Richard Roose

bust In early 1531, Richard Roose (also Richard Rouse, Richard Cooke) was accused of poisoning members of the household of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester for which he was subsequently boiled alive. Although nothing is known of Roose or his life outside of the case, he is believed to have been Fisher's household cook—or, less likely, a friend of the cook—at Fisher's residence in Lambeth. He was accused of adding a white powder to some porridge (or similar foodstuff) which was eaten by Fisher's dining guests and those begging food at his kitchen door; two people died. Roose claimed that he had been given the powder to add to the food by a stranger, and claimed it was intended to be a joke—he thought he was incapacitating his fellow servants rather than killing anyone, he said. Fisher survived the poisoning as, for an unknown reason, he ate nothing that day. Roose was arrested immediately and tortured for information. King Henry VIII—who already had a morbid fear of poisoning—personally addressed the House of Lords on the case and was probably responsible for an act of parliament which attainted Roose and retroactively made murder by poison a treasonous offence mandating execution by boiling. Roose was boiled at London's Smithfield in April 1532.

Fisher was already unpopular with the King, as Henry wished to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn, which the Church would not allow. Fisher was vociferous in his defence of Katherine, and contemporaries rumoured that the poisoning at Lambeth was the responsibility of the Boleyn family, with or without the knowledge of the King. There appears to have been at least one other attempt on Fisher's life when a cannon was fired towards Fisher's residence from the direction of Anne's father's house in London; on this occasion, no-one was hurt, but much damage was done to the roof and slates.

Fisher himself was executed by the King for his opposition to the Royal Supremacy, and Henry eventually married Anne and broke with the Catholic Church. Henry died in 1547 and his poisoning act did not long outlive him, being repealed almost immediately by his son Edward VI. The Roose case continued to ferment popular imagination and was still being cited in law into the next century.

It is considered by many historians to be a watershed in the history of attainder, which traditionally acted as a corollary to common law rather than replacing it. It was a direct precursor to the great treason attainders that were to underpin the Tudors'—and particularly Henry's—destruction of their political and religious enemies. Provided by Wikipedia

1
by Roose, Richard
Published 1760
Printed for Hannah Roose, and sold by W. Owen

2
by Roose, Richard
Published 1760
printed for Hannah Roose, and sold by W. Owen, near Temple-Bar