Sir Thomas Malory


Sir Thomas Malory (c.1405-1471)

Very little is known about this intriguing man. We can say with a fair degree of certainty that he lived in the fifteenth century and that he wrote a book called Le Morte D’Arthur, the first prose account in English of the first English king. In the epilogue of the book we are told that it was completed in the ninth year of the reign of Edward IV, which would be 1469/70. The book was revised and printed by William Caxton in 1485. One thing more can be said: he spent some time in prison. And that’s about it.

The rest is based on the research of George Lyman Kittridge, an American scholar who wrote ‘Who was Thomas Malory’ in 1897 and is generally accepted as the most likely identification of Malory and account of his life.

According to Kittridge, Mallory was born at Newbold Revell in Warwickshire circa 1416 to John Malory and Philippa Chetwynd. His father held land in Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and was sheriff, M.P. and J.P. several times. Thomas had several sisters but no brothers. Nothing is known of his early years.

As a young man he served in France under the Earl of Warwick and supported Lancaster during the War of the Roses. He was knighted in ’42 and became the Member of Parliament for Warwickshire in ’45 and served on commissions. He married Elizabeth Walsh of Wanlip in Leicestershire. His life seemed set upon the predictable course of a country knight, but, inexplicably, in 1450 he turned to a life of crime. In January, with twenty-six others, he allegedly planned to ambush the Duke of Buckingham. In May, he allegedly raped Joan Smith at Coventry. The charge was brought by her husband under a statute of Richard II making the act of elopement into a crime of rape even when the woman consented. Also in May, he extorted money from two residents of Monks Kirby, then in August allegedly raped Joan Smith again and stole money from her husband. Again in August, he allegedly committed extortion against another man of Monks Kirby. Whew! No wonder Sir Thomas ended up in prison.

On March 5th 1451, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but the crime spree wasn’t over and he apparently stole cattle in Warwickshire. The Duke of Buckingham with sixty men tried to apprehend him, but meantime Malory raided the duke’s hunting lodge, killing deer and damaging the property.

Finally he was arrested at Coleshill, but escaped by swimming the moat. Next he raided Combe Abbey with a hundred men, insulted the monks and stole money. By January 1452 he was in prison in London, mostly in Newgate, where he spent most of the next eight years awaiting trial. He was bailed out several times, and at one point joined a horse-stealing expedition, which put him in prison in Colchester. After escaping again, he was recaptured and taken back to London.

Malory received a pardon from the Yorkists and aided Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick in the recovery from the Lancastrians of castles they held in Northumberland. But in 1468 he seems to have changed sides again because from then on he was excluded from royal pardons. By that time he was in prison again, completing Le Morte D’Arthur. He died in 1471 and was buried in Greyfriars in Newgate. Nothing remains of his grave.

What a colourful, criminal life Sir Thomas had. There are some who cannot reconcile this reprobate with the author of Le Morte D’Arthur and claim that it is a case of mistaken identity, that the author was a law-abiding Yorkshire knight. Others claim he was a Welshman.

Would the real Sir Thomas Malory please stand up.

Spotlighting Tony Riches

OWEN – Book One of The Tudor Trilogy, by Tony Riches


England 1422: Owen, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US



About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

Tony Riches

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

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