tomb, in St Peter's church, Louvain [Sint Pieterskerk, Leuven].


3.  '...Sir Edward Guildford was buried in England :'

The deduced date of death of Sir Edward Guildford, as seen in official correspondence of Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell, is recorded as 4 June 1534. Holbein disputes this date and affirms that Edward V (also known as Sir Edward Guildford) had died in mid-July 1528. The official place of burial is given as Leeds Castle in Kent : no trace can be found. Holbein affirms the place of burial as Chelsea Church. If true, and Guildford's body is indeed found buried beside his daughter, Lady Jane Guildford, Duchess of Northumberland, in the More chapel of Old Chelsea church : this is evidence of precisely the kind of deception practiced by case officers, over a considerable period of time, in the case of notional persons. There is more. The criteria of the theory of notional persons suggest that the eminent case officer of Edward Guildford in 1534 was Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell who perhaps instructed a Kent civil servant 'Antony' (cryptonyms are still used in the civil service today) to write a certain letter to his master (See : Letters & Papers, Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII, Letter to Thomas Cromwell from John Johnson, alias 'Antony', reporting the death of Sir Edward Guildford on 4 June 1534) :


'Yesterday, I was informed that Sir Edw. Goldford, warden of the Five Ports, was buried in the morning at one o'clock at Ledys, and died without confession or any other sacrament of Church, neither had torch nor taper, nor bell-ringing, but was put into the earth without ceremony. I shall be with you on Friday'. Rochester, Sunday morning. Hol. p. 1.


Sir Edward Guildford was a very important person in his own right. He was not a criminal. You may conceivably decide that the likelihood of Edward Guildford being buried unshriven, without torch, nor taper, nor bell-ringing, and without ceremony, at a midnight funeral, and unattended by his only child and sole remaining heir, Lady Jane Guildford, wife of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, their family and extended family and friends : is so remote as to be readily dismissed. Holbein's word, once more, needs to be tested by science.


4.  '...the long-lost Rastell tomb in St Peter's church in Louvain.' See 1 : The Chronicles of St Monica's, Louvain (Dom Adam HAMILTON, Vol.1, p.10) : 'The Rastell chapel was in the right hand of the altar of the Virgin Mary', conjecturally identified as the right hand side of the altar 'Sanctae Mariae sub oxali' of VAN ESSEN in "Notre-Dame de St Pierre" siège de la sagesse [1129-1921], p.28, quoting MOLANUS, before 1585.

See 2 : Een Bezoek aan de Collegiale Sint-Pieterskerk te Leuven (Paul REEKMANS, publ. PEETERS-LEUVEN, 1989) shows the former chapel Sanctae Mariae now opened up as part of the new choir screen (Fig.71, p.92). Cf. "Le Jubé de Saint-Pierre placé en 1488" in "Les Stalles et le Jubé de l'Église Saint-Pierre" by Van EVEN, p.355 "Louvain dans le passé et dans le présent", 1895.

See 3 : There is a fragment in "Les Quatorze livres sur l'histoire de la Ville de Louvain", 1861, p.785 (probably translated from MOLANUS's Latin text) that William RASTELL was buried in the same TOMB as his wife ('in eodem sepulchro'), and a MONUMENT to his wife, Winifred, was placed under the organ ('monumentum uxori suae Wenefridae...posuit ad S. Petrum sub organis').

See 4 : Pre-1944, on page 31 of REEKMAN's book, Fig. 20 shows the chapel and organ (built by Jean CRIMON in`1556) in an engraving of the interior of St Peter's church (after a 17th century painting by an unknown artist).

See 5 : On page 92 of REEKMAN's book, Fig. 71 shows a monument, possibly the Rastell monument, on the wall in the late 19th century 'under the organ'.

See 6 : Post-1944, on page 25 of REEKMAN's book, Fig. 16 shows the point of impact of a wartime British bomb, some fifteen metres approximately from the former Sanctae Mariae chapel, which left the screen intact but destroyed the monument, organ and oxalus.

See 7 : The report of the geo-radar examination (Geo survey nv; Sint Pieters Leuven, Report no. R930107A WFK, January 1993, Client : Centrum voor Menselijke Erfelijkheid, Mr Jack Leslau, Heresstraat 49, 3000 Leuven) confirms the existence of a hidden vault under the "new" marble flooring in the right hand side of the chapel (conjectured to be the long-lost Rastell vault) and that it was undamaged. It was perhaps protected from the blast by the outer wall of a pagan church on top of which St Peter's was built. This underground stone wall (some one and a half to two metres thick, approximately) can be seen on the 1958 plan of the church "LEUVEN: ECCL. SANCTI PETRI" by J. MERTENS (see : centre pages of "La Crypte Romaine" on sale in the church).

See 8 : The text of the epitaph of Winifred Rastall (d.1553), recorded by J. PITS in 1600 (De Rebus Anglicis) :


hic sita est Wenefrida Coniux Guilhelmi Rastalli ac Joannis Clementia filia: quae Angliam patrium solum diuturna haeresum lue infestatam relinquens, Lovanium cum marito ac parentibus commigravit. Ubi transactis annis tribus cum dimidio Deo spiritum reddidit decimo septimo die Julii anno 1553. Vixit annos viginti sex cum dimidio, quorum nomen in coniugio egit, Latinae linguae non imperita, Graecam vero eximie callens, sed moribus et vitae sanctimonia nemini postponenda. Cui, pic lector, Deum quaeso deprecare propitium.


The epitaph of William Rastall (d.1565) :


Postea Guilhelmus maritus, Ecclesiae jam pace restitute in Angliam rediens, cum non ita multis post annis Catholicae Fidei status illic denuo perturbaretur, amplissimo cum inter Regis confessus indices obtinebat, honore repudiato clam in Brabantiam remigravit, ibique postea annis plus minus tribus exactis, non sine multorum ob merita sua moerore febri extinctus, nunc cum charissima coniuge, a qua ne mortuum quidem illum secubare Deus voluit, hac humo quiescit. Vixit annos quinquaginta septem. Mortuus est 1565, Augusti 27.


5.  '...though not all experts agree.'

The expert advisors in the cathedral argue there is 'no substantive proof' (of the Clement vault in St Rombold's cathedral, in Mechelen). I disagree. First, there is near-contemporary documentary evidence for guidance (See Notes 1 & 2). Second, there is a centrally placed tombstone or vault capstone, perhaps a palimpsest, half-hidden beneath a "new" marble floor behind the High Altar. Thirdly, there is a matching walled area in the crypt precisely where one would expect to find the walls of the Clement vault underground 'behind the High Altar'. Finally, a prima facie case exists for drilling a small hole and passing an endoscope into the disputed area, which is hidden by 16th/17th century brickwork. The case has been discussed and favourably considered on radio, television and in the serious press (See Note 7 below).


6.   '...DNA profiling of the remains.'

See : "The Observer" 11 August 1991, an article by Annabel Ferriman, "The Princes in the Tower lived on with secret identities'". p. 7

See : "The Times" 13 August 1991, comment by Alan Hamilton, "Historian says princes did not die in tower". p. 14

See : "The Daily Telegraph", 13 August 1991, comment by Peter Pallot, "Genetic hunt for Princes in the Tower". p. 14

See : "The York & County Press" 17 August 1991, an article by Alison Bramham, "Richard is innocent". p. 3

See : "The British Medical Journal", 17 August 1991, a letter from Sir Gordon Wolstenholme, former Harveian Librarian, Royal College of Physicians, "The Princes in the Tower". Vol. 303, p. 382.

See : "Knack" Magazine, 4-10 September 1991, an article by Dirk Draulans, "Een Prins onder het Altaar...Kardinal Danneels ligt dwars". p. 176-178

See : "De Standaard", 4 September 1991, an article by Pieter van Dooren, Els Groessens, Hilde van den Eynde, '...Het gekste verhaal dat ik ooit hoorde', p. 1 & p. 12

See : "De Standaard", 7 September 1991, an article by Pieter van Dooren, "Graf John Clement nog niet meteen open", p. 6

See : Two-page Fax ('to all newspapers'), dated 6 September 1991, from Dr Toon Osaer, Press Officer to His Eminence Godfried Cardinal Danneels, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Wollemarkt 15, B-2800, Mechelen, Belgium. Tel (015) 21 65 01. Fax (015) 20 94 85. The Archbishop states his side of the case. There is no mention of an examination by endoscope (See : Note 6 above).


7. 'Margaret (née Joan Giggs)'

The parents of Margaret Clement (née Giggs) are conjectured as 'Thomas and Olive Gygges' (See : "Visitations of Norfolk" 1563 & 1580, f. 1613 [undated], Harleian Society, Vol. XXXII, 73, p. 159 'Olive, ux. Thomas Giggs of Burnham in Norfolk'; and, "The Life of Mother Margaret Clement" by Sister Elizabeth Shirley (d.1641) in the "Chronicles of St Monica's", Louvain, where Margaret's father is described as a 'gentleman of Norfolk'). If true, the Will of Thomas Gygges shows that he died in the same year Kratzer (and Holbein) suggest Margaret Clement was born (1505). If true, then the infant Margaret received a small bequest from her father to whom she was known as 'Jone' (Joan). Norfolk Record Office, N.C.C. Wills 1505 (289, Ryxe). The Will of Olive Gygges shows that she died in 1510. Norfolk Record Office, N.C.C. Wills 1510 (24,25 Johnson). Both were buried in the Chapel of Our Lady in the church of Burnham St Clement, in Norfolk. I am indebted to Dr John Giggs of the University of Nottingham for his kind assistance : and his recent article "Surname Geography : a Study of the Giggs Family Name 1450-1989". (See also: G. Marc'hadour "More's first wife...Jane ? or Joan ?", MOREANA XXIX, Vol. 109, March 1992, pp.3-22).


8. 'theory of notional persons'

In 1976, I was invited to discuss my discoveries with the late Sir John Masterman, self-declared amateur of the double-cross, whose work with MI5 during World War II is described in the official record of the XX ('Double-Cross') Committee The Double-Cross system in the war of 1939-1945, Masterman J, publ. Yale University Press, 1972. I was encouraged to continue and 'ignore all rebuffs'. Masterman's theory of notional persons is explained and made clear, for the first time, in my unpublished book The Princes are out of the Tower, 'A personal view of Thomas More by Jack Leslau'.


9. 'the view generally accepted today'...

R. W. Chambers (Thomas More, London, 1976) shows that certain historians of the 19th and 20th centuries could only see the author of More's Richard, as we should expect, as a man who 'allowed his sentiments to be moulded by the official theology of the court' (Lord Acton, Historical Essays and Studies, 1907, pp. 30-31) ; who 'turned his back on the ennobling enthusiasms of his youth' (Thomas Lindsay, History of the Reformation), London, 1907, p. 91) and 'became a merciless bigot' (Mandell Creighton, Persecution & Tolerance, London, 1895, pp. 107-108) ; 'an official engaged in justifying what was convenient for the moment', 'deceiving himself', 'repeating platitudes', 'putting his principles aside'. (James Froude, History of England from the fall of Wolsey to the defeat of the Spanish Armada, London 1856, (1) pp. 73-74, 227 ; (2) pp. 344-345). And so we may, from these and other odd judgments handed down by historians in the past, learn not to judge without science : in an on-going method of inquiry.


10. '...diminishes their own scholarship.'

The changed new climate for different groups of historians is the legacy of the 20th century.


11. 'confirmed by the museum authorities'.

Mr. G. Van den Bosch of the Plantin-Moretus museum, Vrijdagmarkt 22, B-2000, Antwerp, confirms that the title page of the Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, oratorum... published by Aldus Manutius, Venice, in 1499, and recorded in Christophe Plantin's private collection, shows the inscription 'dorothea cle. liber'. There is a further record in Plantin's account book : '29 October liber D. Clemens vendidit C. Plantin'. I have to draw attention that the inscription has been mis-read 'Doctor' not 'Dorothea' Clement, by Leon Voet and Maurits Sabbe, over a substantial period of time. Dorothy Clement studied Greek and Latin and was later professed a Poor Clare nun at Louvain.



Addendum :


Several years have passed since my Moreana article on The Princes, it is true, and I do not know how well informed my audience is. The photocopies reproduced today, thanks to the kindness and trenchant generosity of amicus G. van den Steenhoven, are ' fresh up the memory even of those who have read Moreana and to dispel any notions of phantasmagoria among the participants at the Symposium'.



Last Reviewed: 14 June 2000

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