He was reportedly "merry" when he mounted the scaffold, saying to the lieutenant, "Pray Sir, see me safe up; and as to my coming down, let me shift for myself." Since he was allowed no long speech on the scaffold, he asked only that those in attendance pray for his immortal soul, and declared that he died a loyal servant to both the King and to God. It has been popularly reported and said that he announced, "I die the King's good servant, but God's first," though it is uncertain whether or not these were his exact words. It seems fitting, however, considering that he was dying as a result of his refusal to betray his conscience and faith in God in favor of the King.
After his few words, he knelt at the block and looked up at the executioner, kissing him and saying, "Pick up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thine office; My neck is very short, take heed therefore thou strike not awry for having thine honesty." Then, while praying, his head was severed in one clean blow and the great Sir Thomas More died a courageous and faithful man. His head was set on a spike and displayed on Tower Bridge, where it remained for a few months before his beloved daughter retreived it and set it in a box, bringing it home for a proper burial. As sad as this mental image is, it is heartbreakingly sweet when we consider the loving relationship between Thomas More and Margaret.
And so, on this day in 1535, Sir Thomas More (who is now a Catholic and Anglican saint), died a hero for the Church and a traitor to His Majesty King Henry VIII. This was the man who wore painful hair shirts during his life as penance, who enforced the goodness and importance of God in his children's lives, and who always remained true to himself and his faith. Surely, through his daughter Margaret, his spirit lived on.
Rest in Peace, Sir Thomas More!
Hall's Chron. Vol. 2. S. 2.