Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 355. THE APPREHENSION OF TWO AND TWENTY PRISONERS, SENT UP TOGETHER FOR GOD'S WORD, TO LONDON, FROM COLCHESTER.

355. THE APPREHENSION OF TWO AND TWENTY PRISONERS, SENT UP TOGETHER FOR GOD'S WORD, TO LONDON, FROM COLCHESTER.

Illustration -- The Prisoners Marching through a Town

            After this bloody proclamation or commission thus given out at London, which was February the eighth, in the third and fourth years of the king and queen's reign, these new inquisitors, especially some of them, began to ruffle, and to take upon them not a little; so that all quarters were full of persecution, and prisons almost full of prisoners, namely, in the diocese of Canterbury, whereof (by the leave of Christ) we will say more anon.

            In the mean time, about the town of Colchester, the wind of persecution began fiercely to rise; insomuch that three and twenty together, men and women, were apprehended at one clap; of the which twenty-three, one escaped: the other twenty-two were driven up like a flock of Christian lambs to London, with two or three leaders with them at most, ready to give their skins to be plucked off for the gospel's sake. Notwithstanding the bishops, afraid belike of the number, to put so many at once to death, sought means to deliver them, and so they did, drawing out a very easy submission for them, or rather suffering them to draw it out themselves: notwithstanding divers of them afterward were taken again and suffered, as hereafter ye shall hear (God willing) declared. Such as met them by the way coming up, saw them in the fields, scattering in such sort, as that they might easily have escaped away. And when they entered into the towns their keepers called them again into array, to go two and two together, having a band or line going between them, they holding the same in their hands, having another cord every one about his arm, as though they were tied.

            And so were these fourteen men and eight women carried up to London, the people by the way praying to God for them, to give them strength. At their entering into London, they were pinioned, and so came into the city, as the picture here shortly before-going, with their names also subscribed, doth describe. But first let us declare concerning their taking and their attachers, contained in the commissary's letter written to Bonner; then the indenture made between the commissioners and the popish commissary. The letter of the commissary is this.

 

The letter of the commissary, called John Kingston, written to Bishop Bonner.

            "After my duty done in receiving and accomplishing your honourable and most loving letters, dated the seventh of August, be it known unto your Lordship, that the twenty-eighth of August, the Lord of Oxenford, Lord Darcy, Henry Tyrrel, Anthony Brown, William Bendelows, Edmund Tyrrel, Richard Weston, Roger Appleton, published their commission, to seize the lands, tenements, and goods of the fugitives, so that the owners should have neither use nor commodity thereof, but by inventory remain in safe keeping, until the cause were determined.

            "And also there was likewise proclaimed the queen's Grace's warrant for the restitution of the church goods within Colchester and the hundreds thereabout, to the use of God's service. And then were called the parishes particularly, and the heretics partly committed to my examination; and that divers persons should certify me of the ornaments of their churches, betwixt this and the justices' next appearance, which shall be on Michaelmas-even next. And the parishes which had presented at two several times, to have all ornaments with other things in good order, were exonerated for ever, till they were warned again; and others to make their appearance from time to time. And those names blotted in the indenture, were indicted for treason, fugitives, or disobedients, and were put forth by Master Brown's commandment. And before the sealing, my Lord Darcy said unto me (apart) and Master Bendelows, that I should have sufficient time to send unto your Lordship, yea, if need were, the heretics to remain in durance till I had an answer from you, yea, till the lord legate's Grace's conmissioners come into the country.

            "And Master Brown came unto my Lord Darcy's house and parlour belonging unto Master Barnaby, before my said Lord and all the justices, and laid his hand on my shoulder, with a smiling countenance, and desired me to make his hearty commendations to your good Lordship, and asked me if I would; and I said, Yea, with a good will. Wherefore I was glad, and thought that I should not have been charged with so sudden carriage.

            "But after dinner, the justices counselled with the bailiffs, and with the jailers; and then after took me unto them, and made collation of the indentures, and sealed them; and then Master Brown commanded me this afternoon, being the thirtieth of August, to go and receive my prisoners by and by. And then I said, 'It is an unreasonable commandment, for that I have attended on you here these three days, and this Sunday early I have sent home my men. Wherefore I desire you to have a convenient time appointed, wherein I may know whether it will please my Lord and Master to send his commissioners hither, or that I shall make carriage of them unto his Lordship.' Then Master Brown: 'We are certified, that the council have written to your master, to make speed, and to rid these prisoners out of hand: therefore go receive your prisoners in haste.' Then I: 'Sir, I shall receive them within these ten days.' Then Master Brown: 'The limitation lieth in us, and not in you: wherefore get you hence.'

            "'Sir, ye have indicted and delivered me by this indenture, whose faith or opinions I know not, trusting that ye will grant me a time to examine them, lest I should punish the catholics.' 'Well,' said Master Brown, 'for that cause, ye shall have time betwixt this and Wednesday. And I say unto you, Master Bailiffs, if he do not receive them at your hands on Wednesday, set open your doors, and let them go.'

            "Then I: 'My Lord and Masters all, I promise to discharge the town and country of these heretics, within ten days.' Then my Lord Darcy said, 'Commissary, we do and must all agree in one: wherefore do ye receive them on or before Wednesday.'

            "Then I: 'My Lord, the last I carried, I was going betwixt the castle and St. Katharine's chapel, two hours and a half, and in great press and danger: wherefore this may be to desire your Lordship, to give in commandment unto my Master Sayer, bailiff, here present, to aid me through his liberties, not only with men and weapons, but that the town-clerk may be ready there with his book to write the names of the most busy persons, and this upon three hours' warning:' all which both my Lord and Master Brown commanded.

            "The thirty-first of August, William Goodwin of Much Birch, husbandman, this bringer, and Thomas Alsey of Copford, your Lordship's apparitor of your consistory in Colchester, covenanted with me, that they should hire two other men at the least, whereof one should be a bowman, to come to me the next day about two of the clock at afternoon, so that I might recite this bargain before Master Archdeacon, and pay the money, that is, forty-six shillings and eightpence. Wherefore they should then go forth with me unto Colchester, and on Wednesday before three of the clock in the morning receive there at my hand within the castle and moat-hall, fourteen men and eight women, ready bound with gyves and hemp; and drive, carry, or lead, and feed with meat and drink, as heretics ought to be found continually, unto such time that the said William and Thomas shall cause the said two and twenty persons to be delivered unto my Lord of London's officers, and within the safe keeping of my said Lord; and then to bring unto me again the said gyves, with a perfect token of or from my said Lord, and then this covenant is void; or else, &c.

            "Master Bendelows said unto me in my Lord of Oxenford's chamber at the King's Head, after I had said mass before the lords, that on the morrow after Holy-rood day, when we shall meet at Chelmsford for the division of these lands, 'I think, Master Archdeacon, you, and Master Smith, shall be fain to ride with certain of the jury to those portions and manors in your part of Essex, and in like case divide yourselves, to tread and view the ground with the quest; or else I think they will not labour the matter.' And so do you say unto Master Archdeacon.

            "Alice the wife of William Walley of Colchester, hath submitted herself, abjured her erroneous opinions, asked absolution, promised to do her solemn penance in her parish church of St. Peter's on Sunday next, and to continue a catholic and a faithful woman, as long as God shall send her life. And for these covenants, her husband standeth bound in five pounds. Which Alice is one of the nine women of this your indenture; and she is big with child: wherefore she remaineth at home. And this done in the presence of the bailiffs, aldermen, and town-clerk. And for that Master Brown was certified, there was no curate at Lexden, he inquired who was the farmer. The answer was made, 'Sir Francis Jobson.' 'Who is the parson?' They of the quest-men answered, 'Sir Roger Gostlow.' 'When was he with you?' 'Not these fourteen years.' 'How is your cure served?' 'Now and then.' 'Who is the patron?' 'My Lord of Arundel.' And within short time after, Sir Francis Jobson came with great courtesy unto my Lord Darcy's place: and of all gentlemen about us, I saw no more come in. Sir Robert Smith, priest, sometime canon of Bridlington, now curate of Appledore in the wild of Kent, came to Colchester the twenty-eighth day of August, with his wife big with child, of late divorced, taken on suspicion, examined of the lords; and Master Brown told me, that they have received letters from the council for the attachment of certain persons, and especially of one priest, whose name is Pullen, (but his right name is Smith,) doubting this priest to be the said Pullen, although neither he nor his wife would confess the same. Wherefore he lieth still in prison, but surely this is not Pullen.

            "If it please your Lordship to have in remembrance, that the householders might be compelled to bring every man his own wife to her own seat in the church in time of divine service, it would profit much. And also there be yet standing hospitals, and other of like foundation about Colchester, which I have not known to appear at any visitation; as the masters and lazars of Mary Magdalene in Colchester, the proctor of St. Katharine's chapel in Colchester, the hospital or breadhouse of the foundation of the Lord H. Marney in Layer-Marney, the hospital and beadman of Little Horkesley. Thus presuming of your Lordship's goodness, I am more than bold ever to trouble you with this worldly business, beseeching Almighty God to send your honourable Lordship a condign reward.
            "From Easthorp this present 20th day of August.

            "We found a letter touching the marriage of priests in the hands of the foresaid Sir Robert Smith. Also I desired Master Brown, the doer of all things, to require the audience to bring in their unlawful writings and books; who asked me, if I had proclaimed the proclamation. I said, 'Yea.' Then he said openly upon the bench, that they should be proclaimed every quarter once. And then take the constables and officers; and they alone take and punish the offenders accordingly.
            "By your poor beadman,
            JOHN KINGSTON, priest."

 

An indenture made between the lords and the justices within specified, and Bonner's commissary, concerning the delivery of the prisoners above named.

            "This indenture, made the twenty-ninth day of August, in the third and fourth years of the reigns of our sovereign lord and lady, Philip and Mary, by the grace of God king and queen of England, Spain, France, both Sicilies, Jerusalem, and Ireland, defenders of the faith, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Burgundy, Milan, and Brabant, counts of Hamburgh, Flanders, and Tyrol, between the right honourable Lord John de Vere, earl of Oxford, lord high chamberlain of England; Thomas Lord Darcy of Chichester; Henry Tyrrel, knight; Anthony Brown, the king and queen's Majesties' sergeant-at-law; William Bendelows, sergeant-at-law; Edmund Tyrrel, Richard Weston, Roger Appleton, esquires, justices of oyer and determiner, and of the peace within the said county of Essex, to be kept of the one party; and John Kingston, clerk, bachelor at law, commissary to the bishop of London, of the other party; witnesseth, that Robert Colman, of Walton in the county of Essex, labourer; Joan Winseley, of Horkesley Magna in the said county, spinster; Stephen Glover, of Rayleigh in the county aforesaid, glover; Richard Clerke, of Much Holland in the said county, mariner; William Munt, of Much Bentley in the said county, husbandman; Thomas Winseley, of Much Horkesley in the said county, sawyer; Margaret Field, of Ramsey in the said county, spinster; Agnes Whitelock, of Dover-court in the said county, spinster; Alice Munt, of Much Bentley in the said county, spinster; Rose Allin, of the same town and county, spinster; Richard Bongeor, of Colchester in the said county, currier; Richard Atkin, of Halstead in the said county, weaver; Robert Barcock, of Wiston in the county of Suffolk, carpenter; Richard George, of West Bergholt in the county of Essex, labourer; Richard Jolley, of Colchester in the said county, mariner; Thomas Feeresanne, of the same town and county, mercer; Robert Debnam, late of Dedham in the said county, weaver; Cicely Warren, of Coggeshall in the said county, spinster; Christian Pepper, widow, of the same town and county; Allin Simpson; Ellen Ewring; Alice, the wife of William Wallis, of Colchester, spinster; and William Bongeor, of Colchester in the said county, glazier; being indicted of heresy, are delivered to the said John Kingston, clerk, ordinary to the bishop of London, according to the statute in that case provided.

            "In witness whereof to the one part of this indenture remaining with the said earl, lord, and other the justices, the said ordinary hath set to his hand and seal, and to the other part remaining with the said ordinary, the said earl, lord, and other the justices, have set to their several hands and seals, the day and year above written.
            "Oxenford.
            William Bendelows.
            Thomas Darcy.
            Edmund Tyrrel.
            Henry Tyrrel.
            Richard Weston.
            Anthony Brown.
            Roger Appleton."

            The twenty-two aforesaid prisoners, thus sent from Colchester to London, were brought at length to Bishop Bonner.

 

"Behold more sheep hereby, addrest to Bonner's stall,
Whose thirsty throat, so dry, for more blood still doth call."

            As touching the order and manner of their coming and bringing, the said Bonner himself writeth to Cardinal Pole, as you shall hear.

 

A letter of Bishop Bonner to Cardinal Pole, concerning the prisoners aforesaid.

            "May it please your good Grace, with my most humble obedience, reverence, and duty, to understand, that going to London upon Thursday last, and thinking to be troubled with Master Germaines's matter only, and such other common matters as are accustomed, enough to weary a right strong body, I had the day following (to comfort my stomach withal) letters from Colchester, that either that day, or the day following, I should have sent thence twenty-two heretics, indicted before the commissioners; and indeed so I had, and compelled to bear their charges as I did of the others, which both stood me above twenty nobles, a sum of money that I thought full evil bestowed. And these heretics, notwithstanding they had honest catholic keepers to conduct and bring them up to me, and, in all the way from Colchester to Stratford of the Bow, did go quietly and obediently; yet coming to Stratford they began to take heart of grace, and to do as pleased themselves, for they began to have their guard, which generally increased till they came to Aldgate, where they were lodged Friday night.

            "And albeit I took order that the said heretics should be with me very early on Saturday morning, to the intent they might quietly come and be examined by me, yet it was between ten and eleven of the clock before they would come, and no way would they take but through Cheapside, so that they were brought to my house with about a thousand persons. Which thing I took very strange, and spake to Sir John Gresham, then being with me, to tell the mayor and the sheriffs that this thing was not well suffered in the city. These naughty heretics, all the way they came through Cheapside, both exhorted the people to their part, and had much comfort e promiscua plebe, and being entered into my house, and talked withal, they showed themselves desperate and very obstinate; yet I used all the honest means I could, both of myself and others, to have won them, causing divers learned men to talk with them; and finding nothing in them but pride and wilfulness, I thought to have had them all hither to Fulham, and here to give sentence against them. Nevertheless, perceiving by my last doing that your Grace was offended, I thought it my duty, before I any thing further proceeded herein, to advertise first your Grace hereof, and know your good pleasure, which I beseech your Grace I may do by this trusty bearer. And thus most humbly I take my leave of your good Grace, beseeching Almighty God always to preserve the same. -- At Fulham, postridie Nativitatis 1556.
            "Your Grace's most bounden beadsman and servant,
            EDMUND BONNER."

            By this letter of Bishop Bonner to the cardinal is to be understood, what good-will was in this bishop to have the blood of these men, and to have past with sentence of condemnation against them, had not the cardinal somewhat (as it seemed) stayed his fervent headiness. Concerning the which cardinal, although it cannot be denied by his acts and writings, but that he was a professed enemy, and no otherwise to be reputed but for a papist; yet again it is to be supposed, that he was none of the bloody and cruel sort of papists, as may appear, not only by staying the rage of this bishop, but also by the solicitous writing, and long letters written to Cranmer, also by the complaints of certain papists accusing him to the pope, to be a bearer with the heretics, and by the pope's letters sent to him upon the same, calling him up to Rome, and setting Friar Peto in his place, had not Queen Mary, by special entreaty, kept him out of the pope's danger. All which letters I have (if need be) to show; and besides, also, that it is thought of him that toward his latter end, a little before his coming from Rome to England, he began somewhat to favour the doctrine of Luther, and was no less suspected at Rome: yea, and furthermore, did there at Rome convert a certain learned Spaniard from papism to Luther's side; notwithstanding the pomp and glory of the world afterward carried him away to play the papist thus as he did. But of this cardinal enough.

            To return now to this godly company again; first, how they were brought up in bands to London, ye have heard: also how Bonner was about to have read the sentence of death upon them, and how he was stayed by the cardinal, ye understand. As touching their confession, which they articled up in writing, it were too tedious to recite the whole at length. Briefly touching the article of the Lord's supper, (for the which they were chiefly troubled,) thus they wrote, as here followeth.

            "Whereas Christ at his last supper took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body; and likewise took the cup and thanked, &c.; we do understand it to be a figurative speech, as the most manner of his language was in parables and dark sentences, that they which are carnally-minded should see with their eyes, and not perceive; and hear with their ears, and not understand; signifying this, that as he did break the bread among them, being but one loaf, and they all were partakers thereof, so we through his body, in that it was broken, and offered upon the cross for us, are all partakers thereof; and his blood cleanseth us from all our sins, and hath pacified God's wrath towards us, and made the atonement between God and us, if we walk henceforth in the light, even as he is the true light.

            "And in that he said further, Do this in remembrance of me, it is a memorial and token of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ; and he commanded it for this cause, that the congregation of Christ should come together to show his death, and to thank and laud him for all his benefits, and magnify his holy name; and so to break the bread, and drink the wine, in remembrance that Christ had given his body and shed his blood for us.

            Thus you may well perceive, though Christ called the bread his body, and the wine his blood, yet it followeth not that the substance of his body should be in the bread and wine; as divers places in Scripture are spoken by Christ and the apostles in like phrase of speech, as in John xv., I am the true Vine. Also in John x., I am the Door. And as it is written in Hebrews ix. and in Exodus xxiv., how Moses took the blood of the calves, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant or testament. And also in Ezekiel vi., how the Lord said unto him concerning the third part of his hair, saying, This is Jerusalem, &c.

            "Thus we see the Scriptures how they are spoken in figures, and ought to be spiritually examined, and not as they would have us to say, that the bodily presence of Christ is in the bread, which is a blasphemous understanding of the godly word, and is contrary to all Holy Scriptures. Also we do see that great idolatry is sprung out of the carnal understanding of the words of Christ, This is my body; and yet daily springeth, to the great dishonour of God; so that men worship a piece of bread for God, yea, and hold that to be their maker."

            After this confession of their faith and doctrine being written and exhibited, they also devised a letter withal, in a manner of a short supplication, or rather an admonition to the judges and commissioners, requiring that justice and judgment, after the rule of God's word, might be ministered unto them; the copy of which their letter I thought here also to show unto the reader in form as followeth..

            "To the right honourable audience, before whom these our simple writings and the confession of our faith shall come to be read or seen, we poor prisoners, being fast in bands upon the trial of our faith, which we offer to be tried by the Scriptures, pray most heartily, that forasmuch as God hath given you power and strength over us as concerning our bodies, under whom we submit ourselves as obedient subjects in all things due, ye being officers and rulers of the people, may execute true judgment, keep the laws of righteousness, govern the people according to right, and hear the poor and helpless in truth, and defend their cause.

            "God, for his Son Jesus Christ's sake, give you the wisdom and understanding of Solomon, David, Hezekiah, Moses, with divers other most virtuous rulers, by whose wisdom and most godly understanding, the people were justly ruled and governed in the fear of God, all wickedness was by them overthrown and beaten down, and all godliness and virtue did flourish and spring. O God, which art the most highest, the Creator and Maker of all things, and of all men both great and small, and rarest for all alike, which dost try all men's works and imaginations, before whose judgment-seat shall come both high and low, rich and poor; we most humbly beseech thee to put into our rulers' hearts the pure love and fear of thy name, that even as they themselves would be judged, and as they shall make answer before thee, so they may hear our causes, judge with mercy, and read over these our requests and confessions of our faith, with deliberation and a godly judgment.

            "And if any thing here seemeth to your honourable audience to be erroneous or disagreeing to the Scripture, if it shall please your Lordships to hear us patiently, which do offer ourselves to the Scriptures, thereby to make answer, and to be tried, in so doing we poor subjects, being in much captivity and bondage, are most bound to pray for your noble estate and long preservation."

            The request of these men being so just, and their doctrine so sound, yet all this could not prevail with the bishop and other judges, but that sentence should have proceeded against them incontinent, had not the goodness of the Lord better provided for his servants, than the bishop had intended. For as they were now under the edge of the axe, ready to be condemned by sentence, it was thought otherwise by the cardinal, and some other wiser heads; fearing belike, lest by the death of so many together, some disturbance might rise peradventure among the people; and so it was decreed among themselves, that rather they should make some submission or confession, such as they would themselves, and so be sent home again, as they were indeed; howbeit divers of them afterward were apprehended and put to death. But in the mean space, as touching their submission which they made, this it was, as in form here followeth.

            "Because our Saviour Christ at his last supper took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it unto his disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of me; therefore, according to the words of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we do believe in the sacrament to be Christ's body. And likewise he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to his disciples, and said, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

            "Therefore likewise we do believe that it is the blood of Christ, according as Christ's church doth minister the same; unto the which catholic church of Christ we do in this, like as in all other matters, submit ourselves, promising therein to live as it becometh good Christian men, and here in this realm to use ourselves as it becometh faithful subjects unto our most gracious king and queen, and to all other superiors both spiritual and temporal, according to our bounden duties."

            The names of them which subscribed to this submission, were these:--

            "John Atkin, Alyn Symson, Richard George, Thomas Firefanne, William Munt, Richard Joly, Richard Gratwicke, Thomas Winsley, Richard Rothe, Richard Clark, Stephen Glover, Robert Colman, Thomas Merse, William Bongeor, Robert Bercock, Margaret Hide, Elyn Euring, Christian Pepper, Margaret Feld, Alice Munt, Joan Winsly, Cysly Warren, Rose Alyn, Ann Whitelocke, George Barker, John Saxby, Thomas Locker, Alice Locker."

 

Previous Next