333. JOHN MAUNDREL, WILLIAM COBERLEY, AND JOHN SPICER.
Three martyrs suffering at Salisbury
After these two women of Ipswich, succeeded three men, which were burnt the same month at one fire in Salisbury, who, in the like quarrel with the others that went before them and led the dance, spared not their bodies, to bring their souls to the celestial felicity, whereof they were thoroughly assured in Christ Jesus by his promises, as soon as the furious flames of fire had put their bodies and souls asunder. Their names were, John Spicer, freemason; William Coberley, tailor; John Manudrel, husbandman.
First, John Maundrel, who was the son of Robert Maundrel of Rowde, in the county of Wiltshire, farmer, was from his childhood brought up in husbandry; and after he came to man's state, did abide and dwell in a village called Buchampton, in the parish of Keevil, within the county of Wiltshire aforesaid, where he had wife and children, being of good name and fame. Which John Maundrel, after that the Scripture was translated into English by the faithful apostle of England, William Tyndale, became a diligent hearer, and a fervent embracer of God's true religion, so that he delighted in nothing so much as to hear and speak of God's word, never being without the New Testament about him, although he could not read himself. But when he came into any company that could read, his book was always ready, having a very good memory, so that he could recite by heart most places of the New Testament; his conversation and living being very honest and charitable, as his neighbours are able to testify.
So it was, that in the days of King Henry the Eighth, at what time Dr. Trigonion and Dr. Lee did visit abbeys, the said John Maundrel was brought before Dr. Trigonion at an abbey called Edington, within the county of Wiltshire aforesaid; where he was accused that he had spoken against the holy water and holy bread, and suchlike ceremonies; and for the same did wear a white sheet, bearing a candle in his hand about the market, in the town of Devizes, which is in the said county. Nevertheless, his fervency did not abate, but by God's merciful assistance he took better hold, as the sequel hereof will declare. For in the days of Queen Mary, when popery was restored again, and God's true religion put to silence, the said John Maundrel left his own house, and departed into the county of Gloucester, and into the north part of Wiltshire, wandering from one to another to such men as he knew feared God, with whom as a servant to keep their cattle he there did remain with John Bridges or some other at Kingswood; but after a time he returned to his country, and there coming to the Vyes, to a friend of his named Anthony Clee, had talk and conference with him in a garden, of returning home to his house. And when the other exhorted him by the words of Scripture, to fly from one city to another, he replying again by the words of the Apocalypse, of them that be fearful, &c., said that he needs must go home, and so did: where he, with Spicer and Coberley, used at times to resort and confer together. At length, upon the Sunday following, they agreed together to go to the parish church called Keevil, where the said Maundrel and the other two, seeing the parishioners in the procession to follow and worship the idol there carried, advertised them to leave the same, and to return to the living God, namely, speaking to one Robert Barksdale, headman of the parish; but he took no regard to their words.
After this the vicar came into the pulpit, who there being about to read his beadroll, and to pray for the souls in purgatory; the said John Maundrel, speaking with an audible voice, said, "That was the pope's pinfold," the other two affirming the same. After which words, by commandment of the priest, they were had to the stocks, where they remained till their service was done, and then were brought before a justice of peace, and so the next day carried to Salisbury all three, and presented before Bishop Capon, and W. Geffrey being chancellor of the diocese; by whom they were imprisoned, and oftentimes examined of their faith in their houses, but seldom openly.
And at the last examination these were the articles which the chancellor alleged against them, being accompanied with the sheriff of the shire, one Master St. John, and other popish priests in the parish church of Fisherton Anger, demanding how they did believe.
They answered, "As Christian men should and ought to believe:" and first they said, they believed in God the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, the twelve articles of the creed, the Holy Scripture from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse.
But that faith the chancellor would not allow. Wherefore he apposed them in particular articles: first, Whether that they did not believe that in the sacrament of the altar, (as he termed it,) after the words of consecration spoken by the priest at mass, there remained no substance of bread nor wine, but Christ's body, flesh and blood, as he was born of the Virgin Mary? Whereunto they answered negatively, saying that the popish mass was abominable idolatry, and injurious to the blood of Christ; but confessing that in a faithful congregation, receiving the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, being duly ministered according to Christ's institution, Christ's body and blood are spiritually received of the faithful believer.
Also, being asked whether the pope was supreme head of the church, and Christ's vicar on earth; they answered negatively, saying, that the bishop of Rome doth usurp over emperors and kings, being antichrist, and God's enemy.
The chancellor said, "Will you have the church without head? "They answered, "Christ was Head of his church, and, under Christ, the queen's Majesty." "What," said the chancellor, "a woman head of the church?" "Yea," said they, "within her Grace's dominions."
Also, whether the souls in purgatory were delivered by the pope's pardons, and the suffrages of the church. They said, they believed faithfully the blood of Christ had purged their sins, and the sins of them that were saved, unto the end of the world, so that they nothing feared the pope's purgatory, nor esteemed his pardons.
Also, whether images were necessary to be in the churches, as laymen's books, and saints to be prayed unto and worshipped. They answered negatively; John Maundrel adding that wooden images were good to roast a shoulder of mutton, but evil in the church; whereby idolatry was committed.
Those articles thus answered, (for their articles were one, and their answers in manner like,) the chancellor read their condemnation, and so delivered them to the sheriff: Then spake John Spicer, saying; "O Master Sheriff, now must you be their butcher, that you may be guilty also with them of innocent blood before the Lord." This was the twenty-hird day of March, anno 1556; and the twenty-fourth day of the same month they were carried out of the common gaol to a place betwixt Salisbury and Wilton, where were two posts set for them to be burnt at: which men coming to the place, kneeled down, and made their prayers secretly together; and then, being disclothed to their shirts, John Maundrel spake with a loud voice, "Not for all Salisbury;" which words men judged to be an answer to the sheriff, which offered him the queen's pardon if he would recant. And after that in like manner spake John Spicer, saying, "This is the joyfullest day that ever I saw." Thus were they three burnt at two stakes; where most constantly they gave their bodies to the fire, and their souls to the Lord, for testimony of his truth.
As touching William Coberley, this moreover is to be noted, that his wife also, called Alice, being apprehended, was in the keeper's house the same time detained, while her husband was in prison: where the keeper's wife, named Agnes Penicote, had secretly heated a key firehot, and laid it in the grass in the backside. So speaking to Alice Coberly to fetch her the key in all haste, the said Alice went with speed to bring the key, and so taking up the key in haste, did piteously burn her hand. Whereupon she, crying out at the sudden burning of hand, "Ah! thou drab," quoth the other, "thou that cant not abide the burning of the key, how wilt thou be able to abide burning thy whole body?" and so she afterward revoked. But to return again to the story of Coberley, who, being somewhat learned, and being at the stake, was somewhat long a-burning as the wind stood: after his body was scorched with the fire, and his left arm drawn and taken from him by the violence of the fire, the flesh being burnt to the white bone, at length he stooped over the chain, and with the right hand, being somewhat starkened, knocked upon his breast softly, the blood and matter issuing out of his mouth. Afterward, when they all thought he had been dead, suddenly he rose right up with his body again. And thus much concerning these three Salisbury martyrs.