339. HUGH LAVEROCK, JOHN APPRICE, KATHARINE HUT, ELIZABETH THACKVEL, AND JOAN HORNS
Illustration -- Laverock and Apprice Brought to Execution in a Cart
Hugh Laverock, a lame old man, of the parish of Barking, painter, aged sixty-eight, and John Apprice, a blind man, martyrs; burned at Stratford-le-Bow.N the discourse of this parcel or part of history, I know not whether more to marvel at the great and unsearchable mercies of God, (with whom there is no respect in degrees of persons, but he chooseth as well the poor, lame, and blind, as the rich, mighty, and healthful, to set forth his glory,) or else to note the unreasonable or rather unnatural doing of these unmerciful catholics, (I mean Bishop Bonner and his complices,) in whom was so little favour or mercy to all sorts and kinds of men, that also they spared neither impotent age, neither lame nor blind, as may well appear by these two poor creatures, whose stories hereunder follow. These two poor and simple creatures, being belike accused by some promoting neighbour of theirs unto the bishop and other of the king and queen's commissioners, were sent for by their officer; and so, being brought and delivered into the hands of the said bishop, were, the first day of May, examined before him in his palace at London; where he first propounded and objected against them those nine articles, whereof mention is made before, ministered as well unto Bartlet Greene, as also unto many others. To the which they answered in effect, as Christopher Lyster, John Mace, and others before mentioned had done.
Whereupon they were again sent to prison, and (beside other times) the ninth day of the same month, in the consistory of Paul's, were again openly produced; and there (after the old order) travailed withal to recant their opinions against the sacrament of the altar. Whereunto Hugh Laverock first said, "I will stand to mine answers, and to that I have confessed; and I cannot find in the Scriptures, that the priests should lift up over their head a cake of bread."
The bishop then turned him unto John Apprice, and asked what he would say. To whom he answered, "Your doctrine," said he, "that ye set forth and teach, is so agreeable with the world, and embraced of the same, that it cannot be agreeable with the Scripture of God. And ye are not of the catholic church; for ye make laws to kill men, and make the queen your hangman." At which words the bishop, belike somewhat tickled, and therefore very loth to delay their condemnation any longer, (such was now his hot burning charity,) commanded that they should be brought after him unto Fulham, whither he before dinner did go; and there in the afternoon, after his solemn manner, in the open church, he pronounced the definitive sentence of condemnation against them; and so, delivering them into the hands of the temporal officer, thought to despatch his hands of them, but could not so despatch his conscience before the judgment of God, from the guiltiness of innocent blood.
The poor men, being now in the temporal officer's hands, might not there be suffered long to remain; and therefore the fifteenth day of May, very early in the morning, they were carried from Newgate in a cart to Stratford-le-Bow, and most quietly in the fire, praising God, yielded up their souls into his hands, through a lively faith in Jesus Christ, whom unto the end they did most constantly confess.
At their death, Hugh Laverock, after he was chained, cast away his crutch; and comforting John Apprice, his fellow martyr, said unto him, "Be of good comfort, my brother; for my Lord of London is our good physician. He will heal us both shortly; thee of thy blindness, and me of my lameness." And so patiently these two good saints of God together suffered.
Three women the same time burned in Smithfield; Katharine Hut, Elizabeth Thackvel, and Joan Horns.
The next day after martyrdom of this lame and blind man above specified, in the said month of May, were brought to the fire three women, with whom also was adjoined another, who being in the same constancy with them, was likewise partaker of the said condemnation. The names of these were; Katharine Hut of Bocking, widow; Joan Horns of Billericay, maid; Elizabeth Thackvel of Great Burstead, maid; Margaret Ellis of Billericay, maid.
How these, with divers other more, were persecuted and sent up, especially by Sir John Mordant, and Edmund Tyrrel, esquire, justices of peace, this their letter following will declare.
"Our humble commendations to your Lordship; these shall be to advertise you, that we have sent unto your good Lordship Joan Potter, the wife of Hugh Potter, James Harris, servant of William Harris of Bromhill, and Margaret Ellis, for that they be not conformable to the orders of the church, nor to the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the altar, to use your Lordship's pleasure with them, as you think good; not doubting with the punishment of these and others before sent to your Lordship, but that the parishes of Great Burstead and Billericay shall be brought to good conformity. Thus, committing your good Lordship to the tuition of the Almighty God, we take our leave.-- From Great Burstead, this present second day of March, 1556.
"Your Lordship's to command,
JOHN MORDANT, EDMUND TYRREL."
After the receipt of these letters, Bishop Bonner, entering to examination of these four women above-named, laid and objected the like articles to them as after his usual form he used to minister, and are before expressed; whereunto the same women likewise agreeing in the same unity of spirit and doctrine, accorded in their answers, much agreeing unto the others before them.
"As first, to the article in the first place objected, they consented and granted, believing the said article to be true in every part thereof.
"To the second, partly they answered, they could not tell what a sacrament is; Elizabeth Thackvel and Katharine Hut adding moreover, that matrimony, and baptism, and the Lord's supper, were sacraments ordained in the church; but whether the other specified in this article be sacraments (as they heard them called) ordained by God or not, they could not tell. Margaret Ellis being examined severally, as the others were, upon the same, it was demanded of her, where she had borne her candle on Candlemas-day, and where she received ashes upon Ash-Wednesday. Item, Where she was confessed, and where she received the sacrament of the altar at Easter last before. To the which she answered, that neither had she borne candles, nor received ashes; neither yet had been confessed, nor received the sacrament of the altar, because her conscience did not suffer nor permit her to approve or allow any of those things. But she confessed that about two years then last past, one Sir John, the vicar of Much Burstead, did minister unto her in the church there, the communion in English; at which time he did give her a piece of bread, which she received in remembrance of Christ's death and passion. And further, being demanded how many sacraments there were, answered, (as a young maid unskilled,) in her simple ignorance, that she could not tell. Howbeit she had heard (she said) that there was one sacrament, but what it was called she could not tell. Notwithstanding this her simplicity and small knowledge, (which had more need to have been charitably and favourably instructed, than thus cruelly to be condemned,) she was yet, in the end, after divers and sundry open examinations, denounced and adjudged a heretic; and thereupon was delivered to the sheriffs of London, who sent her to Newgate, there to abide her appointed hour of burning; which the Lord, in his secret yet merciful judgment, prevented; calling her, in the mean while, in his mercy, out of this her miserable life, by sickness, into his eternal joy and rest, before that she could seal her faith with the shedding of her blood, which willingly she would have done, if the Lord's good will had so been.
"To the third likewise they granted, that they were baptized by their godfathers and godmothers, 'which godfathers and godmothers,' said Margaret Ellis, 'did not then know so much, as she doth now know:' Katharine Hut adding withal and saying, that she was baptized; but what her godfathers and godmothers did then promise for her in her name, she could not tell, &c.
"To the fourth article Margaret Ellis and Elizabeth Thackvel did grant thereunto: Katharine Hut said moreover, that she, being of the age of fourteen years, was of the faith wherein she was christened; and yet nevertheless the said faith in that age (she said) was but a dead faith, because she did not then understand what she did believe. Joan Horns added, that she, being eleven years of age, began to learn the faith set forth in King Edward's days, in the which faith and religion (she said) she hath hitherto, and yet doth, and so will hereafter continue, God so assisting her.
"To the fifth article they answered and confessed, according all in this effect, that as touching the mass, they knew no goodness in it; and as touching the sacrament of the altar, they believed that Christ's natural body is in heaven, and not in the sacrament of the altar; and as concerning the see of Rome, they acknowledged no such supremacy in that see, neither have they any thing to do therewith.
"In answering the sixth article, they did all generally refuse to be reconciled or united to the Church of Rome, or any other church, contrary to that wherein they now stood and did profess.
"To the seventh article they answered likewise, that they had so done and said in all things, as it is in this article contained: Katharine Hut adding moreover the reason why; for that (said she) neither the service in Latin, mass, matins, and even-song, nor the sacraments, were used and ministered according to God's word: and furthermore, that the mass is an idol, neither are the true body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of the altar, as they make men believe.
"The answer to the eighth article, declared that they were all and every one sent up to Bonner by Sir John Mordant, knight, and justice of peace in Essex, (the Lord of his mercy send us better justices, I beseech him,) for that they could not affirm the presence of Christ's body and blood to be truly and really in the sacrament, and for that they came not to their popish parish church.
"To the ninth article, they answered and confessed the premises thereof to be true, and denied not the same; save that Katharine Hut said, that she was of Booking in Essex, of the peculiar jurisdiction of Canterbury, and not of the diocese and jurisdiction of London."
After these their answers received, they were produced again about the thirteenth of April to further examination, and so at length to their final judgment; where Katharine Hut, widow, standing before the bishop, boldly and constantly stood to that which she had said before, neither yielding to his fair promises, nor overthrown with his terror: who being required of the sacrament to say her mind, and to revoke herself unto the fellowship of the catholic faith, openly protested, saying, "I deny it to be God; because it is a dumb god, and made with men's hands." Wherein the good and faithful martyr of Christ firmly persisting, so received her sentence, being condemned of Bonner to the fire; which she with great constancy sustained by the grace and strength of the Lord, and did abide for the cause and love of Christ.
Joan Horns, maid, being produced likewise to her judgment and condemnation, with like firmness and Christian fortitude declared herself a true martyr and follower of Christ's testament, giving no place to the adversary. But being charged that she did not believe the sacrament of Christ's body and blood to be Christ himself, of the which sacrament (contrary to the nature of a sacrament) the adversaries are wont to make an idol-service; to this she, protesting openly her mind, said as followeth: "If you can make your god to shed blood, or to show any condition of a true lively body, then will I believe you: but it is but bread, as touching the substance thereof," meaning the matter whereof the sacrament consisteth; "and that which you call heresy, I trust to serve my Lord God in," &c. And as concerning the Romish see, she said, "My Lord," speaking to Bonner, "I forsake all its abominations; and from them, good Lord deliver us." From this her stable and constant assertion, when the bishop was too weak to remove her, and too ignorant to convince her, he knocked her down with the butcherly axe of his sentence. And so the holy virgin and martyr, committed to the shambles of the secular sword, was offered up with her other fellows a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, "in the savour of a sweet and pleasant smell."
As touching Margaret Ellis, she likewise, persevering in her foresaid confession, and resisting the false catholic error sand heresies of the papists, was by the said Bonner adjudged and condemned; but before the time of her burning came, prevented by death in Newgate prison, departed and slept in the Lord.
No less strength in the grace of the Lord appeared in the other maid, Elizabeth Thackvel, whose heart and mind the Lord had so confirmed in his truth, so armed with patience, that as her adversaries could by no sufficient knowledge of Scripture convince her affirmation, so by no forcible attempts they could remove her confession. Whereupon she, standing to the death, being in like sort condemned by the said unbishoplike persecutor, gave her life willingly and mildly for the confirmation and seal-ing up of the sincere truth of God's word.
These three innocent and godly women, thus falsely and wrongfully by men condemned for the just quarrel and cause of God's gospel, were had to Smithfield, and there, cruelly bound to the stake, gave their bodies to the tormentors: their spirits they commended to God, for whose glory they were willing and ready to suffer whatsoever the cruel hands of their enemies should work against them, dying more joyfully in the flaming fire, than some of them that burned them did, peradventure, in their beds. Such a Lord is God, glorious and wonderful in all his saints. The martyrdom of these saints of God was the sixteenth of May.