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Risley (Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton) as played by Frank McCusker

born 21 December 1505 – died 30 July 1550

Character's backstory
This Character's real name is spelled Wriothesley, however some of his relatives actually spelled his name phonetically as Risley which is how his name is pronounced.
Young Thomas had been taught law by Stephen Gardiner at Cambridge, but had left early to pursue a career at court where he attracted the attention of Thomas Cromwell however his loyalties would always lie with Gardiner. He entered Royal service in 1530 as a Clerk of the Signet. Henry liked him and rewarded his diligence with substantial grants of monastic lands, sent him abroad several times as an ambassador and affectionately nicknamed him "my pig". He was one of the men that Henry relied on in times of crisis. In 1538 when Henry was courting a new bride in the form of Christina of Denmark , it was he who informed her that his master was " a most gentle gentleman, his nature so benign and pleasant that I think till this day no man hat heard many angry words pass from his mouth" to which she declared if she had two heads then one of them would be at His Majesty's disposal.
Thomas Wriothesly and Ralph Sadler were appointed joint Secretaries of State in early 1540. He would act as secretary to the Council while Sadler would be secretary to the King. The King rewarded his good service with the abbey of Titchfield, which he converted into his country seat. He easily dominated Sadler and by 1542, it was being said that he "almost governed everything". In the early 1540's two distinct parties emerged; the conservatives, led by the reactionary Bishop Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolkwho were supported by the self-seeking Wriothesly, and wish to see the return to more traditional forms of religion; and the reformists headed by the autocratic Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford and backed by Thomas Cranmer, William Parr and William Paget. Led by Gardiner and ably supported by Wriothesley, the conservative faction in order to regain its ascendancy and discredit its rivals, ruthlessly sought out heretics and traitors within the Royal Household. In March of 1543, they 'uncovered a nest of heretics' among the musicians of St. George's chapel at Windsor. The gifted organist, composer and master of the choristers, John Mabeck, a secret Calvinist was sentenced to be burned at the stake after heretical writings were found at his home but the King valued his playing so highly that he pardoned him. Three other members of the Chapel Royal were not so lucky.
On 22 April 1544, Lord Audley died and the following month, Wriothesley was chosen to replace him as Lord Chancellor.


Knighted in 1537
Principal Secretary of State
Lord Privy Seal
Lord Chancellor

Personality type: able, unscrupulous, enterprising, tenacious and ruthless

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s):

Annoying trait(s): over confident and egotistical.
notorious for his persecution of Anne Askew because it was said that he personally operated the rack on which she was tortured.

Risley as played by Frank McCusker

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Family members:
Father: William Wrythe
Mother: Agnes Drayton

Jane Cheney (Bishop Stephen Gardiner's niece)

William -born c. 1535 - 1537
Anthony -born & died an infant - 1542
Elizabeth - born c. 1536 - died - 1554
Henry - born c.1545 - died -1581

Bishop Stephen Gardiner
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford
Thomas Cranmer
William Parr




Risley as played by Frank McCluster
Thomas Wriothesley (pronounced Risley) byHolbein
Thomas Wriothesely (Risley) by Hans Holbein
Risley as played by Frank McCusker Thomas Wriothesley (pronounced Risley) byHolbein
Risley as played by Frank McCuskerRisley as played by Frank McCusker
Risley as played by Frank McCuskerRisley as played by Frank McCusker