Margaret Roper – Her Father’s Daughter

We visited the Old Chelsea Church in May 2019 because of its connection with my 4 x great grandmother Mary Small nee Parker. And while there we discovered its connection with the English Martyr Sir Thomas More and his family including eldest daughter Margaret Roper nee More.  The good folk at the church allowed us in, thinking we were there for maintenance, and then kindly let us look around. They told us of how the Church was badly damaged during the WWII Blitz and of the challenge of reconstructing the Church internally.


Old Chelsea Church near Sir Thomas More’s Chelsea home


Sir Thomas More outside the Old Chelsea Church

A year later in July 2020, we discovered that Sir Thomas More, Jane More nee Colt and Margaret Roper were in fact ancestors of Daniel Dering Mathew, David Christian’s 4 x great grandfather. Margaret Roper nee More‘s descendant Elizabeth Henshaw married Sir Edward Dering (1706 – 1752), Fifth Baronet of Surrendon – and thus many of the Dering’s from that point were descended from Margaret Roper and her father Sir Thomas More and mother Jane Colt. Elizabeth Henshaw was descended from Margaret and William Roper’s son Thomas Roper (1534 – 1597).


Sir Thomas More Memorial inside the Old Chelsea Church

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Sir Thomas More Memorial inside the Old Chelsea Church



Dame Alice More nee Harpur – second wife of Sir Thomas More


Site of Sir Thomas More’s Orchard in Chelsea


Thames River near Old Chelsea Church and Sir Thomas More’s Chelsea home

A Wikipedia article describes Margaret Roper (1505–1544)  : an English writer and translator. Roper, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas More, is considered to have been one of the most learned women in sixteenth-century England.She is celebrated for her filial piety and scholarly accomplishments. Roper’s most known publication is a Latin-to-English translation of Erasmus‘ Precatio Dominica as A Devout Treatise upon the Paternoster. In addition, she wrote many Latin epistles and English letters, as well as an original treatise entitled The Four Last Things. She also translated the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius from the Greek into the Latin language.

As the daughter of Sir Thomas More, Margaret Roper was very well educated for a female of her times. Her father had personally educated her in Humanist Principles. There are numerous references to her works

Although well educated, Margaret More was still expected to conform to Tudor era expectations of females, and there is the mention of the Learned Wife in Humanism. Margaret married lawyer William Roper, who had been converted to Lutheranism, and then returned to the Catholic Church. William was the uncle of Sir John Roper 1st Baron Teynham – Wikipedia

Sir Thomas More was a loyal member of the Catholic Church, and did not support Henry VIII‘s moves to break with the Catholic Church to establish the Church of England. The Famous Trials website describes how Sir Thomas More was locked in the Tower of London, where he continued to write, and was then tried for Treason relating to four charges :

  • charge of opposing the Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn
  • charge of not swearing to recognize the King as the supreme head of the Church
  • charge against More was that, while in the Tower, he wrote letters to Bishop Fisher inciting him to violate the Treason Act
  • a charge concerning his Bell Tower conversation with Richard Rich – it was alleged that More, responding to a hypothetical question posed by Rich, told his visitor that the Parliament had no more power to enact the Act of Supremacy that it did to pass a law declaring God not to be God.

Inevitably the once Lord Chancellor of England  Sir Thomas Moore was found guilty and executed. Others executed under Henry VIII included Lord Great Chamberlain Thomas Cromwell – see also Wikipedia article. Concidentally Oliver Cromwell a 2 x great grandson of Thomas Cromwell’s sister Katherine Cromwell. An earlier Lord Chancellor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was charged with Treason after falling out of favour with Henry VIII, but died of natural causes on the way to answer the charges, thus avoiding conviction and possible execution.

Margaret Roper was briefly imprisoned for recovering the head of her father after his execution under Henry VIII – it is now held at St Dunstan’s CanterburyFindagrave – some say his body was buried at the Old Church Chelsea – however the Church’s website indicates that he was buried in an unmarked grave at the Tower of London. See also Canterbury by Canon Danks.

It is ironic that Daniel Dering Mathew and David Christian also descend from William Carey and Mary Carey nee Boleyn, sister of Queen Ann Boleyn – and indeed there is controversy as to whether Mary‘s daughter Catherine Knollys nee Carey was instead a daughter of Henry VIII. This debate has continued for centuries and is the subject of books and films.

Pope Leo XIII beatified Sir Thomas More, John Fisher, and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886.  And on May 19, 1935, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Pius XI presided at a canonization ceremony for Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.

From a Wikipedia article – “In 1980, More was added to the Church of England’s calendar of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church, despite being a fierce opponent of the English Reformation that created the Church of England. He was added jointly with John Fisher, to be commemorated every 6 July (the date of More’s execution) as “Thomas More, scholar, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Reformation Martyrs, 1535“. Pope John Paul II honoured him by making him patron saint of statesmen and politicians in October 2000, stating: “It can be said that he demonstrated in a singular way the value of a moral conscience … even if, in his actions against heretics, he reflected the limits of the culture of his time“.

The actions of the Church of England is interesting as I have read that claims that Sir Thomas More was involved in sending a number of Protestant “heretics” to be burned on the stake, a fate he narrowly avoided himself.

See also the Catholic Encyclopedia on Sir Thomas More.

Letters between Sir Thomas More and daughter Margaret Roper

The More family was in the heart of the struggles of the Reformation – the More’s were deeply Catholic. In later generations her great grandson Anthony Roper and wife Margaret Compton would be categorised as Recusants – people penalised for not attending the official Church of England.  They might have also been people forcibly converted to Protestantism who remained loyal to the Roman Catholic beliefs and continued to be a practicing Catholic, even refusing to attend the Protestant services of the Church of England.).

And yet in another generation Anthony’s son Edward Roper is said to have married Katherine Butler at Saint James, Clerkenwell, London, England, part of the Church of England  in 1666/1668? (Note some have believed that Katherine was descended from the aristocratic Butler’s of Kilkenny etc – however her brother’s and nephew’s parliamentary entries indicate that they were descended from a London Cloth Merchant – Clothworker). Then Anthony’s grandaughter Elizabeth Roper married in 1706/1707 to Edward Charles Henshaw in St Lawrence Jewry & St Mary Magdalene Milk St, London, part of the Church of England? Another generation later Anthony’s great granddaughter Elizabeth Henshaw married Sir Edward Dering 5th Baronet of Surrendon, of a Protestant family. 

Family Tree of Margaret Roper nee More ancestor of Daniel Dering Mathew

Sir Thomas More (1478 – 1535) – Jane Colt (1484 – 1511) – after Jane’s death he remarried to a widow, Alice Middleton nee Harpur, – there were no children from this second marriage




3 thoughts on “Margaret Roper – Her Father’s Daughter

  1. Pingback: Saints in Daniel Dering Mathew’s Family Tree | Daniel Dering Mathew – A Family History

  2. Partner to Bridget Oliver is a bit of a stretch. Daniel Dering Mathew was an employer who thought that young female domestic servants were his to exploit sexually. He was a repeat offender. Magistrates considered him unsuitable to have convicts assigned to him because the rations he offered them were unfit for human consumption. He validated his behaviour because that is how the slaves were treated in the West Indies. Sorry but I am not impressed by the ancestor.

  3. Dear June

    thank you for your thoughts – I would agree that my husband’s ancestor Daniel Dering Mathew was an arrogant egotistical opinionated man and a convicted criminal. I believe that the first two paragraphs on the main website page do not shy away from the fact that he was a convicted criminal and that his family’s wealth was associated with Slavery.
    “An eccentric well to do gentleman, father of Charlotte Johnson nee Oliver – self described as an architect – would it be presumptuous to call him Australia’s first architect, predating Francis Greenway ? Latterly, a prosecuted convicted criminal ?
    Descended from fabulously wealthy ancestors – what was he doing in the NSW Colony and not in England living a life of luxury, based on the wealth of his families’ West Indian plantations? Yes – his ancestors were slave owners.”

    I had also linked in some of Daniel Dering Mathew’s history from here –

    Most of the Daniel Dering Mathew Family History website is a work in progress including the page covering Margaret Roper

    I am now finding a few more slavery links in a number of my own family paternal and maternal lines and have been writing about these :

    At a seniors group a year or so ago, my husband and I were asked to do a presentation on Scandals in the Family Closet – we did not hold back from the sheer abundance of material to share, including the Slavery connections. It seems totally surreal to be descended from Convicts (I am descended from 13 and my husband is descended from 10), and to also have Slaveowners in the family trees.

    As for writing about others than the family of Daniel Dering Mathew ? I already have created and/or administer a suite of Family History Websites which may be found here – – this Dering Mathew website is but one of 17 of these Family History web sites. Convicts and their descendants are covered in many of these 17 websites.
    And as for writing of the Oliver’s of Lanecove ? They are already covered here –

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