303. WILLIAM COKER, WILLIAM HOPPER, HENRY LAURENCE, RICHARD COLLIAR, RICHARD WRIGHT, AND WILLIAM STERE.
The examinations, answers, and condemnation of six martyrs, in Kent, viz., William Coker, William Hopper, Henry Laurence, Richard Colliar, Richard Wright, and William Stere, before the bishop of Dover, and Harpsfield, archdeacon of Canterbury.
Mention was made a little before in the story of Master Bland and Nicholas Sheterden, of certain other Kentish men, who being, the same time with them, called forth and examined by Thornton, bishop of Dover, Nicholas Harpsfield, Richard Faucet, and Robert Collins; yet notwithstanding, because the condemnation and execution of them were deferred a little longer, till the latter end of the month of August, (coming therefore now to the time of their suffering,) we will briefly touch some part of their examinations and answers as we find them in the registers. The names of these were William Coker, William Hopper, Henry Laurence, Richard Colliar, Richard Wright, and William Stere. What the articles objected to Master Bland and them were, ye heard before. To the which articles they answered for themselves severally, in effect as followeth.
First William Coker said, he would answer no otherwise than he had already answered; and being offered to have longer respite of six days after, he refused to take it; and so upon the same, sentence of condemnation was read against him, the eleventh of July.
William Hopper first seemed to grant to the faith and determination of the catholic church. After calling himself better to mind, constantly sticking to the truth, he was condemned the next week after, the sixteenth of July.
Henry Laurence examined the said sixteenth of July, and partly deferred to the second of August, answered to the articles objected against him, first denying auricular confession, and that he neither had nor would receive the sacrament, "because," saith he, "the order of the Holy Scriptures is changed in the order of the sacrament."
Moreover, the said Laurence was charged for not putting off his cap, when the suffragan made mention of the sacrament, and did reverence to the same: the said Laurence answering in these words, "What!" said he, "ye shall not need to put off your cap; for it is not so holy that you need put off your cap thereunto."
Further, being opposed concerning the verity of the sacrament given to Christ's disciples, he affirmed that even as Christ gave his very body to his disciples, and confessed it to be the same; so likewise Christ himself said, he was a door, &c.: adding, moreover, that as he had said before, so he saith still, that the sacrament of the altar is an idol, and no remembrance of Christ's passion; and contrary he knoweth not. At last, being required to put to his hand in subscribing to his answers, he wrote these words under the bill of their examinations, "Ye are all of antichrist, and him ye fol." And here his hand was stayed to write any further: belike he would have written out "follow," &c. And so upon the same, sentence was given against him the second of August.
Richard Colliar above mentioned, having the sixteenth of August to appear, examined of the sacrament of the popish altar, answered and said, that he did not believe, that after the consecration there is the real and substantial body of Christ, but only bread and wine; and that it is most abominable, most detestable, and most wicked, to believe otherwise, &c. Upon this the sentence was read against him, and he condemned the sixteenth of August. After his condemnation he sang a psalm: wherefore the priests and their officers railed at him, saying, he was out of his wits.
Richard Wright the same place and day, being the sixteenth of August, appearing, and required of the judge what he believed of the real presence in the sacrament, answered again, that as touching the sacrament of the altar and the mass, he was ashamed to speak of it, or to name it, and that he allowed it not, as it was used in the church. Against whom the sentence was also read the day and place aforesaid.
William Stere of the aforesaid parish of Ashford, likewise detected and accused, was brought to appear the said sixteenth day of August, where he, in the said chapter-house of Canterbury, being required to make answer to the positions laid unto him by the judge, made answer again, that he should command his dogs, and not him: and further declared, that Dick of Dover had no authority to sit against him in judgment, and asked where his authority was. Who then showed him certain bulls and writings from Rome, as he said. William Stere, denying that to be of sufficient force, the said Dick said also he had authority from the queen. Then the martyr alleging that the archbishop of Canterbury (who then was in prison) was his diocesan, urged him to show his authority from the archbishop, or else he denied his authority to be sufficient. And as touching the sacrament of the altar, he found it not (he said) in the Scripture; and therefore he would not answer thereunto.
And moreover the judge speaking of the sacrament of the altar, with reverence thereof, and putting off his cap, he said that he needed not to reverence that matter so highly. And thus (saying to the judge that he was a bloody man, &c.) the sentence was pronounced against him; after which sentence being read, he said that the sacrament of the altar was the most blasphemous idol that ever was, &c.
And thus these six heavenly martyrs and witness-bearers to the truth, being condemned by the bloody suffragan and the archdeacon of Canterbury, Master Collins and Master Faucet, were burned all together in the same town of Canterbury, at three stakes and one fire, about the latter end of August.
The copy of their sentence condemnatory, you may find above in the story of John Rogers; for the papists, in all their condemnations, follow one manner of sentence of course, commonly, against all that be condemned through their unmerciful tyranny.