Foxe's Book of Martyrs
An Account of Several Protestants, Who Were Persecuted, Tormented, and Most of Them Burned, Under the Tyranny of Bonner, Bishop of London.
Stephen Gardiner, having condemned and burned several great and learned men, presumed that these examples would deter all in future from opposing the popish religion: but in this he found himself deceived, for within eight or nine days after sentence had passed against bishop Hooper and others, six other christians were brought to be examined for the same cause. Gardiner seeing this, became discouraged, and from that day meddled no more in such kind of condemnations; but referred the whole of this cruel business to the more sanguinary Bonner, bishop of London; who called before him in his consistory at St. Paul's (the lord mayor and several aldermen sitting with him) the six persons, upon the 8th of February, and on the next day read the sentence of condemnation upon them. But as their death did not take place till the next month, we will defer the account till we come to the time of their suffering, and proceed with other incidents of this bloody reign. What occasioned their execution to be delayed even a month, cannot with certainty be declared; conjecture, however, reasonably ascribes it to the lenient sermon of Alphonsus, the king's confessor: for, added to the discourse already mentioned, he preached other sermons of the same kind, in which he pleaded the cause of reasoning to convert heretics, rather than burning to destroy them.
Dr. Robert Farrar, bishop of St. David's, was about this time apprehended, and sent to his diocese, where, as we shall soon perceive, he suffered the usual cruel death. Some trifling disturbances in London were made a pretext for arresting and imprisoning other protestants.
The lord chancellor caused the image of Thomas a Becket to be set up over the Mercers' chapel door, in Cheapside, in the form and shape of a bishop, with mitre and cross, but within two days after its erection, its head was taken off; whereupon arose great trouble, and many were suspected: among whom one Mr. John Barnes, mercer, dwelling over against the chapel, was vehemently by the lord chancellor charged as the offender, and the rather as he was a professor of the truth. Wherefore he and three of his servants were committed to prison: and at his delivery, although nothing could be proved against him, he was bound in a great sum of money, as well to build it up again so often as it should be broke down, as also to watch and keep the same. Therefore the image was again set up; but in a few days the head was again broken off; which offence was so heinously taken, that the next day, there was a proclamation that whoever would discover the perpetrator, should not only have his pardon, but also one hundred crowns of gold, with hearty thanks. But it was never known who did it.
Queen Mary at length, after long delay, made full answer to the king of Denmark, who had written two letters to her in the behalf of Mr. Coverdale, for his deliverance, who at that time went under sureties, and was in great danger, had he not been rescued by the suit and letters of the Danish monarch. An intimation was set forth in February 1555, in the name of bishop Bonner, wherein was contained a general monition, and strict charge given to every man and woman within his diocese, to prepare themselves against the approaching Lent, to receive the glad tidings of peace and reconciliation sent from pope Julius III. by Pole his cardinal and legate.
Judge Hales, of Kent, was now brought before the lord chancellor, and examined respecting his having resisted the ceremony of the mass, or rather for having acted according to his duty as a justice, and as the law then stood, when several Romish priests had been indicted and brought before him. Not giving satisfactory answers to the chancellor, he was committed to prison. While there he was waited upon by Dr. Day and judge Portman, who by some means so worked upon his mind that he was filled with despair; and after in vain attempting to destroy himself by a penknife, he found means of drowning himself in a shallow river. This unhappy gentleman had, at the death of king Edward, stood firmly in defence of Mary's claim and title to the crown. But this service was found insufficient to protect him from the persecuting rage of the Roman catholic bishops and priests.
Mention was made before of six prisoners brought before Bonner the 8th of February, whose names were Tomkins, Pygot, Knight, Haukes, Lawrence, and Hunter. Thomas Tomkins, a weaver by occupation, and an honest Christian, dwelling in Shoreditch, was kept in prison six months and treated with the utmost cruelty. Bonner's rages was so great against him that he beat him about the face, and plucked off a piece of his beard with his own hands: yet was Tomkins so endued with God's mighty Spirit, and so constantly planted in the perfect knowledge of God's truth, that by no means could he be removed therefrom. Whereupon this bishop, being greatly vexed, devised another practice not so strange as cruel, further to try his constancy. So being at his palace at Fulham, and having with him Dr. Chedsey, masters Harpsfield, Pembleton, Willerton, and others standing by, he called for Tomkins; who coming before the bishop, and standing as he was wont in defence of his faith, Bonner fell from beating to burning. For having a taper or wax candle of three or four wicks standing upon the table, he took Tomkins by the fingers, and held his hand directly over the flame, supposing that by the smart and pain of the fire being terrified, he would leave off the defence of his doctrine which he had received. Tomkins, thinking that he was there presently to die, began to commend himself unto the Lord, saying, "O Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit," etc. His hand being in burning, Tomkins afterwards reported to one James Hinse, that his spirit was so rapt that he felt no pain. In the burning he never shrunk, till the veins shrunk, and the sinews burst, and the water spurted in Mr. Harpsfield's face: insomuch that he, moved with pity, desired the priest to stay, saying, that he had tried him enough. When he had been half a year in prison, he was brought with several others before bishop Bonner in his consistory, to be examined. Against him first was brought forth a certain bill or schedule subscribed with his own hand, the fifth day of the same month, containing these words following--"Thomas Tomkins of Shoreditch, and of the diocese of London, hath believed and doth believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, there is not the very body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ in substance, but only a token and remembrance thereof, the very body and blood of Christ being only in heaven and no where else. By me, Thomas Tomkins."
On this being read he was asked, whether he did acknowledge the same subscription to be of his own hand. He granted it so to be. The bishop then went about to persuade him with fair words, rather than with good reasons, to relinquish his opinions, and to return to the unity of the catholic church, promising if he would do so to remit all that was past. But he constantly refused. When the bishop saw he could not convince him, he brought forth and read to him another writing, containing articles and interrogatories, whereunto he should come the next day and answer: in the mean time he should deliberate with himself what to do: and then either to revoke and reclaim himself, or else in the afternoon of the same day to come again and have justice administered unto him. The copy of the articles is as follows.
"Thou dost believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, there is not by the omnipotent power of Almighty God, and his holy word, really, truly, and in very deed, the very true and natural body of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as touching the substance thereof, which was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and hanged upon the cross, suffering death there for the life of the world.
"Thou dost believe, that after the consecration of the bread and wine prepared for the use of the sacrament of the altar, there doth remain the substance of material bread and material wine, not changed nor altered in substance by the power of Almighty God, but remaining as it did before.
"Thou dost believe, that it is an untrue doctrine, and a false belief, to think or say, that in the sacrament of the altar there is, after consecration of the bread and wine, the substance of Christ's natural body and blood, by the omnipotent power of Almighty God, and his holy word.
"Thou dost believe that thy parents, kinsfolks, friends, and acquaintance, and also thy godfathers and godmothers, and all people did err, and were deceived, if they did believe, that in the sacrament of the altar there was, after consecration, the body and blood of Christ, and that there did not remain the substance of material bread and wine."
To these several articles Tomkins declared his free and full consent; acknowledging after each, that what he was charged with believing he did believe.
The next day, Tomkins was again brought before the bishop and his assistants, where the articles were again propounded unto him: whereunto he answered in substance as he had done before, avowing at the same time his belief in the scriptures, and his persuasion that popery was opposed to them. After this answer he also subscribed his name to what he had declared. Whereupon, the bishop drawing out of his bosom another confession subscribed with Tomkins' hand and, also the article that was the first day objected against him, caused the same to be openly read, and then willed him to revoke and deny his opinions, which he utterly refused to do: therefore he was commanded to appear before the bishops again in the same place at two in the afternoon. Agreeably with this mandate, being brought before the bloody tribunal of bishops, and pressed to recant his errors and return to the mother church; he maintained his fidelity, nor would swerve in the least from the articles he had signed. Having therefore declared him an obstinate and damnable heretic, they delivered him up to the secular power, and he was burned in Smithfield, March 6th, 1555, triumphing in the midst of the flames, and adding to the noble company of martyrs, who had preceded him through the path of the fiery trial to the realms of immortal glory.
The second of this noble band of intrepid saints was an apprentice of only nineteen years of age. His name was William Hunter. He had trained to the doctrine of the reformation from his earliest youth, being descended from religious parents, who carefully instructed him in the principles of true religion.
When queen Mary succeeded to the crown, orders were issued to the priests of every parish, to summon all their parishioners to receive the communion at mass, the Easter after her accession; and Hunter, refusing to obey the summons, was threatened to be brought before the bishop. His master, fearful of incurring ecclesiastical censure, desired him to leave him for a time, upon which he quitted his service, went down to Brentwood, and resided with his father about six weeks. One day, finding the chapel open, he entered and began to read in the English bible, which lay upon the desk, but was severely reprimanded by an officer of the bishop's court, who said to him--"William, why meddlest thou with the bible? Understandest thou what thou readest? Canst thou expound scripture?" He replied--"I presume not to expound scripture; but finding the bible here, I read for my comfort and edification."
The officer then informed a neighbouring priest of the liberty the young man had taken in reading the bible; the priest therefore severely chid him, saying--"Sirrah, who gave thee leave to read the bible and expound it?" To this fierce rebuke he answered as he had done to the officer, and on the priest's telling him, that it became him not to meddle with the scriptures, he frankly declared his resolution to read them as long as he lived, as well as reproved the vicar for discouraging persons from that practice, which the scripture so strongly enjoined. On this the priest upbraided him as heretic: he denied the charge, and being asked his opinion concerning the corporeal presence in the sacrament of the altar, he replied, that he esteemed the bread and wine but as figures, and looked upon the sacrament as an institution in remembrance of the death and sufferings of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was then openly declared a heretic, for not believing in the sacrament of the altar, and the vicar threatened to complain to the bishop.
A neighbouring justice, named Brown, having heard that he maintained heretical principles, sent for his father and enquired of him concerning his son; the old man assured him that he had left him, that he know not whither he was gone: and on the justice threatening to imprison him, he said with tears in his eyes--"Would you have me seek out my son to be burned?" The old man, however, was obliged to seek him; and by accident meeting him, with tears said, that it was by command of the justice who threatened to imprison him. The son, to prevent his father incurring danger, said that he was ready to accompany him home; on which they returned together. The following day, he was taken and kept in the stocks four and twenty hours; and then brought before the justice, who called for a bible, and turning to the sixth chapter of St. John, desired his opinion of the meaning of it, as it related to the sacrament of the altar. He fearlessly gave the same explanation as he had done to the priest, persisting in his denial of the corporeal presence; the justice upbraided him with damnable heresy, and wrote to the bishop of London, to whom this valiant young martyr was soon conducted.
After Bonner had read the letter, he caused William to be brought into the chamber, where he began to reason with him in this manner--"I understand, William Hunter, by Mr. Brown's letter, that you have had communication with the vicar of Weld, about the blessed sacrament of the altar, and that you could not agree; whereupon Mr. Brown sent for to bring you to the catholic faith, from which, he saith, you have departed. Howbeit, if you will be ruled by me, you shall have no harm for any thing said or done in this matter." To this William answered--"I am not fallen from the catholic faith of Christ, I am sure; but do believe it, and confess it with all my heart."
Said the bishop--"How sayest thou to the blessed sacrament of the altar? Wilt thou not recant thy saying before Mr. Brown, that Christ's body is not in the sacrament of the altar, the same that was born of the Virgin Mary?" No way daunted, William said--"My lord, I understand that Mr. Brown hath certified you of the talk which he and I had together, and thereby you know what I said to him, which I will not recant by God's help." Then said the bishop, "I think thou art ashamed to bear a fagot, and recant openly; but if thou wilt recant privately, I will promise that thou shalt not be put to open shame: even speak the word here now between me and thee, and I will promise it shall go no further, and thou shalt go home again without any hurt." To this cunning, William replied--"My lord, if you let me alone, and leave me to my conscience, I will go to my father and dwell with him, or else with my master again, and if nobody disquiet nor trouble my conscience, I will keep my conscience to myself."
Then said the bishop, "I am content, so that thou wilt go to the church, and receive, and be shriven; and so continue a good catholic Christian." "No," quoth William, "I will not do so for the good in the world." "The," quoth the bishop, "If you will not do so, I will make you sure enough, I warrant you." "Well," replied William, "you can do no more than God will permit you." "Wilt thou not recant by any means?" said the bishop. "No," quoth William, "never while I live, God willing!"
Then the bishop commanded his men to put William in the stocks in the gatehouse, where he sat two days and nights, only with a crust of bread and a cup of water. At the two days' end the bishop came, and finding the crust and the water still by him, said to his men, "Take him out of the stocks, and let him break his fast with you." After breakfast, Bonner sent for William, and demanded whether he would recant or no. But he made answer, how that he would never recant as concerning his faith in Christ. Then the bishop said that he was no Christian; but he denied the faith in which he was baptized. But William answered, "I was baptized in the faith of the Holy Trinity, which I will not go from, God assisting me with his grace." Then the bishop sent him to the convict prison, and commanded the keeper to lay irons upon him, as many as he could bear; and moreover asked him how old he was. William said that he was nineteen years old. "Well," said the bishop, "you will be burned ere you be twenty years old, if you will not yield yourself better than you have done yet." William answered, "God strengthen me in his truth." And then he parted, the bishop allowing him a halfpenny a day to live on, in bread or drink. Thus he continued in prison three quarters of a year: in the which time he was before the bishop five times, besides when he was condemned in the consistory in St. Paul's, the 9th day of February; at the which his brother, Robert Hunter, (who continued with his brother William till his death, and sent the true report unto us,) was present, and heard the bishop condemn him and five others.
At one time the bishop, calling for Hunter, asked him if he would recant, saying, "If thou wilt yet recant, I will make thee a freeman in the city, and give thee forty pounds in good money to set up thine occupation withal; or I will make thee steward of my house, and set thee in office; for I like thee well, thou hast wit enough, and I will prefer thee if thou recant." But William answered, "I thank you for your great offers; notwithstanding, my lord, if you cannot persuade my conscience with Scriptures, I cannot find in my heart to turn from God for the love of the world; for I count all things worldly, but loss and dung, in respect of the love of Christ." Then said the bishop, "If thou diest in this mind, thou art condemned for ever." William answered, "God judgeth righteously, and justifieth them whom man condemneth unjustly."
Then the bishop departed, and William and the other prisoners returned to Newgate. About a month after, Hunter was sent to Brentwood, on the Saturday before the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary that followed on the Monday after; he therefore remained till the Tuesday, because they would not put him to death then, for the holiness of the day. In the mean time William's father and mother came to him, and desired heartily of God that he might continue as he had begun: and his mother said to him, that she was glad that ever she bare such a child, who could find in his heart to lose his life for Christ's sake. To this he replied--"For the little pain I shall suffer, which will soon be at an end, Christ hath promised me, mother, a crown of joy; should not you be glad of that?" With that his mother kneeled down, saying--"I pray God strengthen thee, my son, to the end: yea, I think thee as well bestowed as any child I ever bore." His father, suppressing his tears, then said--"I was afraid of nothing but that my son would have been killed in the prison by hunger and cold;" a result, however, which the good parent had prevented as well as apprehended, for he was at the expence of the very best food and clothing he could send him, which the son gratefully acknowledged.
He continued at the Swan inn, Brentwood, whither resorted many people to see him: and many of William's acquaintance came to him, and reasoned with him, and he with them, exhorting them to come away from the abomination of popish superstition and idolatry. The short time before his martyrdom was thus usefully passed. On Monday night, William dreamed that he was at the place where the stake was pitched, at which he should be burned: he also thought that he met with his father, and that there was a priest at the stake who wanted him to recant; to who he said--"Away, false prophet!" and exhorted the people to beware of him, and such as he was: all which came to pass. In the morning he was commanded by the sheriff to prepare for his fate. At the same time, the sheriff's son came to him, and embraced him, saying--"William, be not afraid of these men with bows and weapons prepared to bring you to the place where you shall be burned." "I thank God I am not afraid," replied the undaunted youth, "for I have reckoned what it will cost me already." Then the sheriff's son could speak no more to him for weeping.
Hunter then took up his gown, and went forward cheerfully, the sheriff's servant taking him by one arm, and his brother by the other; and going along he met with his father according to his dream, who said to him weeping--"God be with thee, son William." "God be with you, good father," said he, "and be of good comfort; for I hope we shall meet again, when we shall be joyful." He then went to the place where the stake stood, even according to his dream; where all things not being ready, he kneeled and read the 51st Psalm, till he came to these words--"The sacrifice of God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." As one was attempting to dispute the translation of the words, the sheriff brought a letter from the queen, and said--"If thou wilt recant, thou shalt live; if not, thou shalt be burned." "I will not recant, God willing," answered the noble youth: on which he rose up and went to the stake, and stood upright against it. Addressing the justice, he said--"Mr. Brown, now you have that which you sought, and I pray God it be not laid to your charge in the last day; howbeit I forgive you. If God forgive you, I shall not require my blood at your hands."
He then prayed--"Son of God, shine upon me!" and immediately the sun in the element shone out of a dark cloud so full in his face, that he was constrained to look another way; whereat the people wondered, because it was much obscured before. Then took up a fagot of broom, and embraced it. The priest which he had dreamed of now came to his brother Robert, with a popish book to carry to William, that he might recant; which book his brother would not meddle with. Then William, seeing the priest, and perceiving how he would have showed him the book, said, "Away, thou false prophet! Beware of them, good people, and come away from their abominations, lest ye be partakers of their plagues." "Then," quoth the priest, "look how thou burnest here, so shalt thou burn in hell." William answered, "Thou liest, thou false prophet! Away, thou false prophet, away!" Then was there a gentleman who said, "I pray God have mercy upon his soul." The people said, "Amen, Amen!" Immediately after, the fire was made. Then William cast his psalter to his brother, who said, "William! think on the holy passion of Christ, and be not afraid of death." And William answered, "I am not afraid." Then lift he up his hands to heaven, and said, "Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit;" and, casting down his head again into the smothering smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his blood to the praise of God.
Mention has already been made of six persons who were examined and condemned by bishop Bonner, of the which two were burned as ye have heard, viz., Tomkins of the 16th of March, and Hunter of the 26th of the same month. Three others, to wit, William Pygot and Stephen Knight suffered upon the 28th of March, and John Laurence on the following day. At their examinations it was first demanded of them what their opinion was of the sacrament of the altar. Whereunto they severally answered and also subscribed, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, there is not the very substance of the body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, but a special partaking of the body and blood of Christ; the very body and blood of Christ being only in heaven, and nowhere else. This reply thus made, the bishop caused certain articles to be read unto them, tending to the same effect as did the articles before of Tomkins, and their answers were very similar. The present examination ended, they were commanded to appear again the next day, being the 9th of February, at eight o'clock in the morning, and in the meanwhile to bethink themselves what they would do.
The next day, before their open appearance, Bonner sent for Pygot and Knight into his great chamber in his palace, where he persuaded with them in recant, and deny their former profession. They answered that they could not in their consciences abjure their opinions, whereunto they had subscribed. The bishop also had certain talk with John Laurence only, who answered that he was a priest, and was consecrated and made a priest about eighteen years past; that he was some time a black friar professed; as also that he was assured unto a maid, whom he intended to have married. And being again demanded his opinion upon the sacrament, he said that it was a remembrance of Christ's body, and that many have been deceived in believing the true body of Christ to be in the sacrament of the altar: and that all such as do not believe as he doth, do err. Being all three brought openly into the consistory, the same articles were propounded unto them as unto Thomas Tomkins, and thereto they also subscribed these word, "I do so believe." After many fair words and threatenings, they were all of them commanded to appear again in the afternoon.
At that hour they returned thither, and there after the accustomed manner were exhorted to recant and revoke their doctrine, and receive the faith. To the which they constantly answered that they would not, but would stick to that faith that they had declared and subscribed unto; for that they did believe that it was no error which they believed, but that the contrary thereof was very heresy. When the bishop saw that neither his flatterings nor his threatenings would prevail, he gave them severally their judgments. And because John Laurence had been one of their anointed priests, he was by the bishop there solemnly degraded. Their sentence of condemnation and this degradation ended, they were committed unto the custody of the sheriffs of London, who sent them unto Newgate, where they remained with joy together, until they were carried into Essex: and there, on the 28th day of March, the said William Pygot was burned at Braintree; and Stephen Knight at Maldon, who at the stake kneeling upon the ground, said this prayer which here followeth, the spirit of which the reader should mark, and compare with the prayer of the papists at the sacrifice of the mass:--
"O Lord Jesus Christ, for whose love I leave willingly this life, and desire rather the bitter death of thy cross, with the loss of all earthly things, than to abide the blasphemy of thy most holy name, or to obey men in breaking thy holy commandment: thou seest, O Lord, that where I might live in worldly wealth to worship a false God, and honour thine enemy, I choose rather the torment of the body, and the loss of this life, and have counted all things but vile dust and dung, that I might win thee; which death is dearer unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Such love, O Lord, hast thou laid up in my breast, that I hunger for thee, as the wounded deer desireth the pasture. Send thy holy comforter, O Lord, to aid, comfort, and strengthen this weak piece of earth, which is empty of all strength in itself. Thou rememberest, O Lord, that I am but dust, and able to do nothing that is good; therefore, O Lord, as of thine accustomed goodness and love thou hast invited me to this banquet, and accounted me worthy to drink of thine own cup amongst thine elect; even so give me strength, O Lord, against this raging element, which as to my sight is most irksome and terrible, so to my mind it may at thy commandment be sweet and pleasant; that by the strength of thy Holy Spirit, I may pass through the rage of this fire into thy bosom, according to thy promise, for this mortal receive an immortal life, and for this corruptible put on incorruption. Accept this burnt offering, O Lord, not for the sacrifice, but for thy dear Son's sake my Saviour, for whose testimony I offer it with all my heart and with all my soul. O heavenly Father, forgive me my sins, as I forgive all the world. O sweet Son of God my Saviour, spread thy wings over me. O blessed and Holy Ghost, through whose merciful inspiration I am come hither, conduct me into everlasting life. Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Amen." The next day Mr. Laurence was taken to Colchester. The irons he had worn in prison had so injured his limbs, and his body was so reduced by want of food, that he was taken to the fire in a chair, and so sitting, was in his constant faith consumed. An incident worthy of remark occurred at his martyrdom: several young children came about the fire, and cried, as well as they could speak, "Lord, strengthen thy servant, and keep thy promise: strengthen thy servant, according to thy promise." God answered their prayer, for Mr. Laurence died as firmly and calmly as any one could wish to breathe his last.
Thomas Causton, of Thundersby in Essex, and Thomas Higbed, of Horndon on the Hill, were zealous and religious in the true service of God. As they could not dissemble with the Lord, nor flatter with the world, so in this age of darkness and idolatry, they could not long lie hid from such a number of adversaries; but at length were perceived, and discovered to Bonner, by whose command they were committed to the officers of Colchester, to be safely kept, together with a servant of Causton, who was not inferior to his master in true piety.
Bonner perceiving these gentlemen to be of good estate, and of great estimation in their country, lest any tumult should thereby arise, went himself, accompanied by Mr. Fecknam and several others, thinking to reclaim them; so that great labour and diligence was taken therein, as well by terrors and threatenings, as by great promises and all fair means, to reduce them again to the unity of the mother church. Finding, however, after all that nothing could prevail, and that they remained steady in their doctrine, setting out also their confession in writing, the bishop departed thence, and carried them both with him to London, and with them certain other prisoners, who about the same time were apprehended in those parts. They were brought to open examination at the consistory in St. Paul's, February 17th, 1555, where they were demanded as well by Bonner, as also by the bishop of Bath and others, whether they would recant their errors and perverse doctrine, and come to the unity of the popish church. On their refusing, the bishop ordered them to appear again next day; when he read several articles, and gave them respite until the following day to answer to the same, till which time they were again committed.
The articles being given them in writing, a week was assigned them to give up and exhibit their answers to them. Accordingly on the 1st of March, being brought before the bishop in the consistory, they there exhibited their answers to the articles, in which they declared the true faith. Then the bishop, reading their former articles and answers to the same, asked them if they would recant; which when they denied, they were again dismissed, and commanded to appear in another week. On the 8th of March, therefore, Mr. Causton was first called to be re-examined before the bishop and others in his palace, and there had read unto him his aforesaid articles with his answers. The bishop again exhorted and persuaded him to recant, but he answered--"No, I will not abjure. You said that the bishops who were lately burned were heretics, but I pray God make me such a heretic as they were."
The bishop then leaving Mr. Causton, called for Mr. Higbed, using with him the like persuasions that he did with the other; but he answered, "I will not abjure; for I have been of this mind and opinion that I am now these sixteen years: and do what ye can, ye shall do no more than God will permit you to do; and with what measure you measure us, look for the same again at God's hands." Then Fecknam asked his opinion in the sacrament of the altar. To whom he answered, "I do not believe that Christ is in the sacrament as ye will have him, which is of man's making." Both their answers thus severally made, they were again commanded to depart for that time, and to appear the next day in the consistory at St. Paul's, between one and three in the afternoon.
At which day and hour, being the 9th of March, they were both brought thither. The bishop caused Causton's articles and answers first to be read openly, and after persuaded with him to recant and adjure his heretical opinions, and to come home now, at the last, to their mother the catholic church, and save himself. But Causton answered again, "No, I will not abjure; for I came not hither for that purpose:" and there withal he did exhibit in writing unto the bishop (as well in his own name, as also in Thomas Higbed's name) a confession of their faith, to the which they would stand. He required leave to read the same, which after great suit was obtained; and he read it openly in the hearing of the people. When he had thus delivered their confession, the bishop, still persisting sometimes in fair promises, sometimes threatening to pronounce judgement, asked them if they would stand to this their confession and other answers. To whom Causton said, "We will stand to our answers written with our own hands, and to our belief therein contained. After which the bishop began to pronounce sentence against him. Then Causton said that it was much rashness, and without all love and mercy, to give judgement without answering to their confession by the truth of God's word, to which they submitted themselves most willingly. "And therefore," he said, "because I cannot have justice at your hand, but that ye will thus rashly condemn me, I do appeal from you to my lord cardinal."
Then Dr. Smith said that he would answer their confession. But the bishop (not suffering him to speak) willed Harpsfield to say his mind, for the stay of the people: who, taking their confession in his hand, neither touched nor answered one sentence thereof. After this, Bonner pronounced sentence, first against the said Thomas Causton, and then calling Thomas Higbed, caused his articles and answers likewise to be read. Then the bishop asked him again, Whether he would turn from his error, and come to the unity of their church? To whom he said, "No, I would ye should recant-for I am in the truth, and you in error." Whereupon Bonner gave judgement on him as he had done upon Causton. When all this was thus ended, they were both delivered to the sheriffs and so by them sent to Newgate, where they remained fourteen days, praised be God, not so much in afflictions as in consolations. These fourteen days expired, they were on the 23rd of March fetched from Newgate at four o'clock in the morning, and so led through the city to Aldgate, where they were delivered unto the sheriff of Essex. Being bound fast in a cart, they were brought to their appointed places of burning, that is to say, Thomas Higbed to Horndon on the Hill, and Thomas Causton to Raleigh, (both in the county of Essex) where they did most constantly, on the 26th day of March, seal their faith with the shedding of their blood by most cruel fire, to the glory of God, and great rejoicing of the godly. At the burning of Highbed, justice Brown and divers gentlemen in the shire were also present, for fear belike lest he should be taken from them. And thus much concerning the apprehension, examination, and burning of these two godly martyrs of God.
Of those who sealed the truth of Christ with their blood at this period no one merits distinct mention more than Dr. Ferrar, the venerable bishop of St. David's. This excellent and learned prelate had been promoted to his bishopric by the lord protector, in the reign of Edward; but after the fall of his patron, he also had fallen into disgrace, through the malice of several enemies, among whom was George Constantine, his own servant. Articles, to the number of fifty-six, were preferred against him, in which he was charged with many negligences and contumacies of church government. These he answered and denied. But so many and so bitter were his enemies, that they prevailed, and he was in consequence detained in prison till the death of king Edward, and the coming in of queen Mary and popish religion, whereby a new trouble rose upon him, being now accused and examined not for any matter of praemunire, but for his faith and doctrine. Whereupon he was called before the bishop of Winchester, with master Hooper, master Rogers, master Bradford, master Saunders, and others, on the 4th day of February. On the which day he should also with them have been condemned; but because leisure or list did not so well then serve the bishop, his condemnation was deferred, and he sent to prison again, where he continued till the 14th day of the said month of February. What his examinations and answers were, before the said bishop of Winchester, so much as remained and came to our hands I have here annexed in manner as followeth.
At his first coming and kneeling before the lord chancellor Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, the bishop of Durham, and the bishop of Worcester, who sat at the table; and master Rochester, master Southwell, master Bourne, and others, standing at the table's end, the lord chancellor first addressed him in such questions as these: "Now, sir, have you heard how the world goeth here? What say you? do you not know things abroad, notwithstanding you are a prisoner? Have you not heard of the coming in of the lord cardinal?
Farrar. I know not my lord cardinal; but I heard that a cardinal was come in: but I did not believe it, and I believe it not yet.
Winchester. The queen's majesty and the parliament have restored religion into the same state it was in at the beginning of the reign of king Henry VIII. Ye are in the queen's debt; and her majesty will be good unto you, if you will return to the catholic church.
Farrar. In what state I am concerning my debts to her majesty, in the court of exchequer, my lord treasurer knoweth: and the last time that I was before your honour, and the first time also, I showed you that I had made an oath never to consent nor agree that the bishop of Rome should have any power or jurisdiction within this realm: and further I need not rehearse to your lordship; you know it well enough.
Bourne. You were once abjured for heresy in Oxford.
Farrar. That was I not: it is not true.
Bourne. You went from St. David's to Scotland.
Farrar. That did I never: but I went from York into Scotland.
Bourne. You carried books out of Oxford to the archbishop of York.
Farrar. That I did not; but I carried old books from St. Oswald's. Bourne. You supplanted your master.
Farrar. That did I never in my life; but did shield and save my master from danger; and that I obtained of king Henry VIII., for my true service, I thank God there-for.
"My lord," said master Bourne to my lord chancellor, "he hath an ill name in Wales as ever had any."
Farrar. That is not so: whosoever saith so, they shall never be able to prove it.
Bourne. He hath deceived the queen in divers sums of money.
Farrar. That is utterly untrue: I never deceived king or queen of one penny in my life; and you shall never be able to prove that you say.
Winchester. Thou art a false knave.
Then Farrar stood up unbidden, (for all that while he kneeled,) and said, "No, my lord, I am a true man; I thank God for it! I was born under king Henry VII.; I served king Henry VIII. and king Edward VI. truly; and have served the queen's majesty that now is, truly, with my poor heart and word: more I could not do; and I was never false, nor shall be, by the grace of God.
Winchester. How sayest thou? wilt thou be reformable?
Farrar. My lord, if it like your honour, I have made an oath to God, and to king Henry VIII., and also to king Edward, and in that to the queen's majesty, the which I can never break while I live, to die for it.
Winchester. You made a profession to live without a wife?
Farrar. No, my lord, if it like your honour; that did I never. I made a profession to live chaste--not without a wife.
Winchester. Well, you are a forward knave: we will have no more to do with you, seeing that you will not come; we will be short with you, and that you shall know within this seven-night.
Farrar. I am as it pleaseth your honour to call me; but I cannot break my oath, which your lordship yourself made before me, and gave in example, the which confirmed my conscience. Then I can never break that oath whilst I live, to die for it.
Durham. Well! he standeth upon his oath: call another.
My lord chancellor then did ring a little bell; and master Farrar said, "I pray God to save the king and queen's majesties long to continue in honour to God's glory and their comforts, and the comfort of the whole realm; and I pray God save all your honours:" and so he departed.
After this examination bishop Farrar remained in prison uncondemned, till the 14th day of February, and then was sent down into Wales, there to receive sentence of condemnation. Upon the 26th of February, in the church of Carmarthen, being brought by Griffith Leyson, esq. sheriff of the country of Carmarthen, he was there personally presented before the new bishop of St. David's and Constantine the public notary: who did there and then discharge the said sheriff, and receive him into their own custody, further committing him to the keeping of Owen Jones; and thereupon declared unto Dr. Farrar the great mercy and clemency that the king and queen's highness; pleasure was to be offered unto him, which they there did offer; that if he would submit himself to the laws of the realm, and conform himself to the unity of the catholic church, he should be received and pardoned. Seeing that Dr. Farrar give no answer to the premises, the bishop ministered unto him these articles following--
Whether he believed the marriage of priests lawful by the laws of God, and his holy church, or not? and whether be believed that in the blessed sacrament of the altar, after the words of consecration duly pronounced by the priest, the very body and blood of Christ is really and substantially contained, without the substance of bread and wine? Upon the bishop requiring Dr. Farrar to answer upon his allegiance, the latter, doubting the bishop's authority said, he would answer when he saw a lawful commission, and would make no further answer at that time. Whereupon the bishop, taking no advantage upon the answer, committed him to prison until a new monition; in the mean time to deliberate with himself for his further answer to the premises.
It has been intimated that a new bishop was placed at St. David's: this was one Henry Morgan, a furious papist, who now became the chief judge of his persecuted predecessor. This Morgan, sitting as judge, ministered unto bishop Farrar certain articles and interrogatories in writing; which being openly read unto him a second time, Farrar still refused to answer, till he might see his lawful commission and authority. Whereupon Morgan pronounced him as contumax, and for the punishment of this his countumacy to be counted pro confesso, and so did pronounce him in writing. This done, he committed him to the custody of Owen Jones, until the 4th of March, then to be brought again into the same place, between one and two.
The day and place appointed, the bishop appeared again before his haughty successor, submitted himself as ready to answer to the articles and positions above mentioned, gently required a copy of the articles, and a competent term to be assigned unto him, to answer for himself. This being granted, and the Thursday next being assigned to him between one and three to answer precisely and fully, he was committed again to custody. On the appointed day he again appeared and exhibited a bill in writing, containing in it his answer to the articles objected and ministered unto him before. Then Morgan offered him again the articles in this brief form: That he willed him being a priest to renounce matrimony--to grant the natural presence of Christ in the sacrament, under the forms of bread and wine--to confess and allow that the mass is a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead--that general councils lawfully congregated never did, and never can err--that men are not justified before God by faith only, but that hope and charity are also necessarily required to justification--and that the catholic church only hath authority to expound scriptures and to define controversies of religion, and to ordain things appertaining to public discipline. To these articles he still refused to subscribe, affirming that they were invented by man, and pertain nothing to the catholic faith. After this Morgan delivered unto him the copy of the articles, assigning him Monday following, to answer and subscribe to them either affirmatively or negatively. The day came, and he exhibited in a written paper his mind and answer to the articles, adding these words, tenens se de aequitate et justitia esse episcopum Menevensem. The bishop assigned the next Wednesday, in the forenoon, to hear his final and definitive sentence. On that day, Morgan demanded of him whether he would renounce and recant his heresies, schisms, and errors, which hitherto he had maintained, and if he would subscribe to the catholic articles otherwise than he had done before.
Upon this Farrar did exhibit a certain schedule written in English, and remaining in the acts, appealing from the bishop, as from an imcompetent judge, to cardinal Pole and other the highest authorities. This, however, did not avail him. Morgan proceeding in his rage, pronounced the definitive sentence against him: by which sentence he pronounced him as a heretic excommunicate, and to be given up forthwith to the secular power, namely to the sheriff of the town of Carmarthen, Mr. Leyson. After which his degradation followed of course.
Thus was this godly bishop condemned and degraded, and committed to the secular power, and not long after was brought to execution in the town of Carmarthen, where in the market-place on the south side of the cross, on the 30th of March, being Saturday before Passion-Sunday, he most constantly sustained the torments of the fire. Among the incidents of this martyrdom worthy of mention is the following; one Richard Jones, a young gentleman, and son of a knight, coming to Dr. Farrar a little before his death, seemed to lament the painfulness of what he had to suffer: unto whom the bishop answered, that if he saw him once to stir in the pains of his burning, he should then give no credit to his doctrine. And as he said, so he performed; for so patiently he stood, that he never moved, till one Richard Gravell, with a staff, struck him down, that he fell amidst and flames, and expired, or rather rose to heaven to live for ever.
Among more private persons who suffered at this period was Rawlins White, by occupation a fisherman, in the town of Cardiff. With respect to his religion at first, it cannot otherwise be known, than that he was a great partaker of the superstition and idolatry which prevailed in the reign of Henry VIII. But after God of his mercy had raised up the light of his gospel, through the government of king Edward VI. White began partly to dislike that which before he had embraced, and to have some good opinion of that which before by the iniquity of the times had been concealed from him; and happily impressed with the importance of truth, he began to be a diligent hearer, and a great searcher of the word of God.
Because the good man was unlearned, and withal very simple, he knew no ready way how he might satisfy his great desire. At length he took the following remedy to supply his necessity: he had a little boy, his own son, whom he sent to school to learn to read English. Now after the child could read indifferently well, his father every night after supper would have him read part of the holy scripture, and now and then of some other good book. In this kind of virtuous exercise the good man had such delight, that as it seemed, he rather practised himself in the study of the scripture, than in the trade or science which before-time he had used: so that within a few years in the time of king Edward, through the help of his little son, and through much conference besides, he so profited and went so forward, that he was able not only to absolve himself touching his own former blindness and ignorance, but also to admonish and instruct others; and therefore when occasion served, he would go from one place to another teaching the truth.
He had thus continued in his new profession about five years, when king Edward died, upon whose decease queen Mary succeeded, and with her came persecution; the extremity and force whereof at last so pursued this good man, that he looked every hour to go to prison; whereupon many who had received comfort by his instructions, began to persuade him to shift for himself, and dispose of his goods by some reasonable order to the use of his wife and children. Fearless, however, White continued in his good purposes, till at last he was taken by the officers of his town, as a man suspected of heresy, upon which apprehension he was convened before the bishop of Landaff, then at his house near Chepstow, by whom, after divers combats and conflicts with him and his chaplins, he was committed to Chepstow prison. Thence he was removed to the castle of Cardiff, where he continued a whole year; during which time Mr. Dane, who furnished this account, resorted to him very often, with money and other relief from Mrs. Dane, his mother, who was a great favourer of those that were in affliction those days, and others of his friends, which he received with great praises to God.
At the expiration of a year, the bishop of Landaff caused him to be brought from the castle of Cardiff unto his own house near Chepstow; and while he continued there, the bishop endeavoured by various means to reduce him to conformity. When he found his threatenings and promises ineffectual, the bishop desired him to advise and determine with himself; for he must either recant his opinions, or else suffer the rigour of the law; and thereupon gave him a day of determination. This day being come, the bishop with his chaplins went into his chapel with a great number of the neighbors who had the curiosity to see their proceedings. Being placed in order, White was brought before them. The bishop began by making a long discourse, declaring that the cause of his being sent for was that he was well known to hold heretical opinions, and that by his instructions many were led into blind error. In the end, he exhorted him to consider his own state wherein he stood, at the same time offering favour if he recanted. At the close of the bishops's address, Rawlins boldly said--"My lord, I thank God I am a christian man, and I hold no opinions contrary to the word of God; and if I do, I desire to be reformed out of the word of God, as a christian ought to be." The bishop then told him plainly, that he must proceed against him by the law, and condemn him as a heretic.--"Proceed by your law, in God's name"--said the fearless Rawlins; "but for a heretic you shall never condemn me while the world stands!" This intrepid answer somewhat startled and confounded the bishop, who, after a moment's silence turned to some about him and said--"Before we proceed any further with him, let us pray to God that he would send some spark of grace upon him, and it may so chance, that God through our prayers, will turn his heart." Accordingly having prayed, the bishop asked--'Now, Rawlins, wilt thou revoke thy opinions or not?" The man of truth replied-"Surely, my lord, Rawlins you left me, Rawlins you find me, and by God's grace Rawlins I will continue." When the bishop perceived that his artifice took no effect, he with sharp words reproved him, and forthwith was ready to read the sentence; but upon some advice given to him by his chaplains, he thought it best first to have a mass, thinking that by so doing some wonderful change would be wrought in his prisoner's mind. During the mass Rawlins betook himself to prayer in a secret place, until the priest came to the scaring, as they term it, which is a principal part of the idolatry. When Rawlins heard the scaring-bell ring, he rose out of his place, came to the choir door, and there standing awhile, turned himself to the people, speaking these words--"Good people, if there be any brethren amongst you, or at least if there be but one brother amongst you, the same one bear witness at the day of judgment, that I bow not to this idol"--meaning the host that the priest held over his head.
Mass being ended, Rawlins was called again, when the bishop repeated his persuasions; but the blessed man continued so stedfast in his profession, that the prelate found his discourse altogether in vain. Whereupon he caused the definitive sentence to be read. This being ended, Rawlins was dismissed, and from thence he was carried again to Cardiff, there to be put into the prison of the town, a very dark, loathsome, and vile dungeon. Having continued a prisoner there some time, about three weeks before the day on which he suffered, the officers of the town who had the charge of his execution, wished to burn him to be the sooner rid of him, although they had not a writ of execution awarded as by the law they should have: but by the advice of the recorder of the town, they sent to London for the writ, upon the receipt whereof they hastened the execution. On the night before his death Rawlins was engaged in preparing himself by devotion; and on finding his end so near, he sent to his wife, and desired her by the messenger, that in any wise she should make ready and send unto him his wedding garment, meaning the vest in which he was to be martyred. This request, or rather commandment, his wife with grief of heart performed, and early in the morning sent it to him.
The hour of his execution being come, the martyr was brought out of prison, having on his wedding garment, and an old russet-coat which he was wont to wear. Thus being equipped, he was accompanied or rather guarded with a great number of bills and weapons. When he beheld this, he said, "Alas! what meaneth it? By God's grace I will not run away: with all my heart and mind I give God most hearty thanks that he hath made me worthy to abide all this for his holy name's sake." Arriving at a place where his poor wife and children stood weeping and making great lamentation, the sudden sight of them so pierced his heart, that the tears trickled down his face. But soon after, as though he were ashamed of this infirmity of his flesh, he began to be as it were altogether angry with himself: insomuch, that striking his breast with his hand, he said, "Ah, flesh, hinderest thou me so? Well, I tell thee, do what thou canst, thou shalt not, by God's grace, have the victory."
By this time he approached the stake ready set up, with some wood as prepared for the fire; which when he beheld, he set forward very boldly: but in going towards the stake, he fell upon his knees and kissed the ground; and in rising again, a little earth sticking on his face, he said, "Earth unto earth, and dust unto dust; thou art my mother, and unto thee I shall return." Then he went on, and cheerfully set his back close to the stake. A smith came with a great chain of iron, whom when he saw, he cast up his hand, and with a loud voice gave God great thanks. When the smith had fastened him to the stake, the officers began to lay on more wood, with a little straw and reeds: wherein the good man was no less occupied than the best; for as far as he could reach his hands, he would pluck the straw and reeds, and lay it about him in places most convenient for his speedy death.
When all things were ready, directly over against the stake, in the face of the martyr, there was a standing erected, to which ascended a priest, addressing himself to the people, which were many in number, because it was market-day. Rawlins perceived him, and considered the cause of his coming; but paid little attention to him. Then went the priest forward in his sermon, wherein he spake of many things touching the authority of the church of Rome. At last, he came to the sacrament of the altar, when be began to inveigh against Rawlin's opinions: in which harangue he cited the common place of scripture. When Rawlins heard that he strove not only to preach and teach false doctrine, but also to confirm it by scripture, he suddenly started up, and beckoned his hands to the people, saying twice, "Come hither, good people, and hear not a false prophet preaching." And then said unto the preacher, "Ah! thou wicked hypocrite, dost thou presume to prove thy false doctrine by Scripture? Look in the text what followeth: did not Christ say, 'Do this in remembrance of me!'"
Then some that stood by cried out, "Put fire, set to fire!" which being set to, the straw and reed cast up both a great and sudden flame: in the which flame this good and blessed man bathed his hands until the sinews shrunk, and the fat dropped away; saving that once he did, as it were, wipe his face with one of them. All this while he cried with a loud voice, "O Lord, receive my soul! O Lord, receive my spirit!" until he could not open his mouth. At the last, the extremity of the fire was so vehement against his legs, that they were consumed almost before the rest of his body was burned, which made the whole body fall over the chain into the fire sooner that it would have done. Thus died this godly and old man (for he was upwards of sixty years of age) for the testimony of God's truth, being now rewarded, no doubt, with the crown of everlasting life.
--Footnote marker a--BT 4 words "false doctrine by Scripture"
Upon the Shrove-Sunday in this year, 1555, a certain priest named Nightingale, parson of Crundal near Canterbury, preached a sermon on the words of St. John, "He that saith he hath no sin is a liar, and the truth is not in him." And so upon the same he declared all such articles as were set forth by the pope's authority, and by commandment of the bishops; saying moreover, "Now, masters and neighbors, rejoice and be merry, for the prodigal son is come home. For I know that the most part of you be as I am, for I know your hearts well enough. And I shall tell you what hath happened in
this week past: I was before my lord cardinal Pole's grace, and he hath made me as free from sin as I was at the font-stone: and on Thursday last being before him, he hath appointed me to notify the same to you, and I will tell you what it is."--And after reading the pope's bill of pardon that was sent into England, he added that he believed that by the virtue of that bull he was as clean from sin as the night he was born. Immediately upon the same he fell suddenly down out of the pulpit, and never more stirred hand nor foot. This was testified by Robert Austen of Cartham, who both heard
and saw the same, and was witnessed also by the whole country round about.