Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 174. JOHN TEWKESBURY, LEATHERSELLER, OF LONDON, MARTYR.

174. JOHN TEWKESBURY, LEATHERSELLER, OF LONDON, MARTYR.

Illustration -- A Victim on the Rack

JOHN Tewkesbury was converted by the reading of Tyndale's Testament, and The Wicked Mammon. He had the Bible written. In all points of religion he openly did dispute in the bishop's chapel in his palace. In the doctrine of justification and all other articles of his faith he was very expert and prompt in his answers, in such sort that Tonstal, and all his learned men ,were ashamed that a leatherseller should so dispute with them, with such power of the Scriptures and heavenly wisdom, that they were not able to resist him.

This disputation continued a se'nnight.

The process of whose examinations, articles, and answers, here follow, as they are out of the bishop's register extracted.

"On Wednesday, the twenty-first day of April, A.D. 1529, John Tewkesbury was brought into the consistory at London, before Cuthbert, bishop of London, and his assistants, Henry, bishop of St. Asaph, and John, abbot of Westminster; unto whom the bishop of London declared, that he had at divers times exhorted him to recant the errors and heresies which he held and defended, even as he did then again exhort him not to trust too much to his own wit and learning, but unto the doctrine of the holy mother the church: who made answer that in his judgment he did not err from the doctrine of the holy mother the church. And at the last, being examined upon errors, which, they said, were in the said book called The Wicked Mammon, he answered thus: 'Take ye the book and read it over, and I think in my conscience, ye shall find no fault in it.' And being asked by the said bishop, whether he would rather give credit to his book, or to the gospel, he answered that the gospel is, and ever hath been, true. And moreover, being particularly examined what he thought of this article, 'That the Jews of good intent and zeal slew Christ,' he answered, 'Look ye the book through, before and after, as it lieth, and ye shall find a better tale in it than ye make of it;' and further thought, that whosoever translated the New Testament, and made the book, meaning The Wicked Mammon, he did it of good zeal, and by the Spirit of God.

"Also being further asked by the said bishop of London, whether he would stand to the contents of his book, he answered, 'Look ye the book before and after, and I will be content to stand unto it.' Then being examined, whether that all good works must be done without respect of any thing, he answered, that a man should do good works for the love of God only, and for no hope of any reward higher or lower in heaven; for if he should, it were presumption. Also being demanded, whether that Christ, with all his works, did not deserve heaven, he answered and said, that it was plain enough. Which things being done, the bishop said further to John Tewkesbury thus: 'I tell thee, before God and those which are here present, in examination of my conscience, that the articles above named, and many others contained in the same book, are false, heretical, and condemned by the holy church: how thinkest thou?' And further, the said bishop of London said unto him again, 'I tell thee, before God and those which are here present,' &c.; and so asked him again, what he thought of those articles. And after many exhortations, he commanded him to answer determinately under pain of the law, saying further unto him, that if he refused to answer, he must declare him an open and obstinate heretic, according to the order of the law. These things so done, the bishop asked John Tewkesbury again, whether the said book, called The Wicked Mammon, were good?

"To which interrogatory he answereth, that he thinketh in his conscience there is nothing in the book but that which is true. And to this article objected, that is, that faith only justifieth without works, he answereth, that it is well said. Whereunto the bishop inferred again, that the articles before objected, with divers others contained in the book called The Wicked Mammon, were false, erroneous, damnable, and heretical, and reproved and condemned by the church: and, before God, and all those that were present, for the discharge of his conscience, he had often, and very gently, exhorted the said John Tewkesbury, that he would revoke and renounce his errors: otherwise if he did intend to persevere in them, he must declare him a heretic; which he would be very sorry to do. These things thus done, the bishop oftentimes offered him, that he should choose what spiritual or temporal man he would, to be his counsellor; and gave him time, as before, to deliberate with himself until the next sitting."

"Also in the same month of April, in the year of our Lord aforesaid, the bishop of London, Cuthbert Tonstal, sitting in the consistory, with Nicholas of Ely, John of Lincoln, and John of Bath and Wells, &c., this John Tewkesbury was brought before them. After certain articles being repeated unto him, the bishop of London brought before him a certain book, called The Wicked Mammon, asking him whether the book was of the same impression and making as were his books that he had sold to others? who answered and said, it was the same. Whereupon the bishop of London asking him again, whether the book contained the same error or no? who answered again, saying, I pray God, that the condemnation of the gospel and translation of the Testament, be not to your shame, and that you be not in peril for it: for the condemnation of it and of the others is all one. Further he said, that he had studied the Holy Scripture by the space of these seventeen years, and as he may see the spots of his face through the glass, so in reading the New Testament he knoweth the faults of his soul. Further, he was examined upon certain points and articles, extracted out of the said book of The Wicked Mammon, as followeth

"First, That antichrist is not an outward thing, that is to say, a man that should suddenly appear with wonders, as your forefathers talked of him; but antichrist is a spiritual thing. -- Whereunto he answered and said, that he findeth no fault in it.

"Again, it was demanded of him touching the article whether faith only justifieth a man? -- To this he said, that if he should look to deserve heaven by works, he should do wickedly; for works follow faith, and Christ redeemed us all with the merits of his passion.

"That the devil holdeth our hearts so hard, that it is impossible for us to consent unto God's law. -- To that he answered, that he findeth no fault in it.

"That the law of God suffereth no merits, neither any man to be justified in the sight of God. -- To that he answered, that it is plain enough, considering what the law is; and he saith, that he findeth no ill in it.

"That the law of God requireth of us things impossible. -- To that he answered, that the law of God doth command, that thou shalt love God above all things, and thy neighbour as thyself, which never man could do; and in that he doth find no fault in his conscience.

"That as the good tree bringeth forth fruit, so there is no law to him that believeth and is justified through faith. -- To that he answered and said, he findeth no ill in it.

"All good works must be done without respect of any thing, or any profit to be had thereof. -- To that he answered, 'It is truth.'

"Christ with all his works did not deserve heaven. -- To that he answered, that the text is true as it lieth, and findeth no fault in it.

"Peter and Paul, and saints that be dead, are not our friends, but their friends whom they did help when they were alive. -- To that he said, he findeth no ill in it.

"Alms deserve no reward of God. -- To that he answered, that the text of the book is true.

"The devil is not cast out by merits of fasting or prayer. -- To that he answered, thinking it good enough.

"We cannot love except we see some benefit and kindness. As long as we live under the law of God only, where we see but sin and damnation, and the wrath of God upon us, yea, where we were damned before we were born, we cannot love God, and cannot but hate him as a tyrant, unrighteous and unjust; and flee from him, as did Cain. -- To that he answered, and thinketh it good and plain enough.

"We are damned by nature, as a toad is a toad by nature, and a serpent is a serpent by nature. -- To that he answered, that it is true, as it is in the book.

"Item, As concerning the article of fasting. -- To that he answered and said, 'The book declareth itself.'

"Every one man is a lord of whatsoever another man hath. -- To that he answered; 'What law can be better than that? for it is plainly meant there.'

"Love in Christ putteth no difference betwixt one and another. -- To that he answered and said, It is plain enough of itself.'

"As concerning the preaching of the word of God, and washing of dishes, there is no difference as concerning salvation, and as touching the pleasing of God. -- To that he answered, saying, 'It is a plain text, and as for pleasing God, it is all one.'

"That the Jews of good intent and zeal put Christ to death. To that he answered, that it is true, and the text is plain enough.

"The sects of St. Francis, and St. Dominic, and others, be damnable. -- To that he answered and said, 'St. Paul repugneth against them.'

These articles being so objected, and answer made unto them by John Tewkesbury, the said bishop of London asked him whether he would continue in his heresies and errors above rehearsed, or renounce and forsake them? who answered thus: "I pray you reform yourself, and if there be any error in the book, let it be reformed; I think the book is good enough."

Further, the bishop exhorted him to recant his errors. To this the said John Tewkesbury answered as is above written; to wit, "I pray you reform yourself, and if there be any error in the book, let it be reformed; I think it is good enough." This thing being done, the bishop appointed him to determine better with himself against the morrow, in the presence of Master John Cox, vicar-general to the archbishop of Canterbury, Master Galfride Warton, Rowland Philips, William Philow, and Robert Ridley, professors of divinity.

On the thirteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord abovesaid, in the chapel within the palace of London, before Cuthbert, bishop of London, with his assistants, Nicholas, bishop of Ely, &c., Tewkesbury again appeared, and was examined upon the articles drawn out of the book called The Wicked Mammon, as followeth:

First, "Christ is thine, and all his deeds be thy deeds; Christ is in thee, and thou so knit to him inseparably, that neither canst thou be damned, except Christ be damned with thee; neither canst thou be saved, except Christ be saved with thee." -- To this he answered, that he found no fault in it.

Item, "We desire one another to pray for us. That done, we must put our neighbour in remembrance of his duty, and that he trust not in his holiness." -- To this he answered, "Take ye it as ye will; I will take it well enough."

Item, "Now seest thou what alms meaneth, and wherefore it serveth. He that seeketh with his alms more than to be merciful, to be a neighbour, to succour his brother's need, to do his duty to his brother, to give his brother that he owed him; the same is blind, and seeth not Christ's blood." Here he answereth, that he findeth no fault throughout all the book, but that all the book is good, and it hath given him great comfort and light to his conscience.

Item, "That ye do do nothing to please God, but that he commanded." -- To that he answereth, and thinketh it good, by his troth.

Item, "So God is honoured on all sides, in that we count him righteous in all his laws and ordinances: and to worship him otherwise than so, it is idolatry." -- To that he answered, that it pleaseth him well.

The examination of these articles being done, the bishop of London did exhort the said John Tewkesbury to recant his errors abovesaid; and after some other communication had by the bishop with him, the said bishop did exhort him again to recant his errors, and appointed him to determine with himself against the next session what he would do.

In the next session be submitted himself, and abjured his opinions, and was enjoined penance, as followeth: which was the eighth of May.

Imprimis, That he should keep well his abjuration, under pain of relapse.

Secondly, That the next Sunday following, in Paul's church, in the open procession, he should carry a faggot, and stand at Paul's Cross with the same.

That the Wednesday following, he should carry the same faggot about Newgate Market and Cheap-side.

That on Friday after, he should take the same faggot again at St. Peter's church in Cornhill, and carry it about the market of Leadenhall.

That he should have two signs of faggots embroidered, one on his left sleeve, and the other on his right sleeve; which he should wear all his lifetime, unless he were otherwise dispensed withal.

That on Whitsunday-eve he should enter into the monastery of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield, and there to abide; and not come out unless he were released by the bishop of London.

That he should not depart out of the city or diocese of London, without the special licence of the bishop or his successors.

Illustration -- John Tewkesbury carrying a faggot

The which penance he entered into the eighth day of May, A.D. 1529. And thus much concerning his first examination, which was in the year 1529, at what time he was enforced through infirmity, as is before expressed, to retract and abjure his doctrine. Notwithstanding, the same John Tewkesbury, afterward confirmed by the grace of God, and moved by the example of Bayfield aforesaid, that was burned in Smithfield, did return, and constantly abide in the testimony of the truth, and suffered for the same; who, recovering more grace and better strength at the hand of the Lord, two years after being apprehended again, was brought before Sir Thomas More, and the bishop of London; where certain articles were objected to him, the chief whereof we intend briefly to recite; for the matter is prolix.

"Imprimis, That he confessed that he was baptized, and intended to keep the catholic faith.

"Secondly, That he affirmeth, that the abjuration oath and subscription that he made before Cuthbert, late bishop of London, was done by compulsion.

"Thirdly, That he had the books of the Obedience of a Christian Man, and of The Wicked Mammon, in his custody, and hath read them since his abjuration.

"Fourthly, That he affirmeth that he suffered the two faggots that were embroidered on his sleeve, to be taken from him, for that he deserved not to wear them.

"Fifthly, He saith, that faith only justifieth, which lacketh not charity.

"Sixthly, He saith, that Christ is a sufficient Mediator for us, and therefore no prayer is to be made unto saints. Whereupon they laid unto him this verse of the anthem: 'Hail Queen our advocate,' &c.; to which he answered, that he knew none other advocate but Christ alone.

"Seventhly, He affirmeth that there is no purgatory after this life, but that Christ our Saviour is a sufficient purgation for us.

"Eighthly, He affirmeth, that the souls of the faithful, departing this life, rest with Christ.

"Ninthly, He affirmeth, that a priest, by receiving of orders, receiveth more grace, if his faith be increased; or else not.

"Tenthly, and last of all, he believeth that the sacrament of the flesh and blood of Christ is not the very body of Christ, in flesh and blood, as it was born of the Virgin Mary.

"Whereupon the bishop's chancellor asked the said Tewkesbury, if he could show any cause why he should not be taken for a heretic, falling into his heresy again, and receive the punishment of a heretic. Whereunto he answered that he had wrong before, and if he be condemned now, he reckoneth that he hath wrong again."

Then the chancellor caused the articles to be read openly, with the answers unto the same; the which the said Tewkesbury confessed; and thereupon the bishop pronounced sentence against him, and delivered him unto the sheriffs of Loudon for the time being, who were Richard Gresham and Edward Altam, who burned him in Smithfield upon St. Thomas's eve, being the twentieth of December, in the year aforesaid; the tenor of whose sentence, pronounced against him by the bishop, doth here ensue, word for word.

"In the name of God, Amen. The deservings and circumstances of a certain cause of heretical pravity, and falling again thereunto by thee John Tewkesbury, of the parish of St. Michael's in the Quern, of the city of London, and of our jurisdiction, appearing before us sitting in judgment, being heard, seen, and understood, and fully discussed by us John, by the sufferance of God, bishop of London; because we do find by inquisitions, manifestly enough, that thou didst abjure freely and voluntarily before Cuthbert, late bishop of London, thy ordinary, divers and sundry heresies, errors, and damnable opinions, contrary to the determination of our mother holy church, as well special as general, and that since and beside the aforesaid abjuration thou artagain fallen into the same damnable heresies, opinions, and errors, (which is greatly to be lamented,) and the same dost hold, affirm, and believe: we therefore, John, the bishop aforesaid, the name of God first being called upon, and the same only God set before our eyes; and with the counsel of learned men assisting us in this behalf, (with whom in this cause we have communicated of our definitive sentence and final decree, in this behalf to be done,) do intend to proceed and do proceed in this manner. Because, as it is aforesaid, we do find thee, the aforesaid John Tewkesbury, of our jurisdiction, to be a contemner of the first abjuration; and moreover, before and after the aforesaid first errors and other damnable opinions, to have fallen, and to be a heretic fallen, and to have incurred the pain of such fallen heretics: we do pronounce, determine, declare, and condemn thee of the premises, to have incurred the guilt of the great excommunication; and do pronounce thee to be excommunicated; and also do declare thee, the said Tewkesbury, so damnably fallen again into heresy, to be in the secular power and in their judgment (as the holy canons have decreed); and here we do leave thee to the aforesaid secular power, and to their judgment; beseeching them earnestly, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, that such severe punishment and execution as in this behalf is to be done against thee, may be so moderated, that no rigorous rigour be used, but to the health and salvation of thy soul, and to the terror, fear, and rooting out of heretics, and their conversion to the catholic faith and unity, by this our final decree which we declare by these our writings."

This aforesaid sentence definitive against John Tewkesbury was read and pronounced by the bishop of London, the sixteenth day of the month of December, in the year aforesaid, in the house of Sir Thomas More, high chancellor of England, in the parish of Chelsea. After this sentence, the sheriffs received the aforesaid Tewkesbury into their custody, and carried him away with them, and afterwards burned him in Smithfield, as is aforesaid; having no writ of the king for their warrant.

 

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