362. TEN COLCHESTER MARTYRS
The martyrdom of ten faithful and blessed martyrs, five men and five women, burnt at Colchester, five in the forenoon, and five in the afternoon, for the testimony and witness of Christ Jesus and his glorious gospel.S it is no new thing in those whom we call prelates and priests of the church, to be raisers-up of persecution against Christ and his poor flock; so it is much to be marvelled, or rather lamented, that noble persons, and men of honour and worship, would be made such ministers, to serve the affections of these tyrants, as commonly, as well in all the sorrowful days of the late Queen Mary, as namely in this present story is to be marked.
And first thou rememberest, gentle reader, how mention was made a little before of twenty-two, which were sent up prisoners together from Colchester to London by the earl of Oxford, the Lord Darcy, Master Tyrrel of St. Osyth's, and other commissioners and justices, &c.; the which twenty-two, as is aforesaid, through a gentle submission put unto them, were afterward released and delivered.
In the number of these foresaid twenty-two, was one William Mount, of Much Bentley, in Essex, husbandman, with Alice his wife, and Rose Allin, maid, the daughter of the said Alice Mount; which coming home again to their house at Much Bentley aforesaid, refrained themselves from the unsavoury service of the popish church, and frequented the company of good men and women, which gave themselves diligently to reading, invocating and calling upon the name of God through Christ; whereby they so fretted the wicked priest of the town, called Sir Thomas Tye, and others like unto him, that casting their heads together, they made a pestilent supplication to the Lord Darcy, in the name of the whole parish, the tenor whereof hereafter followeth.
"Pleaseth it your honourable Lordship to be advertised, that we confess, whilst your good Lordship lay here in the country, the people were stayed in good order, to our great comfort. But, since your Lordship's departure, they have made digression from good order in some places, and namely in the parish of Much Bentley, by reason of three seditious persons, William Mount and his wife, and Rose, her daughter, who, by their colourable submission, (as it doth appear,) were dismissed and sent down from the bishop of London; and since their coming home they have not only in their own persons showed manifest signs and tokens of disobedience, in not coming to the church, nor yet observing other good orders, but also most maliciously and seditiously have seduced many from coming to the church, and from obeying all other good orders; mocking also those that frequent the church, and calling them church owls, and blasphemously calling the blessed sacrament of the altar a blind god, with divers such-like blasphemies. In consideration whereof, may it please your Honour (for the love of God, and for the tender zeal your good Lordship beareth to justice, and the common peace and quietness of the king and queen's Majesties' loving subjects) to award out your warrant for the said William Mount, his wife, and Rose, her daughter, that they being attached and brought before your good Lordship, we trust the rest will fear to offend, (their ringleaders of sedition being apprehended,) to the quietness of their obedient subjects.
"Your daily orators, the parishioners of Much Bentley, Thomas Tye, priest, John Carter, Thomas Candler, John Barker, Richard Mere, J. Painter, William Harris, John Richard, with others."
This being done, the said Sir Thomas Tye bethought with himself, where the persecuted did resort. For, in the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, for a twelvemonth and more he came not to the church, but frequented the company of godly men and women, which abstained from the same; and as they thought, he laboured to keep a good conscience: but the sequel showed him to be a false brother.
Now, as I said, he, partly knowing the places of refuge for honest men, did further inquire of other men about the same: and, being thereof sufficiently (as he thought) instructed to his purpose, immediately about the time the supplication above specified was exhibited to the said Lord Darcy, wrote secretly a letter to Bonner, bishop of London, wherein he maketh his account how he had bestowed his time, and complained of divers honest men, among which was the said William Mount and his company; the tenor of which letter hereafter followeth.
"Right honourable Lord, after my bounden duty done in most humble wise, these shall be to signify unto your Lordship the state of our parts, concerning religion. And first, since the coming down of the twenty-two rank heretics dismissed from you, the detestable sort of schismatics were never so bold since the king and queen's Majesties' reign, as they are now at this present. In Much Bentley, where your Lordship is patron of the church, since William Mount, and Alice, his wife, with Rose Allin, her daughter, came home, they do not only absent themselves from the church and service of God, but do daily allure many other away from the same, which before did outwardly show signs and tokens of obedience.
"They assemble together upon the sabbath day in the time of divine service, sometimes in one house, sometimes in another, and there keep their privy conventicles, and schools of heresy. The jurats say, the lords' commission is out, and they are discharged of their oath. The questmen in your archdeacon's visitation alleged, that forasmuch as they were once presented, and now sent home, they have no more to do with them nor any other. Your officers say, (namely, Master Boswell,) that the council sent them not home without a great consideration. I pray God some of your officers prove not favourers of heretics. The rebels are stout in the town of Colchester.
"The ministers of the church are hemmed at in the open streets, and called knaves. The blessed sacrament of the altar is blasphemed and railed upon in every house and tavern. Prayer and fasting are not regarded. Seditious talks and news are rife, both in town and country, in as ample and large manner, as though there had no honourable lords and commissioners been sent for reformation thereof. The occasion riseth partly by reason of John Love, of Colchester heath, a perverse place; which John Love was twice indicted of heresy; and thereupon fled with his wife and household, and his goods seized within the town of Colchester, to the king and queen's Majesties' use. Nevertheless the said John is come home again, and nothing said or done to him. Whereupon the heretics are wonderfully encouraged, to the no little discomfort of good and catholic people, which daily pray to God for the profit, unity, and restoration of his church again: which thing shall come the sooner to pass, through the travail and pains of such honourable lords and reverend fathers as your Lordship is, unto whom I wish long life and continuance, with increase of much honour. From Colchester, the eighteenth of December.
"Your humble beadsman, THOMAS TYE, priest.
"The second Sunday after the feast of the blessed Trinity, I heard Master Feckenham preach at Paul's Cross; the next day after I departed out of London towards Much Wakering. The third Sunday after Trinity I preached at Much Wakering. The fourth Sunday I preached at Harwich, and reconciled, there, twelve persons to the unity of the church. The fifth Sunday I preached at Great Wakering; the sixth Sunday at Great Wakering; the seventh Sunday at Langenhoe; the eighth Sunday at Peldon; the ninth Sunday at Great Wakering; the tenth Sunday the aches took me; the eleventh Sunday I preached at Much Bentley."
Here followeth a mischievous information of a wicked priest to Bonner against good men.
The principal teachers of heretical doctrine in London, by Stephen Morris's confession.
"The first, Master Laurence of Barnhall, John Barry, his servant; and John Jeffrey, brother-in-law to Master Laurence: these three do lie and abide, when they be in London, at an alehouse in Cornhill, over against the conduit: the man's name is John Dudman. These three are the greatest, and do most harm in persuading the people.
"Robert Coles and his wife, John Ledley and his wife, William Punt, a bachelor: these three do lie at the sign of the Bell in Gracechurch Street, in a common inn. And two of them, namely, John Ledley and Robert Coles, are great counsellors, and do resort much unto the King's Bench, unto the prisoners, about matters of religion. The other, namely, William Punt, is and hath been a great writer of devilish and erroneous books of certain men's doings; and doth convey them over, and causeth them there to be imprinted, to the great hurt of ignorant people; as it is to be proved. For upon Palm Sunday last, he had in his bosom a certain book against the sect of the Anabaptists, and, as he was arriving upon the Thames towards Gray's, there he did read it; and had shipped at that present, by report, and as due proof is to be had by these two men, Robert Coles and John Ledley, (for they were his council in conveying them over,) to the value of a barrel-full of books. These I do know; for I partly know all their doings in that viage. And the said Robert and John went over at the same time, about questions of religion, to the learned men that were over, to know their counsel in those matters, and so to turn back again upon the same. Thus much I know to be their doings.
"John Kempe and Henry Hart: these two do lie at the bridge-foot, in a cutler's house whose name is Curle; and namely, Henry Hart is the principal of all those that are called free-will men: for so they are termed of the Predestinators. And he hath drawn out thirteen articles to be observed amongst his company, and, as far as I do learn, there come none into their brotherhood except he be sworn. The other is a great traveller abroad into Kent, and what his doctrine is I am not able to say.
"Master Pulleyne, otherwise called Smith, Simon Harlestone, and William, a Scot. These three were preachers in King Edward's days, and their most abiding is at Colchester in Essex; and most commonly they do lie at the King's Head in Colchester. And these two, namely, Master Pulleyne and the Scot, do often travel over to the duchess of Suffolk, (for they were her chaplains,) and what their doings are there I know not. And as for Simon Harlestone, his abiding is always at a place in Essex called Dedham, four miles from Colchester, at one Harris's house, a tucker, and he is a great persuader of the people, and they do mightily build upon his doctrine. If these, or any other, do resort unto London, at the ale-house in Cornhill there will be news of them, for there is much resort unto that house."
When Judasly this wicked priest had thus wrought his malice against the people of God, within a while after the storms began to arise against those poor poor persecuted, William Mount and his company, whereby they were enforced to hide themselves from the heat thereof. And continuing so a little space, at last, the seventh day of March, anno 1557, being the first Sunday in Lent, and by two of the clock in the morning, one Master Edmund Tyrrel (who came of the house of those Tyrrels which murdered King Edward the Fifth and his brother) took with him the bailiff of the hundred, called William Simnel, dwelling in Colchester, and the two constables of Much Bentley aforesaid, named John Baker and William Harris, with divers others a great number; and besetting the house of the said William Mount round about, called to them at length to open the door: which being done, Master Tyrrel with certain of his company went into the chamber where the said father Mount and his wife lay, willing them to rise: "for," said he, "you must go with us to Colchester castle." Mother Mount, hearing that, being very sick, desired that her daughter might first fetch her some drink; for she was (she said) very ill at ease.
Then he gave her leave and bade her go. So her daughter, the forenamed Rose Allin, maid, took a stone pot in one hand, and a candle in the other, and went to draw drink for her mother: and as she came back again through the house, Tyrrel met her, and willed her to give her father and mother good counsel, and advertise them to be better catholic people.
Rose.--"Sir, they have a better instructor than I; for the Holy Ghost doth teach them, I hope, which I trust will not suffer them to err."
"Why," said Master Tyrrel, "art thou still in that mind, thou naughty housewife? Marry, it is time to look upon such heretics indeed."
Rose.--"Sir, with that which you call heresy, do I worship my Lord God; I tell you troth."
Tyrrel.--"Then I perceive you will burn, gossip, with the rest, for company's sake."
Rose.--"No, sir, not for company's sake, but for my Christ's sake, if so I be compelled; and I hope in his niercies, if he call me to it, he will enable me to bear it."
Illustration -- Tyrrel torturing Rose Allin
So he, turning to his company, said, "Sirs, this gossip will burn: do you not think it?" "Marry, sir," quoth one, "prove her, and you shall see what she will do by and by."
Then that cruel Tyrrel, taking the candle from her, held her wrist, and the burning candle under her hand, burning cross-wise over the back thereof so long, till the very sinews cracked asunder. Witness hereof William Candler, then dwelling in Much Bentley, who was there present and saw it. Also Mistress Bright of Romford, with Ann Starkey, her maid, to whom Rose Allin also both declared the same; and the said Mistress Bright also ministered salve for the curing thereof, as she lay in her house at Romford, going up towards London with other prisoners. In which time of his tyranny, He said often to her, "Why, whore! wilt thou not cry? Thou young whore! wilt thou not cry?" Unto which always she answered, that she had no cause, she thanked God, but rather to rejoice. He had (she said) more cause to weep than she, if he considered the matter well. In the end, when the sinews (as I said) brake, that all the house heard them, he then thrust her from him violently, and said, "Ah! strong whore; thou shameless beast! thou beastly whore!" &c., with such-like vile words.
But she, quietly suffering his rage for the time, at the last said, "Sir, have ye done what ye will do?" And he said, "Yea, and if thou think it be not well, then mend it."
"Mend it! "said Rose; "nay, the Lord mend you, and give you repentance, if it be his will. And now, if you think it good, begin at the feet, and burn to the head also. For he that set you a-work, shall pay you your wages one day, I warrant you." And so she went and carried her mother drink, as she was commanded.
Furthermore, after the searching of the house for more company, at the last they found one John Thurston and Margaret his wife there also, whom they carried with the rest to Colchester castle immediately.
And this said Rose Allin being prisoner, told a friend of hers this cruel act of the said Tyrrel; and showing him the manner thereof, she said, "While my one hand," quoth she, "was a burning, I, having a pot in my other hand, might have laid him on the face with it, if I had would; for no man held my hand to let me therein. But, I thank God," quoth she, "with all my heart, I did it not."
Also being asked of another, how she could abide the painful burning of her hand, she said, at first it was some grief to her, but afterward, the longer she burned, the less she felt, or well near none at all.
And because Master Tyrrel shall not go alone in this kind of cruelty, you shall hear another like example of a blind harper's hand burnt by Bishop Bonner, as is testified by the relation of Valentine Dingley, sometime gentleman to the said bishop, who declared before credible witness as followeth. How the said Bishop Bonner, having this blind harper before him, spake thus unto him: that such blind abjects which follow a sort of heretical preachers, when they come to the feeling of the fire, will be the first that will fly from it.
To whom the blind man said, that if every joint of him were burnt, yet he trusted in the Lord not to fly. Then Bonner, signifying privily to certain of his men about him what they should do, they brought to him a burning coal; which coal being put into the poor man's hand, they closed it fast again, and so was his hand piteously burnt. Amongst the doers whereof was the said Master Valentine Dingley, witness and reporter hereof, as is declared.
We read in the story of Titus Livius of King Porsena, who, after the burning of the right hand of Mucius Scævola, which came purposely to kill him, being only contented therewith, sent him home to Rome again. But thus to burn the hands of poor men and women which never meant any harm unto them, and yet not contented with that, but also to consume their whole bodies without any just cause, we find no example of such barbarous tyranny, neither in Titus Livius, neither in any other story amongst the heathen.
But to return to our Colchester martyrs again, as touching William Mount and his wife, and burning of their daughter Rose Allin's hand, sufficient hath been declared. With the said William Mount and his family, was joined also in the same prison at Colchester another faithful brother, named John Johnson, alias Aliker, of Thorpe, in the county of Essex, labourer, of the age of four and thirty years, having no wife alive, but three young children, who also were with them indicted of heresy, and so all these four lay together in Colchester castle.
The other six prisoners lay in Mote hall, in the said town of Colchester, whose names were: first, William Bongeor, of the parish of St. Nicholas, in Colchester, glazier, of the age of sixty years.
2. Thomas Benold, of Colchester, tallow-chandler.
3. William Purcas, of Bocking, in the county of Essex, fuller, a young man, of the age of twenty years.
4. Agnes Silverside, alias Smith, dwelling in Colchester, widow, of the age of forty years.
5. Helen Ewring, the wife of John Ewring, miller, dwelling in Colchester, of the age of forty-five years or thereabouts, who was one of the twenty-two prisoners mentioned before, sent up in bands from Colchester to London; and after being delivered with the rest, repaired home to Colchester again to her husband, where notwithstanding she enjoyed her liberty not very long; for shortly after her return, met with her one Robert Mainard, then bailiff of Colchester, a special enemy to God's gospel, who, spying her, came to her, and kissed her, and bade her welcome home from London. Unto whom she considerately answered again, and said, that it was but a Judas' kiss: "for in the end," quoth she, "I know you will betray me;" as indeed it came to pass, for immediately after that talk she was apprehended by him again, and there lodged with the rest in the town prison, (as is aforesaid,) called the Mote hall; where she remained till her death.
6. The sixth of this company was Elizabeth Folkes, a young maid, and servant in Colchester, of the age of twenty years. These six were imprisoned in the town prison of Colchester, called Mote hall, as the other four, above specified, were in the castle.
In the time of the persecution of those persons above named, were certain constant faithful brethren and sisters examined in Mote hall, in Colchester, by Sir John Kingston, commissary, Master Roper, and one Master Boswell, the bishop's scribe, the twenty-ninth day of October, anno 1556; whose depositions the said Boswell penned after his manner, and, in a letter close-sealed, sent them to Bonner, bishop of London, the twenty-fourth day of the said month, in the year aforesaid. The tenor of which letter hereafter followeth, with their depositions and answers that stood faithfully unto the same, as they were written to the bishop, verbatim. The others I leave, and think it sufficient that the letter speaketh, for oppressing the book with such frivolous matter.
"My duty and my most humble commendations premised unto your honourable good Lordship, certifying the same, that Master Kingston, Master Roper, and I, according to your Lordship's letters, dated the fifth of October, have been at Colchester, and there taken the names, dwelling-places, and opinions, of certain wretched heretics, as by their depositions here enclosed appear; which heretics were delivered to Master Kingston by indenture, which he keepeth, as he saith, for his indemnity. If your Lordship's letters had not come in time, he had sent them up to London, for, when my servant came to him with the letters, he was then setting them forward; whereupon the king and queen's Majesties' honourable council wrote unto your Lordship, in their letters dated the first of October, that there were delivered to your Lordship's officers twenty-three persons, obstinately persisting in detestable heresies, Master Kingston desired me to certify your Lordship, that he received but twelve since the twenty-ninth of September last; of which number he hath reconciled six, namely, Elizabeth Wood, Christian Hare, Rose Fletcher, Joan Kent, Agnes Stanley, and Margaret Simson, so that there are no more remaining but six, whose names and depositions are here enclosed, of whom I suppose there are but three, namely, Purcas, Downes, and Johnson, that will persist in their obstinacy. The other three are delivered after a sort, mentioned in their said depositions, and I suppose they will be reconciled.
"It may please your good Lordship to be advertised, that I do see by experience, that the sworn inquest for heresies do, most commonly, indict the simple, ignorant, and wretched heretics, and do let the arch-heretics go; which is one great cause that moveth the rude multitude to murmur, when they see the simple wretches (not knowing what heresy is) to burn. I wish, if it may be, that this common disease might be cured amongst the jurats of Essex; but, I fear me, it will not be, so long as some of them be, as they are, infected with the like disease. My duty had been, and my mind was, to have come unto your Lordship myself with these things, but being prevented with an ague, (daring not, as yet, to take upon me so great a journey,) I do send them by Master Staunton, your Lordship's receiver; trusting that he will safely deliver them. And, upon further knowledge of your Lordship's pleasure, all things shall be accomplished and done accordingly, to the best of my little power: as knoweth Almighty God, who send your Lordship prosperous health and long life, with increase of honour to his pleasure. Amen. From Maldon, this twenty-fourth day of October, anno 1556.
"Your Lordship's poor officer and daily bead-man,
Divers examinations these good men had at sundry times before divers justices, priests, and officers, as Master Roper, John Kingston, commissary, John Boswell, priest, and Bonner's scribe, and others more, whereof the said Boswell made relation to Bishop Bonner, certifying him of their depositions, as is here to be read.
The depositions, mord for word, as Boswell wrote them to Bonner.
"Robert Purcas, of Bocking, in the county of Essex, where he was born, single man, a fuller by his occupation, lettered, twenty years of age, indicted of heresy, being examined saith: that he was not confessed of a long time, nor will he be confessed to any priest. He saith that priests have no power to remit sin. He will not come to the church, nor will he hear mass; for all that is idolatry. He saith he did receive the supper of the Lord, (otherwise called the sacrament of the altar,) in King Edward's time, as it was then set forth; but since that time, he hath not and will not receive it, except it be ministered to him as it was then. He saith that the sacrament of the altar is an idol, as it is now ministered, and they that do worship it are idolaters: for it is but bread and wine only. This fellow is obstinate, and a glorious prating heretic.
"Agnes Downes, alias May, alias Smith, alias Silverside, the relict of one Silverside, married priest, deceased, dwelling in Colchester, sixty years of age, and above, indicted for heresy, being examined saith: that the supper of the Lord (otherwise called the sacrament of the altar) is but bread and wine before it is received; and when it is received in faith, and ministered by a worthy minister, (as they be but few,) then it is Christ's flesh and his blood spiritually, and no otherwise. She saith that the sacrament is an idol, and ought not to be worshipped with knocking, kneeling, nor holding up of hands; for all that is idolatry. She will not come to the church; she will not hear mass; she will not be confessed of any priest; she saith that none can remit sin but only God; she is a froward, obstinate heretic, and willing to burn her old rotten bones.
"John Johnson, alias Aliker, of Thorpe, in the soke and county of Essex, labourer, where he was born; having no wife, but three young children; thirty-four years of age, and can read a little; indicted of heresy, being examined saith: that he will not come to the church, nor will he hear mass; he will not confess his sins to a priest; he saith that no priest can remit sin; he saith that the sacrament of the altar is an idol, and can be but bread and wine, as well after the consecration as before: he saith that to hear mass, or to worship the sacrament, is idolatry. All this he heard, as he saith, one Trodgon preach, and he believeth that the said Trodgon is a true prophet, and his sayings true. This is a very simple obstinate heretic, and a stout foolish daw, without reason.
"Elizabeth Folkes, servant with one Nicholas Clere, of Colchester, clothier, maid; born, as she saith, in Stoke Neyland, in Suffolk, being of the age of twenty years, presented, but not indicted, of heresy, being examined saith: that she will not come to the church; she will not hear mass; she will not confess her sins to any priest; she saith that the sacrament of the altar is no better than bread and wine; she saith that no priest hath power to remit sin; she is a tall, well-favoured young wench, and willing to be reformed: whereupon, at the request of certain of her friends, she is delivered, and committed to the safe keeping of one Henry Ashby, of Colchester, a good catholic man; who hath taken upon him to reconcile her accordingly, or else to feed her with barley bread until she be reconciled."
Here hast thou, good reader, the depositions which the said Boswell sent to Bishop Bonner, as is aforesaid. Now, forasmuch as occasion compelleth me to be brief, for sundry considerations, I will therefore return again to the order of our time, anno 1557; and so go forward with the said persecuted in Colchester, with others their poor prison-fellows, to the number of ten, who, last of all, were examined again in Mote hall, the twenty-fourth day of June, by Dr. Chedsey, John Kingston, commissary, with other priests, and Boswell the scribe, in the presence of the two bailiffs of Colchester, Robert Brown and Robert Mainard, with divers other justices both of the town and country, and other gentlemen a great sort; at which time and place, and before the said persons, they had sentence of condemnation read against them, chiefly for not affirming the real presence in the sacrament of their altar. The effect of their words therein was this, or such-like, as here followeth.
First, the Lord's faithful prisoners in Mote hall.
William Bongeor of the parish of St. Nicholas in Colchester, glazier, said, that the sacrament of the altar was bread, is bread, and so remaineth bread; and for the consecration it is not the holier, but rather the worse. To this he did stand, as also against all the rest of their papistical doctrine: and so had sentence read against him.
Thomas Benold of Colchester, tallow-chandler, affirmed the like in effect that the said William Bongeor did; and so had sentence also read against him.
W. Purcas of Bocking said, that when he received the sacrament, he received bread in a holy use, that preacheth the remembrance that Christ died for him. To this he stood, and against other their popish matters: and so also had sentence read against him.
Agnes Silverside, alias Smith, said, that she loved no consecration. For the bread and wine is rather worse than better thereby, she said. This good old woman answered them with such sound judgment and boldness, to every thing they asked her, that it rejoiced the hearts of many, and especially to see the patience of such a reverend old age, against the taunts and checks of her enemies. To this she also stood, and had sentence read against her in like manner.
Helen Ewring answered the like in effect as the others did, clearly denying all the laws set forth by the pope, with her whole heart. This good woman was somewhat thick of hearing, but yet quick in understanding the Lord's matters, his name therefor be praised! Against her also there was sentence read.
Illustration -- The Examination of Elizabeth Folkes
Elizabeth Folkes, the young maiden, being examined whether she believed the presence of Christ's body to be in the sacrament substantially and really, or no: answered that she believed that it was a substantial lie, and a real lie. At which words the priests and others chafed very much, and asked her again, whether after the consecration there remained not the body of Christ in the sacrament. And she answered, that before consecration and after, it is but bread; and that man blesseth without God's word, is cursed and abominable by the word, &c. Then they examined her of confession to the priest, of going to church to hear mass, of the authority of the bishop of Rome, &c.; unto all which she answered, that she would neither use nor frequent any of them all, by the grace of God, but utterly detest and abhor them from the bottom of her heart, and all such trumpery. Then read they the sentence of condemnation against her; in which time Dr. Chedsey wept, that the tears trickled down his cheeks. So the sentence being read, she kneeled down on both her knees, lifting up her hands and eyes unto heaven, with fervent prayer in an audible voice, praising God that ever she was born to see that most blessed and happy day, that the Lord would count her worthy to suffer for the testimony of Christ: "and, Lord," said she, "if it be thy will, forgive them that thus have done against me; for they know not what they do." Then rising up, she exhorted all those on the bench to repentance, especially those who brought her to prison, as Robert Mainard the bailiff, and such like; which Mainard commonly, when he sat in judgment upon life and death, would sit sleeping on the bench many times, so careful was his mind on his office.
Further, she willed halting gospellers to beware of blood, for that would cry for vengeance, &c. And in the end she told them all, laying her hand upon the bar, if they did not repent their wicked doings therein, that undoubtedly the very bar would be a witness against them at the day of judgment, that they had there that day shed innocent blood.
This Elizabeth Folkes, the day before she was condemned, was examined only upon this article, Whether she believed that there was a catholic church of Christ or no. Unto which she answered, "Yea." Then was she immediately, by Boswell's means, (the scribe,) delivered unto her uncle Holt of the same town of Colchester to keep, who carried her home unto his house: and she being there, might have departed thence many times, if she had willed; for there were means offered to convey her away. But she, hearing that some doubted that she had yielded to the pope, (although it was most untrue,) would in nowise content herself, but wept, and was in such anguish of mind and terror of conscience, that (no remedy) she would to the papists again, for any persuasion that could be. And coming before them at Cosin's house at the White Hart in Colchester, she was at utter defiance with them and their doctrine; and so had, as you have heard, in the end a papistical reward, as the rest of her brethren had.
The Lord's faithful prisoners in Colchester castle.
William Mount, of Much Bentley in Essex, of the age of sixty-one years, said, that the sacrament of the altar was an abominable idol; and that if he should observe any part of their popish proceedings he should displease God, and bring his curse upon him; and therefore for fear of his vengeance he durst not do it. This good father was examined of many things; but, God be thanked, he stood to the truth, and in the end therefore had sentence of condemnation read against him.
John Johnson, of Thorpe, in Essex, widower, of the age of thirty-four years, was examined as the rest, and made answer in such sort as the papists counted him none of theirs, and therefore condemned him with their bloody sentence, as they had done the rest before. This John Johnson affirmed, that in the receiving of the sacrament, according to Christ's institution, he receiveth the body of Christ spiritually, &c.
Alice Mount, the wife of the said William Mount, of the age of one and forty years, being also examined as the rest, said and confirmed the same in effect as her husband did, and was therefore also condemned by their bloody sentence in like manner.
Rose Allin, maid, the daughter of the said Alice Mount, of the age of twenty years, being examined of auricular confession, going to the church to hear mass, of the popish seven sacraments, &c., answered stoutly, that they stank in the face of God, and she durst not have to do with them for her life: neither was she (she said) any member of theirs; for they were the members of antichrist, and so should have (if they repented not) the reward of antichrist. Being asked further, what she could say of the see of the bishop of Rome, whether she would obey his authority or no, she answered boldly, that she was none of his. "As for his see," quoth she, "it is for crows, kites, owls, and ravens to swim in, such as you be; for by the grace of God I shall not swim in that see while I live, neither will I have any thing to do therewith." Then read they the sentence of condemnation against her, and so sent her unto prison again unto the rest, where she sang with great joy, to the wonder of many.
Thus these poor condemned lambs, being delivered into the hands of the secular power, were committed again every one unto the prison from whence they came, where they remained with much joy and great comfort, (in continual reading, and invocating the name of God,) ever looking and expecting the happy day of their dissolution; in which time the cruel papists left not their mischievous attempts against them (although they would seem now to have no more to do with them); for bloody Bonner, whose throat never cried, "Ho," shortly after got a writ for the burning of the foresaid ten good creatures; and to show the more diligence in the cause, he sent his own trusty man down with it, named Edward Cosin, and with him also his letter for the furtherance of the matter, the thirtieth day of July, the next month after the condemnation.
The writ being thus received of the said bailiffs, and they having then no leisure thereabouts, appointed the day of the execution thereof, to be the second day of August next following. And because the faithful souls were in two several prisons, as the castle was for the country, and Mote hall for the town; therefore, it was agreed among them, that they in Mote hall should be burnt in the forenoon, and those at the castle by the sheriff of the shire, in the afternoon, as here thou mayest see it more plain how it came to pass accordingly.
The second day of August, 1557, betwixt six and seven of the clock in the morning, were brought from Mote hall unto a plat of ground hard by the town-wall of Colchester, on the outward side, William Bongeor, William Purcas, Thomas Benold, Agnes Silverside, alias Smith, Helen Ewring, and Elizabeth Folkes, afore-named; which being there, and all things prepared for their martyrdom, at the last these said constant martyrs kneeled down, and made their humble prayers to God; but not in such sort as they would, for the cruel tyrants would not suffer them; especially one Master Clere, among the rest, (who sometime had been a gospeller,) showed himself very extreme unto them: the Lord give him repentance, if it be his good will, and grace to be a better man! When they had made their prayers, they rose, and made them ready to the fire. And Elizabeth Folkes, when she had plucked off her petticoat, would have given it to her mother, (which came and kissed her at the stake, and exhorted her to be strong in the Lord,) but the wicked there attending, would not suffer her to give it. Therefore, taking the said petticoat in her hand, she threw it away from her, saying, "Farewell, all the world! farewell faith! farewell hope!" and so taking the stake in her hand, said, "Welcome love!"&c. Now she, being at the stake, and one of the officers nailing the chain about her, in the striking of the staple he missed the place, and struck her with a great stroke of the hammer on the shoulder-bone; whereat she suddenly turned her head, lifting up her eyes to the Lord, and prayed, smilingly, and gave herself to exhorting the people again.
When all the six were also nailed likewise at their stakes, and the fire about them, they clapped their hands for joy in the fire, that the standers-by, which were, by estimation, thousands, cried generally almost, "The Lord strengthen them; the Lord comfort them; the Lord pour his mercies upon them;" with such-like words, as was wonderful to hear.
Thus yielded they up their souls and bodies into the Lord's hands, for the true testimony of his truth. The Lord grant we may imitate the same in the like quarrel, (if he so vouch us worthy,) for his mercy's sake. Amen.
In like manner the said day in the afternoon, were brought forth into the castle-yard, to a place appointed for the same, William Mount, John Johnson, Alice Mount, and Rose Allin, aforesaid: which godly constant persons, after they had made their prayers, and were joyfully tied to the stakes, calling upon the name of God, and exhorting the people earnestly to flee from idolatry, suffered their martyrdom with such triumph and joy, that the people did no less shout thereat to see it, than at the others that were burnt the same day in the morning.
Thus ended all these glorious ten souls that day, their happy lives unto the Lord, whose ages all did grow to the sum of four hundred and six years, or thereabouts. The Lord grant we may well spend our years and days, likewise, to his glory. Amen.
John Thurston, died in Colchester castle.
Before, you have heard of the taking of John Thurston at Much Bentley, in the house of one William Mount of the same town which said John Thurston afterward, about the month of May, in the year aforesaid, died in Colchester castle, a constant confessor of Jesus Christ.