CROMWELL AND THE MASTERSHIP OF THE KING'S WARDS
In his life of Cromwell in the Dictionary of National Biography, James Gairdner stated that in 1532 Cromwell was made master of the wards, and the assertion was repeated by Merriman.1 The office was normally granted by patent, but there is no trace of Cromwell having obtained one, so that the evidence must be circumstantial rather than direct. It is true that about the end of 1532 certain indications are found that Cromwell held the office. On 16 September, Sir John Lamplough wrote from Kendal: '. . . the saying here is, ye shulde be Master off the Wardes', going on to assure Cromwell of his readiness to 'doo the Kynges Henesse suche seruice Concernyng the same as shall pleyss you to Command me.'2 On 18 October another gentleman wrote from Cumberland: 'Sir, hit his shewyt me yt ze at master off the kynges wardes qwych I wald be glad yr off, & yff so be ye hade neyd off a substanciall feodore' -- and he proceeded to outline the local difficulties of that position.3 What was rumoured in distant parts of the kingdom is not very good evidence, but twice we find letters addressed to Cromwell as "Master of the kyng our Souereign lorde wairdes" and "maister of the kinges wardes",4 and the second letter is an appeal from a prisoner in the Tower which had not the remotest connexion with wardship. The fact that Cromwell held the office seems therefore to have been sufficiently well known for any letter to be addressed to him by that title.
Nevertheless, there is very much stronger evidence on the other side. The papers of the master of the wards himself do not once show Cromwell active in that capacity; the man who was doing all____________________