177. JOHN BENT AND OTHERS.
John Bent, martyr.
At the writing hereof, came to our hands a certain notice of one John Bent, who about this present time, or not long before, being a tailor, and dwelling in a village called Urchevant, was burned in the town of Devizes, in the county of Wiltshire, for denying the sacrament of the altar, as they term it.
One Trapnel, martyr.
Also much about the same time, was one Trapnel burned in a town called Bradford, within the same county.
The history of three men hanged for the burning of the rood of Dover-court; collected out of a letter of Robert Gardner, who was one of the doers of the same.
In the same year of our Lord 1532, there was an idol named the Rood of Dover-court, whereunto was much and great resort of people: for at that time there was a great rumour blown abroad amongst the ignorant sort, that the power of the idol of Dovercourt was so great, that no man had power to shut the church door where he stood; and therefore they let the church door, both night and day, continually stand open, for the more credit unto their blind rumour. Which once being conceived in the heads of the vulgar sort, seemed a great marvel unto many men; but to many again, whom God had blessed with his Spirit, it was greatly suspected, specially unto these, whose names here follow: as Robert King of Dedham, Robert Debnam of Eastbergholt, Nicholas Marsh of Dedham, and Robert Gardner of Dedham, whose consciences were sore burdened to see the honour and power of the Almighty living God so to be blasphemed by such an idol. Wherefore they were moved by the Spirit of God, to travel out of Dedham in a wondrous goodly night, both hard frost and fair moonshine, although the night before, and the night after, were exceeding foul and rainy. It was from the town of Dedham, to the place where the filthy Rood stood, ten miles. Notwithstanding, they were so willing in that their enterprise, that they went these ten miles without pain, and found the church door open, according to the blind talk of the ignorant people: for there durst no unfaithful body shut it. Which happened well for their purpose, for they found the idol, which had as much power to keep the door shut, as to keep it open; and for proof thereof, they took the idol from his shrine, and carried him a quarter of a mile from the place where he stood, without any resistance of the said idol. Whereupon they struck fire with a flint-stone, and suddenly set him on fire, who burned out so brim, that he lighted them homeward one good mile of the ten.
This done, there went a great talk abroad that they should have great riches in that place: but it was very untrue; for it was not their thought or enterprise, as they themselves afterward confessed, for there was nothing taken away but his coat, his shoes, and the tapers. The tapers did help to burn him, the shoes they had again, and the coat one Sir Thomas Rose did burn; but they had neither penny, halfpenny, gold, groat, nor jewel.
Notwithstanding, three of them were afterwards indicted of felony, and hanged in chains within half a year after, or thereabout. Robert King was hanged in Dedham at Burchet; Robert Debnam was hanged at Cataway-Causey; Nicholas Marsh was hanged at Dover-court: which three persons, through the Spirit of God, at their death, did more edify the people in godly learning, than all the sermons that had been preached there a long time before.
The fourth man of this company, named Robert Gardner, escaped their hands and fled; albeit he was cruelly sought for to have had the like death. But the living Lord preserved him; to whom be all honour and glory, world without end!
The same year, and the year before, there were many images cast down and destroyed in many places: as the image of the crucifix in the highway by Coggeshall, the image of St. Petronal in the church of Great Horksleigh, the image of St. Christopher by Sudbury, and another image of St. Petronal in a chapel of Ipswich.
Also John Seward of Dedham overthrew a cross in Stoke park, and took two images out of a chapel in the same park, and cast them into the water.