Foxe's Book of Martyrs --  

 

257. THE EXECUTION OF THE KENTISH REBELS.

Illustration -- Execution of the Duke of Suffolk

            As touching the rising of Master Wyat, with Sir William Cobham and others, in Kent, and their coming to London in the month of February; also of the queen's coming to Guildhall, and her oration there made; and after of the taking of the said Wyat and his company; likewise of the apprehension of the duke of Suffolk with his brother Lord John Gray; and, the next day after, of the beheading of the Lord Guildford and Lady Jane, which was the twelfth of February, and how the day before, which was the eleventh of the said month, Lord William Howard and Sir Edward Hastings were sent for the Lady Elizabeth; and how the same Sunday, Sir Henry Iseley, Master Culpepper, and Master Winter were committed to the Tower, the bishop of Winchester the same day (being the eleventh of February) preaching before the queen, and persuading her to use no mercy toward these Kentish men, but severe execution -- all which was in the month of February; because most of these matters have been briefly touched before, or else may be found in other chronicles, I will cease to make any further story of them: having somewhat, notwithstanding, to declare touching the arraignment and death of the duke of Suffolk.

            On Saturday, the seventeenth of February, the duke of Suffolk was arraigned at Westminster, and the same day condemned to die by his peers: the earl of Arundel was chief judge for this day.

            On the Sunday following, the eighteenth of February, sessions was kept in London, which hath not before been kept on the Sunday.

            On Monday, the nineteenth of February, the Lord Cobham's three sons, and four other men, were arraigned at Westminster: of which sons the youngest was condemned, whose name was Thomas, and the other two cane not at the bar; and the other four were condemned.

            On Tuesday, the twentieth of February, the Lord John Gray was arraigned at Westminster, and there condemned the same day; and other three men, whereof one was named Nailer.

            On Wednesday, the twenty-first of February, the Lord Thomas Gray and Sir James Croft were brought through London to the Tower, with a number of horsemen.

            On Thursday, the twenty-second of February, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton was committed to the Tower.

            On Friday, the twenty-third of February, the duke of Suffolk was beheaded at the Tower Hill, the order of whose death here followeth.

 

The godly end and death of the duke of Suffolk,

beheaded at Tower Hill.

            On Friday the twenty-third of February, 1554, about nine of the clock in the forenoon, the Lord Henry Gray, duke of Suffolk, was brought forth of the Tower of London unto the scaffold on the Tower Hill, with a great company, &c.; and in his coming thither, there accompanied him Dr. Weston, as his ghostly father: notwithstanding, as it should seem, against the will of the said duke -- for when the duke went up to the scaffold, the said Weston being on the left hand, pressed to go up with him. The duke with his hand put him down again off the stairs; and Weston, taking hold of the duke, forced him down likewise. And as they ascended the second time, the duke again put him down.

            Then Weston said, that it was the queen's pleasure he should so do. Wherewith the duke casting his hands abroad, ascended up the scaffold, and paused a pretty while after. And then he said:

            "Masters, I have offended the queen and her laws, and thereby am justly condemned to die, and am willing to die, desiring all men to be obedient. And I pray God that this my death may be an en-sample to all men, beseeching you all to bear me witness, that I die in the faith of Christ, trusting to be saved by his blood only, and by no other trumpery, the which died for me, and for all them that truly repent, and stedfastly trust in him. And I do repent, desiring you all to pray to God for me; and that when you see my breath depart from me, you will pray to God that he may receive my soul."

            And then he desired all men to forgive him, saying, that the queen had forgiven him.

            Then Master Weston declared with a loud voice, that the queen's Majesty had forgiven him. With that divers of the standers-by said, with meetly good and audible voice: "Such forgiveness God send thee" (meaning Dr. Weston). Then the duke kneeled down upon his knees, and said the psalm, Miserere mei Deus, unto the end, holding up his hands, and looking up to heaven. And when he had ended the psalm, he said, In manes tuus, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, &c. Then he arose and stood up, and delivered his cap and his scarf unto the executioner.

Then the said executioner kneeled down, and asked the duke forgiveness. And the duke said, "God forgive thee, and I do: and when thou dost thine office, I pray thee do it well, and bring me out of this world quickly; and God have mercy to thee." Then stood there a man, and said, "My Lord, how shall I do for the money that you do owe me?" And the duke said, " Alas, good fellow! I pray thee trouble me not now; but go thy way to my officers." Then he knit a kercher about his face, and kneeled down and said, "Our Father which art in heaven," &c., unto the end. And then he said, "Christ have mercy upon me;" and laid down his head on the block, and the executioner took the axe, and, at the first chop, struck off his head, and held it up to the people, &c.

            The same day a number of prisoners had their pardon, and came through the city with their halters about their necks. There were in number about two hundred.

            On Saturday, the twenty-fourth of February, Sir William Sentlow was committed, as prisoner to the master of the horse, to be kept. This Sir William was at this time one of the Lady Elizabeth's gentlemen.

            On Sunday, the twenty-fifth of February, Sir John Rogers was committed to the Tower.

            In this week, all such priests within the diocese of London as were married, were divorced from their livings, and commanded to bring their wives within a fortnight, that they might be likewise divorced from them.-- This the bishop did of his own power.

            On the Tuesday in the same week, being the twenty-seventh of February, certain gentlemen of Kent were sent into Kent, to be executed there: their names were these, the two Mantels, two Knevets, and Bret. With these Master Rudston, also, and certain others were condemned, and should have been executed, but they had their pardon.

            As touching the aforesaid Master Mantel the elder, here by the way is to be noted, that as he was led to execution, and at his first casting under the gallows, the rope brake. Then they would have had him recant the truth, and receive the sacrament of the altar (as they term it): and then, they said, he should have the queen's pardon. But Master Mantel, like a worthy gentleman, refused their serpentine counsel, and chose rather to die, than to have life for dishonouring of God.

            Moreover, as touching the said Master Mantel, for that he was reported falsely to have fallen from the constancy of his profession; to clear himself thereof, and to reprove the sinister surmise of his recantation, he wrote this brief apology in purgation of himself, the copy whereof you shall hear.

 

The apology of Master Mantel the elder.

            "Perceiving that already certain false reports are raised of me, concerning my answer in the behalf of my belief, while I was prisoner in the Tower of London, and considering how sore a matter it is to be an occasion of offence to any of those little ones that believe in Christ: I have thought it the duty of a Christian man, as near as I can, (with the truth,) to take away this offence. It pleased the queen's Majesty to send unto me Master Doctor Bourn, unto whom at the first meeting I acknowledged my faith in all points to agree with the four creeds, that is, the common creed, the creed of Nicene, Quicunque vult, and Te Deum laudamus.

            "Further, as concerning confession and penance, I declare that I could be content to show unto any learned minister of Christ's church, any thing that troubled my conscience; and of such a man I would most willingly hear absolution pronounced.

            "Touching the sacrament of the altar, (as he termed it,) I said that I believed Christ to be there present as the Holy Ghost meant, when these words were written, Hoc en corpus meum.

            "Further, when this word would not satisfy, I desired him to consider, that I was a condemned man to die by a law, and that it was more meet for me to seek a readiness and preparation to death. And insomuch as I dissented not from him in any article of the Christian faith necessary to salvation, I desired him, for God's sake, no more to trouble me with such matters, as which to believe, is neither salvation; nor not to believe, damnation. He answered, that if I dissented but in the least matter from the catholic church, my soul was in great danger; therefore much more in this great matter -- alleging this text, He that offendeth in the least of these, is guilty of them all.-- Yea, quoth I, 'It is true of these commandments of God.' To this I desired him to consider, it was not my matter, nor could I in these matters keep disputation, nor minded so to do. And therefore, to take these few words for a full answer, that I not only in the matter of the sacrament, but also in all other matters of religion, believe as the holy catholic church of Christ (grounded upon the prophets and apostles) believeth. But upon this word 'church' we agreed not; for I took exception at the antichristian, popish church.

            "Then fell we in talk of the mass, wherein we agreed not; for I, both for the occasion of idolatry, and also the clear subversion of Christ's institution, thought it naught; and he, e contra, upon certain considerations supposed it good. I found fault that it was accounted a sacrifice propitiatory for sin, and at certain other applications of it. But he said, that it was not a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, (for the death of Christ only was that sacrifice,) and this but a commemoration of the same. 'Then, if ye think so, (certain blasphemous collects left out,) I could be content (were it not for offending my poor brethren that believe in Christ, which know not so much) to hear your mass.' 'See,' quoth he, how vain-glory toucheth you.' 'Not so, sir,' quoth I, 'I am not now, I thank God, in case to be vainglorious.'

            "Then I found further fault with it, that it was not a communion. Yea,' saith he, one priest saying mass here, and another there, and the third in another place, &c., is a communion.' 'This agreeth scarcely with these words of Paul,' said I, 'Ye come not after a better manner, but after a worse.' 'Yea, and it is a communion too,' said he, 'when they come together. Now draweth on the time,' quoth he, 'that I must depart from you to the court, to say mass before the queen, and must signify unto her in what case I find you, and methinks I find you sore seduced.' Then I said, 'I pray you report the best; for I trust you find me not obstinate.' What shall I say? are ye content to hear mass, and to receive the sacrament in the mass?' 'I beseech you,' said I, 'signify unto her Majesty, that I am neither obstinate nor stubborn; for time and time and persuasion may alter me, but as yet my conscience is such, that I can neither hear mass, nor receive the sacrament after that sort.' -- Thus, after certain requests made to the queen's Majesty concerning other matters, he departed.

            "The next day he came to me again, and brought with him St. Cyprian's works; for so I had required him to do the day before, because I would see his sermon 'De Mortalitate.' He had in this book turned and interlined certain places, both concerning the church and the sacrament, which he willed me to read. I read as much as my time would serve, and at his next coming I said, that I was wholly of Cyprian's mind in the matter of the sacrament. Dr. Weston and Dr. Mallet came after to me, whom I answered much after that sort as I did the other. Dr. Weston brought in the place of St. Cyprian, Panis iste non effigie sed nature mutatus, &c. I asked of him how nature was taken in the Convocation-house, in the disputation upon the place of Theodoret.

            "To be short, Dr. Bourn came often unto me, and I always said unto him, that I was not minded nor able to dispute in matters of religion: but I believed as the holy catholic church of Christ, grounded upon the prophets and apostles, doth believe: and namely in the matter of the sacrament, as the holy fathers, St. Cyprian and St. Augustine, do write and believed. And this answer, and none other, they had of me in effect: what words soever have been spread abroad of me, that I should be conformable to all things, &c. The truth is, I never heard mass nor received the sacrament during the time of my imprisonment.

            "One time he willed me to be confessed. I said, 'I am content.' We kneeled down to pray together in a window. I began without 'Benedicite,' desiring him not to look, at my hand, for any superstitious particular enumeration of my sins. Therewith he was called away to the council; et ego liberatus. Thus much I bare only for my life, as God knoweth. If in this I have offended any Christian, from the bottom of my heart I ask them forgiveness. I trust God hath forgiven me, who knoweth that I durst never deny him before men, lest he should deny me before his heavenly Father.

            "Thus I have left behind me, written with mine own hand, the effect of all the talk, especially of the worst that ever I granted unto, to the uttermost I can remember, as God knoweth. All the whole communication I have not written; for it were both too long, and too foolish, so to do. Now I beseech the living God, which hath received me to his mercy, and brought to pass that I die stedfast and undefiled in his truth, at utter defiance and detestation of all papistical and antichristian doctrine -- I beseech him (I say) to keep and defend all his chosen, for his name's sake, from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, (that antichrist,) and from the assault of all his satellites. God's indignation is known: he will try and prove who be his. Amend your lives. Deny not Christ before men, lest he deny you before his heavenly Father. Fear not to lose your lives for him; for ye shall find them again. God hold his merciful hand over this realm, and avert the plagues imminent from the same! God save the queen, and send her knowledge in his truth, Amen! Pray, pray, pray, ye Christians, and comfort yourselves with the Scriptures.

            "Written the second of March, anno 1554, by me Walter Mantel, prisoner, whom both God and the world have forgiven his offences. Amen."

            And thus much concerning the purgation of Master Walter Mantel, who, if he had consented unto the queen, what time she sent Dr. Bourn unto him to deny his faith, it is not otherwise to be thought, but he had had his pardon, and escaped with life.

            On Saturday, the third of March, Sir Gawen Carew and Master Gibbs were brought through London to the Tower with a company of horsemen.

            In London, the seventeenth of March, every householder was commanded to appear before the alderman of his ward, and there were commanded, that they, their wives and servants, should prepare themselves to shrift, and receive the sacrament at Easter; and that neither they, nor any of them, should depart out of the city, until Easter was past.

            On the Sunday following, being the eighteenth of March, the Lady Elizabeth, of whom mention was made before, the queen's sister, was brought to the Tower.

            On Easter even, being the twenty-fourth of March, the lord marquis of Northampton, the Lord Cobham, and Sir William Cobham, were delivered out of the Tower.

            The twenty-fifth day, (being Easter day,) in the morning, at St. Pancras in Cheap, the crucifix with the pix were taken out of the sepulchre, before the priest rose to the resurrection: so that when, after his accustomed manner, he put his hand into the sepulchre, and said very devoutly, Surrexit; non est hic,"-- he found his words true, for he was not there indeed. Whereupon, being half dismayed, they consulted amongst themselves whom they thought to be likeliest to do this thing. In which debatement they remembered one Marsh, who, a little before, had been put from that parsonage because he was married, to whose charge they laid it. But when they could not prove it, being brought before the mayor, they then burdened him to have kept company with his wife, since that they were by commandment divorced. Whereto he answered, "that he thought the queen had done him wrong, to take from him both his living and his wife:" which words were then noted, and taken very grievously, and he and his wife were both committed to several compters, notwithstanding that he had been very sick.

Illustration -- A cat hanged in priest's dress

            The eighth of April, there was a cat hanged upon a gallows at the cross in Cheap, apparelled like a priest ready to say mass, with a shaven crown. Her two fore-feet were tied over her head, with a round paper like a wafer-cake put between them: whereon arose great evil-will against the city of London; for the queen and the bishops were very angry withal. And therefore the same afternoon there was a proclamation, that whosoever could bring forth the party that did hang up the cat, should have twenty nobles, which reward was afterwards increased to twenty marks; but none could or would earn it.

            As touching the first occasion of setting up this gallows in Cheapside, here is to be understood, that after the sermon of the bishop of Winchester, (above mentioned,) made before the queen for the strait execution of Wyat's soldiers; immediately upon the same, the thirteenth of February, were set up a great number of gallowses in divers places of the city; namely, two in Cheapside. one at Leaden-hall, one at Billingsgate, one at St. Magnus church, one in Smithfield, one in Fleet Street, four in Southwark, one at Aldgate, one at Bishopsgate, one at Aldersgate, one at Newgate, one at Ludgate, one at St. James's park corner, one at Cripplegate: all which gibbets and gallowses, to the number of twenty, there remained for terror of others, from the thirteenth of February till the fourth of June; and then, at the coming in of King Philip, were taken down.

            The eleventh of April was Sir Thomas Wyat beheaded and quartered at the Tower Hill, where he uttered these words touching the Lady Elizabeth, and the earl of Devonshire. "Concerning," said he, "what I have said of others in my examinations, to charge any others as partakers of my doings, I accuse neither my Lady Elizabeth's Grace, nor my Lord of Devonshire. I cannot accuse them, neither am I able to say, that to my knowledge they knew any thing of my rising." And when Dr. Weston told him, that his confession was otherwise before the council, he answered: "That which I said then, I said; but that which I say now, is true!"

            On Tuesday, the seventeenth of April, Sir James Croft and Master Winter were brought to the Guildhall, with whom also, the same time, and to the same place, was brought Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, and there arraigned of treason, for that he was suspected to be of the conspiracy with the duke of Suffolk and the rest, against the queen: where he so learnedly and wisely behaved himself, (as well in clearing his own case, as also in opening such laws of the realm as were then alleged against him,) that the quest which was charged with this matter, could not in conscience but find him "not guilty:" for the which, the said twelve persons of the quest, being also substantial men of the city, were bound in the sum of five hundred pounds apiece to appear before the queen's council at a day appointed; there to answer such things as should be laid against them for his acquittal. This quest appeared accordingly before the council in the Star-chamber on Wednesday, being the twenty-fifth of April, and St. Mark's day. From whence, after certain questioning, they were committed to prison: Emanuel Lucas and Thomas Whetstone were committed to the Tower, and the other ten to the Fleet.

            As concerning the condemnation of Thomas archbishop of Canterbury, of Doctor Ridley, and Master Latimer, which was the twentieth of this month of April, and also of their disputations, because we have said enough before, it shall not need now to bestow any further rehearsal thereof.

            The Friday next following after the condemnation of them, (the twenty-seventh of April,) Lord Thomas Gray, the late duke of Suffolk's brother, was beheaded at Tower Hill.

            On Saturday, the twenty-eighth of April, Sir James Croft and Master Winter were again brought to the Guildhall, where Sir James Croft was arraigned and condemned; and because the day was far spent, Master Winter was not arraigned.

            On Thursday, the seventeenth of May, William Thomas was arraigned at the Guildhall, and there the same day condemned, who, the next day after, was hanged, drawn, and quartered. His accusation was, for conspiring the queen's death: which how true it was, I have not to say. This is certain, that he made a right godly end, and wrote many fruitful exhortations, letters, and sonnets, in the prison before his death.

 

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