170. MUMMUTH AND HITTON
And thus, having detained the reader enough, or rather too much, with this vain-glorious cardinal, now we will reduce our story again to other more fruitful matter, and, as the order of time requireth, first beginning with Master Humphrey Mummuth, a virtuous and a good alderman of London, who in the time of the said cardinal was troubled, as in the story here followeth.
The trouble of Humphrey Mummuth, alderman of London.
Master Humphrey Mummuth was a right godly and sincere alderman of London, who, in the days of Cardinal Wolsey, was troubled and put in the Tower, for the gospel of Christ, and for maintaining them that favoured the same.
Stokesley, then bishop of London, ministered articles unto him, to the number of four and twenty: as for adhering to Luther and his opinions; for having and reading heretical books and treatises; for giving exhibition to William Tyndale, Roy, and such other; for helping them over the sea to Luther; for ministering privy help to translate, as well the Testament, as other books into English; for eating flesh in Lent; for affirming faith only to justify; for derogating from men's constitutions; for not praying to saints, not allowing pilgrimage, auricular confession, the pope's pardons: briefly, for being an advancer of all Martin Luther's opinions, &c.
He, being of these articles examined, and cast into the Tower, at last was compelled to make his suit or purgation, writing to the aforesaid cardinal, then lord chancellor, and the whole council, out of the Tower; in the contents whereof he answered to the criminous accusation of them which charged him with certain books received from beyond the sea; also for his acquaintance with Master Tyndale. Whereupon he said, that he denied not but that, four years then past, he had heard the said Tyndale preach two or three sermons at St. Dunstan's in the West; and afterward, meeting with the said Tyndale, had certain communication with him concerning his living; who then told him that he had none at all, but trusted to be in the bishop of London's service: for then he laboured to be his chaplain. But, being refused of the bishop, so came again to the said Mummuth, this examinate, and besought him to help him: who the same time took him into his house for half a year; where the said Tyndale lived (as he said) like a good priest, studying both night and day. He would eat but sodden meat by his good will, nor drink but small single beer. He was never seen in that house to wear linen about him, all the space of his being there. Whereupon the said Mummuth had the better liking of him, so that he promised him ten pounds (as he then said) for his father's and mother's souls, and all Christian souls; which money afterwards he sent him over to Hamburgh, according to his promise. And yet not to him alone he gave this exhibition, but to divers others more likewise, which were no heretics: as to Dr. Royston, the bishop of London's chaplain, he exhibited forty or fifty pounds; to Dr. Wodiall, provincial of the Friars Augustine, as much or more; to Dr. Watson, the king's chaplain; also to other scholars, and divers priests: besides other charges bestowed upon religious houses, as upon the nunnery of Denny, above fifty pounds sterling bestowed, &c.
And as touching his books, as Enchiridion, the Pater-noster, De Libertate Christiana, an English Testament: of whom, some William Tyndale left with him; some he sent unto him; some were brought into his house, by whom he could not tell: these books (he said) did lie open in his house, the space of two years together, he suspecting no harm to be in them. And moreover the same books being desired of sundry persons, as of the abbess of Denny, a friar of Greenwich, the father confessor of Sion, he let them have them, and yet he never heard friar, priest, or lay-man, find any fault with the said books. Likewise to Doctor Watson, to Doctor Stockhouse, and to Master Martin, parson of Totingbecke, he committed the perusing of the books of Pater-noster, and De Libertate Christiana, which found no great fault with them; but only in the book De Libertate Christiana, they said, there were things somewhat hard, except the reader were wise.
Thus he, excusing himself, and moreover complaining of the loss of his credit by his imprisonment in the Tower, and of the detriments of his occupying, who was wont yearly to ship over five hundred cloths to strangers, and set many clothiers awork in Suffolk, and in other places, of whom he bought all their cloths, which almost were now all undone; by this reason at length was set at liberty, being forced to abjure, and after was made knight by the king, and sheriff of London.
Of this Humphrey Mummuth we read of a notable example of Christian patience, in the sermons of Master Latimer, which the said Latimer heard in Cambridge from Master George Stafford, reader of the divinity lecture in that university; who, expounding the place of St. Paul to the Romans, that we shall overcome our enemy with well doing, and so heap hot coals upon his head, &c., brought in an example, saying, that he knew in London a great rich merchant (meaning this Humphrey Mummuth) which had a very poor neighbour; yet for all his poverty, he loved him very well, and lent him money at his need, and let him come to his table whensoever he would. It was even at that time when Doctor Colet was in trouble, and should have been burned, if God had not turned the king's heart to the contrary. Now the rich man began to be a Scripture-man; he began to smell the gospel. The poor man was a papist still.
It chanced on a time, when the rich man talked of the gospel, sitting at his table, where he reproved popery, and such kind of things; the poor man, being there present, took a great displeasure against the rich man, insomuch that he would come no more to his house: he would borrow no more money of him, as he was wont to do before times, yea, and conceived such hatred and malice against him, that be went and accused him before the bishops. Now the rich man, not knowing of any such displeasure, offered many times to talk with him, and to set him at quiet. It would not be. The poor man had such a stomach, that he would not vouchsafe to speak with him. If he met the rich man in the street, he would go out of his way. One time it happened that he met him so in a narrow street, that he could not avoid but come near him: yet for all that, this poor man (I say) had such a stomach against the rich man, that he was minded to go forward, and not to speak with him. The rich man, perceiving that, caught him by the hand, and asked him, saying, "Neighbour! what is come into your heart to take such displeasure with me? What have I done against you? Tell me, and I will be ready at all times to make you amends."
Finally, he spake so gently, so charitably, so lovingly and friendly, that it wrought so in the poor man's heart, that by and by he fell down upon his knees, and asked him forgiveness. The rich man forgave him, and so took him again to his favour, and they loved as well as ever they did afore.
Thomas Hitten, at Maidstone, A.D. 1530. Persecuted by William Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and by Fisher, bishop of Rochester.
Touching the memorial of Thomas Hitten remaineth nothing in writing, but only his name; save that William Tyndale, in his Apology against More, and also in another book, entitled The Practice of Prelates, doth once or twice make mention of him, by way of digression. He was (saith he) a preacher at Maidstone, whom the bishop of Canterbury, William Warham, and Fisher, bishop of Rochester, after they had long kept and tormented him in prison, with sundry torments, and that notwithstanding he continued constant; at the last they burned him at Maidstone, for the constant and manifest testimony of Jesus Christ, and of his free grace and salvation, A.D. 1530.