Sir Francis Bryan

Sir Francis Bryan was the son of Margaret Bourchier and Sir Thomas Bryan. Born in around 1491, he was a close companion of Henry VIII, being a member of his Privy Chamber. Bryan had the reputation of being a tearaway, and attracted disapproval from Henry and Wolsey in 1519, when on a diplomatic mission to Paris, he and his colleagues entertained themselves by throwing eggs into the crowd.

This was the type of antic that earned him the nick-name the 'Vicar of Hell'. Bryan was notable jouster, competing in many tournaments in the early part of Henry's reign, until he lost an eye in a jousting incident.

Despite his closeness to Henry VIII and Anne being a half-cousin of his, Bryan did not favour the Boleyn marriage. Together with his brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Carew, he encouraged Henry's marriage to Jane Seymour, another relative, of whom he seems to have been fond, trying to arrange her marriage before the King showed an interest in her.

After Anne's death, Bryan became Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, but lost his position after quarrelling with Cromwell, who engineered the downfall of Bryan's brother-in-law.

After Henry's death, Bryan married Lady Joan FitzGerald, a widow some twenty years younger than he, and the mother of seven sons. He and Lady Joan had three children, from the eldest of whom, Francis, are descended the Bryans who went to Virginia. Bryan was appointed as Chief Justice of Ireland, and died in Clonmel in 1551.