CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY N
A report now obtained that her grace was to be taken away by the new constable and his soldiers, which in the sequel proved to be true. An order of council was made for her removal to the manor of Woodstock, which took place on Trinity Sunday, May 13, under the authority of Sir Henry Benifield and Lord Tame. The ostensible cause of her removal was to make room for other prisoners. Richmond was the first place they stopped at, and here the princess slept, not however without much alarm at first, as her own servants were superseded by the soldiers, who were placed as guards at her chamber door. Upon representation, Lord Tame overruled this indecent stretch of power, and granted her perfect safety while under his custody.
In passing through Windsor, she saw several of her poor dejected servants waiting to see her. “Go to them,” said she, to one of her attendants, “and say these words from me, tanquim ovis, that is, like a sheep to the slaughter.”
The next night her grace lodged at the house of a Mr. Dormer, in her way to which the people manifested such tokens of loyal affection, that Sir Henry was indignant, and bestowed on them very liberally the names of rebels and traitors. In some villages they rang the bells for joy, imagining the princess’s arrival among them was from a very different cause; but this harmless demonstration of gladness was sufficient with the persecuting Benefield to order his soldiers to seize and set these humble persons in the stocks.
The day following, her grace arrived at Lord Tame’s house, where she staid all night, and was most nobly entertained. This excited Sir Henry’s indignation, and made him caution Lord Tame to look well to his proceedings; but the humanity of Lord Tame was not to be frightened, and he returned a suitable reply. At another time, this official prodigal, to show his consequence and disregard of good manners, went up into a chamber, where was appointed for her grace a chair, two cushions, and a foot carpet, wherein he presumptuously sat and called his man to pull off his boots. As soon as it was known to the ladies and gentlemen, they laughed him to scorn. When supper was done, he called to his lordship, and directed that all gentlemen and ladies should withdraw home, marvelling much that he would permit such a large company, considering the great charge he had committed to him. “Sir Henry,” said his lordship, “content yourself; all shall be avoided, your men and all.” “Nay, but my soldiers,” replied Sir Henry, “shall watch all night.” Lord Tame answered, “There is no need.” “Well,” said he, “need or need not, they shall so do.”
The next day her grace took her journey from thence to Woodstock, where she was enclosed, as before in the Tower of London, the soldiers keeping guard within and without the walls, every day, to the number of sixty; and in the night, without the walls were forty during all the time of her imprisonment.
At length she was permitted to walk in the gardens, but under the most severe restrictions, Sir Henry keeping the keys himself, and placing her always under many bolts and locks, whence she was induced to call him her jailer, at which he felt offended, and begged her to substitute the word officer. After much earnest entreaty to the council, she obtained permission to write to the queen; but the jailer, who brought her pen, ink, and paper stood by her while she wrote, and, when she left off, he carried the things away till they were wanted again. He also insisted upon carrying it himself to the queen, but Elizabeth would not suffer him to be the bearer, and it was presented by one of her gentlemen.
After the letter, doctors Owen and Wendy went to the princess, as the state of her health rendered medical assistance necessary. They staid with her five or six days, in which time she grew much better; they then returned to the queen, and spoke flatteringly of the princess’ submission and humility, at which the queen seemed moved; but the bishops wanted a concession that she had offended her majesty. Elizabeth spurned this indirect mode of acknowledging herself guilty. “If I have offended,” said she, “and am guilty, I crave no mercy but the law, which I am certain I should have had ere this, if any thing could have been proved against me. I wish I were as clear from the peril of my enemies; then should I not be thus bolted and locked up within walls and doors.”
Much question arose at this time respecting the propriety of uniting the princess to some foreigner, that she might quit the realm with a suitable portion. One of the council had the brutality to urge the necessity of beheading her, if the king (Philip) meant to keep the realm in peace; but the Spaniards, detesting such a base thought, replied, “God forbid that our king and master should consent to such an infamous proceeding!” Stimulated by a noble principle, the Spaniards from this time repeatedly urged to the king that it would do him the highest honour to liberate the lady Elizabeth, nor was the king impervious to their solicitation. He took her out of prison, and shortly after she was sent for to Hampton court. It may be remarked in this place, that the fallacy of human reasoning is shown in every moment. The barbarian who suggested the policy of beheading Elizabeth little contemplated the change of condition which his speech would bring about. In her journey from Woodstock, Benefield treated her with the same severity as before; removing her on a stormy day, and not suffering her old servant, who had come to Colnbrook, where she slept, to speak to her.
She remained a fortnight strictly guarded and watched, before any one dared to speak with her; at length the vile Gardiner with three more of the council, came with great submission. Elizabeth saluted them, remarked that she had been for a long time kept in solitary confinement, and begged they would intercede with the king and queen to deliver her from prison. Gardiner’s visit was to draw from the princess a confession of her guilt; but she was guarded against his subtlety, adding, that, rather than admit she had done wrong, she would lie in prison all the rest of her life. The next day Gardiner came again, and kneeling down, declared that the queen was astonished she should persist in affirming that she was blameless—whence it would be inferred that the queen had unjustly imprisoned her grace. Gardiner farther informed her that the queen had declared that she must tell another tale, before she could be set at liberty. “Then,” replied the high-minded Elizabeth, “I had rather be in prison with honesty and truth, than have my liberty, and be suspected by her majesty. What I have said, I will stand to; nor will I ever speak falsehood!” The bishop and his friends then departed, leaving her locked up as before.
Seven days after the queen sent for Elizabeth at ten o’clock at night, two years had elapsed since they had seen each other. It created terror in the mind of the princess, who, at setting out, desired her gentlemen and ladies to pray for her, as her return to them again was uncertain.
Being conducted to the queen’s bedchamber, upon entering it the princess knelt down, and having begged of God to preserve her majesty, she humbly assured her that her majesty had not a more loyal subject in the realm, whatever reports might be circulated to the contrary. With a haughty ungraciousness, the imperious queen replied, “You will not confess your offence, but stand stoutly to your truth. I pray God it may so fall out.”
“If it do not,” said Elizabeth, “I request neither favour nor pardon at your majesty’s hands.” “Well,” said the queen, “you stiffly still persevere in your truth. Besides, you will not confess that you have not been wrongfully punished.”
“I must not say so, if it please your majesty, to you.”
“Why, then,” said the queen, “belike you will to others.”
“No, if it please your majesty: I have borne the burden, and must bear it. I humbly beseech your majesty to have a good opinion of me and to think me to be your subject, not only from the beginning hitherto, but for ever, as long as life lasteth.” They departed without any heart-felt satisfaction on either side; nor can we think the conduct of Elizabeth displayed that independence and fortitude which accompanies perfect innocence. Elizabeth’s admitting that she would not say neither to the queen nor to others, that she had been unjustly punished, was in direct contradiction to what she had told Gardiner, and must have arisen from some motive at this time inexplicable.—King Philip is supposed to have been secretly concealed during the interview, and to have been friendly to the princess.
In seven days from the time of her return to imprisonment, her severe jailer, and his men were discharged, and she was set at liberty, under the constraint of being always attended and watched by some of the queen’s council. Four of her gentlemen were sent to the Tower without any other charge against them than being zealous servants of their mistress. This event was soon after followed by the happy news of Gardiner’s death, for which all good and merciful men glorified God, inasmuch as it had taken the chief tiger from the den, and rendered the life of the protestant successor of Mary more secure.
This miscreant, while the princess was in the Tower, sent a secret writ, signed by a few of the council, for her private execution, and, had Mr. Bridges, lieutenant of the Tower, been as little scrupulous of dark assassination as this pious prelate was, she must have perished. The warrant not having the queen’s signature, Mr. Bridges hastened to her majesty, to give her information of it, and to know her mind. This was a plot of Winchester’s, who, to convict her of treasonable practices, caused several prisoners to be racked; particularly Mr. Edmund Tremaine and Smithwicke were offered considerable bribes to accuse the guiltless princess.
Her life was several times in danger. While at Woodstock, fire was apparently put between the boards and ceiling under which she lay. It was also reported strongly, that one Paul Penny, the keeper of Woodstock, a notorious ruffian was appointed to assassinate her, but, however this might be, God counteracted in this point the nefarious designs of the enemies of the reformation. James Basset was another appointed to perform the same deed: he was a peculiar favourite of Gardiner, and had come within a mile of Woodstock, intending to speak with Benefield on the subject. The goodness of God however so ordered it, that while Basset was travelling to Woodstock, Benefield, by an order of council, was going to London; in consequence of which, he left a positive order with his brother, that no man should be admitted to the princess during his absence, not even with a note from the queen; his brother met the murderer, but the latter’s intention was frustrated, as no admission could be obtained.
When Elizabeth quitted Woodstock, she left the following lines written with her diamond on the window:—
Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be. Quoth Elizabeth, prisoner.
With the life of Winchester ceased the extreme danger of the princess, as many of her other secret enemies soon after followed him, and, last of all, her cruel sister, who outlived Gardiner but three years. The death of Mary was ascribed to several causes. The council endeavoured to console her in her last moments, imagining it was the absence of her husband that lay heavy at her heart, but though his treatment had some weight, the loss of Calais, the last fortress possessed by the English in France, was the true source of her sorrow. “Open my heart,” said Mary, “when I am dead, and you shall find Calais written there.” Religion caused her no alarm; the priests had lulled to rest every misgiving of conscience, which might have obtruded, on account of the accusing spirits of the murdered martyrs. Not the blood she had spilled, but the loss of a town, excited her emotions in dying, and this last stroke seemed to be awarded, that her fanatical persecution might be paralleled by her political imbecility. We earnestly pray that the annals of no country, catholic or pagan, may ever be stained with such a repetition of human sacrifices to papal power, and that the detestation in which the character of Mary is holden, may be a beacon to succeeding monarchs to avoid the rocks of fanaticism!
God’s Punishments upon some of the Persecutors of his People in Mary’s Reign.
After that arch-persecutor, Gardiner, was dead, others followed, of whom Dr. Morgan, bishop of St. David’s, who succeeded bishop Farrar, is to be noticed. Not long after he was installed in his bishopric, he was stricken by the visitation of God; his food passed through the throat, but rose again with great violence. In this manner, almost literally starved to death, he terminated his existence.
Bishop Thornton, suffragan of Dover, was an indefatigable persecutor of the true church. One day after he had exercised his cruel tyranny upon a number of pious persons at Canterbury, he came from the chapter-house to Borne, where as he stood on a Sunday looking at his men playing at bowls, he fell down in a fit of the palsy, and did not long survive.
After the latter succeeded another bishop or suffragan, ordained by Gardiner, who not long after he had been raised to the see of Dover, fell down a pair of stairs in the cardinal’s chamber at Greenwich, and broke his neck. He had just received the cardinal’s blessing—he could receive nothing worse.
John Cooper, of Watsam, Suffolk, suffered by perjury; he was from private pique persecuted by one Fenning, who suborned two others to swear that they heard Cooper say, “If God did not take away queen Mary, the devil would.” Cooper denied all such words, but Cooper was a protestant and a heretic, and therefore he was hung, drawn and quartered, his property confiscated, and his wife and nine children reduced to beggary. The following harvest, however, Grimwood of Hitcham, one of the witnesses before mentioned, was visited for his villany: while at work, stacking up corn, his bowels suddenly burst out, and before relief could be obtained he died. Thus was deliberate perjury rewarded by sudden death!
In the case of the martyr Mr. Bradford, the severity of Mr. Sheriff Woodroffe has been noticed—he rejoiced at the death of the saints, and at Mr. Rogers’ execution, he broke the carman’s head, because he stopped the cart to let the martyr’s children take a last farewell of him. Scarcely had Mr. Woodroffe’s sheriffalty expired a week, when he was struck with a paralytic affection, and languished a few days in the most pitiable and helpless condition, presenting a striking contrast to his former activity in the cause of blood.
Ralph Lardyn, who betrayed the martyr George Eagles, is believed to have been afterward arraigned and hanged in consequence of accusing himself. At the bar, he denounced himself in these words, “This has most justly fallen upon me, for betraying the innocent blood of that just and good man George Eagles, who was here condemned in the time of Queen Mary by my procurement, when I sold his blood for a little money.”
As James Abbes was going to execution, and exhorting the pitying bystanders to adhere steadfastly to the truth, and like him to seal the cause of Christ with their blood, a servant of the sheriff’s interrupted him, and blasphemously called his religion heresy, and the good man a lunatic. Scarcely however had the flames reached the martyr, before the fearful stroke of God fell upon this hardened wretch, in the presence of him he had so cruelly ridiculed. The man was suddenly seized with lunacy, cast off his clothes and shoes before the people, (as Abbes had done just before, to distribute among some poor persons,) at the same time exclaiming, “Thus did James Abbes, the true servant of God, who is saved but I am damned.” Repeating this often, the sheriff had him secured, and made him put his clothes on, but no sooner was he alone, than he tore them off, and exclaimed as before. Being tied in a cart, he was conveyed to his master’s house, and in about half a year he died; just before which a priest came to attend him, with the crucifix, &c. but the wretched man bade him take away such trumpery, and said that he and other priests had been the cause of his damnation, but that Abbes was saved.
One Clark, an avowed enemy of the protestants in king Edward’s reign, hung himself in the Tower of London.
Froling, a priest of much celebrity, fell down in the street and died on the spot.
Dale, an indefatigable informer, was consumed by vermin, and died a miserable spectacle.
Alexander, the severe keeper of Newgate, died miserably, swelling to a prodigious size, and became so inwardly putrid, that none could come near him. This cruel minister of the law would go to Bonner, Story, and others, requesting them to rid his prison, he was so much pestered with heretics! The son of this keeper, in three years after his father’s death, dissipated his great property, and died suddenly in Newgate market. “The sins of the father,” says the decalogue, “shall be visited on the children.” John Peter, son-in-law of Alexander, a horrid blasphemer and persecutor, died wretchedly. When he affirmed any thing, he would say, “If it be not true, I pray I may rot ere I die.” This awful state visited him in all its loathsomeness.
Sir Ralph Ellerker was eagerly desirous to see the heart taken out of Adam Damlip, who was wrongfully put to death. Shortly after Sir Ralph was slain by the French, who mangled him dreadfully, cut off his limbs, and tore his heart out.
When Gardiner heard of the miserable end of Judge Hales, he called the profession of the gospel a doctrine of desperation; but he forgot that the judge’s despondency arose after he had consented to the papistry. But with more reason may this be said of the catholic tenets, if we consider the miserable end of Dr. Pendleton, Gardiner, and most of the leading persecutors. Gardiner, upon his death bed, was reminded by a bishop of Peter denying his master. “Ah,” said Gardiner, “I have denied with Peter, but never repented with Peter.”
After the accession of Elizabeth, most of the Catholic prelates were imprisoned in the Tower or the fleet; Bonner was put into the Marshalsea.
Of the revilers of God’s word, we detail, among many others, the following occurrence. One William Maldon, living at Greenwich in servitude, was instructing himself profitably in reading an English primer one winter’s evening. A serving man, named John Powell, sat by, and ridiculed all that Maldon said, who cautioned him not to make a jest of the word of God. Powell nevertheless continued, till Maldon came to certain English Prayers, and read aloud, Lord, have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, &c. Suddenly the reviler started, and exclaimed, Lord, have mercy upon us! He was struck with the utmost terror of mind, said the evil spirit could not abide that Christ should have any mercy upon him, and sunk into madness. He was remitted to Bedlam, and became an awful warning that God will not always be insulted with impunity.
Henry Smith, a student in the law, had a pious protestant father, of Camden, in Gloucestershire, by whom he was virtuously educated. While studying law in the middle temple, he was induced to profess catholicism, and, going to Louvain, in France, he returned with pardons, crucifixes, and a great freight of popish toys. Not content with these things, he openly reviled the gospel religion he had been brought up in; but conscience one night reproached him so dreadfully, that in a fit of despair he hung himself in his garters. He was buried in a lane, without the Christian service being read over him.
Dr. Story, whose name has been so often mentioned in the preceding pages, was reserved to be cut off by public execution, a practice in which he had taken great delight when in power. He is supposed to have had a hand in most of the conflagrations in Mary’s time, and was even ingenious in his invention of new modes of inflicting torture. When Elizabeth came to the throne, he was committed to prison, but unaccountably effected his escape to the continent, to carry fire and sword there among the protestant brethren. From the duke of Alva, at Antwerp, he received a special commission to search all ships for contraband goods, and particularly for English heretical books.
Dr. Story gloried in a commission that was ordered by Providence to be his ruin, and to preserve the faithful from his sanguinary cruelty. It was contrived that one Parker, a merchant, should sail to Antwerp and information should be given to Dr. Story that he had a quantity of heretical books on board. The latter no sooner heard this, than he hastened to the vessel, sought every where above, and then went under the hatches, which were fastened down upon him. A prosperous gale brought the ship to England, and this traitorous, persecuting rebel was committed to prison, where he remained a considerable time, obstinately objecting to recant his anti-christian spirit, or admit of queen Elizabeth’s supremacy. He alleged, though by birth and education an Englishman, that he was a sworn subject of the king of Spain, in whose service the famous duke of Alva was. The doctor being condemned, was laid upon a hurdle, and drawn from the Tower to Tyburn, where after being suspended about half an hour, he was cut down, stripped, and the executioner displayed the heart of a traitor. Thus ended the existence of this.
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