CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY B
Dr. Robert Farrar.
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 to 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 præmunire in the reign of Edward VI. were George Constantine Walter, his servant; Thomas Young, chanter of the cathedral, afterward bishop of Bangor, &c. 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 præmunire, 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, Feb. 4, 1555; on which day he would also with them have been condemned, but his condemnation was deferred, and he sent to prison again, where he continued till Feb. 14, and then was sent into Wales to receive sentence. He was six times brought up 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 power.
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 ought then give no credit to his doctrine; and as he said, so did he maintain his promise, patiently standing without emotion, till 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 neighbours.
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 book.
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 kind of superstition crept in. White was taken by the officers of the town, as a man suspected of heresy, brought before the bishop Llandaff, 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 the bishop in his chapel, he counselled him by threats and promises. But as Rawlins would in nowise 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. Mass being ended Rawlins was called for again; to whom the bishop used many persuasions; but the blessed man continued so steadfast to his former profession, that the bishop’s discourse was to no purpose.—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 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 towards 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 shall return.
When all things were ready, directly over against the stake, in the face of Rawlins White, there was a standing erected, whereon stept 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 followeth; did not Christ say, “Do this in remembrance of me?”
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 chain 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.
The Rev. Mr. George Marsh.
George Marsh, born in the parish of Deane, in the county of Lancaster, received a good education and trade from his parents; about his 25th year he married, and lived, blessed with several children, on his farm till his wife died. He then went to study at Cambridge, and became the curate of the Rev. Mr. 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 kept 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 Grapnal, 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 much lamented that his fear should at all have induced him to prevaricate, and to seek his safety, so 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 Saviour 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) till 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 deserveth 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 unskilfully made, and the wind driving it in eddies, he suffered great extremity, which notwithstanding he bore with Christian fortitude.
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 was a firebrand in hell.—Mr. Marsh suffered April 24, 1555.
THIS CHAPTER WAS WAY TOO BIG TO LEAVE IT AS ONE POST. HERE ARE THE LINKS FOR THE REMAINING OF THIS CHAPTER