366. RALPH ALLERTON, JAMES AUSTOO, MARGERY AUSTOO, AND RICHARD ROTH
The martyrdom of Ralph Allerton, James Austoo, Margery Austoo, and Richard Roth, burnt at Islington.
Illustration -- Ralph Allerton at the stake
In searching out the certain number of the faithful martyrs of God that suffered within the time and reign of Queen Mary, I find, that about the seventeenth day of September were burned at Islington, nigh unto London, these four constant professors of Christ, Ralph Allerton, James Austoo, Margery Austoo, his wife, and Richard Roth. Among the which, it first appeareth that this Ralph Allerton was, more than a year before his condemnation, apprehended and brought before the Lord Darcy of Chiche; and was there accused, as well for that he would not consent and come unto the idolatry and superstition which then was used, as also that he had by preaching enticed others to do the like.
Being then hereupon examined, he confessed that he, coming into his parish church of Bentley, and seeing the people sitting there, either gazing about, or else talking together, he exhorted them that they would fall unto prayer, and meditation of God's most holy word, and not sit still idly: whereunto they willingly consented. Then, after prayer ended, he read unto them a chapter of the New Testament, and so departed. In the which exercise he continued until Candlemas, and then, being informed that he might not so do by the law, (for that he was no priest or minister,) he left off, and kept himself close in his house until Easter then next after, at what time certain sworn men for the inquiry of such matters came unto his house, and attached him for reading in the parish of Weeley. But when they understood that he had read but once, and that it was of obedience, (whereunto he earnestly moved the people,) they let him for that time depart. Notwithstanding, for fear of their cruelty, he was not long after constrained to forsake his own house, and keep himself in woods, barns, and other solitary places, until the time of his apprehension.
After this examination, the Lord Darcy sent him up to the council; but they (not minding to trouble themselves with him) sent him unto Bonner, who, by threatenings and other subtle means, so abused the simple and fearful heart of this man, (as yet not thoroughly staid upon the aid and help of God,) that within short time he won him to his most wicked will, and made him openly at Paul's Cross to revoke and recant his former profession, and thereupon set him at liberty of body; which yet brought such a bondage and terror of soul and conscience, and so cast him down, that except the Lord (whose mercies are immeasureable) had supported and lifted him up again, he had perished for ever. But the Lord, who never suffereth his elect children utterly to fall, casting his pitiful eyes upon this lost sheep, with his merciful and fatherly chastisements did (with Peter) raise him up again, giving unto him not only hearty and unfeigned repentance, but also a most constant boldness to profess again (even unto the death) his most holy name and glorious gospel. Wherefore, at the procurement of one Thomas Tye, priest, sometime an earnest professor of Christ, but now a fierce persecutor of the same, (as appeareth more at large before, in the history of William Mount and his wife,) he was again apprehended, and sent up again unto Bonner, before whom he was, the eighth day of April and sundry other times else, examined. The report of which examination, written by his own hand, with blood for lack of other ink, hereafter followeth.
Bonner.--"Ah sirrah! how chanceth it that you are come hither again on this fashion? I dare say thou art accused wrongfully."
Ralph.--"Yea, my Lord, so I am. For if I were guilty of such things as I am accused of, then I would be very sorry."
Bonner.--"By St. Mary that is not well done. But let me hear, art thou an honest man? for if I can prove no heresy by thee, then shall thine accusers do thee no harm at all. Go to, let me hear thee: for I did not believe the tale to be true."
Ralph.--"My Lord, who did accuse me? I pray you let me know, and what is mine accusation, that I may answer thereunto."
Bonner.--"Ah, wilt thou so? Before God, if thou hast not dissembled, then thou needest not be afraid nor ashamed to answer for thyself. But tell me in faith, hast thou not dissembled?"
Ralph.--"If I cannot have mine accusers to accuse me before you, my conscience doth constrain me to accuse myself before you: for I confess that I have grievously offended God in my dissimulation, at my last being before your Lordship, for the which I am right sorry, as God knoweth."
Bonner.--"Wherein, I pray thee, didst thou dissemble, when thou wast before me?"
Ralph.--"Forsooth, my Lord, if your Lordship remember, I did set my hand upon a certain writing, the contents whereof (as I remember) were, 'That I did believe in all things as the catholic church teacheth,' &c. In the which I did not disclose my mind, but shamefully dissembled, because I made no difference between the true church and the untrue church."
Bonner.--"Nay, but I pray thee let me hear more of this gear; for I fear me thou wilt smell of a heretic anon. Which is the true church, as thou sayest? Dost thou not call the heretics' church the true church, or the catholic church of Christ? Now, which of these two is the true church, sayest thou? Go to, for in faith I will know of thee ere I leave thee."
Ralph.--"As concerning the church of heretics, I utterly abhor the same, as detestable and abominable before God, with all their enormities and heresies: and the church catholic is it that I only embrace, whose doctrine is sincere, pure, and true."
Bonner.--"By St. Augustine, but that is well said of thee, for, by God Almighty, if thou hadst allowed the church of heretics, I would have burned thee with fire for thy labour."
Then said one Morton a priest, "My Lord, you know not yet what church it is, that he calleth catholic. I warrant you he meaneth naughtily enough."
Bonner.--"Think you so? Now by our blessed Lady, if it be so, he might have deceived me. How say you, sirrah! which is the catholic church?"
Ralph.--"Even that which hath received the wholesome sound, spoken of Isaiah, David, Malachi, and Paul, with many other more. The which sound, as it is written, hath gone throughout all the earth in every place, and unto the ends of the world."
Bonner.--"Yea, thou sayest true before God: for this is the sound that hath gone throughout all Christendom. And he that believeth not the sound of the holy church, as St. Cyprian saith, doth err: for he saith, that whosoever is out of the church, is like unto them that were out of Noah's ship when the flood came upon all the whole world; so that the ark of Noah is likened unto the church. And therefore thou hast well said in thy confession: for the church is not alone in Germany, nor was here in England in the time of the late schisms, as the heretics do affirm. For if the church should be there alone, then were Christ a liar: for he promised that the Holy Ghost should come to us, and lead us unto all truth, yea, and remain with us unto the end of the world. So now, if we will take Christ for a true sayer, then we must needs affirm, that the way which is taught in France, Spain, Italy, Flanders, Denmark, Scotland, and all Christendom over, must needs be the true catholic church."
Ralph.--"My Lord, if you remember, I spake of all the world, as it is written, and not of all Christendom only, as methinks your Lordship taketh it, the which kind of speaking you do not find in all the Bible. For sure I am, that the gospel hath been both preached and persecuted in all lands; first, in Jewry by the scribes and Pharisees, and since that time by Nero, Dioclesian, and such like, and now here, in these our days, by your Lordship knoweth whom. For truth it is that the church which you call catholic, is none otherwise catholic than was figured in Cain, observed of Jeroboam, Ahab, Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus, Herod, with innumerable more of the like; and as both Daniel and Esdras make mention of these last days by a plain prophecy, and now fulfilled, as appeareth, and affirmed by our Saviour Christ and his apostles, saying, There shall come grievous wolves to devour the flock."
Bonner.--"Now, by the blessed sacrament of the altar, Master Morton, he is the rankest heretic that ever came before me. How say you? have you heard the like?"
Morton.--"I thought what he was, my Lord, at the first, I --"
Bonner.--"Now, by All-hallows, thou shalt be burnt with fire for thy lying, thou whoreson varlet and prick-louse, thou! Dost thou find a prophecy in Daniel of us? Nay, you knave, it is of you that he speaketh, and of your false pretended holiness. Go to, let me hear what is the saying of Esdras, and take heed ye make not a lie, I advise you."
Ralph.--"The saying of Esdras is this: The heat of a great multitude is kindled over you, and they shall take away certain of you, and feed the idols with you. And he that consenteth unto them, shall be had in derision, laughed to scorn, and trodden under foot. Yea, they shall be like mad-men, for they shall spare no man; they shall spoil and waste such as fear the Lord, &c."
Bonner.--"And have you taken this thing to make your market good? Ah sirrah, wilt thou so? by my faith, a pretty instruction, and a necessary thing to be taught among the people. By my troth, I think there be more of this opinion. I pray thee tell me: is there any that understandeth this scripture on this fashion? Before God, I think there be none in all England, but thou."
Ralph.--"Yes, my Lord, there are in England three religions."
Bonner.--"Sayest thou so? Which be those three?"
Ralph.--"The first is that which you hold; the second is clean contrary to the same; and the third is a neuter, being indifferent -- that is to say, observing all things that are commanded outwardly, as though he were of your part, his heart being set wholly against the same."
Bonner.--"And of these three, which art thou? for now thou must needs be of one of them."
Ralph.--"Yea, my Lord, I am of one of them; and that which I am of, is even that which is contrary to that which you teach to be believed under pain of death."
Bonner.--"Ah sir, you were here with me at Fulham, and had good cheer, yea, and money in your purse when you went away; and by my faith I had a favour unto thee, but now I see thou wilt be a naughty knave. Why, wilt thou take upon thee to read the Scripture, and canst understand never a word? for thou hast brought a text of Scripture, the which maketh clean against thee. For Esdras speaketh of the multitude of you heretics, declaring your hate against the catholic church, making the simple or idle people believe, that all is idolatry that we do; and so entice them away until you have overcome them."
Ralph.--"Nay, not so, my Lord: for he maketh it more plain, and saith on this wise: They shall take away their goods, and put them out of their houses; and then shall it be known who are my chosen, saith the Lord, for they shall be tried, as the silver or gold is, in the fire. And we see it so come to pass, even as he hath said: for who is not now driven from house and home, yea, and his goods taken up for other men that never sweat for them, if he do not observe as you command and set forth? Or else, if he be taken, then must he either deny the truth, as I did, in dissembling, or else he shall be sure to be tried, as Esdras saith, even as the gold is tried in the fire. Whereby all the world may know, that you are the bloody church, figured in Cain the tyrant, neither yet are ye able to avoid it."
Morton.--"I promise you, my Lord, I like him better now than ever I did, when he was here before you the other time; for then he did but dissemble, as I perceived well enough; but now methinks he speaketh plainly."
Bonner.--"Marry, sir, as you say indeed, he is plain: for he is a plain heretic, and shall be burned. Have the knave away! Let him be carried to Little-ease, at London, until I come."
And so was I carried to London unto Little-ease, and there remained that night. And on the next morrow I appeared before him again; the dean of Paul's and the chancellor of London being present. Then were brought forth certain writings that I had set my hand unto.
Bonner.--"Come on your ways, sirrah! Is not this your hand, and this, and this?"
Ralph.--"Yea, they are my hand, all of them; I confess the same, neither yet will I deny any thing that I have set my hand unto. But if I have set my hand to any thing that is not lawful, there-for am I sorry. Nevertheless, my hand I will not deny to be my doing."
Bonner.--"Well said. Now ye must tell me, Were you never at the church since you went from me, at mass, matins?" &c.
Ralph.--"No, my Lord; not at mass, matins, nor any other strange worshipping of God."
Bonner.--"Yea, sayest thou so? Wast thou neither at thine own parish church, nor at any other? And dost thou also say, that it is a strange worshipping? Why, I pray thee, wilt thou not believe the Scripture to be true?"
Ralph.--"Yea, my Lord, I believe the Scripture to be true, and in the defence of the same I intend to give my life, rather than I will deny any part thereof, God willing."
Dean.--"My Lord, this fellow will be an honest man, I hear by him. He will not stand in his opinion; for he showeth himself gentle and patient in his talk."
Bonner.--"Oh, he is a glorious knave! His painted terms shall no more deceive me. Ah, whoreson prick-louse! doth not Christ say, This is my body? and how darest thou deny these words, for to say, as I have a writing to show, and thine own hand at the same? Let me see, wilt thou deny this? Is not this thine own hand?"
Ralph.--"Yes, my Lord, it is my own hand; neither am I ashamed thereof, because my confession therein is agreeable to God's word. And whereas you do lay unto my charge that I should deny the words of our Saviour Jesus Christ; O good Lord! from whence cometh this rash, hasty, and untrue judgment? Forsooth not from the Spirit of truth; for he leadeth men into all truth, and is not the father of liars. Whereupon should your Lordship gather or say of me so diffamously? Wherefore, I beseech you, if I deny the Scriptures canonical, or any part thereof, then let me die."
Tye, the priest.--"My Lord, he is a very seditious fellow, and persuadeth other men to do as he himself doth, contrary to the order appointed by the queen's Highness and the clergy of this realm. For a great sort of the parish will be gathered one day to one place, and another day to another place, to hear him; so that very few come to the church to hear divine service. And this was not only before that he was taken and brought unto the council, but also since his return home again, he hath done much harm: for where both men and women were honestly disposed before, by St. Anne now are they as ill as he almost. And furthermore, he was not ashamed to withstand me before all the parish, saying, that we were of the malignant church of antichrist, and not of the true church of Christ, alleging a great many of scriptures to serve for his purpose, saying, 'Good people, take heed, and beware of these blood-thirsty dogs,' &c. And then I commanded the constable to apprehend him, and so he did. Nevertheless, after his apprehension, the constable let him go about his business all the next day; so that without putting in of sureties, he let him go into Suffolk and other places, for no goodness, I warrant you, my Lord. It were alms to teach such officers their duty, how they should not let such rebels go at their own liberty, after that they be apprehended and taken; but to keep them fast in the stocks until they bring them before a justice."
Ralph.--"As I said before, so say I now again; thou art not of the church of Christ; and that will I prove, if I may be suffered. And whereas you said, that you commanded the constable to apprehend me; you did so indeed, contrary to the laws of this realm, having neither to lay unto my charge treason, felony, nor murder; no, neither had you precept, process, nor warrant to serve on me; and therefore I say, without a law was I apprehended. And whereas you seek to trouble the constable, because he kept me not in the stocks three days and three nights, it doth show in part what you are. And my going into Suffolk was not for any evil, but only to buy half a bushel of corn for bread for my poor wife and children, knowing that I had no long time to tarry with them. But if I had run away, then you would surely have laid somewhat to his charge."
Bonner.--"Go to, thou art a merchant, indeed. Ah, sirrah! before God, thou shalt be burnt with fire. Thou knowest Richard Roth, dost thou not? Is he of the same mind that thou art of, or no? Canst thou tell?"
Ralph.--"He is of age to answer, let him speak for himself; for I hear say that he is in your house."
Bonner.--"Lo, what a knave here is! Go, Cluney, fetch me Roth hither. By my troth he is a false knave; but yet thou art worse than he. Ah, sirrah! did you not set your hand to a writing, the tenor whereof was, that if thou should at any time say or do heretically, then it should be lawful for me to take thee with a relapse, and to proceed in sentence against thee?"
Ralph.--"Yea, that is so. But here is to be asked, whether it be sufficient, that my hand or name in writing be able to give authority to you or to any other to kill me; for if I, by writing my name, can do so much, then must my authority be greater than yours. Nevertheless, I have neither said nor done heretically, but like a true Christian man have I behaved myself."
And so I was committed unto prison again; and the twenty-fourth day of the same month, I was brought before the bishop, the Lord North, Dr. Story, and others; and after a long talk in Latin amongst themselves, (unto the which I gave no answer, because they spake not to me, although they spake of me,) at the last the bishop said, "How say you, sirrah? tell me briefly at one word: Wilt thou be contented to go to Fulham with me, and there to kneel thee down at mass, showing thyself outwardly as though thou didst it with a good will? Go to, speak."
Ralph.--"I will not say so."
Bonner.--"Away with him, away with him!"
The second day of May I was brought before the bishop, and three noblemen of the council, whose names I do not remember.
Bonner.--"Lo, my Lords! this same is the fellow that was sent unto me from the council, and did submit himself, so that I had half a hope of him: but, by St. Anne, I was always in doubt of him. Nevertheless, he was with me and fared well, and when I delivered him, I gave him money in his purse. How sayest thou? was it not so as I tell my Lords here?"
Ralph.--"Indeed, my Lord, I had meat and drink enough; but I never came in bed all the while. And at my departing you gave me twelve-pence, howbeit I never asked none, nor would have done."
A lord.--"Be good to him, my Lord. He will be an honest man."
Bonner.--"Before God, how should I trust him? he hath once deceived me already. But ye shall hear what he will say to the blessed sacrament of the altar. How say you, sirrah? After the words of consecration be spoken by the priest, there remaineth no bread, but the very body of our Saviour Jesus Christ, God and man, and none other substance, under the form of bread?"
Ralph.--"Where find you that, my Lord, written?"
Bonner.--"Lo, sir! Why? Doth not Christ say, This is my body? How sayest thou? Wilt thou deny these words of our Saviour Christ? Or else was he a dissembler, speaking one thing, and meaning another! Go to; now I have taken you."
Ralph. -- "Yea, my Lord, you have taken me indeed, and will keep me until you kill me. Howbeit, my Lord, I marvel why you leave out the beginning of the institution of the supper of our Lord; for Christ said, Take ye, and eat ye; this is my body. And if it will please you to join the former words to the latter, then shall I make you an answer: for sure I am, that Christ was no dissembler, neither did he say one thing, and mean another."
Bonner.--"Why? Then must thou needs say, that it is his body; for he saith it himself, and thou confessest that he will not lie."
Ralph.--"No, my Lord; he is true, and all men are liars. Notwithstanding, I utterly refuse to take the words of our Saviour so phantastically as you teach us to take them; for then should we conspire with certain heretics called the Nestorians: for they deny that Christ had a true natural body; and so methinks you do, my Lord. If you will affirm his body to be there, as you say he is, then must you needs also affirm, that it is a phantastical body, and not a true natural body; and therefore look to it, for God's sake, and let these words go before, Take ye, and eat ye; without which words the rest are not sufficient. But when the worthy receivers do take and eat, even then are fulfilled the words of our Saviour unto him, or every of them, that so receiveth."
Bonner.--"Ah! I see well thou canst not understand these words: I will show thee a parable. – If I should set a piece of beef before thee, and say, Eat, it is beef; and then take part of it away, and send it to my cook, and he shall change the fashion thereof, and make it look like bread, what! wouldst thou say that it were no beef, because it hath not the fashion of beef?"
Ralph.--"Let me understand a little further, my Lord. Shall the cook add nothing thereunto, nor take any thing therefrom?"
Bonner.--"What is that to the matter, whether he do or no, so long as the shape is changed into another likeness?"
Ralph.--"Ah! will you so, my Lord? your sophistry will not serve. The truth will have the victory nevertheless, as Isaiah saith: He that restraineth himself from evil, must be spoiled. And Amos hath such-like words also: For the wise must be fain to hold their peace; so wicked a time it is, saith he. Nevertheless, he that can speak the truth, and will not, shall give a strait account for the same."
A doctor.--"By my Lord's leave, here methinks thou speakest like a fool: wilt thou be a judge of the Scripture? Nay, thou must stand to learn, and not to teach, for the whole congregation hath determined the matter long ago."
A priest.--"No, by your leave,we have a church, and not a congregation. You mistake that word, Master Doctor."
Then said I to my fellow-prisoners standing by: "My brethren, do ye not hear how these men help one another? Let us do so also." But we never came all in together after that time, but severally one after another. Then was I carried away for that time.
The nineteenth day of May I was brought before the bishops of Rochester and Chichester, with others.
Rochester.--"Were you a companion of George Eagles, otherwise called Trudgeover? My Lord of London telleth me that you were his fellow companion."
Ralph.--"I know him very well, my Lord."
Rochester.--"By my faith, I had him once, and then he was as drunk as an ape; for he stank so of drink, that I could not abide him; and so sent him away."
Ralph.--"My Lord, I dare say you took your marks amiss. It was either yourself, or some of your own company; for he did neither drink wine, ale, nor beer, in a quarter of a year before that time, and therefore it was not he forsooth."
"The rest of mine examinations you shall have when I am condemned, if I can have any time after my coming into Newgate, the which I trust shall touch the matter a great deal more plainly; for the pithy matters are yet unwritten. Thus fare you well, good friends all; yea, I say, farewell for ever in this present world. Greet ye one another, and be joyful in the Lord. Salute the good widows among you, with all the rest of the congregation in Bardfield, and Dedham, and Colchester."
This promise of his, being either not performed, for that he might not thereto be permitted, or else, if he did write, the same not coming to my hands, I am fain in the rest of his examinations to follow the only report of the registrar; who witnesseth that, the fifteenth day of May, anno 1557, in the bishop's palace at London, he was examined upon certain interrogatories, the contents whereof be these:--
"1. That he was of the parish of Much Bentley, and so of the diocese of London.
"2. That the tenth day of January then last past, Master John Morant preaching at Paul's, the said Ralph Allerton did there openly submit himself unto the Church of Rome, with the rites and ceremonies thereof.
"3. That he did consent and subscribe as well unto the same submission, as also to one other bill, in the which he granted, that if he should at any time turn again unto his former opinions, it should be then lawful for the bishop immediately to denounce and adjudge him as a heretic.
"4. That he had subscribed to a bill, wherein he affirmed, that in the sacrament, after the words of consecration be spoken by the priest, there remaineth still material bread and material wine; and that he believeth that the bread is the bread of thanksgiving, and the memorial of Christ's death; and that when he receiveth it, he receiveth the body of Christ spiritually in his soul, but material bread in substance.
"5. That he had openly affirmed, and also advisedly spoken, that which is contained in the said former fourth article last before specified.
"6. That he had spoken against the bishop of Rome, with the church and see of the same, and also against the seven sacraments and other ceremonies and ordinances of the same church, used then within this realm.
"7. That he had allowed and commended the opinions and faith of Master Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and others of late burnt within this realm; and believed that their opinions were good and godly.
"8. That he had divers times affirmed, that the religion used within this realm, at the time of his apprehension, was neither good, nor agreeable to God's word, and that he could not conform himself thereunto.
"9. That he had affirmed that the book of Common Prayer set forth in the reign of King Edward the Sixth, was in all parts good and godly; and that the said Ralph and his company, prisoners, did daily use amongst themselves in prison some part of the same book.
"10. That he had affirmed, that if he were out of prison, he would not come to mass, matins, nor evensong; nor bear taper, candle, or palm; nor go in procession; nor would receive holy water, holy bread, ashes, or pax, or any other ceremony of the church then used within this realm.
"11. That he had affirmed, that if he were at liberty, he would not confess his sins to any priest, nor receive absolution of him; nor yet would receive the sacrament of the altar, as it was then used.
12. That he had affirmed, that praying to saints and prayers for the dead, were neither good nor profitable; and that a man is not bound to fast and pray, but at his own will and pleasure; neither that it is lawful to reserve the sacrament, or to worship it.
"13. That the said Allerton hath, according to these his affirmations, abstained and refused to come unto his parish church ever since the tenth day of January last, or to use, receive, or allow any ceremonies, sacraments, or other rites then used in the church."
To all the articles he answered affirmatively. denying precisely none of them; saving to this clause contained in the twelfth article, that a man is not bound to fast and pray but at his own will and pleasure, he said that he had affirmed no such thing, but he confessed that he had not fasted nor prayed so oft as he was bound to do. And unto this answer he also subscribed in this sort:
"Except it be proved otherwise by the Holy Scripture, I do affirm these articles to be true.-- By me, Ralph Allerton."
The next examination was the fourth day of July; the acts whereof, because they do appear more amply in his other examination, had the tenth day of September, I do here omit, giving you further to understand, that upon the seventh day of the same month of July, he was brought before Dr. Darbishire in the bishop's palace, who examined him again upon the former articles, and after persuaded him to recant, threatening him that, otherwise, he should be burnt. To whom he boldly answered, "I would I might be condemned even to-morrow; for I perceive my Lord," meaning Bonner, "doth nothing but seek men's blood:" upon which saying Darbishire committed him again to prison.
And the tenth day of September the bishop caused him (with the other three above named) to be brought unto Fulham, and there, in his private chapel within his house, he judicially propounded unto him certain other new articles, of the which the tenors of the first, fifth, sixth, and seventh are already mentioned in the second, third, and fourth former objections. As for the rest, the contents thereof here follow:--
"Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that the information given against thee, and remaining now in the acts of this court of thine ordinary, Edmund, bishop of London, was and is a trne information."
This information was given by Thomas Tye, curate of Bentley, (of whom you have already heard,) and certain other of the same parish and affinity; as namely, John Painter, William Harris, John Barker, John Carter, Thomas Candler, Jeffery Bestwood, John Richard, Richard Mere. The effect whereof was, that one Lawrence Edwards, of Bentley aforesaid, had a child that was unchristened; and being demanded by the said Tye, why his child was not baptized, he made answer, it should be when he could find one of his religion (meaning a true professor of Christ's gospel). Whereat the curate said, "Ah! ye have had some instructor that hath schooled you of late." "Yea," quoth the said Edwards, "that I have; and if your doctrine be better than his, then I will believe you." And therewithal fondly offered to fetch him. Whereupon the constable going with him, they brought before the said curate the said Ralph Allerton; of whom in this information they make this report, that he was a seditious person, who, since his coming down from the bishop, had set upon the constable's door certain seditious letters, moving and persuading thereby the people to follow his malicious disobedience; and that these his persuasions had taken effect in many. And fnrther, that the said Ralph Allerton, (the curate asking him whether he had instructed this Lawrence Edwards, that it was against God's commandment to enter into the church,) casting abroad his hands, should say, "O good people! now is fulfilled the saying of the godly priest and prophet Esdras, who saith, The fire of a multitude is kindled against a few: they have taken away their houses, and spoiled their goods, &c. Which of you all have not seen this, this day? who is he here amongst you, that seeth not all these things done upon us this day? The church which they call us unto, is the church of antichrist, a persecuting church and the church malignant." With these and many more words, (said they,) most maliciously and falsely alleged out of the Scriptures, he thus persuaded a great multitude there present, as much as in him lay, unto disobedience: for the which cause the constables did then apprehend him.
"3. Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that the letter sent unto me by my Lord Darcy, beginning with these words, 'Pleaseth it your Lordship,' &c., was thine own letter, and was subscribed by thine own hand."
The contents of the letter mentioned in this article, and written by Allerton unto the Lord Darcy, was a confession of his demeanour before his first apprehension, the effect and purport whereof, because it appeareth in the beginning of this his history, I do here omit.
"4. Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny, but that the other letter, sent also to me from my said Lord Darcy, beginning thus, 'Pleaseth it your Lordship,' &c., and ending with those words, Whensoever it be,' is thine own very letter, and subscribed with thine own hand."
This was also another letter written by him unto the Lord Darcy, the contents whereof were, that whereas the said Lord had commanded him to declare where he had been ever since Whitsuntide last, before his first apprehension, this was to certify his Lordship, that he was not able so to do, otherwise than as he had already showed him by his former letters. And moreover, whereas he charged him to have read unto the people abroad in the woods, he certified him that he did never read any thing abroad, saving once, when he was in the company of George Eagles and others, Richard Roth took a writing out of his bosom, and desired the said Ralph to read it, which request he then accomplished. And demanding of him whose doing the same was, the said Roth told that it was Master Cranmer's, late archbishop of Canterbury; and further he could not show him. Nevertheless, he was ready and willing to suffer such punishment as his Lordship should think meet, desiring yet that the same might be with favour and mercy, although he feared neither punishment nor death; praying the Lord, that it might be in his fear, whensoever it should be.
"8. Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that the letters written with blood, beginning with these words, 'Grace, mercy, and peace,' &c., and ending thus, 'Farewell in God,' remaining now registered in the acts of this court, were written voluntarily with thine own hand."
He wrote this letter in the prison with blood for lack of other ink, and did mean to send the same unto Agnes Smith, alias Silverside, at that time imprisoned, and afterwards burnt, at Colchester, for the testimony of the gospel of Christ, as before is mentioned; the copy of which letter here ensueth.
"Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, with the assistance of God's Holy Spirit, and the abundant health both of soul and body, I wish unto you, as to my own soul, as God knoweth, who is the searcher of all secrets.
"Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his infinite mercy to call me to the state of grace, to suffer martyrdom for Jesus Christ's sake, although heretofore I have most negligently dallied therewith, and therefore far unworthy I am of such a high benefit, to be crowned with the most joyful crown of martyrdom: nevertheless, it hath pleased God not so to leave me, but hath raised me up again according to his promise, which saith, Although he fall, yet shall he not be hurt; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Whereby we perceive God's election to be most sure, for undoubtedly he will preserve all those that are appointed to die. And as he hath begun this work in me, even so do I believe that he will finish the same, to his great glory, and to my wealth, through Jesus Christ. So be it!
"Dearly beloved sister, (I am constrained so to call you, because of your constant faith and love unfeigned,) consider, that if we be the true servants of Christ, then may not we in any wise make agreement with his enemy, antichrist. For there is no concord and agreement between them, saith the Scriptures, and a man cannot serve two masters, saith Christ. And also it is prefigured unto us in the old law, where the people of God were most straitly commanded that they should not mingle themselves with the ungodly heathen, and were also forbidden to eat, drink, or to marry with them: for as often as they did either marry unto their sons, or take their daughters unto them, or to their sons, even so oft came the great and heavy wrath of God upon his own people, to overthrow both them and all their cities, with the holy sanctnary of God; and bronght in strange princes to reign over them, and wicked rulers to govern them, so that they were snre of hunger, sword, pestilence, and wild beasts to devour them; which plagues never ceased, until the good people of God were clean separated from the wicked idolatrous people.
"O dearly beloved! this was written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope. And has it not in like case happened now in this realm of England? for now are the people of God had in derision, and trodden under foot; and the cities, towns, and houses where they dwelt, are inhabited with them that have no right thereunto, and the true owners are spoiled of their labours: yea, and the holy sanctuary of God's most blessed word is laid desolate and waste, so that the very foxes run over it, &c. Yet is it the food of our souls, the lantern of our feet, and the light unto our paths; and where it is not preached, there the people perish. But the prophet saith, He that refraineth himself from evil, must be spoiled. Why should men then be abashed to be spoiled, seeing that it is told us before, that it must so happen unto them that refrain from evil? And thus I bid you farewell in God.
"9. Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that the letters written with blood, beginning with these words in the over part thereof, 'The angel of God,' &c., and ended thus, 'Be with you, Amen;' and having also this postscript, 'Do ye suppose that our brethren,' &c., remaining now registered in the acts of this court, are thine own hand-writing."
For the better understanding of this article, I have also here inserted the copy of the letter mentioned in the same; which letter he wrote (by his own confession) unfo Richard Roth, then in danger of the subtle snares of that bloody wolf, Bonner.
"The angel of God pitch his tent about us, and defend us in all our ways; Amen, Amen!
"O dear brother, I pray for you; for I hear say that you have been divers times before my Lord in examination. Wherefore take heed for God's sake what the wise man teacheth you, and shrink not away when you are enticed to confess an untruth for hope of life, but be ready always to give an answer of the hope that is in you. For whosoever confesseth Christ before men, him will Christ also confess before his Father: but he that is ashamed to confess him before men, shall have his reward with them that do deny him. And therefore, dear brother, go forward. Ye have a ready way, so fair, as ever had any of the prophets or apostles, or the rest of our brethren, the holy martyrs of God. Therefore covet to go hence with the multitude, while the way is full. Also, dear brother, understand that I have seen your letter; and although I cannot read it perfectly, yet I partly perceive your meaning therein, and very gladly I would copy it out, with certain comfortable additions thereunto annexed; the which as yet will not be brought to pass for lack of paper, until my Lord be gone from hence; and then your request shall be accomplished, God willing, without delay. Thus fare ye well in God. Our dear brother and fellow in tribulation, Robert Allin, saluteth you; and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you; Amen.
"Do ye suppose that our brethren and sisters are not yet despatched out of this world? I think that either they are dead, or shall be within these two days."
As for the other objections yet remaining, and not specified, if it were not more somewhat to show the folly of these bloody tyrants, (which of so small trifles take occasions to quarrel with the saints of God,) than for any weighty thing therein contained, I would neither trouble you with the reading thereof, nor yet myself with writing. But that ye may judge of them as their doings do give occasion, I will now proceed in the matter.
"Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny, but confessest, that the writing of letters in a little piece of paper on both sides of it, with this sentence following on the one side, 'Look at the foot of the stocks, for a knife,' and with this sentence following upon the other side, 'Look between the post and the wall, for two books and two epistles; leave them here when ye go,' remaining now in the register and acts of this court, is voluntarily written by thee, Ralph Allerton, with thine own hand.
"Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that thou art privy to a certain writing remaining now in the registry and acts of this court; the beginning whereof is with these words, 'I would have men wise,' &c., and ending thus, 'from house to house.'
"Item, Thou, Ralph Allerton, canst not deny but that thou art privy, and of consent and maintenance of a certain great wood-knife, a long sword, a hook, a stone, and of a trencher written upon with chalk, having this sentence, 'All is gone and lost, because of your folly;' of two boards written upon with chalk, the one having this sentence, 'Under the stone look,' and the other having this sentence, 'Whereas you bid me take heed, I thank you, I trust in God that I shall be at peace with him shortly,' remaining now registered in the acts of this court."
For answer unto all these articles, he granted that the first nine were true, as the registrar recordeth: howbeit, I find noted in the backside of the information, specified in the second article, (although crossed out again,) that he denied such things as were there in the same informed against him. Wherefore it is not likely that he did simply grant unto the contents of the second article, but rather that he only affirmed, that such an information was given against him, and not that the same was true. Thus much I thought to warn the reader of, lest that in mistaking his answers, it might seem, that he granted himself to be a seditious and a rebellious person; of which fact he was most clear and innocent.
And being further demanded upon the contents of the eighth article, where he had the blood he wrote that letter withal; he said that Richard Roth, sometime his prison-fellow, did make his nose bleed, and thereby he got the blood wherewith he did then write. The bishop again asked him, to whom he would have sent the same. He answered, unto one Agnes Smith, alias Silverside, of Colchester. "Why," quoth the bishop, "Agnes Smith was a heretic, and is burnt for heresy." "Nay," said Allerton, "she is in better case than either I myself, or any of us all."
Then being again demanded upon the ninth objection, to whom he would have sent the letter mentioned in the same; he answered, that he meant to have sent it unto Richard Roth, at that present separated from him. Whereupon the bishop further inquired, what he meant by these words, "Brethren and sisters," specified in the said letter? He answered, that he meant thereby, such as were lately condemned at Colchester, and were like (at the writing thereof) shortly to be burned.
Now as for the contents of the tenth and the eleventh articles, he utterly denied them; but to the twelfth he confessed, that he wrote upon the said trencher and other boards the words mentioned in the said article, and that he did leave the same in the prison-house, to the intent that Richard Roth should read them. Bonner also, bringing out the wooden sword mentioned in the said article, asked him who made it, and for what purpose: whereunto he answered, that he was the maker thereof, howbeit for no evil purpose; but being idle in the prison, and finding there an old board, he thought the time better spent in making thereof, than to sit still, and do nothing at all.
The forenoon being now spent, the rest of this tragedy was deferred until the afternoon; wherein was ministered unto him yet certain other objections, the tenor whereof was this.
"1. First, That he had misliked the mass, calling npon saints, and carrying the cross in procession, with other their ceremonies, calling them idolatry, and also had dissuaded them there-from.
"2. Item, That he was much desirous to have the people believe as he did; and therefore, being in prison with his fellows, did sing psalms and other songs against the sacrament of the altar and other ordinances of the church, so loud that the people abroad might hear them and delight in them.
"3. Item, That he had divers times conspired against his keeper, and had provided things to kill him; and so to break the prison, and escape away.
"4. Item, That he had railed against the bishop, being his ordinary, calling him a bloody butcher, tyrant, and ravening wolf; and also against his officers, especially Cluney his Sumner, calling him butcher's cur, with other such names.
"5. Item, That he had murmured, grudged, disdained, and misliked, that the bishop had proceeded against certain of his diocese, and had condemned them as heretics, or that he should proceed now against him and others yet remaining in errors, notwithstanding that he and his chaplains had charitably admonished and exhorted them from the same.
"6. Item, That he ought faithfully to believe, that there is one catholic church, without the which there is no salvation; of the which church Jesus Christ is the very priest and sacrifice, whose body and blood are really and truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine; the bread and wine being by the Divine power transubstantiated into his body and blood.
"7. Item, That he had kept himself, and also distributed to others, certain heretical and corrupt books, condemned and reproved by the laws of this realm.
"8. Item, That he had, contrary to the orders and statutes of this realm, kept company with that seditious heretic and traitor, George Eagles, commonly called Trudgeover, and had beard him read in woods and other places; yet not accusing, but allowing and praising him."
Unto which articles, because they were for the most part so foolish and full of lies, he would in a manner make no answer, saving he granted that he did mislike their mass and other ceremonies, because they were wicked and naught. And moreover, he told the bishop, that he and his complices did nothing but seek how to kill innocents.
The bishop then asked him, whether he would believe in all points tonching the sacrament of the altar, as is contained in the general council holden and kept under Innocent the Third; and therewithal he did read the decree of the said council touching the sacrament. Whereunto Allerton again made answer and said, "I believe nothing contained in the same council, neither have I any thing to do therewith; and it were also very necessary, that no man else should have to do therewith."
"Then," quoth Bonner, "thou art of the opinion that the heretics lately burnt at Colchester were of." "Yea," said he, "I am of their opinion, and I be-lieve that they be saints in heaven."
This done, the bishop, perceiving that he would not recant, demanded what he had to say, why he should not pronounce the sentence of condemnation against him: to whom he answered, "Ye ought not to condemn me as a heretic, for I am a good Christian. But now go to, do as you have already determined; for I see right well, that right and trnth be suppressed, and cannot appear upon the earth."
These words ended, the bishop pronounced the sentence of condemnation, and so delivered him unto the temporal officers; who reserved him in their custody until the seventeenth day of September, at which time both he, and the other three before mentioned, were all burnt, as ye have already heard. Of which other three, because as yet little is said, I will therefore now proceed to declare such canse of their cruel deaths, as in the register is recorded.
The story of James Austoo, and Margery, his wife.
Touching the first apprehension of these two persons, I find neither occasion why, neither time, nor manner how: howbeit, as the days then served, it was no hard or strange matter to fall into the hands of such as with cruelty persecuted the true professors of God's gospel, especially having so many promoters and unneighbourly neighbours, to help them forwards. By which kind of people, it is not unlike these two godly yoke-fellows were accused and taken: and being once delivered into the pitiless handling of Bonner, their examinations (ye may be sure) were not long deferred; for, the sixteenth day of July, 1557, they were brought before him into his place at London, where first be demanded of the said James Austoo, (amongst other questions,) Where he had been confessed in Lent, and whether he received the sacrament of the altar at Easter, or not? To whom he answered, that indeed he had been confessed of the curate of All-hallows Barking, nigh to the Tower of London: but that he had not received the sacrament of the altar; for he defied it from the bottom of his heart.
"Why," quoth the bishop, "dost thou not believe, that in the sacrament of the altar there is the true body and blood of Christ?" "No," said Austoo, "not in the sacrament of the altar; but in the supper of the Lord, to the faithful receiver, is the very body and blood of Christ by faith."
Bonner not well pleased with this talk, asked then the wife, how she did like the religion then used in this church of England? She answered, that she believed that the same was not according to God's word, but false and corrupted; and that they which did go thereunto, did it more for fear of the law, than otherwise.
Then he again asked her, if she would go to the church and hear mass, and pray for the prosperous estate of the king, being then abroad in his affairs. Whereunto she said, that she defied the mass with all her heart, and that she would not come into any church wherein were idols.
After this the bishop objected unto them certain articles, to the number of eighteen; the tenor whereof (because they touch only such common and trifling matters as are already mentioned in divers and sundry places before) I do here for brevity's sake omit and pass over, giving you yet this much to understand, that in matters of faith they were as sound and answered as truly (God be therefore praised) as ever any did, especially the woman, to whom the Lord had given the greater knowledge, and more ferventness of spirit. Notwithstanding, according to the measure of grace that God gave them, they both stood most firmly unto the truth. And therefore to conclude, the tenth day of September they were (with Ralph Allerton, of whom ye have heard) brought again before the bishop within his chapel at Fulham, where he, speaking unto them, said first on this wise: "Austoo! dost thou know where thou art now, and in what place, and before whom, and what thou hast to do?" Yea," quoth Austoo, "I know where I am; for I am in an idol's temple."
After which words, their articles being again read, and their constancy in faith perceived, Bonner pronounced against either of them severally the sentence of condemnation, and delivering. Them unto the sheriff there present, did rid his hands (as he thought) of them: but the Lord in the end will judge that; to whom I refer his cause.
It so happened upon a night, that as this Margery Austoo was in the bishop's prison, (which prison I suppose was his dog-kennel; for it was, as is reported, under a pair of stairs,) by the bishop's procurement there was sent a stout champion (as appeared) about twelve of the clock at night, who suddenly opened the door, and with a knife drawn, or ready prepared, fell upon her, to the intent to have cut her throat, which she, by reason of the clearness of the moon, perceiving, and calling unto God for help, he, (but who it was she knew not,) giving a grunt, and fearing belike to commit so cruel a deed, departed his ways without any more hurt-doing.
The next night following, they caused a great rumbling to be made over her head, which seemed to her to have been some great thunder, which they did, to have feared her out of her wits; but yet, thanks be to God, they missed of their purpose.
In the godly fellowship of the forenamed three martyrs, was also this Richard Roth, as is already specified; who, being apprehended, and brought up unto the bishop of London, was by him examined the fourth day of July; at what time the bishop did earnestly travail to induce him to believe that there were seven sacraments in Christ's church; and that in the sacrament of the altar, after the words of consecration duly spoken, there remained the very substance of Christ's body and blood, and none other. Whereunto, at that present, he made only this answer; that if the Scripture did so teach him, and that he might be by the same so persuaded, he would so believe; otherwise not. But at another examination, which was the ninth day of September, he declared plainly that in the said sacrament of the altar; as it was then used, there was not the very body and blood of Christ, but that it was a dead god; and that the mass was detestable, and contrary to God's holy word and will, from the which faith and opinion he would not go or decline.
The next day, being the tenth day of the same month of September, the bishop at his house at Fulham (by way of an article) laid and objected against him, that he was a comforter and boldener of heretics; and therefore had written a letter to that effect unto certain that were burnt at Colchester, the copy whereof ensueth.
"O dear brethren and sisters, how much have you to rejoice in God, that he hath given you such faith to overcome this blood-thirsty tyrant thus far! And no doubt he that hath begun that good work in you, will fulfil it unto the end. O dear hearts in Christ, what a crown of glory shall ye receive with Christ in the kingdom of God! O that it had been the good will of God, that I had been ready to have gone with you: for I lie in my Lord's Little-ease in the day, and in the night I lie in the coal-house, from Ralph Allerton, or any other; and we look every day when we shall be condemned. For he said, that I should be burnt within ten days before Easter; but I lie still at the pool's brink, and every man goeth in before me: but we abide patiently the Lord's leisure, with many bonds, in fetters and stocks, by the which we have received great joy in God. And now fare you well, dear brethren and sisters, in this world; but I trust to see you in the heavens face to face.
"O brother Mount, with your wife and my dear sister Rose, how blessed are you in the Lord, that God hath found you worthy to suffer for his sake, with all the rest of my dear brethren and sisters known and unknown! O be joyful even unto death. Fear it not, saith Christ; for I have overcome death, saith he. O dear hearts! seeing that Jesus Christ will be our help, O tarry you the Lord's leisure. Be strong, let your hearts be of good comfort, and wait you still for the Lord. He is at hand. Yea, the angel of the Lord pitcheth his tent round about them that fear him, and delivereth them which way he seeth best. For our lives are in the Lord's hands; and they can do nothing unto us before God suffer them. Therefore give all thanks to God.
"O dear hearts! you shall be clothed with long white garments upon the mount Sion, with the multitude of saints, and with Jesus Christ our Saviour, which will never forsake us. O blessed virgins! ye have played the wise virgins' part, in that you have taken oil in your lamps, that ye may go in with the Bridegroom, when he cometh, into the everlasting joy with him. But as for the foolish, they shall be shut out, because they made not themselves ready to suffer with Christ, neither go about to take up his cross. O dear hearts, how precious shall your death be in the sight of the Lord! for dear is the death of his saints. O fare you well, and pray. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all: Amen, Amen. Pray, pray, pray.
RICHARD ROTH, written with my own blood."
This letter he confessed indeed, upon the said examination, to have written with his blood, and that he meant to have sent the same unto such as were condemned at Colchester for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were afterwards burnt there, as ye have already heard.
The bishop then further asked him, what he thought his prison-fellow Ralph Allerton to be. He answered, that he thought him to be one of the elect children of God; and that if at any time here-after he happened to be put to death for his faith and religion, he thought he should die a true martyr.
And moreover, finding himself aggrieved with the bishop's privy and secret condemning of God's people, he said unto him in this sort: "My Lord, because the people should not see and behold your doings, ye cause me and others to be brought to our examinations by night, being afraid, belike, to do it by day."
The bishop not greatly caring for this talk, pro-ceeded to examine him of other matters, amongst which this high and weighty thing was one; viz., how he did like the order and rites of the church then used here in England. To whom he said, that he ever had and yet then did abhor the same with all his heart.
Then divers of the bishop's complices entreated and persuaded him to recant and ask mercy of the bishop. "No," quoth Roth, "I will not ask mercy of him that cannot give it." Whereupon he was (as the rest before mentioned) condemned and delivered unto the sheriff, and the seventeenth day of September they all most joyfully ended their lives in one fire at Islington, for the testimony of Christ, as before is declared.