CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY D
Rev. John Bland, Rev. John Frankesh, Nicholas Shetterden, and Humphrey Middleton.
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 Rolvindon. Mr. Bland was cited to answer for his opposition to antichristianism, and underwent several examinations before Dr. Harpsfield, archdeacon of Canterbury, and finally on the 25th 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 Cocker, of whom Thacker only recanted.
Being delivered to the secular power, Mr. Bland, 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.
Nicholas Hall and Christopher Waid.
The same month of July, Nicholas Hall, bricklayer, and Christopher Waid, linendraper, of Dartford, suffered death, condemned by Maurice, bishop of Rochester, about the last day of June, 1555. At the same time three others were condemned, whose names were Joan Beach, widow, John Harpol, of Rochester, and Margery Polley.
Dirick Carver and John Launder.
The 22d of July, 1555, Dirick Carver, brewer, of Brighthelmstone, aged forty, was burnt at Lewes. And the day following John Launder, husbandman, aged twenty-five, of Godstone, Surry, 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 went into it. 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 awhile, 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, knowest 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, till he gave up the ghost.
Thomas Iveson, of Godstone, in the county of Surry, carpenter, was burnt about the same month at Chichester.
John Aleworth, who died in prison at Reading, July, 1555, had been imprisoned for the sake of the truth of the gospel.
James Abbes. 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. Like Peter, he was contrite, steadfast in the faith, and sealed it with his blood at Bury, August 2, 1555, praising and glorifying God.
John Denley, Gent., John Newman, and Patrick Packingham.
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 5th of July, 1555, they were condemned, and consigned to the sheriffs, who sent Mr. Denley to Uxbridge, where he perished, August the 8th, 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 chanted, spread his hands abroad in the flames, and through Christ Jesus resigned his soul into the hands of his Maker.
Mr. Packingham suffered at the same town on the 28th of the same month.
Mr. Newman, pewterer, was burnt at Saffron Waldon, in Essex, Aug. 31, for the same cause, and Richard Hook about the same time perished at Chichester.
W. Coker, W. Hooper, H. Laurence, R. Colliar, R. Wright and W. Stere.
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 27, 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 Aug. 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 Aug. 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 suffered 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 till the faithful conveyed them away by night.
Joan Lashford, daughter-in-law of John and Elizabeth Warne, martyr, was the last of the ten condemned before alluded to; her martyrdom took place in 1556, of which we shall speak in its date.
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 sanguinary expectations of his Catholic persecutors. His body was thrown into the open air, but his soul was received into the everlasting mansions of his heavenly Creator.
The Rev. Robert Samuel.
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 Dr. Hopton, bishop of Norwich, and Dr. 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, 1555.
William Allen, a labouring servant to Mr. Houghton of Somerton suffered not long after Mr. Samuel, at Walsingham.
Roger Coo, was an aged man, and brought before the bishop of Norwich for contumacy, by whom he was condemned Aug. 12, 1555, and suffered in the following month at Yoxford, in Suffolk.
Thomas Cobb, was a butcher at Haverhill, and condemned by Dunnings, the furious chancellor of Norwich. Mr. Cobb suffered at Thetford, Sept. 1555.
G. Catmer, R. Streater, A. Burward, G. Brodbridge, and J. Tutty.
These five worthies, denying the real presence in the eucharist, were brought before Dr. Thornton, bishop of Dover, and condemned as heretics. They suffered in one fire, Sept. 6, 1555, at Canterbury, enduring all things for their faith in Christ Jesus.
About the same time William Glowd, Cornelius Bungey, William Wolsey, and Robert Pygot, suffered martyrdom.
Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer.
These reverend prelates suffered October 17, 1555, 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 till 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 to Henry VIII. and Bishop of Rochester, and was afterwards translated to the see of London in the time of Edward VI.
His tenacious memory, extensive erudition, impressive oratory, and indefatigable zeal in preaching, drew after him not only his own flock, but persons from all quarters, desirous of godly exhortation or reproof. 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 till 10 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 till 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, mother of Dr. 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. Dr. Ridley 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 till the day of his martyrdom, from 1554, till October 16, 1555. 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 prove 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 lukewarmness of the clergy and the people in justly appreciating the blessed light of the reformation.
Bishop Latimer was the son of Hugh Latimer, of Turkelson, in Leicestershire, a husbandman of repute, with whom he remained till he was four years old. His parents, finding him of acute parts, gave him a good education, and then sent him at fourteen 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.
Once converted, he became eager for the conversion of others, and commenced public preacher, and private instructer 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. This was 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 Heretics’ Hill.
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 favour 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 before 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, till the coming in of the Six Articles, when, to preserve an unsullied conscience, he, as well as Dr. Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, resigned. He remained a prisoner in the Tower till 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. Indefatigable 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. On entering Smithfield, he jocosely said, that the place had long groaned for him. After being examined by the council, he was committed to the Tower, where his cheerfulness is displayed in the following anecdote. Being kept without fire in severe frosty weather, his aged frame suffered so much, that he told the lieutenant’s man, that if he did not look better after him he should deceive his master. The lieutenant, thinking he meant to effect his escape, came to him, to know what he meant by this speech; which Mr. Latimer replied to, by saying, “You, Mr. Lieutenant, doubtless suppose I shall burn; but, except you let me have some fire, I shall deceive your expectation, for here it is likely I shall be starved with cold.”
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 till 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 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 doth not suffer us to be tempted above our strength.” 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 defence 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 Oct. 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.
Dr. 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 sweet.” 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 Dr. Cranmer, but the latter was then engaged in disputation with a friar.—When they came to the stake, Dr. Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bid him be of good heart. He then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation. Dr. Smith then preached a short sermon against the martyrs, who would have answered him, but were prevented by Dr. Marshal, the vice-chancellor. 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. Dr. Ridley 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 also to Mr. Latimer. Dr. Ridley 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 say, “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 out.” When Dr. Ridley saw the flame approaching him, he exclaimed, “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!” and repeated often, “Lord receive my spirit!” Mr. Latimer, too, ceased not to say, “O Father of heaven receive my soul!” Embracing the flame, he bathed his hands in it, and soon died, apparently with little pain; but Dr. Ridley, by the ill-adjustment of the fagots, which were green, and placed too high above the furze was burnt much downwards. At this time, piteously entreating for more fire to come to him, his brother-in-law imprudently heaped the fagots up over him, which caused the fire more fiercely to burn his limbs, whence he literally leaped up and down under the fagots, exclaiming that he could not burn; indeed, his dreadful extremity was but too plain, for after his legs were quite consumed, he showed his body and shirt unsinged by the flame. Crying upon God for mercy, a man with a bill pulled the fagots down, and when the flames arose, he bent himself towards that side; at length the gunpowder was ignited, and then he ceased to move, burning on the other side, and falling down at Mr. Latimer’s feet over the chain that had hitherto supported him.
Every eye shed tears at the afflicting sight of these sufferers, who were among the most distinguished persons of their time in dignity, piety, and public estimation. They suffered October 16, 1555.
In the following month died Stephen Gardiner, 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; be first espoused the king’s part in the affair of 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 imparted below.
Mr. John Webb, George Roper, and Gregory Parker.
These martyrs, after being brought before the bishop of Dover and Dr. Harpsfield, were finally examined, October 3, 1555, adjudged to be heretics, and at Canterbury, terminated their existence.
Wm. Wiseman, clothworker of London, died in Lollard’s Tower, Dec. 13, 1555, not without suspicion of being made way with, for his love of the gospel. In December, died James Gore, at Colchester, imprisoned for the same cause.
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