345. TROUBLE AND BUSINESS IN THE DIOCESE OF LICHFIELD AND ELSEWHERE, JUNE-JULY 1556
In the diocese of Lichfield, about the fourteenth of June, in the saLe year, John Colstock, who was lately come from London before, and now dwelling at Wellington, though he suffered no martyrdom, yet sustained some trouble, being attached and ex-amined by the bishop, named Ralph Banes, for his religion, especially for two points; in holding against the reality of Christ in the sacrament, and against auricular confession to be made to the priest. For the which cause being compelled to recant, he was enjoined in the church of St. Cedde to bear a faggot before the cross, bare-headed, having in the one hand a taper, and in the other a pair of beads, &c.
Amongst divers others which in the same diocese and the same time were suspected and troubled for the like, was Thomas Flier of Uttoxeter, shoemaker, Nicholas Ball of Uttoxeter, capper, Thomas Pyot of Cheadle.
Item, Henry Crimes for marrying his wife on Palm-Sunday even, &c. Some others also there were which had the like penance enjoined them, as Thomas Johnson about the twenty-sixth day of this month of June, because he sware by the holy mass before the bishop sitting in judgment; who for the same was driven to go before the cross with his taper and beads, &c.
Concerning the which Thomas Flier above named, being a godly and a zealous man, this furthermore is to be noted, and not unworthy of grateful memory, that whereas in the town of Uttoxeter, commandment was directed unto him amongst others from the ordinary, for pulling down monuments of superstition, and namely, the rood-loft; he, being one of the churchwardens or sidemen, on a time had talk upon the same with certain of his neighbours, where one wished them ill to thieve, that should go about such an act. What passed else amongst them, ministering matter of further provocation, it is not perfectly known. In fine, the said Flier being offended, and afterward meeting with him that had used such words before, began to commune with him of the matter; but in the end the man so little repented him of those sayings, that he added yet more fierce words, and at length strokes also, in such wise, that at that conflict the said Thomas Flier was slain; and yet so was the matter handled, and such amends were made with money by the murderer and his friends, to the said Flier's wife, that he suffered little or nothing for the same, save only that he was banished the town, and sworn and bound never to come in it so long as the said Flier's wife should live.
Three men dead in the prison of the King's Bench.
After the burning of these in Stratford, the same month died in the prison of the King's Bench in Southwark, one Thomas Parret, and was buried in the postern, the twenty-seventh day of the month above-said. Also Martin Hunt (as is reported) in the same prison was famished the twenty-ninth day: at which time likewise died in the same prison, as I find recorded, one John Norice; and, after the same sort as the other, was buried on the back side of the said prison, the day above mentioned.
The story of Roger Bernard, Adam Foster, and Robert Lawson, three martyrs, suffering at St. Edmund's Bury, with two examinations of Bernard before Dr. Hopton, bishop of Norwich.
After the death of the aforesaid Thomas Parret, Martin Hunt, and John Norice, were three martyred at St. Edmund's Bury, in Suffolk, in one fire, whose names are above specified.
When Roger Bernard came before the bishop, first he was asked whether he had been with the priest at Easter to be shriven, and whether he had received the blessed sacrament of the altar, or no? Unto whom Roger Bernard answered, "No, I have not been with the priest, nor confessed myself unto him; but I have confessed my sins to Almighty God, and I trust he hath forgiven me: wherefore I shall not need to go to the priest for such matters, who cannot help himself."
Bishop.--"Surely, Bernard, thou must needs go, and confess thyself unto him."
Roger.--"That shall I not do (by God's grace) while I live."
Bishop.--"What a stout boyly heretic is this! How malapertly he answereth!"
Roger.--"My Lord, it grieveth me no whit (I thank God) to be called heretic at your hands: for so your forefathers called the prophets and confessors of Christ, long before this time."
At these words the bishop rose up in a great heat, and bade Bernard follow him. Then the bishop went and kneeled before that they call the sacrament of the altar; and as he was in his prayers kneeling, he looked back, and asked Bernard why he came not, and did not as he did. Unto whom Bernard answered, "I cannot tell why I should so do." "Why," quoth the bishop, "thou lewd fellow, whom seest thou yonder?" pointing to the pix over the altar.
Roger.--"I see nobody there. Do you, my Lord?"
Bishop.--"Why, naughty man, dost thou not see thy Maker?"
Roger.--"My Maker! No, I see nothing but a few clouts hanging together on a heap."
With that the bishop rose up sore displeased, and commanded the jailer to take him away, and to lay irons enough on him: "for," quoth he, "I will tame him ere he go from me, I trow so:" and so he was carried away.
The next day Bernard was brought again before the bishop, who asked him if he did not remember himself since the day before, that he was before him.
Roger.--"Yes, my Lord, I have remembered myself very well; for the same man I was yesterday, I am this day, and I hope shall be all the days of my life, concerning the matter you talked with me of."
Then one of the guard standing by, said, "My Lord, I pray you trouble not yourself any more with him, but let me have the examining of him: I shall handle him after another sort, I trow, and make him a fair child ere be go, you shall see."
So he was committed to him, and brought by him to an inn, where were a great many of priests assembled together, and there they fell all in flattering him, and persuading him with gay enticing words what they could. But when therein they might not prevail, for that the Lord assisted the good poor man, then began they to threaten him with whipping, stocking, burning, and such like, that it was wonderful the do they made with him. Unto whom Bernard said, "Friends, I am not better than my Master Christ and the prophets, which your fathers served after such sort; and I for his name's sake am content to suffer the like at your hands, if God shall so permit, trusting that he will strengthen me in the same according to his promise, in spite of the devil and all his ministers." So when they could not make him to relent or yield, they said, "Behold a right scholar of John Fortune;" whom they had then in prison. Then carried they him to the bishop, who immediately condemned him as a heretic, and delivered him to the secular power.
This Roger Bernard was a single man; and by his vocation a labourer, dwelling in Framsden in Suffolk, who was taken in the night by Master Tamage's men, because he would not go to church to hear their unsavoury service, and so by them carried to prison.
Adam Foster, of the age six-and-twenty years, husbandman, being married, dwelling in Mendlesham, in the county of Suffolk, was taken at home in his house a little before the sun going down by the constables of the said town, George Revet and Thomas Mouse, at the commandment of Sir John Tyrrel of Gipping-hall in Suffolk, knight, because he would not go to church and hear mass, and receive at Easter, except he might have it after Christ's holy ordinance. When they came for him, they told him he must go with them unto the justice: unto whom Adam Foster said, for Christ's cause, and to save his conscience, he was well contented. And so they led him to Sir John Tyrrel, and he sent him to Eye dungeon in Suffolk, from whence at length he was sent to Norwich, and there condemned by Bishop Hopton.
Now after his taking, the said Thomas Mouse and George Revet were stricken with a great fear and sickness, whereby Mouse pined and consumed away even unto death, although he was a man of young and lusty age. But George Revet, who was the said Mouse's fellow, and a great reader of the Scripture, or (as a man may term it) a talkative gospeller, would not be premonished by the works of God, but set his son to help the priest say mass, and to be clerk of the same town of Mendlesham for lucre's sake; yet was there a fair warning given him of God, although he had not the grace so to consider it, the which thing was this.
A young man of the same parish newly married, called Robert Edgore, being of a ripe wit and sound, was clerk in the said church before the said Revet set his son in that room, and executed the office a little, yea, alas! too long, against his own conscience; whereby at length the Lord so took away his wits, that many years after, his poor and woeful wife, good woman! was compelled to keep him chained, and bound continually, lest he should unawares do himself or some other some mischief, as many times (the more pity) he was ready enough to do.
This (as I said) would not admonish Revet, but needs he must persist in his wicked purpose. Notwithstanding at the length, as many men were offended with him in the parish, so honest women especially (being mightily grieved at his ungodly doings) came to him and said, "Neighbour Revet, are ye not afraid to let your son help the naughty priest to say mass, and to serve that abominable idol?" and he said, "No." Then said they, "We fear not to go to church and hear mass, seeing you, being a man that so much profess Christianity, will let your son help the priest say mass," &c.
At which words Revet waxed angry, and in his rage immediately made his prayer unto God after this manner, or with such-like words, saying, "O Lord, if it be not thy will that my son should so do, then I beseech thee send some strange token to let me understand what thy good pleasure is therein," &c. So according to his petition, within short space after, his neighbour's bull came into his pasture, and there he, having a very proper gelding, which was his felicity above any thing he had, the bull running upon him, did so wound and gore him, that immedi-ately thereof his gelding died, and he thereby no-thing amended. For although he knew and con-fessed, that it was the Lord's hand upon him for the sufferance of his son in that wicked vocation; yet would he not take him from it, but permitted him still to use and frequent the same against his own conscience.
At the last, the Lord justly sent upon him a great swelling in his legs, which did so grievously vex and trouble him by reason it swelled upward, that at length, having thereby brought upon him a very strange sickness, he died most miserably, in so im-patient manner, that it terrified all good hearts to hear thereof. The Lord grant, for Christ's sake, that we may observe his judgments better, to his glory and our comfort, Amen.
Robert Lawson was a single man of the age of thirty years, and by vocation a linen-weaver, who was apprehended in the night by one Robert Kereth, at the commandment of Sir John Tyrrel of Gipping-hall in Suffolk, knight, and so was immediately carried to Eye dungeon in Suffolk, where he remained a certain time, and after was led to Bury. The cause of his taking was, for that he would not go to church to hear mass, and receive their popish idol.
When these three foresaid martyrs were carried to their deaths, viz. Roger Bernard, Adam Foster, and Robert Lawson, at Bury, after they had made their prayer, being at the stake, and the tormentors attending the fire, they most triumphantly ended their lives, in such happy and blessed condition, as did notably set forth their constancy and joyful end, to the great praise of God, and their commendation in him, and also to the encouragement of others in the same quarrel to do the like. The Lord of strength fortify us to stand as his true soldiers in what standing soever he shall think it good to place us. Amen.