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Like as there was no place, either of Germany,
Italy, or France, wherein there were not some branches sprung out of that most
fruitful root of Luther; so likewise was not this isle of Britain without his
fruit and branches. Amongst whom was Patrick Hamilton, a Scotchman born of high
and noble stock, and of the king's blood, of excellent, twenty-three
years of age, called abbot of Ferne. Coming out of his country with three
companions to seek godly learning, he went to the University of Marburg in
Germany, which university was then newly erected by Philip, Landgrave of Hesse.
During his residence here, he became intimately
acquainted with those eminent lights of the Gospel, Martin Luther and Philip
Melancthon; from whose writings and doctrines he strongly attached himself to
the Protestant religion.
archbishop of St. Andrews (who was a rigid
papist) learning of
Mr. Hamilton's proceedings, caused him to be seized, and
being brought before him, after a short examination relative to his religious
principles, he committed him a prisoner to the castle, at the same time ordering
him to be confined in the most loathsome part of the prison.
The next morning
Mr. Hamilton was brought before
the bishop, and several others, for examination, when the principal articles
exhibited against him were, his publicly disapproving of pilgrimages, purgatory,
prayers to saints, for the dead, etc.
Mr. Hamilton acknowledged to be
true, in consequence of which he was immediately condemned to be burnt; and that
his condemnation might have the greater authority, they caused it to be
subscribed by all those of any note who were present, and to make the number as
considerable as possible, even admitted the subscription of boys who were sons
of the nobility.
So anxious was this bigoted and persecuting prelate
for the destruction of
Mr. Hamilton, that he ordered his sentence to be put in
execution on the afternoon of the very day it was pronounced. He was accordingly
led to the place appointed for the horrid tragedy, and was attended by a
prodigious number of spectators. The greatest part of the multitude would not
believe it was intended he should be put to death, but that it was only done to
frighten him, and thereby bring him over to embrace the principles of the
When he arrived at the stake, he kneeled down, and,
for some time prayed with great fervency. After this he was fastened to the
stake, and the fagots placed round him. A quantity of gunpowder having been
placed under his arms was first set on fire which scorched his left hand and one
side of his face, but did no material injury, neither did it communicate with
the fagots. In consequence of this, more powder and combustible matter were
brought, which being set on fire took effect, and the fagots being kindled, he
called out, with an audible voice:
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! How long
shall darkness overwhelm this realm? And how long wilt Thou suffer the tyranny
of these men?"
The fire burning slow put him to great torment; but
he bore it with Christian magnanimity. What gave him the greatest pain was, the
clamor of some wicked men set on by the friars, who frequently cried,
"Turn, thou heretic; call upon our
lady; say, salve regina, etc." To
whom he replied,
"Depart from me, and trouble me not, ye messengers of
campbell, a friar, who was the ringleader, still continuing to
interrupt him by opprobrious language; he said to him, "Wicked man, God
forgive thee." After which, being prevented from further speech by the
violence of the smoke, and the rapidity of the flames, he resigned up his soul
into the hands of Him who gave it.
Henry Forest, a young inoffensive Benedictine,
being charged with speaking respectfully of the above Patrick Hamilton, was
thrown into prison; and, in confessing himself to a friar, owned that he thought
Hamilton a good man; and that the articles for which he was sentenced to die,
might be defended. This being revealed by the friar, it was received as
evidence; and the poor Benedictine was sentenced to be burnt.
Whilst consultation was held, with regard to the
manner of his execution,
john lindsay, one of the
offered his advice, to burn Friar Forest in some cellar; "for," said
he, "the smoke of Patrick Hamilton hath infected all those on whom it
The next who fell victims for professing the truth
of the Gospel, were David Stratton and
When they arrived at the fatal spot, they both
kneeled down, and prayed for some time with great fervency. They then arose,
when Stratton, addressing himself to the spectators, exhorted them to lay aside
their superstitious and idolatrous notions, and employ their time in seeking the
true light of the Gospel. He would have said more, but was prevented by the
officers who attended.
Their sentence was then put into execution, and
they cheerfully resigned up their souls to that God who gave them, hoping,
through the merits of the great Redeemer, for a glorious resurrection to life
immortal. They suffered in the year 1534.
The martyrdoms of the two before-mentioned persons,
were soon followed by that of
Mr. Thomas Forret, who, for a considerable time,
had been dean of the
Killor and Beverage, two blacksmiths;
Duncan Simson, a priest; and
Robert Forrester, a gentleman. They were all burnt
together, on the Castle-hill at Edinburgh, the last day of February, 1538.
The year following the martyrdoms of the
before-mentioned persons, viz. 1539, two others were apprehended on a suspicion
of heresy; namely,
Jerome Russell and
Alexander Kennedy, a youth about eighteen
years of age. These two persons, after being some time confined
in prison, were brought before the
archbishop for examination. In the course of
Russell, being a very sensible man, reasoned learnedly against his
accusers; while they in return made use of very opprobrious language.
The examination being over, and both of them deemed
archbishop pronounced the dreadful sentence of death, and they
were immediately delivered over to the secular power in order for execution.
The next day they were led to the place appointed
for them to suffer; in their way to which,
Russell, seeing his fellow-sufferer
have the appearance of timidity in his countenance, thus addressed him:
"Brother, fear not; greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the
world. The pain that we are to suffer is short, and shall be light; but our joy
and consolation shall never have an end. Let us, therefore, strive to enter into
our Master and Savior's joy, by the same straight way which He hath taken before
us. Death cannot hurt us, for it is already destroyed by Him, for whose sake we
are now going to suffer."
When they arrived at the fatal spot, they both
kneeled down and prayed for some time; after which being fastened to the stake,
and the fagots lighted, they cheerfully resigned their souls into the hands of
Him who gave them, in full hopes of an everlasting reward in the heavenly
About the year of our Lord 1543, there
was in the
University of Cambridge, one Master
George Wishart, commonly called Master
George of Benet's College, a man of tall stature, polled-headed, and on the same
a round French cap of the best; judged to be of melancholy complexion by his
physiognomy, black-haired, long-bearded, comely of personage, well spoken after
his country of Scotland, courteous, lowly, lovely, glad to teach, desirous to
learn, and well traveled; having on him for his clothing a frieze gown to the
shoes, a black millian fustian doublet, and plain black hosen, coarse new canvas
for his shirts, and white falling bands and cuffs at his hands.
He was a modest man, temperate, fearing God, hating covetousness; for his charity never ended, night, noon, nor day; he forbear one meal in three, one day in four for the most part, except something to comfort nature. He lay hard upon a puff of straw and coarse, new canvas sheets, which, when he changed, he gave away. He had commonly by his bedside a tub of water, in the which (his people being in bed, the candle put out and all quiet) he used to bathe himself.
He loved me tenderly, and I him. He taught with great
modesty and gravity, so that some of his people thought him severe, and would
have slain him; but the Lord was his defense. And after due correction for
their malice, by good exhortation amended them and went his way. Oh, that the
Lord had left him to me, this poor boy, that he might have finished what he had
begun! for he went into Scotland with divers of the nobility, that came for a
treaty to King Henry.
In 1543, the
archbishop of St. Andrews made a
visitation into various parts of his diocese, where several persons were
informed against at Perth for heresy. Among those the following were condemned
to die, viz.
William Anderson, Robert Lamb, James Finlayson, James Hunter, James
Raveleson, and Helen Stark.
The accusations laid against these respective
persons were as follow: The four first were accused of having hung up the image
of St. Francis, nailing ram's horns on his head, and fastening a cow's tail to
his rump; but the principal matter on which they were condemned was having
regaled themselves with a goose on fast day.
Raveleson was accused of having ornamented
his house with the three crowned diadem of Peter, carved in wood, which the
archbishop conceived to be done in mockery to his cardinal's
On these respective accusations they were all found
guilty, and immediately received sentence of death; the four men, for eating the
goose, to be hanged; James Raveleson to be burnt; and the woman, with her
sucking infant, to be put into a sack and drowned.
The martyrs were carried by a great band of armed
men (for they feared rebellion in the town except they had their men of war) to
the place of execution, which was common to all thieves, and that to make their
cause appear more odious to the people. Every one comforting another, and
assuring themselves that they should eat together in the Kingdom of Heaven that
night, they commended themselves to God, and died contently in the Lord.
The woman desired earnestly to die with her
husband, but she was not allowed; yet, following him to the place of execution,
she gave him comfort, exhorting him to perseverance and patience for Christ's
sake, and, parting from him with a kiss, said,
"Husband, rejoice, for we
have lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we must die, ought
to be most joyful unto us both, because we must have joy forever; therefore I
will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the Kingdom
of Heaven." The woman, after that, was taken to a place to be drowned, and
albeit she had a child sucking on her breast, yet this meant nothing in the
unmerciful hearts of the enemies. So, after she had commended her children to
the neighbors of the town for God's sake, and the sucking babe was given to the
nurse, she sealed up the truth by her death.
Being desirous of propagating the true Gospel in
his own country George Wishart left Cambridge in 1544, and on his arrival in
Scotland he first preached at Montrose, and afterwards at Dundee. In this last
place he made a public exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, which he went
through with such grace and freedom, as greatly alarmed the
In consequence of this, (at the instigation of
archbishop of St. Andrews) one
robert miln, a principal man
at Dundee, went to the church where Wishart preached, and in the middle of his
discourse publicly told him not to trouble the town any more, for he was
determined not to suffer it.
This sudden rebuff greatly surprised Wishart, who, after a short pause, looking sorrowfully on the speaker and the audience, said: "God is my witness, that I never minded your trouble but your comfort; yea, your trouble is more grievous to me than it is to yourselves: but I am assured to refuse God's Word, and to chase from you His messenger, shall not preserve you from trouble, but shall bring you into it: for God shall send you ministers that shall fear neither burning nor banishment.
I have offered you
with the Word of
salvation. With the hazard of my life I have remained among you; now you
yourselves refuse me; and I must leave my innocence to be declared by my God. If
it be long and prosperous with you, I am not led by the Spirit of truth; but if
unlooked-for troubles come upon you, acknowledge the cause and turn to God, who
is gracious and merciful. But if you turn not at the first warning, He will
visit you with fire and sword." At the close of this speech he left the
pulpit, and retired.
After this he went into the west of Scotland, where
he preached God's Word, which was gladly received by many.
Here he was with joy received by the godly. He
chose the east gate for the place of his preaching; so that the healthy were
within, and the sick without the gate. He took his text from these words,
"He sent His word and healed them," etc. In this sermon he chiefly
dwelt upon the advantage and comfort of God's Word, the judgments that ensue
upon the contempt or rejection of it, the freedom of God's grace to all His
people, and the happiness of those of His elect, whom He takes to Himself out of
this miserable world. The hearts of his hearers were so raised by the divine
force of this discourse, as not to regard death, but to judge them the more
happy who should then be called, not knowing whether he should have such comfort
again with them.
After this the plague abated; though, in the midst
of it, Wishart constantly visited those that lay in the greatest extremity, and
comforted them by his exhortations.
It is said that before he left Dundee, and while he was engaged in the labors of love to the bodies as well as to the souls of those poor afflicted people, cardinal beaton engaged a desperate popish priest, called john weighton, to kill him; the attempt to execute which was as follows: one day, after Wishart had finished his sermon, and the people departed, a priest stood waiting at the bottom of the stairs, with a naked dagger in his hand under his gown.
Wishart, having a sharp, piercing eye, and seeing the priest
as he came from the pulpit, said to him, "My friend, what would you
have?" and immediately clapping his hand upon the dagger, took it from him.
The priest being terrified, fell to his knees, confessed his intention, and
craved pardon. A noise was hereupon raised, and it coming to the ears of those
who were sick, they cried, "Deliver the traitor to us, we will take him by
force"; and they burst in at the gate. But
Wishart, taking the priest in
his arms, said, "Whatsoever hurts him shall hurt me; for he hath done me no
mischief, but much good, by teaching more heedfulness for the time to
come." By this conduct he appeased the people and saved the life of the
Soon after his return to Montrose, the
again conspired his death, causing a letter to be sent him as if it had been
from his familiar friend, the laird of
kennier, in which it was desired with all
possible speed to come to him, as he was taken with a sudden sickness. In the
cardinal had provided sixty men armed to lie in wait within a mile
and a half of Montrose, in order to murder him as he passed that way.
The letter came to
Wishart's hand by a boy, who
also brought him a horse for the journey.
Wishart, accompanied by some honest
men, his friends, set forward; but something particular striking his mind by the
way, he returned, which they wondering at, asked him the cause; to whom he said,
"I will not go; I am forbidden of God; I am assured there is treason. Let
some of you go to yonder place, and tell me what you find." Which doing,
they made the discovery; and hastily returning, they told Mr.
he said, "I know I shall end my life by that bloodthirsty man's hands, but
it will not be in this manner."
A short time after this he left Montrose, and
proceeded to Edinburgh, in order to propagate the Gospel in that city. By the
way he lodged with a faithful brother, called James Watson of Inner-Goury.
the middle of the night he got up, and went into the yard, which two men hearing
they privately followed him. While in the yard, he fell on his knees, and prayed
for some time with the greatest fervency, after which he arose, and returned to
his bed. Those who attended him, appearing as though they were ignorant of all,
came and asked him where he had been. But he would not answer them. The next day
they importuned him to tell them, saying "Be plain with us, for we heard
your mourning, and saw your gestures."
with a dejected countenance he said,
"I had rather you had been in your beds." But they still pressing upon
him to know something, he said, "I will tell you; I am assured that my
warfare is near an end, and therefore pray to God with me, that I shrink not
when the battle waxed most hot."
cardinal beaton, archbishop of St.
Andrews, being informed that
Mr. Wishart was at the house of Mr. Cockburn, of
Ormiston, in East Lothian, applied to the regent to cause him to be
apprehended; with which, after great persuasion, and much against his will, he
In consequence of this the
proceeded to the trial of
Wishart, against whom no less than eighteen articles
Mr. Wishart answered the respective articles with great
composure of mind, and in so learned and clear a manner as greatly surprised
most of those who were present.
After the examination was finished, the archbishop
endeavored to prevail on
Mr. Wishart to recant; but he was too firmly fixed in
his religious principles and too much enlightened with the truth of the Gospel,
to be in the least moved.
On the morning of his execution there came to him
two friars from the cardinal; one of whom put on him a black linen coat, and the
other brought several bags of gunpowder, which they tied about different parts
of his body.
"O thou Savior of the world, have mercy upon
me! Father of heaven, I commend my spirit into Thy holy hands."
He was then fastened to the stake, and the fagots
being lighted immediately set fire to the powder that was tied about him, which
blew into a flame and smoke.
The governor of the castle, who stood so near that
he was singed with the flame, exhorted the martyr, in a few words, to be of good
cheer, and to ask the pardon of God for his offences. To which he replied,
"This flame occasions trouble to my body, indeed, but it hath in nowise
broken my spirit. But he who now so proudly looks down upon me from yonder lofty
place (pointing to the
shall, ere long, be ignominiously thrown down,
as now he proudly lolls at his ease." Which prediction was soon after
The hangman, that was his tormentor, sat down upon
his knees, and said, "Sir, I pray you to forgive me, for I am not guilty of
your death." To whom he answered, "Come hither to me." When that
he was come to him, he kissed his cheek, and said: "Lo, here is a token
that I forgive thee. My heart, do thine office." And then he was put upon
the gibbet and hanged, and burned to powder. When that the people beheld the
great tormenting, they might not withhold from piteous mourning and complaining
of this innocent lamb's slaughter.
It was not long after the martyrdom of this blessed
man of God, Master George Wishart, who was put to death by
david beaton, the
cardinal of Scotland, A.D. 1546, the first day of March,
that the said
david beaton, by the just revenge of God's mighty judgment, was
slain within his own castle of St. Andrews, by the hands of one Leslie and other
gentlemen, who, stirred up by the Lord, broke in suddenly, and murdered him in his
bed the same year, the last day of May, crying out, "Alas!
alas! slay me not! I am a priest!" And so, like a butcher he lived, and
like a butcher he died, and he laid unburied for more than seven months, and at last like
a carrion was buried in a dunghill.
The last who suffered martyrdom in Scotland, for
the cause of Christ, was one
Walter Mill, who was burnt at Edinburgh in the year
Being interrogated by Sir
andrew oliphant, whether
he would recant his opinions, he answered in the negative, saying that he would
'sooner forfeit ten thousand lives, than relinquish a particle of those heavenly
principles he had received from the suffrages of his blessed Redeemer.'
This steadfast believe in Christ was eighty-two years of age, and him being exceedingly feeble; whence it was supposed that he could scarcely be heard. When however he was taken to the place of execution, he expressed his religious sentiments with such courage, and at the same time composure of mind, as astonished even his enemies.
As soon as he was fastened to
the stake and the fagots lighted, he addressed the spectators as follows:
"The cause why I suffer this day is not for any crime, (though I
acknowledge myself a miserable sinner) but only for the defense of the truth as
it is in Jesus Christ; and I praise God who hath called me, by His mercy, to
seal the truth with my life; which, as I received it from Him, so I willingly
and joyfully offer it up to His glory. Therefore, as you would escape eternal
death, be no longer seduced by the lies of the seat of Antichrist: but depend
solely on Jesus Christ, and His mercy, that you may be delivered from
condemnation." And then added that he trusted he should be the last who
would suffer death in Scotland upon a religious account.
Thus did this pious Christian cheerfully give up
his life in defense of the truth of Christ's Gospel, not doubting but he should
be made partaker of his heavenly Kingdom.
The premature death of that celebrated young monarch, Edward VI, occasioned the most extraordinary and wonderful occurrences, which had ever existed from the times of our blessed Lord and Savior's incarnation in human shape. This melancholy event became speedily a subject of general regret. The succession to the British throne was soon made a matter of contention; and the scenes which ensued were a demonstration of the serious affliction in which the kingdom was involved. As his loss to the nation was more and more unfolded, the remembrance of his government was more and more the basis of grateful recollection.
The very awful prospect, which was soon presented to
the friends of Edward's administration, under the direction of his counsellors
and servants, was a contemplation which the reflecting mind was compelled to
regard with most alarming apprehensions. The rapid approaches which were made
towards a total reversion of the proceedings of the young king's reign, denoted
the advances which were thereby represented to an entire resolution in the
management of public affairs both in Church and state.
Alarmed for the condition in which the kingdom was likely to be involved by the king's death, an endeavor to prevent the consequences, which were but too plainly foreseen, was productive of the most serious and fatal effects. The king, in his long and lingering affliction, was induced to make a will, by which he bequeathed the English crown to Lady Jane, the daughter of the duke of Suffolk, who had been married to Lord Guilford, the son of the duke of Northumberland, and was the granddaughter of the second sister of King Henry, by Charles, duke of Suffolk.
By this will, the succession of Mary and Elizabeth, his two sisters, was entirely superseded, from an apprehension of the returning system of popery; and the king's council, with the chief of the nobility, the lord-mayor of the city of London, and almost all the judges and the principal lawyers of the realm, subscribed their names to this regulation, as a sanction to the measure. Lord Chief Justice Hale, though a true Protestant and an upright judge, alone declined to unite his name in favor of the Lady Jane, because he had already signified his opinion that Mary was entitled to assume the reins of government. Others objected to Mary's being placed on the throne, on account of their fears that she might marry a foreigner, and thereby bring the crown into considerable danger.
popery also left little doubt on the minds of any, that she would be induced
to revive the dormant interests of the pope, and change the religion which had
been used both in the days of her father, King Henry, and in those of her
brother Edward: for in all his time she had manifested the greatest stubbornness
and inflexibility of temper, as must be obvious from her letter to the lords of
the council, whereby she put in her claim to the crown, on her brother's
When this happened, the nobles, who had associated
to prevent Mary's succession, and had been instrumental in promoting, and,
perhaps, advising the measures of Edward, speedily proceeded to proclaim Lady
Jane Gray, to be queen of England, in the city of London and various other
populous cities of the realm. Though young, she possessed talents of a very
superior nature, and her improvements under a most excellent tutor had given her
many very great advantages.
Her reign was of only five days' continuance, for
Mary, having succeeded by false promises in obtaining the crown, speedily
commenced the execution of her avowed intention of extirpating and burning every
Protestant. She was crowned at Westminster in the usual form, and her elevation
was the signal for the commencement of the bloody persecution which followed.
Having obtained the sword of authority, she was not
sparing in its exercise. The supporters of Lady Jane Gray were destined to feel
its force. The duke of Northumberland was the first who experienced her savage
resentment. Within a month after his confinement in the Tower, he was condemned,
and brought to the scaffold, to suffer as a traitor. From his varied crimes,
resulting out of a sordid and inordinate ambition, he died unpitied and
The changes, which followed with rapidity, unequivocally declared that the queen was disaffected to the present state of religion. Dr. Poynet was displaced to make room for Gardiner to be bishop of Winchester, to whom she also gave the important office of lord-chancellor. Dr. Ridley was dismissed from the see of London, and Bonne introduced. J. Story was put out of the bishopric of Chichester, to admit Dr. Day. J. Hooper was sent prisoner to the Fleet, and Dr. Heath put into the see of Worcestor.
Coverdale was also excluded from Exeter, and Dr. Vesie placed in that diocese.
Dr. Tonstall was also promoted to the see of Durham. These things being marked
and perceived, great heaviness and discomfort grew more and more to all good
men's hearts; but to the wicked great rejoicing. They that could dissemble took
no great care how the matter went; but such, whose consciences were joined with
the truth, perceived already coals to be kindled, which after should be the
destruction of many a true Christian.
The next victim was the amiable Lady Jane Gray, who, by her acceptance of the crown at the earnest solicitations of her friends, incurred the implacable resentment of the bloody Mary. When she first mounted the scaffold, she spoke to the spectators in this manner:
"Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocence before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day:" and therewith she wrung her hands, wherein she had her book. Then said she, "I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness, that I die a good Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other means, but only by the mercy of God in the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess that when I did know the Word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world, and therefore this plague and punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that of His goodness He hath thus given me a time and a respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers."
then, kneeling down, she turned to Feckenham, saying, "Shall I say this
Psalm?" and he said, "Yea." Then she said the Psalm of Miserere
mei Deus, in English, in a most devout manner throughout to the end; and then
she stood up, and gave her maid, Mrs. Ellen, her gloves and handkerchief, and
her book to Mr. Bruges; and then she untied he gown, and the executioner pressed
upon her to help her off with it: but she, desiring him to let her alone, turned
towards her two gentlewomen, who helped her off therewith, and also with her
frow, paaft, and neckerchief, giving to her a fair handkerchief to put about
Then the executioner kneeled down, and asked her
forgiveness, whom she forgave most willingly. Then he desired her to stand upon
the straw, which doing, she saw the block. Then she said, "I pray you,
dispatch me quickly." Then she kneeled down, saying, "Will you take it
off before I lay me down?" And the executioner said, "No, madam."
Then she tied a handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, she
said, "What shall I do? Where is it? Where is it?" One of the
standers-by guiding her thereunto, she laid her head upon the block, and then
stretched forth her body, and said, "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my
spirit;" and so finished her life, in the year of our Lord 1554, the
twelfth day of February, about the seventeenth year of her age.
Lady Jane; and on the same day
Guilford, her husband, one of the duke of Northumberland's sons, was likewise
beheaded, two innocents in comparison with them that sat upon them. For they
were both very young, and ignorantly accepted that which others had contrived,
and by open proclamation consented to take from others, and give to them.
Touching the condemnation of this pious lady, it is
to be noted that
judge morgan, who gave sentence against her, soon after he had
condemned her, fell mad, and in his raving cried out continually to have the
Lady Jane taken away from him, and so he ended his life.
On the twenty-first day of the same month,
duke of Suffolk, was beheaded on Tower-hill, the fourth day after his
condemnation: about which time many gentlemen and women were condemned, whereof
some were executed at London, and some in the country. In the number of whom was
Thomas Gray, brother to the said duke, being apprehended not long after in
North Wales, and executed for the same. Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, also, very
John Rogers was educated at Cambridge, and was afterward many years chaplain to the merchant adventurers at Antwerp in Brabant. Here he met with the celebrated martyr William Tyndale, and Miles Coverdale, both voluntary exiles from their country for their aversion to popish superstition and idolatry. They were the instruments of his conversion; and he united with them in that translation of the Bible into English, entitled "The Translation of Thomas Matthew."
From the Scriptures he knew that
unlawful vows may be lawfully broken; hence he married, and removed to
Wittenberg in Saxony, for the improvement of learning; and he there learned the
Dutch language, and received the charge of a congregation, which he faithfully
executed for many years. On King Edward's accession, he left Saxony to promote
the work of reformation in England; and, after some time, Nicholas Ridley, then
bishop of London, gave him a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral, and the dean and
chapter appointed him reader of the divinity lesson there. Here he continued
until Queen Mary's succession to the throne, when the Gospel and true religion
were banished, and the
antichrist of rome, with his superstition and idolatry,
The circumstance of Mr. Rogers having preached at Paul's cross, after Queen Mary arrived at the Tower, has been already stated. He confirmed in his sermon the true doctrine taught in King Edward's time, and exhorted the people to beware of the pestilence of popery, idolatry, and superstition. For this he was called to account, but so ably defended himself that, for that time, he was dismissed. The proclamation of the queen, however, to prohibit true preaching, gave his enemies a new handle against him. Hence he was again summoned before the council, and commanded to keep his house.
so, though he might have escaped; and though he perceived the state of the true
religion to be desperate. He knew he could not want a living in Germany; and he
could not forget a wife and ten children, and to seek means to succor them. But
all these things were insufficient to induce him to depart, and, when once
called to answer in Christ's cause, he stoutly defended it, and hazarded his
life for that purpose.
After long imprisonment in his own house, the
restless Bonner, bishop of London, caused him to be committed to Newgate, there
to be lodged among thieves and murderers.
After Mr. Rogers had been long and straightly imprisoned, and lodged in Newgate among thieves, often examined, and very uncharitably entreated, and at length unjustly and most cruelly condemned by stephen gardiner, bishop of Winchester, the fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord 1555, being Monday in the morning, he was suddenly warned by the keeper of Newgate's wife, to prepare himself for the fire; who, being then sound asleep, could scarce be awaked.
At length being raised and awaked, and bid to
make haste, he said , "If it be so, I need not tie my points."
And so was brought down, first to bishop bonner
to be degraded: which being done, he
craved of bonner but one petition; and
bonner asked what that should be.
Rogers replied that he might speak a few words with his wife before his burning,
but that could not be obtained of him.
When the time came that he should be brought out of Newgate to Smithfield, the place of his execution, woodroof, one of the sheriffs, first came to Mr. Rogers, and asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine, and the evil opinion of the Sacrament of the altar. Mr. Rogers answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." Then mr. woodroof said, "Thou art an heretic."
"That shall be known," said Mr. Rogers, "at the Day of Judgment."
"Well," said mr. woodroof, "I will never pray for thee."
"But I will pray for you," said Mr. Rogers;
And so was brought the same day, the fourth of February, by the sheriffs, towards Smithfield, saying the Psalm Miserere by the way, all the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy; with great praises and thanks to God for the same. And there in the presence of Mr. Rochester, comptroller of the queen's household, Sir Richard Southwell, both the sheriffs, and a great number of people, he was burnt to ashes, washing his hands in the flame as he was burning.
A little before his burning, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted;
but he utterly refused it. He was the first martyr of all the blessed company
that suffered in Queen Mary's time that gave the first adventure upon the fire.
His wife and children, being eleven in number, ten able to go, and one sucking
at her breast, met him by the way, as he went towards Smithfield. This
sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could not move him, but that he
constantly and cheerfully took his death with wonderful patience, in the defense
and quarrel of the Gospel of Christ."
Mr. Saunders, after passing some time in the school
of Eaton, was chosen to go to King's College in Cambridge, where he continued
three years, and profited in knowledge and learning very much for that time.
Shortly after he quitted the university, and went to his parents, but soon
returned to Cambridge again to his study, where he began to add to the knowledge
of the Latin, the study of the Greek and Hebrew tongues, and gave himself up to
the study of the Holy Scriptures, the better to qualify himself for the office
In the beginning of King Edward's reign, when God's
true religion was introduced, after license obtained, he began to preach, and
was so well liked of them who then had authority that they appointed him to read
a divinity lecture in the College of Forthringham. The College of Fothringham
being dissolved he was placed to be a reader in the Minster at Litchfield. After
a certain space, he departed from Litchfield to a benefice in Leicestershire,
called Church-Langston, where he held a residence, taught diligently, and kept a
liberal house. Thence he was orderly called to take a benefice in the city of
London, namely, All-hallows in Bread-street. After this he preached at Northampton, nothing meddling with the state, but boldly uttering his
conscience against the popish doctrines which were likely to spring up again in
England, as a just plague for the little love which the English nation then bore
to the blessed Word of God, which had been so plentifully offered unto them.
The queen's party who were there, and heard him,
were highly displeased with him for his sermon, and for it kept him among them
as a prisoner. But partly for love of his brethren and friends, who were chief
actors for the queen among them, and partly because there was no law broken by his
preaching, they dismissed him.
Some of his friends, perceiving such fearful
menacing, counseled him to fly out of the realm, which he refused to do. But
seeing he was with violence kept from doing good in that place, he returned
towards London, to visit his flock.
In the afternoon of Sunday, October 15, 1554, as he
was reading in his church to exhort his people, the bishop of London interrupted
him, by sending an officer for him.
His treason and sedition the bishop's charity was
content to let slip until another time, but a heretic he meant to prove him, and
all those, he said, who taught and believed that the administration of the
Sacraments, and all orders of the Church, are the most pure, which come the
nearest to the order of the primitive Church.
After much talk concerning this matter, the bishop
desired him to write what he believed of transubstantiation.
did so, saying,
"My Lord, you seek my blood, and you shall have it: I pray
God that you may be so baptized in it that you may ever after loathe
blood-sucking, and become a better man." Upon being closely charged with
contumacy, the severe replied of Mr. Saunders to the bishop, (who had before, to
obtain the favor of Henry VIII written and put forth in print, a book of true
obedience, wherein he had openly declared Queen Mary to be a bastard) so
irritated him that he exclaimed, "Carry away this frenzied fool to
After this good and faithful martyr had been kept
in prison one year and a quarter, the bishops at length called him, as they did
his fellow-prisoners, openly to be examined before the queen's council.
His examination being ended, the officers led him
out of the place, and stayed until the rest of his fellow-prisoners were
likewise examined, that they might lead them all together to prison.
After his excommunication and
delivered to the
secular power, he was brought by the sheriff of London to the prison
in his own parish of Bread-street, at which he rejoiced greatly, both because he
found there a fellow-prisoner,
Mr. Cardmaker, with whom he had
and delightful discourse; as were he out of prison, in his pulpit. On the fourth of
bonner, bishop of London, came to the prison to degrade him; the day
following, in the morning the sheriff of London delivered him to certain of the
queen's guard, who were appointed to carry him to the city of Coventry, there to
When they had arrived at Coventry, a poor shoemaker, who used to serve him with shoes, came to him, and said, "O my good master, God strengthen and comfort you." "Good shoemaker," Mr. Saunders replied, "I desire thee to pray for me, for I am the most unfit man for this high office, that ever was appointed to it; but my gracious God and dear Father is able to make me strong enough." The next day, being the eighth of February, 1555, he was led to the place of execution, in the park, without the city. He went in an old gown and a shirt, barefooted, and oftentimes fell flat on the ground, and prayed.
When he was come to nigh the place, the
officer, appointed to see the execution done, said to
Mr. Saunders that he was
one of them who marred the queen's realm, but if he would recant, there was
pardon for him. "
then slowly moved towards the fire, sank to the earth and prayed; hNot I," replied the holy martyr, "but such as
you have injured the realm. The blessed Gospel of Christ is what I hold; that do
I believe, that have I taught, and that will I never revoke!" Mr. Saunders then rose
up, embraced the stake, and frequently said, "Welcome, thou cross of
Christ! welcome everlasting life!" Fire was then put to the fagots, and, he
was overwhelmed by the dreadful flames, and sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.
John Hooper, student and graduate in the University
of Oxford, was stirred with such fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the
Scriptures that he was compelled to move from thence, and was retained in the
house of Sir Thomas Arundel, as his steward, until Sir Thomas had intelligence
of his opinions and religion, which he in no case did favor, though he
exceedingly favored his person and condition and wished to be his friend.
Hooper now prudently left Sir Thomas' house and arrived at Paris, but in a short
time returned to England, and was retained by Mr. Sentlow, until the time that
he was again molested and sought for, when he passed through France to the
higher parts of Germany; where, commencing acquaintance with learned men, he was
by them free and lovingly entertained, both at Basel, and especially at Zurich,
by Mr. Bullinger, who was his singular friend; here also he married his wife,
who was a Burgonian, and applied very studiously to the Hebrew tongue.
At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody
time of the six articles, and to give us King Edward to reign over this realm,
with some peace and rest unto the Church, amongst many other English exiles, who
then repaired homeward,
Mr. Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought not to
absent himself, but seeing such a time and occasion, offered to help forward the
Lord's work, to the uttermost of his ability.
Mr. Hooper had taken his farewell of Mr.
Bullinger, and his friends in Zurich, he repaired again to England in the reign
of King Edward VI, and coming to London, used continually to preach, most times
twice, or at least once a day.
In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner,
he corrected sin, and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and
the corrupt abuses of the Church. The people in great flocks and companies daily
came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus' harp,
insomuch, that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would be so full
that none could enter farther than the doors thereof. In his doctrine he was
earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the Scriptures perfect, in pains indefatigable,
in his life exemplary.
Having preached before the king's majesty, he was
soon after made bishop of Gloucester. In that office he continued two years, and
behaved himself so well that his very enemies could find no fault with him, and
after that he was made bishop of Worcester.
Dr. Hooper executed the office of a most careful
and vigilant pastor, for the space of two years and more, as long as the state
of religion in King Edward's time was sound and flourishing.
After he had been cited to appear before
dr. heath, he was led to the Council, accused falsely of owing the queen money,
and in the next year, 1554, he wrote an account of his severe treatment during
near eighteen months' confinement in the Fleet, and after his third examination,
January 28, 1555, at St. Mary Overy's, he, with the Rev.
Mr. Rogers, was
conducted to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain until the next day at
nine o'clock, to see whether they would recant. "Come, Brother
Dr. Hooper, "must we two take this matter first in hand,
and begin to fry in these fagots?" "Yes, Doctor," said
Rogers, "by God's grace." "Doubt not," said
"but God will give us strength;" and the people so applauded their
constancy that they had much ado to pass.
Bishop Hooper was degraded and
condemned, and the
Rev. Mr. Rogers was treated in like manner. At dark,
Hooper was led through the city to Newgate; notwithstanding this secrecy, many
people came forth to their doors with lights, and saluted him, praising God for
During the few days he was in Newgate, he was
frequently visited by
bonner and others, but without avail. As Christ was
tempted, so they tempted him, and then maliciously reported that he had
recanted. The place of his martyrdom being fixed at Gloucester, he rejoiced very
much, lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and praising God that he saw it
good to send him among the people over whom he was pastor, there to confirm with
his death the truth which he had before taught them.
On February 7, he came to Gloucester, about five
o'clock, and lodged at one Ingram's house. After his first sleep, he continued
in prayer until morning; and all the day, except a little time at his meals,
and when conversing such as the guard kindly permitted to speak to him, he spent
Sir Anthony Kingston, at one time
Dr. Hooper's good
friend, was appointed by the queen's letters to attend at his execution. As soon
as he saw the bishop he burst into tears. With tender entreaties he exhorted him
to live. "True it is," said the bishop, "that death is bitter,
and life is sweet; but alas! consider that the death to come is more bitter, and
the life to come is more sweet."
The same day a blind boy obtained leave to be
Dr. Hooper's presence. The same boy, not long before, had suffered
imprisonment at Gloucester for confessing the truth. "Ah! poor boy,"
said the bishop, "though God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for
what reason He best knew, yet He hath endued thy soul with the eye of
knowledge and of faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto Him, that
thou lose not that sight, for then wouldst thou indeed be blind both in body and
When the mayor waited upon him preparatory to his
execution, he expressed his perfect obedience, and only requested that a quick
fire might terminate his torments. After he had got up in the morning, he
desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he might
be solitary until the hour of execution.
About eight o'clock, on February 9, 1555, he was
led forth, and many thousand persons were collected, as it was market-day. All
the way, being straightly charged not to speak, and beholding the people, who
mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards heaven,
and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never known, during
the time of his being among them, to look with so cheerful and ruddy a
countenance as he did at that time. When he came to the place appointed where he
should die, he smilingly beheld the stake and preparation made for him, which
was near unto the great elm tree over against the college of priests, where he
used to preach.
Now, after he had entered into prayer, a box was
brought and laid before him upon a stool, with his pardon from the queen, if he
would turn. At the sight whereof he cried, "If you love my soul, away with
it!" The box being taken away, Lord Chandois said, "Seeing there is no
remedy; despatch him quickly."
Command was now given that the fire should be
kindled. But because there were not more green fagots than two horses could
carry, it kindled not speedily, and was a pretty while also before it took the
reeds upon the fagots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full
strength at that place, and being a lowering cold morning, it blew the flame
from him, so that he was in a manner little more than touched by the fire.
Within a space after, a few dry fagots were
brought, and a new fire kindled with fagots, (for there were no more reeds) and
those burned at the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the
wind, saving that it burnt his hair and scorched his skin a little. In the time
of which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly, and not
very loud, but as one without pain,
"O Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon
me, and receive my soul!" After the second fire was spent, he wiped both
his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said with an indifferent,
loud voice, "For God's love, good people, let me have more fire!" and
all this while his nether parts did burn; but the fagots were so few that the
flame only singed his upper parts.
The third fire was kindled within a while after,
which was more extreme than the other two. In this fire he prayed with a loud
voice, "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit!"
And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in
the mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips went
until they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands
until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, while the
fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers' ends, until by renewing the
fire, his strength was gone, and his hand clave fast in knocking to the iron
upon his breast. Then immediately bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.
was three quarters of an hour or more in
Dr. Rowland Taylor,
vicar of Hadley, in Suffolk,
was a man of eminent learning, and had been admitted to the degree of doctor of
the civil and canon law.
His attachment to the pure and uncorrupted
principles of Christianity recommended him to the favor and friendship of Dr.
Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury with whom he lived a considerable time, until
through his interest he obtained the living at Hadley.
Not only was his word a preaching unto them, but
all his life and conversation was an example of unfeigned Christian life and
true holiness. He was void of all pride, humble and meek as any child; so that
none were so poor but they might boldly, as unto their father, resort unto him;
neither was his lowliness childish or fearful, but, as occasion, time, and place
required, he would be stout in rebuking the sinful and evildoers; so that none
was so rich but he would tell them plainly his fault, with such earnest and
grave rebukes as became a good curate and pastor. He was a man very mild, void
of all rancor, grudge or evil will; ready to do good to all men; readily
forgiving his enemies; and never sought to do evil to any.
To the poor that were blind, lame, sick,
that had many children, he was a very father, a careful patron, and diligent
provider, insomuch that he caused the parishioners to make a general provision
for them; and he himself (beside the continual relief that they always found at
his house) gave an honest portion yearly to the common alms box. His wife also
was an honest, discreet, and sober matron, and his children well nurtured,
brought up in the fear of God and good learning.
He was a good salt of the earth,
savory biting the
corrupt manners of evil men; a light in God's house, set upon a candlestick for
all good men to imitate and follow.
Thus continued this good shepherd among his flock, governing and leading them through the wilderness of this wicked world, all the days of the most innocent and holy king of blessed memory, Edward VI. But on his demise, and the succession of Queen Mary to the throne, he escaped not the cloud that burst on so many beside; for two of his parishioners, Foster, an attorney, and Clark, a tradesman, out of blind zeal, resolved that mass should be celebrated, in all its superstitious forms, in the parish church of Hadley, on Monday before Easter.
Taylor then entering the church strictly
clark forced the Doctor out of the church, celebrated Mass, and immediately
informed the lord-chancellor, bishop of Winchester of his behavior, who summoned
him to appear, to answer the complaints that were alleged against him.
The doctor upon the receipt of the summons,
cheerfully prepared to obey the same; and rejected the advice of his friends to
fly beyond sea. When Gardiner saw
Dr. Taylor, he, according to his common
custom, reviled him.
Dr. Taylor heard his abuse patiently, and when the bishop
said, "How dare thou look me in the face! knows thou not who I
Dr. Taylor replied, "You are
dr. stephen gardiner, bishop of
Winchester, and lord-chancellor, and yet but a mortal man, but if I should be
afraid of your lordly looks, why fear ye not God, the Lord of us all? With what
countenance will you appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and answer to
your oath made first unto King Henry VIII, and afterward unto King Edward VI,
A long conversation ensued, in which
Dr. Taylor was
so piously collected and severe upon his antagonist, that he exclaimed:
Dr. Taylor came there, he found the virtuous
and vigilant preacher of God's Word,
Mr. Bradford; who equally thanked God that
He had provided him with such a comfortable fellow-prisoner; and they both
together praised God, and continued in prayer, reading and exhorting one
Dr. Taylor had lain some time in prison, he
was cited to appear in the arches of Bow-church.
Dr. Taylor had lain in the Compter about a
week on the fourth of February,
bonner came to degrade him, bringing with him
such ornaments as appertained to the massing mummery; but the Doctor refused
these trappings until they were forced upon him.
The night after he was degraded his wife came with
John Hull, his servant, and his son Thomas, and were by the gentleness of the
keepers permitted to sup with him.
After supper, walking up and down, he gave God
thanks for His grace, that had given him strength to abide by His holy Word.
With tears they prayed together, and kissed one another. Unto his son Thomas he
gave a Latin book, containing the notable sayings of the old martyrs, and in the
end of that he wrote his testament:
"I say to my wife, and to my children, The
Lord gave you unto me, and the Lord hath taken me from you, and you from me:
blessed be the name of the Lord! I believe that they are blessed which die in
the Lord. God cares for sparrows, and for the hairs of our heads. I have ever
found Him more faithful and favorable, than is any father or husband. Trust ye
therefore in Him by the means of our dear Savior Christ's merits: believe, love,
fear, and obey Him: pray to Him, for He hath promised to help. Count me not
dead, for I shall certainly live, and never die. I go before, and you shall
follow after, to our long home."
morning the sheriff of London with his
officers came to the Compter by two o'clock in the morning, and brought forth
Dr. Taylor; and without any light led him to the Woolsack, an inn without a gate.
Dr. Taylor's wife, suspecting that her husband should that night be
carried away, watched all night in St. Botolph's church-porch beside Aldgate,
having her two children, the one named
Elizabeth, of thirteen years of age
(whom, being left without father or mother,
Dr. Taylor had brought up of alms
from three years old), the other named
Mary, Dr. Taylor's own daughter.
Now, when the sheriff and his company came against
St. Botolph's church, Elizabeth cried, saying, "O
my dear father! mother, mother, here is my father led away." Then his wife
cried, "Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?"-for it was a very dark
morning, that the one could not well see the other.
Botolph's church, Elizabeth cried, saying, "O my dear father! mother, mother, here is my father led away." Then his wife cried, "Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?"-for it was a very dark morning, that the one could not well see the other.Dr. Taylor answered, "Dear wife, I am here"; and stayed. The sheriff's men would have led him forth, but the sheriff said, "Stay a little, masters, I pray you; and let him speak to his wife"; and so they stayed.
came to him, and he took his daughter Mary
in his arms; and he, his wife, and Elizabeth kneeled down and said the Lord's
Prayer, at which sight the sheriff wept apace, and so did divers others of the
company. After they had prayed, he rose up and kissed his wife, and shook her by
the hand, and said, "Farewell, my dear wife; be of good comfort, for I am
quiet in my conscience. God shall stir up a father for my children."
Dr. Taylor was joyful and merry, as one
that counted himself going to a most pleasant banquet or bridal. He spake many
notable things to the sheriff and yeomen of the guard that conducted him, and
often moved them to weep, through his much earnest calling upon them to repent,
and to amend their evil and wicked living. Oftentimes also he caused them to
wonder and rejoice, to see him so constant and steadfast, void of all fear,
joyful in heart, and glad to die.
Dr. Taylor had arrived at Aldham Common, the
place where he should suffer, seeing a great multitude of people, he asked,
"What place is this, and what does it mean it that so much people are gathered
here?" It was answered, "It is Aldham Common, the place where you
must suffer; and the people have come to look upon you." Then he said,
"Thanked be God, I am even at home"; and he alighted from his horse
and with both hands rent the hood from his head.
His head had been notched and clipped like as a man
would clip a fool's; which the
good bishop bonner had bestowed upon him.
But when the people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long white beard,
they burst out with weeping tears, and cried, saying: "God save thee, good
Dr. Taylor! Jesus Christ strengthen thee, and help thee! the Holy Ghost comfort
thee!" with such other like good wishes.
When he had prayed, he went to the stake and kissed
it, and set himself into a pitch barrel, which they had put for him to stand in,
and stood with his back upright against the stake, with his hands folded
together, and his eyes towards heaven, and continually prayed.
They then bound him with the chains, and having set
up the fagots, one Warwick cruelly cast a fagot at him, which struck him on his
head, and cut his face, so that the blood ran down. Then said
"O friend, I have harm enough; of what need is this?"
sir john shelton standing by, as
Dr. Taylor was
speaking, and saying the Psalm Miserere in English, he struck him on the lips an
Thus rendered up this man of God his blessed soul
into the hands of his merciful Father, and to his most dear Savior Jesus Christ,
whom he most entirely loved, faithfully and earnestly preached, obediently
followed in living, and constantly glorified in death.
William Hunter had been trained to the doctrines of
the Reformation from his earliest youth, being descended from religious parents,
who carefully instructed him in the principles of true religion.
Hunter, then nineteen years of age, refusing to
receive the communion at mass, was threatened to be brought before the bishop;
to whom this valiant young martyr was conducted by a constable.
Upon this the bishop commanded his men to put
William in the stocks in his gate house, where he sat two days and nights, with
a crust of brown bread and a cup of water only, which he did not touch.
At the two days' end, the bishop came to him, and
finding him steadfast in the faith, sent him to prison, and
commanded the keeper to lay irons upon him as many as he could bear. He
continued in prison three quarters of a year, during which time he had been
before the bishop five times, besides the time when he was condemned in the
consistory in St. Paul's, February 9, at which time his brother, Robert Hunter,
Then the bishop, calling
William, asked him if he
would recant, and finding he was unchangeable, pronounced sentence upon him,
that he should go from that place to Newgate for a time, and thence to
Brentwood, there to be burned.
About a month afterward,
William was sent down to
Brentwood, where he was to be executed. On coming to the stake, he knelt down
and read the Fifty-first Psalm, until he came to these words, "The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
Thou wilt not despise." Steadfast in refusing the queen's pardon, if he
would become an apostate, at length one Richard Ponde, a bailiff, came, and made
the chain fast about him.
now cast his
Psalter into his brother's
hand, who said, "William, think on the holy passion of Christ, and be not
afraid of death." "Behold," answered
William, "I am not
afraid." Then he lifted up his hands to heaven, and said, "Lord, Lord,
Lord, receive my spirit;" and casting down he head again into the
smothering smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his
blood to the praise of God.
This worthy and learned prelate, the bishop of St.
David's in Wales, having in the former reign, as well as since the accession of
Mary, been remarkably zealous in promoting the reformed doctrines, and exploding
the errors of
popish idolatry, was summoned, among others, before the persecuting
bishop of Winchester, and other commissioners set apart for the abominable work
of devastation and massacre.
His principal accusers and persecutors, on a charge of insulting a praetor in the reign of Edward VI, Thomas Young, chanter of the cathedral, afterward bishop of Bangor, etc. Dr. Farrar ably replied to the copies of information laid against him, consisting of fifty-six articles. The whole process of this trial was long and tedious. Delay succeeded delay, and after that Dr. Farrar had been long unjustly detained in custody under sureties, in the reign of King Edward, because he had been promoted by the duke of Somerset, whence after his fall he found fewer friends to support him against such as wanted his bishopric.
By the coming in of
Queen Mary, he was accused and examined not for any matter of a praetor, but
for his faith and doctrine; for which he was called before the bishop of
Winchester with Bishop Hooper, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Bradford, Mr. Saunders, and
others, February 4, 1555; on which day he would also with them have been
condemned, but his condemnation was deferred, and he was sent to prison again, where
he continued until February 14, and then sent into Wales to receive
sentence. Six times he was brought before
henry morgan, bishop of St.
David's, who demanded if he would abjure; from which he zealously dissented, and
appealed to cardinal pole; notwithstanding which, the bishop, proceeding in his
rage, pronounced him a heretic excommunicate, and surrendered him to the secular
Dr. Farrar, being condemned and degraded, was not
long after brought to the place of execution in the town of Carmathen, in the
market-place of which, on the south side of the market-cross, March 30, 1555,
being Saturday next before Passion Sunday, he most constantly sustained the
torments of the fire.
Concerning his constancy, it is said that one
Richard Jones, a knight's son, coming to
Dr. Farrar a little before his death,
seemed to lament the painfulness of the death he had to suffer; to whom the
bishop answered that if he saw him once stir in the pains of his burning, he
might then give no credit to his doctrine; and as he said, so did he maintain
his promise, patiently standing without emotion, until one Richard Gravell with
a staff struck him down.
Rawlins White was by his calling and occupation a
fisherman, living and continuing in the said trade for the space of twenty years
at least, in the town of Cardiff, where he bore a very good name amongst his
Though the good man was altogether unlearned, and
withal very simple, yet it pleased God to remove him from error and idolatry to
a knowledge of the truth, through the blessed Reformation in Edward's reign. He
had his son taught to read English, and after the little boy could read pretty
well, his father every night after supper, summer and winter, made the boy read
a portion of the Holy Scriptures, and now and then a part of some other good
When he had continued in his profession the space
of five years, King Edward died, upon whose decease Queen Mary succeeded and
with her all kinds of superstition crept in.
White was taken by the officers of
the town, as a man suspected of heresy, brought before the
bishop landaff, and
committed to prison in Chepstow, and at last removed to the castle of Cardiff,
where he continued for the space of one whole year. Being brought before
bishop in his chapel, he counseled him by threats and promises. But as
would in no wise recant his opinions,
the bishop told him plainly that he must
proceed against him by law, and condemn him as a heretic.
Before they proceeded to this extremity, the bishop proposed that prayer should be said for his conversion. "This," said White, "is like a godly bishop, and if your request be godly and right, and you pray as you ought, no doubt God will hear you; pray you therefore, to your god, and I will pray to my God."
After the bishop and his party had done praying, he asked Rawlins if he would now revoke. "You find," said the latter, "your prayer is not granted, for I remain the same; and God will strengthen me in support of this truth." After this, the bishop tried what saying mass would do; but Rawlins called all the people to witness that he did not bow down to the host.
Rawlins was called for again; to
the bishop used many persuasions; but the blessed man continued so
steadfast in his former profession that the bishop's discourse was to no
the bishop now caused the definitive sentence to be read, which being
ended, Rawlins was carried again to Cardiff, to a loathsome prison in the town,
called Cockmarel, where he passed his time in prayer, and in the singing of
Psalms. In about three weeks the order came from town for his execution.
When he came to the place, where
his poor wife and
children stood weeping, the sudden sight of them so pierced his heart, that the
tears trickled down his face. Being come to the altar of his sacrifice, in going
toward the stake, he fell down upon his knees, and kissed the ground; and in
rising again, a little earth sticking on his face, he said these words.
"Earth unto earth, and dust unto dust; thou art my mother, and unto thee I
When all things were ready, directly over against
the stake, in the face of
Rawlins White, there was a stand erected, whereon
stepped up a priest, addressing himself to the people, but, as he spoke of the
romish doctrines of the Sacraments,
Rawlins cried out,
"Ah! thou wicked
hypocrite, dost thou presume to prove thy false doctrine by Scripture? Look in
the text that followed; did not Christ say, 'Do this in remembrance of
Then some that stood by cried out, "Put fire!
set on fire!" which being done, the straw and reeds cast up a great and
sudden flame. In which flame this good man bathed his hands so long, until such
time as the sinews shrank, and the fat dropped away, saving that once he did, as
it were, wipe his face with one of them. All this while, which was somewhat
long, he cried with a loud voice, "O Lord, receive my spirit!" until
he could not open his mouth. At last the extremity of the fire was so vehement
against his legs that they were consumed almost before the rest of his body was
hurt, which made the whole body fall over the chains into the fire sooner than
it would have done.
Thus died this good old man for his testimony of God's
truth, and is now rewarded, no doubt, with the crown of eternal life.
George Marsh, born in the parish of Deane, in the
county of Lancaster, received a good education and trade from his parents; about
his twenty-fifth year he married, and lived, blessed with several children, on
his farm until his wife died. He then went to study at Cambridge, and became the
curate of Rev. Lawrence Saunders, in which duty he constantly and zealously set
forth the truth of God's Word, and the false doctrines of the modern Antichrist.
Being confined by dr. coles, the bishop of Chester, within the precincts of his own house, he was deprived from any intercourse with his friends during four months; his friends and mother, earnestly wished him to have flown from "the wrath to come;" but Mr. Marsh thought that such a step would ill agree with that profession he had during nine years openly made. He, however, secreted himself, but he had much struggling, and in secret prayer begged that God would direct him, through the advice of his best friends, for his own glory and to what was best.
At length, determined by a letter he
received, boldly to confess the faith of Christ, he took leave of his
mother-in-law and other friends, recommending his children to their care and
departed for Smethehills, whence he was, with others, conducted to Lathum, to
undergo examination before the earl of Derby,
sir william nores, mr. sherburn,
the parson of Garpnal, and others. The various questions put to him he answered
with a good conscience, but when
mr. sherburn interrogated him upon his belief
of the Sacrament of the altar,
Mr. Marsh answered like a true Protestant that
the essence of the bread and wine was not at all changed, hence, after receiving
dreadful threats from some, and fair words from others, for his opinions, he was
remanded to ward, where he lay two nights without any bed.
On Palm Sunday he underwent a second examination,
and Mr. Marsh
Marshmuch lamented that his fear should at all have induced him to prevaricate, and to seek his safety, as long as he did not openly deny Christ; and he again cried more earnestly to God for strength that he might not be overcome by the subtleties of those who strove to overrule the purity of his faith.
He underwent three examinations before dr. coles, who, finding him steadfast in the Protestant faith, began to read his sentence; but he was interrupted by the chancellor, who prayed the bishop to stay before it was too late. the priest then prayed for Mr. Marsh, but the latter, upon being again solicited to recant, said he durst not deny his Savior Christ, lest he lose His everlasting mercy, and so obtain eternal death.
the bishop then
proceeded in the sentence. He was committed to a dark dungeon, and lay deprived
of the consolation of any one (for all were afraid to relieve or communicate
with him) until the day appointed came that he should suffer. The sheriffs of
the city, Amry and Couper, with their officers, went to the north gate, and took
out Mr. George Marsh, who walked all the way with the Book in his hand, looking
upon the same, whence the people said, "This man does not go to his death
as a thief, nor as one that deserves to die."
When he came to the place of execution without the
city, near Spittal Boughton,
mr. cawdry, deputy
chamberlain of Chester, showed
Mr. Marsh a writing under a great seal, saying that it was a pardon for him if
he would recant. He answered that he would gladly accept the same did it not
tend to pluck him from God.
After that, he began to speak to the people showing
the cause of his death, and would have exhorted them to stick unto Christ, but
one of the sheriffs prevented him. Kneeling down, he then said his prayers, put
off his clothes unto his shirt, and was chained to the post, having a number of
fagots under him, and a thing made like a firkin, with pitch and tar in it, over
his head. The fire being unskillfully made, and the wind driving it in eddies, he
suffered great extremity, which notwithstanding he bore with Christian
When he had been a long time tormented in the fire without moving, having his flesh so broiled and puffed up that they who stood before him could not see the chain wherewith he was fastened, and therefore supposed that he had been dead, suddenly he spread abroad his arms, saying, "Father of heaven have mercy upon me!" and so yielded his spirit into the hands of the Lord.
Upon this, many of the people said he was a martyr, and
died gloriously patient. This caused the bishop shortly after to make a sermon
in the cathedral church, and therein he affirmed, that the said
'Marsh was a
heretic, burnt as such, and is a firebrand in hell.'
Mr. Marsh suffered April
otherwise Branch, was born at
Snow-hill, in the county of Cambridge, where he went to school some years, and
then came to the abbey of Ely. After he had remained a while he became a
professed monk, was made a priest in the same house, and there celebrated and
sang mass. After that, by reason of a visitation, and certain injunctions by the
authority of Henry VIII he took upon him the habit of a secular priest, and
returned to Snow-hill, where he was born, and taught children about half a year.
He then went to Ludgate, in Suffolk, and served as a secular priest about a quarter of a year; from thence to Stoniland; at length to Tewksbury, where he married a wife, with whom he ever after faithfully and honestly continued. After marriage he resided at Tewksbury about two years, and thence went to Brosley, where he practiced physic and surgery; but departing from those parts he came to London, and finally settled at Lambeth, where he and his wife dwelt together.
However, he was generally abroad, excepting once or
twice in a month, to visit and see his wife. Being at home upon Easter Sunday
morning, he came over the water from lambeth into St. Margaret's Church at
Westminster; when seeing a priest, named John Celtham, administering and giving
the Sacrament of the alter to the people, and being greatly offended in his
conscience with the priest for the same, he struck and wounded him upon the
head, and also upon the arm and hand, with his wood knife, the priest having at
the same time in his hand a chalice with the consecrated host therein, which
became sprinkled with blood.
Mr. Flower, for this injudicious zeal, was heavily
ironed, and put into the gatehouse at Westminster; and afterward summoned before
bonner and his ordinary, where the bishop, after he had sworn him upon a
book, ministered articles and interrogatories to him.
After examination, the bishop began to exhort him
again to return to the unity of his mother the
catholic church, with many fair
Mr. Flower steadfastly rejecting, the bishop ordered him to
appear in the same place in the afternoon, and in the meantime to consider well
his former answer; but he, neither apologizing for having struck the priest, nor
swerving from his faith, the bishop assigned him the next day, April 20, to
receive sentence if he would not recant. The next morning, the bishop
accordingly proceeded to the sentence, condemning and excommunicating him for a
heretic, and after pronouncing him to be degraded, committed him to the secular
On April 24, St. Mark's eve, he was brought to the
place of martyrdom, in St. Margaret's churchyard, Westminster, where the fact
was committed: and there coming to the stake, he prayed to Almighty God, made a
confession of his faith, and forgave all the world.
This done, his hand was held up against the stake,
and struck off, his left hand being fastened behind him. Fire was then set to
him, and he burning therein, cried with a loud voice, "O Thou Son of God
receive my soul!" three times. His speech being now taken from him, he
spoke no more, but notwithstanding he lifted up the stump with his other arm as
long as he could.
Thus he endured the extremity of the fire, and was
cruelly tortured, for the few fagots that were brought being insufficient to
burn him they were compelled to strike him down into the fire, where lying along
upon the ground, his lower part was consumed in the fire, whilst his upper part
was little injured, his tongue moving in his mouth for a considerable time.
May 30, 1555, the
Rev. John Cardmaker, otherwise
called Taylor, presbytery of the Church of Wells, and
John Warne, upholsterer,
of St. John's, Walbrook, suffered together in Smithfield.
Mr. Cardmaker, who
first was an observant friar before the dissolution of the abbeys, afterward was
a married minister, and in King Edward's time appointed to be a reader in St.
Paul's; being apprehended in the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, with
Barlow, bishop of Bath, he was brought to London, and put in the Fleet prison,
King Edward's laws being yet in force. In Mary's reign, when brought before the
bishop of Winchester, the latter offered them the queen's mercy, if they would
Articles having been preferred against
Warne, he was examined upon them by
bonner, who earnestly exhorted him to recant
his opinions, to whom he answered,
"I am persuaded that I am in the right
opinion, and I see no cause to recant; for all the filthiness and idolatry lies
in the church of rome."
The bishop then, seeing that all his fair promises
and terrible threatening could not prevail, pronounced the definitive sentence
of condemnation, and ordered May 30, 1555, for the execution of
and John Warne, who were brought by the sheriffs to Smithfield. Being come to
the stake, the sheriffs called Mr. Cardmaker aside, and talked with him
secretly, during which Mr. Warne prayed, was chained to the stake, and had wood
and reeds set about him.
The people were greatly afflicted, thinking that Mr. Cardmaker would recant at the burning of Mr. Warne. At length Mr. Cardmaker departed from the sheriffs, and came towards the stake, knelt down, and made a long prayer in silence to himself. He then rose up, put off his clothes to his shirt, and went with a bold courage unto the stake and kissed it; and taking Mr. Warne by the hand, he heartily comforted him, and was bound to the stake, rejoicing.
The people seeing this so suddenly done, contrary to their previous
expectation, cried out, "God be praised! the Lord strengthen thee,
Cardmaker! the Lord Jesus receive thy spirit!" And this continued while the
executioner put fire to them, and both had passed through the fire to the
blessed rest and peace among God's holy saints and martyrs, to enjoy the crown
of triumph and victory prepared for the elect soldiers and warriors of Christ
Jesus in His blessed Kingdom, to whom be glory and majesty forever. Amen.
John Simpson and John Ardeley were condemned on the
same day with
Mr. Carmaker and John Warne, which was the twenty-fifth of May.
They were shortly after sent down from London to Essex, where they were burnt in
John Simpson at Rochford, and
John Ardeley at Railey, glorifying God in
His beloved Son, and rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer.
Haukes, with six others, was condemned on
the ninth of February, 1555. In education he was erudite; in person, comely, and
of good stature; in manners, a gentleman, and a sincere Christian. A little
before death, several of
Mr. Hauke's friends, terrified by the sharpness of the
punishment he was going to suffer, privately desired that in the midst of the
flames he should show them some token, whether the pains of burning were so
great that a man might not collectedly endure it. This he promised to do; and it
was agreed that if the rage of the pain might be suffered, then he should lift
up his hands above his head towards heaven, before he gave up the ghost.
Not long after,
Mr. Haukes was led away to the
place appointed for slaughter by Lord Rich, and being come to the stake, mildly
and patiently prepared himself for the fire, having a strong chain cast about
his middle, with a multitude of people on every side compassing him about, unto
whom after he had spoken many things, and poured out his soul unto God, the fire
When he had continued long in it, and his speech
was taken away by violence of the flame, his skin drawn together, and his
fingers consumed with the fire, so that it was thought that he was gone,
suddenly and contrary to all expectation, this good man being mindful of his
promise, reached up his hands burning in flames over his head to the living God,
and with great rejoicings as it seemed, struck or clapped them three times
together. A great shout followed this wonderful circumstance, and then this
blessed martyr of Christ, sinking down in the fire, gave up his spirit, June 10,
of Billerica, in Essex, of the
diocese of London, was a linen draper. He had daily expected to be taken by
God's adversaries, and this came to pass on the fifth of April, 1555, when he
was brought before
lord rich, and other commissioners at Chelmsford, and accused
for not coming to the church.
Being consigned over to the bloody bishop, who gave
him several hearings, and, as usual, many arguments, with much entreaty, that he
would be a disciple of Antichrist, but his preaching availed not, and he
resorted to his last revenge-that of condemnation.
At the stake, after he had kissed it, he spake to
lord rich, charging him to repent, for the Lord would revenge his death. Thus
did this good martyr offer his body to the fire, in defense of the true Gospel
of the Savior.
Thomas Osmond, William Bamford, and Nicholas
Chamberlain, all of the town of Coxhall, being sent up to be examined,
after several hearings, pronounced them obstinate heretics, and delivered them
to the sheriffs, in whose custody they remained until they were delivered to the
sheriff of Essex county, and by him were executed, Chamberlain at Colchester,
the fourteenth of June;
Thomas Osmond at Maningtree, and
William Bamford, alias
Butler, at Harwich, the fifteenth of June, 1555; all dying full of the glorious
hope of immortality.
ritheseley, lord chancellor, offered
Askew the king's pardon if she would recant; who made this answer,
that she came
not to deny her Lord and Master. And thus the good
Anne Askew, being
compassed in with flames of fire, as a blessed sacrifice unto God, slept in the
Lord, A.D. 1546, leaving behind her a singular example of Christian constancy
for all men to follow.
Rev. John Bradford
was born at Manchester, in
Lancashire; he was a good Latin scholar, and afterward became a servant of Sir
John Harrington, knight.
He continued several years in an honest and
thriving way; but the Lord had elected him to a better function. Hence he
departed from his master, quitting the Temple, at London, for the University of
Cambridge, to learn, by God's law, how to further the building of the Lord's
temple. In a few years after, the university gave him the degree of master of
arts, and he became a fellow of Pembroke Hall.
Martin Bucer first urged him to preach, and when he
modestly doubted his ability, Bucer was wont to reply, "If thou hast not
fine wheat bread, yet give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the
Lord hath committed unto thee." Dr. Ridley, that worthy bishop of London,
and glorious martyr of Christ, first called him to take the degree of a deacon
and gave him a prebend in his cathedral Church of St. Paul.
In this preaching office
Mr. Bradford diligently
labored for the space of three years. Sharply he reproved sin, sweetly he
preached Christ crucified, ably he disproved heresies and errors, earnestly he
persuaded to godly life. After the death of blessed King Edward VI Mr. Bradford
still continued diligent in preaching, until he was suppressed by Queen Mary.
An act now followed of the blackest ingratitude,
and at which a pagan would blush. It has been recited, that a tumult was
occasioned by Mr. Bourne's (then bishop of Bath) preaching at St. Paul's Cross;
the indignation of the people placed his life in imminent danger; indeed a
dagger was thrown at him. In this situation he entreated
Mr. Bradford, who stood
behind him. to speak in his place, and assuage the tumult. The people welcomed
Mr. Bradford, and the latter afterward kept close to him, that his presence
might prevent the populace from renewing their assaults.
The same Sunday in the afternoon, Mr. Bradford preached at Bow Church in Cheapside, and reproved the people sharply for their seditious misdemeanor. Notwithstanding this conduct, within three days after, he was sent for to the Tower of London, where the queen then was, to appear before the Council. There he was charged with this act of saving Mr. Bourne, which was called seditious, and they also objected against him for preaching.
Thus he was
committed, first to the Tower, then to other prisons, and, after his
condemnation, to the Poultry Compter, where he preached twice a day continually,
unless sickness hindered him. Such as his credit with the keeper of the king's
Bench, that he permitted him in an evening to visit a poor, sick person near the
steel-yard, upon his promise to return in time, and in this he never failed.
The night before he was sent to Newgate, he was
troubled in his sleep by foreboding dreams, that on Monday after he should be
burned in Smithfield. In the afternoon the keeper's wife came up and announced
this dreadful news to him, but in him it excited only thankfulness to God. At
night half a dozen friends came, with whom he spent all the evening in prayer
and godly exercises.
When he was removed to Newgate, a weeping crowd
accompanied him, and a rumor having been spread that he was to suffer at four
the next morning, an immense multitude attended. At nine o'clock
was brought into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his
roger beswick, having taken him by the hand as he passed,
mr. woodroffe, with his staff, cut his head open.
Mr. Bradford, being come to the place, fell flat on
the ground, and putting off his clothes unto the shirt, he went to the stake,
and there suffered with a young man of twenty years of age, whose name was
Leaf, an apprentice to Mr. Humphrey Gaudy, tallow-chandler, of Christ-church,
London. Upon Friday before Palm Sunday, he was committed to the Compter in
Bread-street, and afterward examined and condemned by the bloody bishop.
It is reported of him, that, when the bill of his
confession was read unto him, instead of pen, he took a pin, and pricking his
hand, sprinkled the blood upon the said bill, desiring the reader thereof to
show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already.
They both ended this mortal life, July 12, 1555,
like two lambs, without any alteration of their countenances, hoping to obtain
that prize they had long run for; to which may Almighty God conduct us all,
through the merits of Christ our Savior!
We shall conclude this article with mentioning that
mr. sheriff woodroffe,
sheriff woodroffe,it is said, within half a year after, was struck on the right side with a palsy, and for the space of eight years after, (until his dying day,) he was unable to turn himself in his bed; thus he became at last a fearful object to behold.
The day after
Mr. Bradford and John Leaf suffered
William Minge, priest, died in prison at Maidstone. With as great
constancy and boldness he yielded up his life in prison, as if it had pleased
God to have called him to suffer by fire, as other godly men had done before at
the stake, and as he himself was ready to do, had it pleased God to have called
him to this trial.
These Christian persons were all burnt at
Canterbury for the same cause.
Frankesh and Bland were ministers and preachers
of the Word of God, the one being parson of Adesham, and the other vicar of
Rolvenden. Mr. Bland was cited to answer for his opposition to antichristian,
and underwent several examinations before
dr. harpsfield, archdeacon of
Canterbury, and finally on the twenty-fifth of June, 1555, again withstanding
the power of the
pope, he was condemned, and delivered to the secular arm. On
the same day were condemned
John Frankesh, Nicholas Shetterden, Humphrey
Middleton, Thacker, and
Crocker, of whom Thacker only recanted.
Being delivered to the secular power,
with the three former, were all burnt together at Canterbury, July 12, 1555, at
two several stakes, but in one fire, when they, in the sight of God and His
angels, and before men, like true soldiers of Jesus Christ, gave a constant
testimony to the truth of His holy Gospel.
The twenty-second of July, 1555,
brewer, of Brighthelmstone, aged forty, was burnt at Lewes. And the day
John Launder, husbandman, aged twenty-five, of Godstone, Surrey, was
burnt at Stening.
Dirick Carver was a man whom the Lord had blessed as well with temporal riches as with his spiritual treasures. At his coming into the town of Lewes to be burnt, the people called to him, beseeching God to strengthen him in the faith of Jesus Christ; and, as he came to the stake, he knelt down, and prayed earnestly. Then his Book was thrown into the barrel, and when he had stripped himself, he too, went into a barrel. As soon as he was in, he took the Book, and threw it among the people, upon which the sheriff commanded, in the name of the king and queen, on pain of death , to throw in the Book again.
And immediately the holy martyr began to address the people. After
he had prayed a while, he said, "O Lord my God, Thou hast written, he that
will not forsake wife, children, house, and every thing that he hath, and take
up Thy cross and follow Thee, is not worthy of Thee! but Thou, Lord, knows that I have forsaken all to come unto Thee. Lord, have mercy upon me, for unto
Thee I commend my spirit! and my soul doth rejoice in Thee!" These were the
last words of this faithful servant of Christ before enduring the fire. And when
the fire came to him, he cried, "O Lord, have mercy upon me!" and
sprang up in the fire, calling upon the name of Jesus, until he gave up the
This young man wandered about to
escape apprehension, but was at last informed against, and brought before the
bishop of Norwich, who influenced him to recant; to secure him further in
apostasy, the bishop afterward gave him a piece of money; but the interference
of Providence is here remarkable. This bribe lay so heavily upon his conscience,
that he returned,
threw back the money, and repented of his conduct.
he was contrite, steadfast in the faith, and sealed it with his blood at Bury,
August 2, 1555, praising and glorifying God.
Mr. Denley and Newman were returning one day to
Maidstone, the place of their abode, when they were met by
e. tyrrel, esq., a
bigoted justice of the peace in Essex, and a cruel persecutor of the
Protestants. He apprehended them merely on suspicion. On the fifth of July,
1555, they were condemned, and consigned to the sheriffs, who sent
Mr. Denley to
Uxbridge, where he perished, August eighth, 1555. While suffering in agony, and
singing a Psalm,
dr. story inhumanly ordered one of the tormentors to throw a
fagot at him, which cut his face severely, caused him to cease singing, and to
raise his hands to his face. Just as
dr. story was remarking in jest that he had
spoiled a good song, the pious martyr again changed, spread his hands abroad in
the flames, and through Christ Jesus resigned his soul into the hands of his
suffered at the same town on the
twenty-eight of the same month.
These persons all of Kent, were examined at the
same time with
Mr. Bland and Shetterden, by
thornton, bishop of Dover,
dr. harpsfield, and others. These six martyrs and witnesses of the truth were
consigned to the flames in Canterbury, at the end of August, 1555.
Elizabeth Warne, widow of John Warne, upholsterer,
martyr, was burnt at Stratford-le-bow, near London, at the end of August, 1555.
George Tankerfield, of London, cook, born at York,
aged twenty-seven, in the reign of Edward VI had been a papist; but the cruelty
of bloody Mary made him suspect the truth of those doctrines which were enforced
by fire and torture.
Tankerfield was imprisoned in Newgate about the end of
February, 1555, and on August 26, at St. Alban's, he braved the excruciating
fire, and joyfully died for the glory of his Redeemer.
Rev. Robert Smith
was first in the service of Sir
T. Smith, provost of Eton; and was afterward removed to Windsor, where he had a
clerkship of ten pounds a year.
He was condemned, July 12, 1555, and suffered
August 8, at Uxbridge. He doubted not but that God would give the spectators
some token in support of his own cause; this actually happened; for, when he was
nearly half burnt, and supposed to be dead, he suddenly rose up, moved the
remaining parts of his arms and praised God, then, hanging over the fire, he
sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.
Mr. Stephen Harwood and Mr. Thomas Fust
about the same time with
Smith and Tankerfield, with whom they were condemned.
Mr. William Hale also, of Thorp, in Essex, was sent to Barnet, where about the
same time he joined the ever-blessed company of martyrs.
George King, Thomas Leyes, and John Wade, falling
sick in Lollard's Tower, were removed to different houses, and died. Their
bodies were thrown out in the common fields as unworthy of burial, and lay until
the faithful conveyed them away at night.
Mr. William Andrew of Horseley, Essex, was
imprisoned in Newgate for heresy; but God chose to call him to himself by the
severe treatment he endured in Newgate, and thus to mock the snaguinary
expectations of his
His body was thrown into the open air,
but his soul was received into the everlasting mansions of his heavenly Creator.
This gentleman was minister of Bradford, Suffolk, where he industriously taught the flock committed to his charge, while he was openly permitted to discharge his duty. He was first persecuted by mr. foster, of Copdock, near Ipswich, a severe and bigoted persecutor of the followers of Christ, according to the truth in the Gospel. Notwithstanding Mr. Samuel was ejected from his living, he continued to exhort and instruct privately; nor would he obey the order for putting away his wife, whom he had married in King Edward's reign; but kept her at Ipswich, where foster, by warrant, surprised him by night with her.
After being imprisoned in Ipswich jail, he was taken before
dv. hopton, bishop of Norwich, and
dv. dunnings, his chancellor, two of the most
sanguinary among the bigots of those days. To intimidate the worthy pastor, he
was in prison chained to a post in such a manner that the weight of his body was
supported by the points of his toes: added to this his allowance of provision
was reduced to a quantity so insufficient to sustain nature that he was almost
ready to devour his own flesh. From this dreadful extremity there was even a
degree of mercy in ordering him to the fire.
Mr. Samuel suffered August 31,
These reverend prelates suffered October 17, 5555,
at Oxford, on the same day
Wolsey and Pygot perished at Ely. Pillars of the
Church and accomplished ornaments of human nature, they were the admiration of
the realm, amiably conspicuous in their lives, and glorious in their deaths.
Dr. Ridley was born in Northumberland, was first
taught grammar at Newcastle, and afterward removed to Cambridge, where his
aptitude in education raised him gradually until he came to be the head of
Pembroke College, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. Having
returned from a trip to Paris, he was appointed chaplain by Henry VIII and
bishop of Rochester, and was afterwards translated to the see of London in the
time of Edward VI.
To his sermons the people resorted, swarming about
him like bees, coveting the sweet flowers and wholesome juice of the fruitful
doctrine, which he did not only preach, but showed the same by his life, as a
glittering lantern to the eyes and senses of the blind, in such pure order that
his very enemies could not reprove him in any one jot.
His tender treatment of Dr. Heath, who was a prisoner with him during one year, in Edward's reign, evidently proves that he had no Catholic cruelty in his disposition. In person he was erect and well proportioned; in temper forgiving; in self-mortification severe. His first duty in the morning was private prayer: he remained in his study until ten o'clock, and then attended the daily prayer used in his house.
Dinner being done, he sat
about an hour, conversing pleasantly, or playing at chess. His study next
engaged his attention, unless business or visits occurred; about five o'clock
prayers followed; and after he would recreate himself at chess for about an
hour, then retire to his study until eleven o'clock, and pray on his knees as in
the morning. In brief, he was a pattern of godliness and virtue, and such he
endeavored to make men wherever he came.
His attentive kindness was displayed particularly
to old mrs. bonner
bonner, mother of dv. Bonner, the cruel bishop of London. Dr. Ridley, when at his manor at Fulham, always invited her to his house, placed her at the head of his table, and treated her like his own mother; he did the same by bonner's sister and other relatives; but when Dr. Ridley was under persecution, bonner pursued a conduct diametrically opposite, and would have sacrificed Dr. Ridley's sister and her husband, Mr. George Shipside, had not Providence delivered him by the means of Dr. Heath, bishop of Worcester.
was first in part converted by reading
Bertram's book on the Sacrament, and by his conferences with archbishop Cranmer
and Peter Martyr.
When Edward VI was removed from the throne, and the
bloody Mary succeeded,
Bishop Ridley was immediately marked as an object of
slaughter. He was first sent to the Tower, and afterward, at Oxford, was
consigned to the common prison of Bocardo, with
archbishop cranmer and mr.
Latimer. Being separated from them, he was placed in the house of one Irish,
where he remained until the day of his martyrdom, from 1554, until October 16,
It will easily be supposed that the conversations of these chiefs of the martyrs were elaborate, learned, and instructive. Such indeed they were, and equally beneficial to all their spiritual comforts. Bishop Ridley's letters to various Christian brethren in bonds in all parts, and his disputations with the mitred enemies of Christ, alike proved the clearness of his head and the integrity of his heart.
In a letter to Mr. Grindal, (afterward
archbishop of Canterbury,) he mentions with affection those who had preceded him
in dying for the faith, and those who were expected to suffer;
he regrets that
popery is re-established in its full abomination, which he attributes to the
wrath of God, made manifest in return for the lukewarm-ness of the clergy and the
people in justly appreciating the blessed light of the Reformation.
This old practiced soldier of Christ, Master Hugh
Latimer, was the son of one Hugh Latimer, of Thurkesson in the county of
Leicester, a husbandman, of a good and wealthy estimation; where also he was
born and brought up until he was four years of age, or thereabout: at which time
his parents, having him as then left for their only son, with six daughters,
seeing his ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up in erudition,
and knowledge of good literature; wherein he so profited in his youth at the
common schools of his own country, that at the age of fourteen years, he was
sent to the University of Cambridge; where he entered into the study of the
school divinity of that day, and was from principle a zealous observer of the
Romish superstitions of the time. In his oration when he commenced bachelor of
divinity, he inveighed against the reformer Melancthon, and openly declaimed
against good Mr. Stafford, divinity lecturer in Cambridge.
Mr. Thomas Bilney, moved by a brotherly pity
towards Mr. Latimer, begged to wait upon him in his study, and
to explain to him the groundwork of his (Mr. Bilney's) faith. This blessed
interview effected his conversion: the persecutor of Christ became his zealous
advocate, and before Dr. Stafford died he became reconciled to him.
Latimer, begged to wait upon him in his study, and
to explain to him the groundwork of his (Mr. Bilney's) faith. This blessed
interview effected his conversion: the persecutor of Christ became his zealous
advocate, and before Dr. Stafford died he became reconciled to him.
Once converted, he became eager for the conversion of others, and commenced to be public preacher, and private instructor in the university. His sermons were so pointed against the absurdity of praying in the Latin tongue, and withholding the oracles of salvation from the people who were to be saved by belief in them, that he drew upon himself the pulpit animadversions of several of the resident friars and heads of houses, whom he subsequently silenced by his severe criticisms and eloquent arguments.
at Christmas, 1529. At length Dr. West preached against Mr. Latimer at Barwell
Abbey, and prohibited him from preaching again in the churches of the
university, notwithstanding which, he continued during three years to advocate
openly the cause of Christ, and even his enemies confessed the power of those
talents he possessed. Mr. Bilney remained here some time with Mr. Latimer, and
thus the place where they frequently walked together obtained the name of
Mr. Latimer at this time traced out the innocence of a poor woman, accused by her husband of the murder of her child. Having preached before King Henry VIII at Windsor, he obtained the unfortunate mother's pardon. This, with many other benevolent acts, served only to excite the spleen of his adversaries. He was summoned before cardinal wolsey for heresy, but being a strenuous supporter of the king's supremacy, in opposition to the pope's, by favor of Lord Cromwell and Dr. Buts, (the king's physician,) he obtained the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire.
For his sermons here against purgatory,
the immaculacy of the Virgin, and the worship of images, he was cited to appear
warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and
john, bishop of London. He was
required to subscribe certain articles, expressive of his conformity to the accustomed
usages; and there is reason to think, after repeated weekly
examinations, that he did subscribe, as they did not seem to involve any
important article of belief.
Guided by Providence, he escaped the subtle nets of
his persecutors, and at length, through the powerful friends before mentioned,
became bishop of Worcester, in which function he qualified or explained away
most of the papal ceremonies he was for form's sake under the necessity of
complying with. He continued in this active and dignified employment some years.
Beginning afresh to set forth his plow he labored
in the Lord's harvest most fruitfully, discharging his talent as well in divers
places of this realm, as before the king at the court. In the same place of the
inward garden, which was before applied to lascivious and courtly pastimes,
there he dispensed the fruitful Word of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ,
preaching there before the king and his whole court, to the edification of many.
He remained a prisoner in the Tower until the
coronation of Edward VI, when he was again called to the Lord's harvest in
Stamford, and many other places: he also preached at London in the convocation
house, and before the young king; indeed he lectured twice every Sunday,
regardless of his great age (then above sixty-seven years,) and his weakness
through a bruise received from the fall of a tree. Oblivious of fatiga in his private
studies, he rose to them in winter and in summer at two o'clock in the morning.
By the strength of his own mind, or of some inward
light from above, he had a prophetic view of what was to happen to the Church in
Mary's reign, asserting that he was doomed to suffer for the truth, and that
Winchester, then in the Tower, was preserved for that purpose. Soon after
queen mary was proclaimed, a messenger was sent to summon
Mr. Latimer to town, and
there is reason to believe it was wished that he should make his escape.
Thus Master Latimer coming up to London, through
Smithfield (where merrily he said that Smithfield had long groaned for him), was
brought before the Council, where he patiently bore all the mocks and taunts
given him by the
scornful papists. He was cast into the Tower, where he, being
assisted with the heavenly grace of Christ, sustained imprisonment a long time,
notwithstanding the cruel and unmerciful handling of the lordly
thought then their kingdom would never fall; he showed himself not only patient,
but also cheerful in and above all that which they could or would work against
him. Yea, such a valiant spirit the Lord gave him, that he was able not only to
despise the terribleness of prisons and torments, but also to laugh to scorn the
doings of his enemies.
Mr. Latimer, after remaining a long time in the Tower, was transported to Oxford, with Cranmer and Ridley, the disputations at which place have been already mentioned in a former part of this work. He remained imprisoned until October, and the principal objects of all his prayers were three-that he might stand faithful to the doctrine he had professed, that God would restore his Gospel to England once again, and preserve the Lady Elizabeth to be queen; all of which happened.
When he stood at the stake without the Bocardo gate, Oxford, with Dr. Ridley, and fire was putting to the pile of fagots, he raised his eyes benignantly towards heaven, and said, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." His body was forcibly penetrated by the fire, and the blood flowed abundantly from the heart; as if to verify his constant desire that his heart's blood might be shed in defense of the Gospel.
His polemical and friendly letters are lasting
monuments of his integrity and talents. It has been before said, that public
disputation took place in April, 1554, new examinations took place in October,
1555, previous to the degradation and condemnation of
Cranmer, Ridley, and
Latimer. We now draw to the conclusion of the lives of the two last.
Ridley, the night before execution, was very
facetious, had himself shaved, and called his supper a marriage feast; he
remarked upon seeing Mrs. Irish (the keeper's wife) weep, "Though my
breakfast will be somewhat sharp, my supper will be more pleasant and
The place of death was on the north side of the town, opposite Baliol College. Dr. Ridley was dressed in a black gown furred, and Mr. Latimer had a long shroud on, hanging down to his feet. Dr. Ridley, as he passed Bocardo, looked up to see dv. cranmer, but the latter was then engaged in disputation with a friar. When they came to the stake, Mr. Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bid him: "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it." He then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation.
smith then preached a short sermon against the
martyrs, who would have answered him, but were prevented by
dv. marshal, the
Dr. Ridley then took off his gown and tippet, and gave them to
his brother-in-law, Mr. Shipside. He gave away also many trifles to his weeping
friends, and the populace were anxious to get even a fragment of his garments.
Mr. Latimer gave nothing, and from the poverty of his garb, was soon stripped to
his shroud, and stood venerable and erect, fearless of death.
being unclothed to his shirt, the smith
placed an iron chain about their waists, and
Dr. Ridley bid him fasten it
securely; his brother having tied a bag of gunpowder about his neck, gave some
then requested of Lord Williams, of
Fame, to advocate with the queen the cause of some poor men to whom he had, when
bishop, granted leases, but which the present bishop refused to confirm. A
lighted fagot was now laid at Dr. Ridley's feet, which caused Mr. Latimer to
"Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by
God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put
Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards
him, he cried with a wonderful loud voice, "Lord, Lord, receive my
Master Latimer, crying as vehemently on the other side, "O
Father of heaven, receive my soul!" received the flame as it were embracing
of it. After that he had stroked his face with his hands, and as it were, bathed
them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeared) with very little pain
Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world
they have already. What reward remained for them in heaven, the day of the
Lord's glory, when he cometh with His saints, shall declare.
In the following month died
bishop of Winchester and lord chancellor of England. This
papistical monster was
born at Bury, in Suffolk, and partly educated at Cambridge. Ambitious, cruel,
and bigoted, he served any cause; he first espoused the king's part in the
Anne Boleyn: upon the establishment of the Reformation he declared the
supremacy of the
pope an execrable tenet; and when
queen mary came to the crown,
he entered into all her
papistical bigoted views, and became a second time
bishop of Winchester. It is conjectured it was his intention to have moved the
sacrifice of Lady Elizabeth, but when he arrived at this point, it pleased God
to remove him.
It was on the afternoon of the day when those
faithful soldiers of Christ,
Ridley and Latimer, perished, that Gardiner sat
down with a joyful heart to dinner. Scarcely had he taken a few mouthfuls, when
he was seized with illness, and carried to his bed, where he lingered fifteen
days in great torment, unable in any wise to evacuate, and burnt with a
devouring fever, that terminated in death. Execrated by all good Christians, we
pray the Father of mercies, that he may receive that mercy above he never
This martyr was the son of a knight, born in Hampshire, and brought up at New College, Oxford, where for several years he studied the civil law, and became eminent in the Hebrew tongue. He was a scholar and a gentleman, zealous in religion, fearless in disposition, and a detester of flattery. After visiting Italy, he returned to England, affairs in King Edward's days wearing a more promising aspect. During this reign he continued to be archdeacon of Winchester under Dr. Poinet, who succeeded Gardiner. Upon the accession of Mary, a convocation was summoned, in which Mr. Philpot defended the Reformation against his ordinary, Gardiner, again made bishop of Winchester, and soon was conducted to bonner and other commissioners for examination, October 2, 1555, after being eighteen months' imprisoned.
Upon his demanding to see the
dv. story cruelly observed, "I will spend both my gown and my
coat, but I will burn thee! Let him be in Lollard's tower, (a wretched prison,)
for I will sweep the king's Bench and all other prisons of these heretics!"
Upon Mr. Philpot's second examination, it was intimated to him that dv. story had said that the lord chancellor had commanded that he should be made away with. It is easy to foretell the result of this inquiry. He was committed to bonner's coal house, where he joined company with a zealous minister of Essex, who had been induced to sign a bill of recantation; but afterward, stung by his conscience, he asked the bishop to let him see the instrument again, when he tore it to pieces; which induced bonner in a fury to strike him repeatedly, and tear away part of his beard.
private interview with
bonner the same night, and was then remanded to his bed
of straw like other prisoners, in the coal house. After seven examinations,
bonner ordered him to be set in the stocks, and on the following Sunday
separated him from his fellow-prisoners as a sower of heresy, and ordered him up
to a room near the battlements of St. Paul's, eight feet by thirteen, on the
other side of Lollard's tower, and which could be overlooked by any one in the
bishop's outer gallery. Here
Mr. Philpot was searched, but happily he was
successful in secreting some letters containing his examinations.
In the eleventh investigation before various
bishops, and mr. morgan,
morgan,of Oxford, the latter was so driven into a corner by the close pressure of Mr. Philpot's arguments, that he said to him, "Instead of the spirit of the Gospel which you boast to possess, I think it is the spirit of the buttery, which your fellows have had, who were drunk before their death, and went, I believe, drunken to it." To this unfounded and brutish remark, Mr. Philpot indignantly replied, "It appeared by your communication that you are better acquainted with that spirit than the Spirit of God; wherefore I tell thee, you painted wall and hypocrite, in the name of the living God, whose truth I have told thee, that God shall rain fire and brimstone upon such blasphemers as thou art!" He was then remanded by bonner, with an order not to allow him his Bible nor candlelight.
On December 4,
Mr. Philpot had his next hearing,
and this was followed by two more, making in all, fourteen conferences, previous
to the final examination in which he was condemned; such were the perseverance
and anxiety of the
catholics, aided by the argumentative abilities of the most
distinguished of the
papal bishops, to bring him into the pale of
Those examinations, which were very long and learned, were all written down by
Mr. Philpot, and a stronger proof of the imbecility of the
cannot, to an unbiased mind, be exhibited.
On December 16, in the consistory of St. Paul's
bishop bonner, after laying some trifling accusations to his charge, such as
secreting powder to make ink, writing some private letters, etc., proceeded to
pass the awful sentence upon him, after he and the other bishops had urged him
by every inducement to recant. He was afterward conducted to Newgate, where the
avaricious catholic keeper loaded him with heavy irons, which by the humanity of
Mr. Macham were ordered to be taken off. On December 17,
Mr. Philpot received
intimation that he was to die next day, and the next morning about eight
o'clock, he joyfully met the sheriffs, who were to attend him to the place of
Upon entering Smithfield, the ground was so muddy
that two officers offered to carry him to the stake, but he replied:
These five martyrs suffered together, January 31,
John Lomas was a young man of Tenterden. He was cited to appear at Canterbury, and was examined January 17. His answers being adverse to the
idolatrous doctrine of the
papacy, he was condemned on the following day, and
suffered January 31.
Agnes Snoth, widow, of Smarden Parish, was several
times summoned before the
catholic pharisees, and rejecting absolution,
indulgences, transubstantiation, and auricular confession, she was adjudged
worthy to suffer death, and endured martyrdom, January 31, with
Anne Wright and
Joan Sole, who were placed in similar circumstances, and perished at the same
time, with equal resignation.
Joan Catmer, the last of this heavenly company, of
the parish Hithe, was the wife of the martyr
Seldom in any country, for political controversy,
have four women been led to execution, whose lives were irreproachable, and whom
the pity of savages would have spared. We cannot but remark here that, when the
Protestant power first gained the ascend over the
catholic superstition, and
some degree of force in the laws was necessary to enforce uniformity, whence
some bigoted people suffered privation in their person or goods, we read of few
burnings, savage cruelties, or poor women brought to the stake, but it is the
nature of error to resort to force instead of argument, and to silence truth by
taking away existence, of which the Redeemer himself is an instance.
The above five persons were burnt at two stakes in
one fire, singing Hosannah to the glorified Savior, until the breath of life
was extinct. Sir John Norton, who was present, wept bitterly at their unmerited
Dr. Thomas Cranmer was descended from an ancient family, and was born at the village of Arselacton, in the county of Northampton. After the usual school education he was sent to Cambridge, and was chosen fellow Jesus College. Here he married a gentleman's daughter, by which he forfeited his fellowship, and became a reader in Buckingham College, placing his wife at the Dolphin Inn, the landlady of which was a relation of hers, whence arose the idle report that he was an ostler.
His lady shortly after dying in childbed; to his
credit he was re-chosen a fellow of the college before mentioned. In a few years
after, he was promoted to be Divinity Lecturer, and appointed one of the
examiners over those who were ripe to become Bachelors or Doctors in Divinity.
It was his principle to judge of their qualifications by the knowledge they
possessed of the Scriptures, rather than of the ancient fathers, and hence many
popish priests were rejected, and others rendered much improved.
He was strongly solicited by Dr. Capon to be one of
the fellows on the foundation of Cardinal Wolsey's college, Oxford, of which he
hazarded the refusal. While he continued in Cambridge, the question of Henry
VIII's divorce with Catharine was agitated. At that time, on account of the
plague, Dr. Cranmer removed to the house of a Mr. Cressy, at Waltham Abbey,
whose two sons were then educating under him. The affair of divorce, contrary to
the king's approbation, had remained undecided above two or three years, from
the intrigues of the canonists and civilians, and though the cardinals Campeius
and Wolsey were commissioned from Rome to decide the question, they purposely
protracted the sentence.
It happened that Dr. Gardiner (secretary) and Dr. Fox, defenders of the king in the above suit, came to the house of Mr. Cressy to lodge, while the king removed to Greenwich. At supper, a conversation ensued with Dr. Cranmer, who suggested that the question whether a man may marry his brother's wife or not, could be easily and speedily decided by the Word of God, and this as well in the English courts as in those of any foreign nation.
king, uneasy at the delay, sent for Dr. Gardiner and Dr. Fox to consult them,
regretting that a new commission must be sent to Rome, and the suit be endlessly
protracted. Upon relating to the king the conversation which had passed on the
previous evening with Dr. Cranmer, his majesty sent for him, and opened the
tenderness of conscience upon the near affinity of the queen. Dr. Cranmer
advised that the matter should be referred to the most learned divines of
Cambridge and Oxford, as he was unwilling to meddle in an affair of such weight;
but the king enjoined him to deliver his sentiments in writing, and to repair
for that purpose to the earl of Wiltshire's, who would accommodate him with
books, and everything requisite for the occasion.
This Dr. Cranmer immediately did, and in his
declaration not only quoted the authority of the Scriptures, of general
councils, and the ancient writers, but maintained that the
bishop of rome had no
authority whatever to dispense with the Word of God. The king asked him if he
would stand by this bold declaration, to which replying in the affirmative, he
was deputized ambassador to Rome, in conjunction with the earl of Wiltshire, Dr.
Stokesley, Dr. Carne, Dr. Bennet, and others, previous to which, the marriage
was discussed in most of the universities of Christendom and at home.
pope presented his toe to be kissed, as
customary, the earl of Wiltshire and his party refused. Indeed, it is affirmed
that a spaniel of the earl's attracted by the littler of the
pope's toe, made a
snap at it, whence his holiness drew in his sacred foot, and kicked at the
offender with the other.
pope demanding the cause of their embassy,
the earl presented Dr. Cranmer's book, declaring that his learned friends had
come to defend it. The
pope treated the embassy honorably, and appointed a day
for the discussion, which he delayed, as if afraid of the issue of the
investigation. The earl returned, and Dr. Cranmer, by the king's desire, visited
the emperor, and was successful in bringing him over to his opinion. Upon the
doctor's return to England, Dr. Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, having quitted
this transitory life, Dr. Cranmer was deservedly, and by Dr. Warham's desire,
elevated to that eminent station.
In this function, it may be said that he followed
closely the charge of St. Paul. Diligent in duty, he rose at five in the
morning, and continued in study and prayer until nine: between then and dinner,
he devoted to temporal affairs. After dinner, if any suitors wanted hearing, he
would determine their business with such an affability that even the defaulters
were scarcely displeased. Then he would play at chess for an hour, or see others
play, and at five o'clock he heard the common prayer read, and from this until
supper he took the recreation of walking. At supper his conversation was lively
and entertaining; again he walked or amused himself until nine o'clock, and then
entered his study.
He ranked high in favor with King Henry, and even had the purity and the interest of the English Church deeply at heart. His mild and forgiving disposition is recorded in the following instance. An ignorant priest, in the country, had called Cranmer an ostler, and spoken very derogatory of his learning. Lord Cromwell receiving information of it, the man was sent to the Fleet, and his case was told to the archbishop by a Mr. Chertsey, a grocer, and a relation of the priest's.
His grace, having sent for the offender,
reasoned with him, and solicited the priest to question him on any learned
subject. The man overcome by the bishop's good nature, and knowing his own
glaring incapacity, declined, and entreated his forgiveness, which was
immediately granted, with a charge to employ his time better when he returned to
his parish. Cromwell was much vexed at the lenity displayed, but the bishop was
ever more ready to receive injury than to retaliate in any other manner than by
good advice and good offices.
At the time that Cranmer was raised to be
archbishop, he was king's chaplain, and archdeacon of Taunton; he was also
constituted by the pope the penitentiary general of England. It was considered
by the king that Cranmer would be obsequious; hence the latter married the king
to Anne Boleyn, performed her coronation, stood godfather to Elizabeth, the
first child, and divorced the king from Catharine. Though Cranmer received a
confirmation of his dignity from the pope, he always protested against
acknowledging any other authority than the king's, and he persisted in the same
independent sentiments when before Mary's commissioners in 1555.
One of the first steps after the divorce was to
prevent preaching throughout his diocese, but this narrow measure had rather a
political view than a religious one, as there were many who inveighed against
the king's conduct. In his new dignity Cranmer agitated the question of
supremacy, and by his powerful and just arguments induced the parliament to
"render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." During Cranmer's
residence in Germany, 1531, he became acquainted with Ossiander, at Nuremberg,
and married his niece, but left her with him while on his return to England.
After a season he sent for her privately, and she remained with him until the
year 1539, when the Six Articles compelled him to return her to her friends for
It should be remembered that Ossiander, having
obtained the approbation of his friend Cranmer, published the laborious work of
the Harmony of the Gospels in 1537. In 1534 the archbishop completed the dearest
wish of his heart, the removal of every obstacle to the perfection of the
Reformation, by the subscription of the nobles and bishops to the king's sole
supremacy. Only Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More made objection; and their
agreement not to oppose the succession Cranmer was willing to consider at
sufficient, but the monarch would have no other than an entire concession.
Not long after, Gardiner, in a private
with the king, spoke inimically of Cranmer, (whom he maliciously hated) for
assuming the title of primate of all England, as derogatory to the supremacy of
the king. This created much jealousy against Cranmer, and his translation of the
Bible was strongly opposed by Stokesley, bishop of London. It is said, upon the
demise of Queen Catharine, that her successor Anne Boleyn rejoiced-a lesson this
to show how shallow is the human judgment! since her own execution took place in
the spring of the following year, and the king, on the day following the
beheading of this sacrificed lady, married the beautiful Jane Seymour, a maid of
honor to the late queen. Cranmer was ever the friend of Anne Boleyn, but it was
dangerous to oppose the will of the carnal tyrannical monarch.
In 1538, the Holy Scriptures were openly exposed to sale; and the places of worship overflowed everywhere to hear its holy doctrines expounded. Upon the king's passing into a law the famous Six Articles, which went nearly again to establish the essential tenets of the Romish creed, Cranmer shone forth with all the luster of a Christian patriot, in resisting the doctrines they contained, and in which he was supported by the bishops of Sarum, Worcester, Ely, and Rochester, the two former of whom resigned their bishoprics.
The king, though now in opposition to Cranmer, still revered the sincerity that
marked his conduct. The death of Lord Cromwell in the Tower, in 1540, the good
friend of Cranmer, was a severe blow to the wavering Protestant cause, but even
now Cranmer, when he saw the tide directly adverse to the truth, boldly waited
on the king in person, and by his manly and heartfelt pleading, caused the Book
of Articles to be passed on his side, to the great confusion of his enemies, who
had contemplated his fall as inevitable.
Cranmer now lived in as secluded a manner as
possible, until the rancor of Winchester preferred some articles against him,
relative to the dangerous opinion he taught in his family, joined to other
treasonable charges. These the king himself delivered to Cranmer, and believing
firmly the fidelity and assertions of innocence of the accused prelate, he
caused the matter to be deeply investigated, and Winchester and Dr. Lenden, with
Thornton and Barber, of the bishop's household, were found by the papers to be
the real conspirators. The mild, forgiving Cranmer would have interceded for all
remission of punishment, had not Henry, pleased with the subsidy voted by
parliament, let them be discharged. These nefarious men, however, again renewing
their plots against Cranmer, fell victims to Henry's resentment, and Gardiner
forever lost his confidence. Sir G. Gostwick soon after laid charges against the
archbishop, which Henry quashed, and the primate was willing to forgive.
In 1544, the archbishop's palace at Canterbury was
burnt, and his brother-in-law with others perished in it. These various
afflictions may serve to reconcile us to a humble state; for of what happiness
could this great and good man boast, since his life was constantly harassed
either by political, religious, or natural crosses? Again the inveterate
Gardfiner laid high charges against the meek archbishop and would have sent him
to the Tower; but the king was his friend, gave him his signet that he might
defend him, and in the Council not only declared the bishop one of the best
affected men in his realm, but sharply rebuked his accusers for their calumny.
A peace having been made, Henry, and the French
king, Henry the Great, were unanimous to have the mass abolished in their
kingdom, and Cranmer set about this great work; but the death of the English
monarch, in 1546, suspended the procedure, and King Edwarrd his successor
continued Cranmer in the same functions, upon whose coronation he delivered a
charge that will ever honor his memory, for its purity, freedom, and truth.
During this reign he prosecuted the glorious Reformation with unabated zeal,
even in the year 1552, when he was seized with a severe ague, from which it
pleased God to restore him that he might testify by his death the truth of that
seed he had diligently sown.
The death of Edward, in 1553, exposed Cranmer to
all the rage of his enemies. Though the archbishop was among those who supported
Mary's accession, he was attainted at the meeting of parliament, and in November
adjudged guilty of high treason at Guildhall, and degraded from his dignities.
He sent a humble letter to Mary, explaining the cause of his signing the will in
favor of Edward, and in 1554 he wrote to the Council, whom he pressed to obtain
a pardon from the queen, by a letter delivered to Dr. Weston, but which the
letter opened, and on seeing its contents, basely returned.
Treason was a charge quite inapplicable to Cranmer,
who supported the queen's right; while others, who had favored Lady Jane were
dismissed upon paying a small fine. A calumny was now spread against Cranmer
that he complied with some of the popish ceremonies to ingratiate himself with
the queen, which he dared publicly to disavow, and justified his articles of
faith. The active part which the prelate had taken in the divorce of Mary's
mother had ever rankled deeply in the heart of the queen, and revenge formed a
prominent feature in the death of Cranmer.
We have in this work noticed the public
disputations at Oxford, in which the talents of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer
shone so conspicuously, and tended to their condemnation. The first sentence was
illegal, inasmuch as the usurped power of the pope had not yet been
re-established by law.
Being kept in prison until this was effected, a
commission was despatched from Rome, appointing
dv. brooks to sit as the
representative of his holiness, and
dv's. story and martin as those of the queen.
Cranmer was willing to bow to the authority of
dv's. story and martin, but
against that of
dv. brooks he protested. Such were the remarks and replies of
Cranmer, after a long examination, that
dv. brooks observed, "We come to
examine you, and we think you examine us."
Being sent back to confinement, he received a
citation to appear at
rome within eighteen days, but this was impracticable, as
he was imprisoned in England; and as he stated, even had he been at liberty, he
was too poor to employ an advocate. Absurd as it must appear, Cranmer was
rome, and on February 14, 1556, a new commission was appointed, by
bishop of ely, and bonner, of London, were deputed to sit in
judgment at Oxford. By virtue of this instrument, Cranmer was
gradually degraded, by putting mere rags on him to represent the dress of an
archbishop; then stripping him of his attire, they took off his own gown, and
put an old worn one upon him instead. This he bore unmoved, and his enemies,
finding that severity only rendered him more determined, tried the opposite
course, and placed him in the house of the dean of Christ-church, where he was
treated with every indulgence.
This presented such a contrast to the three years'
hard imprisonment he had received, that it threw him off his guard. His open,
generous nature was more easily to be seduced by a liberal conduct than by
threats and fetters. When Satan finds the Christian proof against one mode of
attack, he tries another; and what form is so seductive as smiles, rewards, and
power, after a long, painful imprisonment? Thus it was with Cranmer: his enemies
promised him his former greatness if he would but recant, as well as the queen's
favor, and this at the very time they knew that his death was determined in
council. To soften the path to apostasy, the first paper brought for his
signature was conceived in general terms; this once signed, five others were
obtained as explanatory of the first, until finally he put his hand to the
following detestable instrument:
"I, Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of
Canterbury, do renounce, abhor, and detest all manner of heresies and errors of
Luther and Zwingly, and all other teachings which are contrary to sound and
true doctrine. And I believe most constantly in my heart, and with my mouth I
confess one holy and
catholic church visible, without which there is no
salvation; and therefore I acknowledge the
bishop of rome to be supreme head on
earth, whom I acknowledge to be the
bishop and pope, and Christ's vicar,
unto whom all Christian people ought to be subject.
"And as concerning the sacraments, I believe
and worship in the sacrament of the altar the body and blood of Christ, being
contained most truly under the forms of bread and wine; the bread, through the
mighty power of God being turned into the body of our Savior Jesus Christ, and
the wine into his blood.
"Furthermore, I believe that there is a place
of purgatory, where souls departed be punished for a time, for whom the
doth godly and wholesomely pray, like as it doth honor saints and make prayers
"And all such as have been deceived either by
mine example or doctrine, I require them by the blood of Jesus Christ that they
will return to the unity of the Church, that we may be all of one mind, without
schism or division.
"And to conclude, as I submit myself to the
catholic church of Christ, and to the supreme head thereof, so I submit myself
unto the most excellent majesties of
philip and mary, king and queen of this
realm of England, etc., and to all other their laws and ordinances, being ready
always as a faithful subject ever to obey them. And God is my witness, that I
have not done this for favor or fear of any person, but willingly and of mine
own conscience, as to the instruction of others."
"Let him that
stands take heed lest he
fall!" said the apostle, and here was a falling off indeed! The
triumphed in their turn: they had acquired all they wanted short of his life.
His recantation was immediately printed and dispersed, that it might have its
due effect upon the astonished Protestants. But God counter worked all the
designs of the
catholics by the extent to which they carried the implacable
persecution of their prey. Doubtless, the love of life induced Cranmer to sign
the above declaration: yet death may be said to have been preferable to life to
him who lay under the stings of a goaded conscience and the contempt of every
Gospel Christian; this principle he strongly felt in all its force and anguish.
The queen's revenge was only to be satiated by
Cranmer's blood, and therefore she wrote an order to
dv. Pole, to prepare a
sermon to be preached March 21, directly before his martyrdom, at St. Mary's,
Oxford. Dr. Pole visited him the day previous, and was induced to believe that
he would publicly deliver his sentiments in confirmation of the articles to
which he had subscribed. About nine in the morning of the day of sacrifice, the
queen's commissioners, attended by the magistrates, conducted the amiable
unfortunate to St. Mary's Church. His torn, dirty garb, the same in which they
habited him upon his degradation, excited the commiseration of the people. In
the church he found a low mean stage, erected opposite to the pulpit, on which
being placed, he turned his face, and fervently prayed to God.
The church was crowded with persons of both
persuasions, expecting to hear the justification of the late apostasy: the
catholics rejoicing, and the Protestants deeply wounded in spirit at the deceit
of the human heart.
dv. pole, in his sermon, represented Cranmer as having been
guilty of the most atrocious crimes; encouraged the deluded sufferer not to fear
death, not to doubt the support of God in his torments, nor that masses would be
said in all the churches of Oxford for the repose of his soul. The doctor then
noticed his conversion, and which he ascribed to the evident working of Almighty
power and in order that the people might be convinced of its reality, asked the
prisoner to give them a sign. This Cranmer did, and begged the congregation to
pray for him, for he had committed many and grievous sins; but, of all, there
was one which awfully lay upon his mind, of which he would speak shortly.
During the sermon Cranmer wept bitter tears:
lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven, and letting them fall, as if unworthy
to live: his grief now found vent in words: before his confession he fell upon
his knees, and, in the following words unveiled the deep contrition and
agitation which harrowed up his soul.
"O Father of heaven! O Son of God, Redeemer of the world! O Holy Ghost, three persons all one God! have mercy on me, most wretched caitiff and miserable sinner. I have offended both against heaven and earth, more than my tongue can express. Whither then may I go, or whither may I flee? To heaven I may be ashamed to lift up mine eyes and in earth I find no place of refuge or succor. To Thee, therefore, O Lord, do I run; to Thee do I humble myself, saying, O Lord, my God, my sins be great, but yet have mercy upon me for Thy great mercy.
The great mystery that God became man, was not wrought
for little or few offences. Thou didst not give Thy Son, O Heavenly Father, unto
death for small sins only, but for all the greatest sins of the world, so that
the sinner return to Thee with his whole heart, as I do at present. Wherefore,
have mercy on me, O God, whose property is always to have mercy, have mercy upon
me, O Lord, for Thy great mercy. I crave nothing for my own merits, but for Thy
name's sake, that it may be hallowed thereby, and for Thy dear Son, Jesus
Christ's sake. And now therefore, O Father of Heaven, hallowed be Thy
Then rising, he said he was desirous before his
death to give them some pious exhortations by which God might be glorified and
themselves edified. He then descanted upon the danger of a love for the world,
the duty of obedience to their majesties, of love to one another and the
necessity of the rich administering to the wants of the poor. He quoted the
three verses of the fifth chapter of James, and then proceeded, "Let them
that be rich ponder well these three sentences: for if they ever had occasion to
show their charity, they have it now at this present, the poor people being so
many, and victual so dear.
"And now forasmuch as I am come to the last
end of my life, whereupon hangs all my life past, and all my life to come,
either to live with my master Christ for ever in joy, or else to be in pain for
ever with the wicked in hell, and I see before mine eyes presently, either
heaven ready to receive me, or else hell ready to swallow me up; I shall
therefore declare unto you my very faith how I believe, without any color of
dissimulation: for now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have said or
written in times past.
"First, I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, etc. And I believe every article of the Catholic
faith, every word and sentence taught by our Savior Jesus Christ, His apostles
and prophets, in the New and Old Testament.
"And now I come to the great thing which so
much trouble my conscience, more than any thing that ever I did or said in my
whole life, and that is the setting abroad of a writing contrary to the truth,
which now here I renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand contrary to
the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and to
save my life, if it might be; and that is, all such bills or papers which I have
written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many
things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand hath offended, writing contrary to my
heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for when I come to the fire it
shall first be burned.
"And as for the
pope, I refuse him as Christ's
enemy, and antichrist, with all his false doctrine."
Upon the conclusion of this unexpected declaration,
amazement and indignation were conspicuous in every part of the church. The
Catholics were completely foiled, their object being frustrated,
Samson, having completed a greater ruin upon his enemies in the hour of death,
than he did in his life.
would have proceeded in the exposure of the
popish doctrines, but the murmurs of the idolaters drowned his voice, and the
preacher gave an order to "lead the heretic away!" The savage command
was directly obeyed, and the lamb about to suffer was torn from his stand to the
place of slaughter, insulted all the way by the reviling and taunts of the
pestilent monks and friars.
With thoughts intent upon a far higher object than
the empty threats of man, he reached the spot dyed with the blood of
Latimer. There he knelt for a short time in earnest devotion, and then arose,
that he might undress and prepare for the fire. Two friars who had been parties
in prevailing upon him to abjure, now endeavored to draw him off again from the
truth, but he was steadfast and immovable in what he had just professed, and
publicly taught. A chain was provided to bind him to the stake, and after it had
tightly encircled him, fire was put to the fuel, and the flames began soon to
Then were the glorious sentiments of the martyr
made manifest; then it was, that stretching out his right hand, he held it up in the fire until it was burnt to a cinder, even before his body
frequently exclaiming, "This unworthy right hand."
His body did abide the burning with such
steadfastness that he seemed to have no more than the stake to which he was
bound; his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and he repeated "this unworthy
right hand," as long as his voice would suffer him; and using often the
words of Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," in the greatness of
the flame, he gave up the ghost.