CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY C
Mr. William Flower.
William Flower, 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 from thence went to Brosley, where he practised 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 altar 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 bishop Bonner and his ordinary, where the bishop, after he had sworn him upon a book, ministered articles and interrogations 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 promises. These Mr. Flower steadfastly rejecting, the bishop ordered him to appear in the same place in the afternoon, and in the mean time 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 20th, 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 power.
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 it loud voice, O thou Son of God, have mercy upon me! 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.
The Rev. John Cardmaker and John Warne.
May 30, 1555, the Rev. John Cardmaker, otherwise called Taylor, prebendary 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 reader in St. Paul’s; being apprehended in the beginning of Queen Mary’s reign, with Dr. 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 recant.
Articles having been preferred against Mr. John 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 threatenings could not prevail, pronounced the definitive sentence of condemnation, and ordered the 30th of May, 1555, for the execution of John Cardmaker 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 arose 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 for ever. Amen.
John Simpson and John Ardeley.
John Simpson and John Ardeley were condemned on the same day with Mr. Cardmaker and John Warne, which was the 25th of May. They were shortly after sent down from London to Essex, where they were burnt in one day, John Simpson at Rochford, and John Ardeley at Railey, glorifying God in his beloved Son, and rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer.
Thomas Haukes, Thomas Watts, Thomas Osmond, William Bamford, and Nicholas Chamberlain.
Mr. Thomas Haukes, with six others, were condemned on the 9th 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. H’s. friends, terrified by the sharpness of the punishment he was going to suffer, privately desired that in the midst of the flames he would 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 he 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 was kindled.
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, 1555.
Thomas Watts, of Billericay, in Essex, of the diocess of London, was a linen draper. He had daily expected to be taken by God’s adversaries, and this came to pass on the 5th 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 defence of the true gospel of the Saviour.
Thomas Osmond, William Bamford, and Nicholas Chamberlain, all of the town of Coxhall, being sent up to be examined, Bonner, after several hearings, pronounced them obstinate heretics, and delivered them to the sheriffs, in whose custody they remained till they were delivered to the sheriff of Essex county, and by him were executed. Chamberlain at Colchester, the 14th of June; Thomas Osmond at Maningtree, and William Bamford, alias Butler, at Harwich, the 15th of June, 1555; all dying full of the glorious hope of immortality.
Rev. John Bradford, and John Leaf an apprentice.
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 laboured 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, till 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 was 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 Mr. Bradford was brought into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his brother-in-law, 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, secretly making his prayers to Almighty God. Then, rising again, 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 John Leaf, an apprentice to Mr. Humphry 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 12th, 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 Saviour! We shall conclude this article with mentioning, that Mr. 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, (till 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 in Smithfield, 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.
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