The canonization of Thomas More in May 1935 was not greeted with universal approbation. According to one writer, the ceremony “was met by an official boycott in the English press and Parliament as well as in the Universities.” Though such a statement is not wholly justified, it must be granted that in a large segment of the British press, coverage of the canonization was minimal and hostile. The hostility was partly inspired by disapproval in some quarters at More's silence over the issue of Henry VIII's ecclesiastical supremacy. On this score there were charges that he was at best an “unsatisfactory saint” or a “negative martyr.” Typical of this attitude was the moderate statement of Ernest Barker a few months after More achieved Sainthood: “More, in the final trial of his faith, was obstinately silent about his real thoughts …. There is something negative in this attitude …. More died for the right of a free conscience — provided it were silent. But is a free conscience which keeps silent really free?”
For some scholars, however, the doubts concerning More's canonization ran deeper than mere disapproval of his silence on the supremacy issue, and centered rather on his alleged mistreatment of heretics (chiefly in the period 1526-34). Certainly the sixteenth-century Reformers regarded More as a persecutor. The Chronicler Edward Hall described him as “a great persecutor of such as detested the supremacy of the bishop of Rome.” Fox in his Book of Martyrs represented him as “blinded in the zeal of popery” to all humane considerations in the treatment of Lutherans.