RICHARD GWENT Traditionally, Richard Gwent is said to have been a farmer's son from that province of south-east Wales whose name he bore.36 This seems very probable. Throughout his career he maintained close connexions with south Wales and the border country, and the executor of his will bore the unmistakably Welsh name of Thomas ap Howell.37 But the date of his birth and the circumstances of his upbringing, like those of almost every comparable personality of early Tudor times, remain obscure. The first certain record that we have of him is when he was elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1515. This suggests that he was probably born during the last decade of the fifteenth century. At the university he pursued a distinguished career as a lawyer. He became a Bachelor of Civil Law in December 1518 and of Canon Law in February 1519. By 1525 he had become a doctor of both laws,38 and for a time was chief moderator of the Canon Law school at Oxford. A long connexion between him and the nunnery of Godstow is first signalled by his being instituted by the abbess and convent to the vicarage of St. Giles, Oxford, a living in their gift. After leaving the university, Gwent appears to have done what many of the brightest and most aspiring graduates of his time were doing he entered Wolsey's service. He can have served him only in lowly capacity for we know almost nothing about his activities during this period. We get a glimpse of his having acted as a commissioner on behalf of the cardinal to settle some quarrels in the monastery of Winchcombe. But the whole episode is obscure and is mentioned only incidentally many years after it had taken place.39 More interesting is the inclusion of Richard Gwent as one of the counsel chosen to act for Catherine of Aragon in 152940 when the "king's great matter" was being brought for hearing before Cardinals Campeggio and Wolsey. Gwent can have been no more than a very junior counsel. John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, Henry Standish, bishop of St. Asaph, and Nicholas West, bishop of Ely, were briefed as the Queen's chief defenders, though of these only Fisher was prepared to make any serious stand on her behalf. We learn nothing of Gwent's part in the trial from the contemporary proceedings, but some ten years later, in 1539, when one of Lord Montague's servants, Anthony Roke, was giving evidence at his trial for treason, he gave some interesting details about contacts he had had with Gwent during the proceedings against Catherine of Aragon. Roke was, at the time of the trial, a servant to the Queen 36 D.N.B., D.W.B., s.n. 87 P.C.C., 3 Pynnynge. 88 Register of the University of Oxford, ed. C. W. Boase and A. Clark (Oxford Hist. Soc., 1884-9), I, 107. 89 L. and P., IX, 52 (2) X, 216. 40 Ibid., IV, iii, 5768, 5866.