CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY G
Cranmer would have proceeded in the exposure of the popish doctrines, but the murmurs of the idolaters drowned his voice, and the preacher gave an order to lead the heretic away! The savage command was directly obeyed, and the lamb about to suffer was torn from his stand to the place of slaughter, insulted all the way by the revilings and taunts of the pestilent monks and friars. With thoughts intent upon a far higher object than the empty threats of man, he reached the spot dyed with the blood of Ridley and Latimer. There he knelt for a short time in earnest devotion, and then arose, that he might undress and prepare for the fire. Two friars who had been parties in prevailing upon him to abjure, now endeavoured to draw him off again from the truth, but he was steadfast and immoveable in what he had just professed, and before publicly taught. A chain was provided to bind him to the stake, and after it had tightly encircled him, fire was put to the fuel, and the flames began soon to ascend. Then were the glorious sentiments of the martyr made manifest;—then it was, that stretching out his right hand, he held it unshrinkingly in the fire till it was burnt to a cinder, even before his body was injured, frequently exclaiming, “This unworthy right hand!” Apparently insensible of pain, with a countenance of venerable resignation, and eyes directed to Him for whose cause he suffered, he continued, like St. Stephen, to say, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit!” till the fury of the flames terminated his powers of utterance and existence. He closed a life of high sublunary elevation, of constant uneasiness, and of glorious martyrdom, on March 21, 1556.
Thus perished the illustrious Cranmer, the man whom king Henry’s capricious soul esteemed for his virtues above all other men. Cranmer’s example is an endless testimony that fraud and cruelty are the leading characteristics of the catholic hierarchy. They first seduced him to live by recantation, and then doomed him to perish, using perhaps the sophistical arguments, that, being brought again within the catholic pale, he was then most fit to die. His gradual change from darkness to the light of the truth, proved that he had a mind open to conviction. Though mild and forgiving in temper, he was severe in church discipline, and it is only on this ground that one act of cruelty of his can in any way be excused. A poor woman was in Edward’s reign condemned to be burnt for her religious opinions; the pious young monarch reasoned with the archbishop upon the impropriety of protestants resorting to the same cruel means they censured in papists, adding humanely, “What! would you have me send her quick to the devil in her error?” The prelate however was not to be softened, and the king signed the death warrant with eyes steeped in tears. There is however a shade in the greatest characters, and few characters, whether political or religious, were greater than Cranmer’s.
Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield.
These godly women (before mentioned) were both of Ipswich, and suffered about the same time with Cranmer. When in prison together, Mrs. Trunchfield was less ardent and zealous than Mrs. Potten; but when at the stake, her hope in glory was brighter even than that of her fellow-sufferer.
John Maundrel, William Coberly, and John Spicer were burnt between Salisbury and Wilton, March 24, 1556. Two died without any particular retardation, but Coberly, from the current of wind as he stood, was a long time in perishing. His left arm was visible to the bone, while the right, but little injured, beat upon his breast softly, and the discharge from his mouth was considerable. Rising suddenly erect from hanging over the chain, as if dead, he gave up his mortal abode for one made without hands, eternal in the heavens!
Rev. Robert Drakes, Rev. William Tyms, Richard Spurge, Sheerman T. Spurge, Fuller; J. Cavel, Weaver; and G. Ambrose, Fuller.
These worthies were of Essex, and in the diocese of London.—They were all sent up to Gardiner, the chancellor, March 25, 1555; who imprisoned them some in the king’s bench, and others in the Marshalsea.
March 28, the six were brought up for condemnation in the consistory of St. Paul’s; after which sentence, they were delivered to the sheriff, to be sent to Newgate, where they remained, patiently waiting the Lord’s time for deliverance, which took place about the 23d of April, 1556, in Smithfield.
In the same month, perished John Harpole, of Rochester, and Joan Beach, widow, (before mentioned) with Mr. N. Hall. They suffered under Maurice, bishop of Rochester, in whose diocess they lived.
Rev. John Hullier. This gentleman went from Eton school to king’s college, Cambridge, and suffered under Dr. Thirlby, bishop of Ely. He died the 2d of April, 1556.
From Kent we now turn to Colchester in Essex, where six constant professors of the gospel were selected to witness the truth by the sacrifice of their lives. These were, C. Luyster, of Dagenham, husbandman; John Mace, apothecary; John Spencer, weaver; Simon Joyne, lawyer; Richard Nichols, weaver, and John Hammond, tanner; five of Colchester.
Hugh Laverick and John Aprice.
Here we perceive that neither the impotence of age nor the affliction of blindness, could turn aside the murdering fangs of these Babylonish monsters. The first of these unfortunates was of the parish of Barking, aged sixty-eight, a painter and a cripple. The other was blind,—dark indeed in his visual faculties, but intellectually illuminated with the radiance of the everlasting gospel of truth. Inoffensive objects like these were informed against by some of the sons of bigotry, and dragged before the prelatical shark of London, where they underwent examination, and replied to the articles propounded to them, as other christian martyrs had done before. On the 9th of May, in the consistory of St. Paul’s, they were entreated to recant, and upon refusal, were sent to Fulham, where Bonner, by way of a dessert after dinner, condemned them to the agonies of the fire. Being consigned to the secular officers, May 15, 1556, they were taken in a cart from Newgate to Stratford-le-Bow, where they were fastened to the stake. When Hugh Laverick was secured by the chain, having no farther occasion for his crutch, he threw it away saying to his fellow-martyr, while consoling him, “Be of good cheer my brother; for my lord of London is our good physician; he will heal us both shortly—thee of thy blindness, and me of my lameness.” They sank down in the fire, to rise to immortality!
The day after the above martyrdoms, Catharine Hut, of Bocking, widow; Joan Horns, spinster, of Billericay; Elizabeth Thackwel, spinster, of Great Burstead; suffered death in Smithfield.
Thomas Dowry. We have again to record an act of unpitying cruelty, exercised on this lad, whom bishop Hooper, had confirmed in the Lord and the knowledge of his word.
How long this poor sufferer remained in prison is uncertain. By the testimony of one John Paylor, register of Gloucester, we learn, that when Dowry was brought before Dr. Williams, then chancellor of Gloucester, the usual articles were presented him for subscription. From these he dissented; and, upon the doctor’s demanding of whom and where he had learned his heresies, the youth replied, “Indeed, Mr. Chancellor, I learned from you in that very pulpit. On such a day (naming the day) you said, in preaching upon the sacrament, that it was to be exercised spiritually by faith, and not carnally and really, as taught by the papists.” Dr. Williams then bid him recant, as he had done; but Dowry had not so learned his duty. “Though you,” said he, “can so easily mock God, the world, and your own conscience, yet will I not do so.”
After the death of the above, the following three persons suffered at Beccles, in Suffolk, May 21, 1556. Thomas Spicer, of Winston, labourer; John Denny, and Edmund Poole.
Preservation of George Crow and his Testament.
This poor man, of Malden, May 26, 1556, put to sea, to lade in Lent with Fuller’s earth, but the boat, being driven on land, filled with water, and every thing was washed out of her; Crow, however, saved his Testament, and coveted nothing else. With Crow was a man and a boy, whose awful situation became every minute more alarming, as the boat was useless, and they were ten miles from land, expecting the tide should in a few hours set in upon them. After prayer to God, they got upon the mast, and hung there for the space of ten hours, when the poor boy, overcome by cold and exhaustion, fell off, and was drowned. The tide having abated, Crow proposed to take down the masts, and float upon them, which they did; and at ten o’clock at night they were borne away at the mercy of the waves. On Wednesday, in the night, Crow’s companion died through fatigue and hunger, and he was left alone, calling upon God for succour. At length he was picked up by a Captain Morse, bound to Antwerp, who had nearly steered away, taking him for some fisherman’s buoy floating in the sea. As soon as Crow was got on board, he put his hand in his bosom, and drew out his Testament, which indeed was wet, but no otherwise injured. At Antwerp he was well received, and the money he had lost was more than made good to him.
June 6, 1556, the following four martyrs suffered at Lewes, in Sussex: J. Harland, of Woodmancote, carpenter; John Oswald, of the same place, husbandmen; Thomas Avington, of Ardingly, turner; and Thomas Read.
June 20, at the same place, were burnt the Rev. Thomas Whood, and Thomas Mills. June 24, the Rev. Wm. Alderhall; and June 28, John Clement, wheelright, died in the King’s Bench prison, and were buried on the dunghill in the backyard. June 21, a young man, the servant of a merchant, was burnt at Leicester.
Executions at Stratford-le-Bow.
At this sacrifice, which we are about to detail, no less than thirteen were doomed to the fire.
Each one refusing to subscribe contrary to conscience, they were condemned, and the 27th of June, 1556, was appointed for their execution at Stratford-le-Bow. Their constancy and faith glorified their Redeemer, equally in life and in death.
R. Bernard, A. Foster, and R. Lawson.
The first was a labourer, and a single man, of Framsden, Suffolk. He was a shrewd, undaunted professor, and fearlessly replied to the bishop’s questions. Adam Foster was a husbandman, married, aged 26, of Mendlesham, Suffolk. Refusing to go to church, he was sent by Sir J. Tyrrel to Eye-Dungeon, and thence to bishop Hopton, who condemned him.
R. Lawson, of Bury, linen-weaver, a single man, aged 30, was sent to Eye-Dungeon, and after that to Bury, where they suffered in the same fire, praising God, and encouraging others to martyrdom.
Rev. Julius Palmer.
This gentleman’s life presents a singular instance of error and conversion. In the time of Edward, he was a rigid and obstinate papist, so adverse to godly and sincere preaching, that he was even despised by his own party; that this frame of mind should be changed, and he suffer persecution and death in queen Mary’s reign, are among those events of omnipotence at which we wonder and admire.
Mr. Palmer was born at Coventry, where his father had been mayor. Being afterward removed to Oxford, he became, under Mr. Harley, of Magdalen college, an elegant Latin and Greek scholar. He was fond of useful disputation, possessed of a lively wit, and a strong memory. Indefatigable in private study, he rose at four in the morning, and by this practice qualified himself to become reader in logic in Magdalen college. The times of Edward, however, favouring the reformation, Mr. Palmer became frequently punished for his contempt of prayer and orderly behaviour, and was at length expelled the house.
He afterwards embraced the doctrines of the reformation, which occasioned his arrest and final condemnation. He was tried on the 15th of July, 1556, together with one Thomas Askin, a fellow-prisoner. Askin and one John Guin had been sentenced the day before, and Mr. Palmer, on the 15th, was brought up for final judgment.—Execution was ordered to follow the sentence, and at five o’clock in the same afternoon, at a place called the Sand-pits, these three martyrs were fastened to a stake. After devoutly praying together, they sung the 31st psalm. When the fire was kindled, and it had seized their bodies, without an appearance of enduring pain, they continued to cry, Lord Jesus, strengthen us! Lord Jesus receive our souls! till animation was suspended and human suffering was past. It is remarkable, that, when their heads had fallen together in a mass as it were by the force of the flames, and the spectators thought Palmer was lifeless, his tongue and lips again moved, and were heard to pronounce the name of Jesus, to whom be glory and honour forever!
About this time, three women were burnt in the island of Guernsey, under circumstances of aggravated cruelty, whose names were, Catherine Cauches, and her two daughters, Mrs. Perotine Massey, and Guillemine Gilbert.
The day of execution having arrived, three stakes were erected: the middle post was assigned to the mother, the eldest daughter on her right hand, and the younger on the left. They were strangled previous to burning, but the rope breaking before they were dead, the poor women fell into the fire. Perotine, at the time of her inhuman sentence, was largely pregnant, and now, falling on her side upon the flaming fagots, presented a singular spectacle of horror!—Torn open by the tremendous pangs she endured, she was delivered of a fine male child, who was rescued from its burning bed by the humanity of one W. House, who tenderly laid it on the grass. The infant was taken to the provost, and by him presented to the bailiff, when the inhuman monster decreed it to be re-cast into the fire, that it might perish with its heretical mother! Thus was this innocent baptised in its own blood, to make up the very climax of Romish barbarity; being born and dying at the same time a martyr; and realizing again the days of Herodian cruelty, with circumstances of bigoted malice unknown even to that execrable murderer.
Their execution took place, July 18, 1556. On the same day, were burnt at Grinstead, in Sussex, Thomas Dungate, John Foreman, and Mother Tree.
June 26, 1556, at Leicester, was executed Thomas Moor, a servant, aged 24 years, who was taken up for saying that his Saviour was in Paradise, and not in the popish paste or wafer.
This poor honest woman, blind from her birth, and unmarried, aged 22, was of the parish of Allhallows, Derby. Her father was a barber, and also made ropes for a living: in which she assisted him, and also learned to knit several articles of apparel. Refusing to communicate with those who maintained doctrines contrary to those she had learned in the days of the pious Edward, she was called before Dr. Draicot, the chancellor of bishop Blaine, and Peter Finch, official of Derby.
With sophistical arguments and threats they endeavoured to confound the poor girl; but she proffered to yield to the bishop’s doctrine, if he would answer for her at the day of judgment, (as pious Dr. Taylor had done in his sermons) that his belief of the real presence of the sacrament was true. The bishop at first answered that he would; but Dr. Draicot reminding him that he might not in any way answer for a heretic, he withdrew his confirmation of his own tenets; and she replied, that if their consciences would not permit them to answer at God’s bar for that truth they wished her to subscribe to, she would answer no more questions. Sentence was then adjudged, and Dr. Draicot appointed to preach her condemned sermon, which took place August 1, 1556, the day of her martyrdom. His fulminating discourse being finished, the poor sightless object was taken to a place called Windmill Pit, near the town, where she for a time held her brother by the hand, and then prepared herself for the fire, calling upon the pitying multitude to pray with her, and upon Christ to have mercy upon her, till the glorious light of the everlasting sun of righteousness beamed upon her departed spirit.
September 8, 1556, Edward Sharp, aged 40, was condemned at Bristol. September 24, Thomas Ravendale, a currier, and John Hart, suffered at Mayfield, in Essex; and on the day following, a young man, a carpenter, died at Bristol with joyous constancy. September 27, John Horn, and a female martyr suffered at Wooten-under-edge, Gloucestershire, professing abjurgation of popery.
In November, fifteen martyrs were imprisoned in Canterbury castle, of whom all were either burnt or famished. Among the latter were J. Clark, D. Chittenden, W. Foster of Stone, Alice Potkins, and J. Archer, of Cranbrooke, weaver. The two first of these had not received condemnation, but the others were sentenced to the fire. Foster, at his examination, observed upon the utility of carrying lighted candles about on Candlemas-day, that he might as well carry a pitch fork; and that a gibbet would have as good an effect as the cross.
We have now brought to a close the sanguinary proscriptions of the merciless Mary, in the year 1556, the number of which amounted to above eighty-four!
The beginning of the year 1557, was remarkable for the visit of Cardinal Pole to the University of Cambridge, which seemed to stand in need of much cleansing from heretical preachers and reformed doctrines. One object was also to play the popish farce of trying Martin Bucer and Paulus Phagius, who had been buried about three or four years; for which purpose the churches of St. Mary and St. Michael, where they lay, were interdicted as vile and unholy places, unfit to worship God in, until they were perfumed and washed with the Pope’s holy water, &c. &c. The trumpery act of citing these dead reformers to appear, not having had the least effect upon them, on January 26, sentence of condemnation was passed, part of which ran in this manner, and may serve as a specimen of proceedings of this nature:—”We therefore pronounce the said Martin Bucer and Paulus Phagius excommunicated and anathematized, as well by the common law, as by letters of process; and that their memory be condemned, we also condemn their bodies and bones (which in that wicked time of schism, and other heresies flourishing in this kingdom, were rashly buried in holy ground) to be dug up, and cast far from the bodies and bones of the faithful, according to the holy canons; and we command that they and their writings, if any be there found, be publicly burnt; and we interdict all persons whatsoever of this university, town, or places adjacent, who shall read or conceal their heretical book, as well by the common law, as by our letters of process!”
After the sentence thus read, the bishop commanded their bodies to be dug out of their graves, and being degraded from holy orders, delivered them into the hands of the secular power; for it was not lawful for such innocent persons as they were, abhorring all bloodshed, and detesting all desire of murder, to put any man to death.
February 6, the bodies, enclosed as they were in chests, were carried into the midst of the market place at Cambridge, accompanied by a vast concourse of people. A great post was set fast in the ground, to which the chests were affixed with a large iron chain, and bound round their centres, in the same manner as if the dead bodies had been alive. When the fire began to ascend, and caught the coffins, a number of condemned books were also launched into the flames, and burnt. Justice, however, was done to the memories of these pious and learned men in queen Elizabeth’s reign, when Mr. Ackworth, orator of the university, and Mr. J. Pilkington, pronounced orations in honour of their memory, and in reprobation of their catholic persecutors.
Cardinal Cole also inflicted his harmless rage upon the dead body of Peter Martyr’s wife, who, by his command, was dug out of her grave, and buried on a distant dunghill, partly because her bones lay near St. Fridewide’s relics, held once in great esteem in that college, and partly because he wished to purify Oxford of heretical remains as well as Cambridge. In the succeeding reign, however, her remains were restored to their former cemetary, and even intermingled with those of the catholic saint, to the utter astonishment and mortification of the disciples of his holiness the pope.
Cardinal Cole published a list of fifty-four Articles, containing instructions to the clergy of his diocess of Canterbury, some of which are too ludicrous and puerile to excite any other sentiment than laughter in these days.
THIS CHAPTER WAS WAY TOO BIG TO LEAVE IT AS ONE POST. HERE ARE THE LINKS FOR THE REMAINING OF THIS CHAPTER