William Roper, The Life of Sir Thomas More (1626)

Upon whose departure Sir Thomas More, as one that had been invited to a solemn feast, changed himself into his best apparel; which Mr. Lieutenant espying, advised him to put it off, saying: “That he that should have it was but a worthless fellow.” “What Mr. Lieutenant” (quoth he), “shall I account him a worthless fellow, that will do me this day so singular a benefit? Nay, I assure you, were it cloth of gold, I would account it well bestowed on him, as St. Cyprian did, who gave his executioner thirty pieces of gold.” And albeit, at length, through Master Lieutenant’s persuasions, he altered his apparel, yet, after the example of that holy martyr Saint Cyprian, did he of that little money that was left him, send one angel of gold to his executioner.

And so was he brought by Master Lieutenant brought out of the Tower, and from thence led towards the place

of execution, where going up the scaffold, which was so weak that it was ready to fall, he said merrily to Master Lieutenant: “I pray you, Master Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming down, let me shift for myself.”

Then he desired he all the people thereabouts to pray for him, and to bear witness with him, that he should then suffer death in and for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church. Which done, he kneeled down, and after his prayers said, he turned to the executioner, and with a cheerful countenance spake unto him: “Pluck 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 saving thine honesty.”