376. WILLIAM SEAMAN, THOMAS CARMAN, AND THOMAS HUDSON.
Immediately after William Nichol, succeeded in that honourable and glorious vocation of martyrdom, three constant godly men at Norwich, in Norfolk; who were cruelly and tyrannically put to death for the true testimony of Jesus Christ, the nineteenth of May, anno 1558, whose names be these: William Seaman, Thomas Carman, and Thomas Hudson.
The said William Seaman was a husbandman, of the age of twenty-six years, dwelling in Mendlesham, in the county of Suffolk, who was sundry times sought for by the commandment of Sir John Tyrrel, knight, and at last he himself in the night searched his house and other places for him; notwithstanding he somewhat missed of his purpose, God be thanked. Then he gave charge to his servants, Robert Baulding and James Clarke, with others, to seek for him; who, having no officer, went in the evening to his house, where he being at home, they took him and carried him to their master, Sir John Tyrrel. This Baulding, being Seaman's nigh neighbour, and whom the said Seaman greatly trusted as a special friend, notwithstanding, (to do his master a pleasure,) now became enemy to his chief friend, and was one of the busiest in the taking of him. Now as they were going to carry him to their master Sir John Tyrrel in the night, it is credibly reported that there fell a light between them out of the element, and parted them, this Baulding being in company with the rest when the light fell; and albeit he was then in his best age, yet after that time never enjoyed good day, but pined away even to death.
Well, for all that strange sight, (as I said,) they carried him to their master; who, when he came, asked him why he would not go to mass, and receive the sacrament, and so to worship it? Unto which William Seaman answered, denying it to be a sacrament, but said it was an idol, and therefore would not receive it. After which words spoken, Sir John Tyrrel shortly sent him to Norwich, to Hopton, then bishop, and there, after conference and examination had with him, the bishop read his bloody sentence of condemnation against him; and afterward delivered him to the secular power, who kept him unto the day of martyrdom.
This said William Seaman left behind him when he died, a wife and three children very young: and with the said young children his wife was persecuted out of the said town also of Mendlesham, because that she would not go to hear mass: and all her corn and goods [were] seized and taken away by Master Christopher Coles's officers, he being lord of the said town.
Thomas Carman, (who, as is said, pledged Richard Crashfield at his burning, and thereupon was apprehended,) being prisoner in Norwich, was, about one time with the rest, examined and brought before the said bishop, who answered no less in his Master's cause than the other; and therefore had the like reward that the other had, which was the.bishop's bloody blessing of condemnation; and [was] delivered also to the secular power, who kept him with the other until the day of slaughter, which hasted on, and was not long after.
Thomas Hudson was of Aylsham, in Norfolk, by his occupation a glover, a very honest poor man, having a wife and three children, labouring always truly and diligently in his vocation, being of thirty years of age; and hearing so good a will to the gospel, that he in the days of King Edward the Sixth, two years before Queen Mary's reign, learned to read English of Anthony and Thomas Norgate, of the same town, wherein he greatly profited about the time of alteration of religion. For when Queen Mary came to reign, and had changed the service in the church, putting in for wheat, draff and darnel, and for good preaching, blasphemous crying out against truth and godliness; he then, avoiding all their ceremonies of superstition, absented himself from his house, and went into Suffolk a long time, and there remained travelling from one place to another, as occasion was offered. At the last he returned back again to Norfolk, to his house at Aylsham, to comfort his wife and children, being heavy, and troubled with his absence.
Now when he came home, and perceived his continuance there would be dangerous, he and his wife devised to make him a place among his faggots to hide himself in, where he remained all the day (instead of his chamber) reading and praying continually, for the space of half a year, and his wife, like an honest woman being careful for him, used herself faithfully and diligently towards him.
In the mean time came the vicar of the town, named Berry, (who was one of the bishop's commissaries, a very evil man,) and inquired of this said Thomas Hudson's wife, for her husband: unto whom she answered, as not knowing where he was. Then the said Berry rated her, and threatened to burn her, for that she would not bewray her husband where he was. After that when Hudson understood it, he waxed every day more zealous than other, and continually read and sang psalms to the wonder of many, the people openly resorting to him, to hear his exhortations and vehement prayers.
At the last he walked abroad for certain days openly in the town, crying out continually against the mass and all their trumpery, and in the end, coming home in his house, he sat him down upon his knees, having his book by him, reading and singing psalms continually without ceasing for three days and three nights together, refusing meat and other talk, to the great wonder of many.
Then one John Crouch, his next neighbour, went to the constables Robert Marsham and Robert Lawes, in the night, to certify them thereof; for Berry commanded openly to watch for him: and the constables, understanding the same, went cruelly to catch him in the break of the day, the twenty-second of the month of April, anno 1558.
Now when Hudson saw them come in, he said, "Now mine hour is come. Welcome friends, welcome! You be they that shall lead me to life in Christ. I thank God there-for, and the Lord enable me thereto for his mercy's sake." For his desire was, and ever he prayed, (if it were the Lord's will,) that he might suffer for the gospel of Christ.
Then they took him, and led him to Berry, the commissary, which was vicar of the town; and the said Berry asked him first, where he kept his church for four years before; to the which the said Hudson answered thus: Wheresoever he was, there was the church.
"Dost thou not believe," said Berry, "in the sacrament of the altar? what is it "It is worms' meat: my belief," saith Hudson, "is Christ crucified." "Dost thou not believe the mass to put away sins? "No, God forbid! it is a patched monster, and a disguised puppet; more longer a piecing than ever was Solomon's temple."
At which words Berry stamped, fumed, and showed himself as a mad-man, and said, "Well, thou villain, thou! I will write to the bishop my good lord: and, trust unto it, thou shalt be handled according to thy deserts." "Oh! sir," said Hudson, "there is no Lord but God, though there be many lords and many gods." With that Berry thrust him back with his hand. And one Richard Cliffar, standing by, said, "I pray you, sir, be good to the poor man." At which words Berry was more mad than before, and would have had Cliffar bound in a recognisance of forty pounds, for his good abearing both in word and deed; which his desire took no effect. Then he asked the said Hudson, whether he would recant, or no. Unto the which words Hudson said, "The Lord forbid! I had rather die many deaths than to do so."
Then, after long talk, the said Berry, seeing it booted not to persuade with him, took his pen and ink, and wrote letters to the bishop thereof, and sent this Hudson to Norwich bound like a thief to him, which was eight miles from thence, who with joy and singing-cheer went thither, as merry as ever he was at any time before. In prison he was a month, where he did continually read, and invocate the name of God.
These three Christians and constant martyrs, William Seaman, Thomas Carman, and Thomas Hudson, after they were (as ye have heard) condemned the nineteenth day of May, anno 1558, were carried out of prison to the place where they should suffer, which was without Bishop's-gate at Norwich, called Lollard's Pit; and, being all there, they made their humble petitions unto the Lord. That being done, they rose and went to the stake; and standing all there with their chains about them, immediately this said Thomas Hudson cometh forth from them under the chain, to the great wonder of many; whereby divers feared and greatly doubted of him. For some thought he would have recanted; other judged rather that he went to ask further day, and to desire conference; and some thought he came forth to ask some of his parents' blessing. So some thought one thing, and some another: but his two companions at the stake cried out to comfort him what they could, exhorting him in the bowels of Christ to be of good cheer, &c. But this sweet Hudson felt more in his heart and conscience than they could conceive in him for, alas, good soul! he was compassed (God knoweth) with great dolour and grief of mind, not for his death, but for lack of feeling of his Christ: and therefore, being very careful, he humbly fell down upon his knees, and prayed vehemently and earnestly unto the Lord, who at the last (according to his old mercies) sent him comfort; and then rose he with great joy, as a man new changed even from death to life, and said: "Now, I thank God, I am strong, and pass not what man can do unto me." So, going to the stake to his fellows again, in the end they all suffered most joyfully, constantly, and manfully, the death together, and were consumed in fire, to the terror of the wicked, the comfort of God's children, and the magnifying of the Lord's name, who be praised there-for for ever; Amen.
Commissary Berry's wickedness and God's judgment on him.
After this, the foresaid commissary Berry made great stir about others which were suspected within the said town of Aylsham, and caused two hundred to creep to the cross at Pentecost, besides other punishments which they sustained.
On a time this Berry gave a poor man of his parish of Marsham a blow with the swingel of a flail, for a word-speaking, that presently thereon he died; and the said Berry, as is said, held up his hand at the bar there-for.
Then, after that, in his parish of Aylsham also, anno 1557, there was one Alice Oxes came to his house, and going into the hall, he, meeting her, (being before moved,) smote her with his fist, whereby she was fain to be carried home, and the next day was found dead in her chamber.
To write how many concubines and whores he had, none would believe it, but such as knew him in the country where he dwelt. He was rich, and of great authority, a great swearer, altogether given to women, and persecuting the gospel, and compelling men to idolatry.
One John Norgate, a man learned, godly, and zealous, who would not go to their trash, but rather die, being sore hunted by the said Berry, prayed heartily to God, and the Lord shortly after in a consumption delivered him.
Notwithstanding the rage of this wicked man waxed fiercer and fiercer. He troubled sundry men, burnt all good books that he could get, and divorced many men and women for religion.
When he heard say that Queen Mary was dead, and the glory of their triumph quailed, the Sunday after, being the nineteenth of November, anno 1558, he made a great feast, and had one of his concubines there, with whom he was in his chamber after dinner, until even-song. Then went he to church, where he had ministered baptism; and in going from church homeward after even-song, between the churchyard and his house, being but a little space, (as it were a churchyard breadth asunder,) he fell down suddenly to the ground with a heavy groan, and never stirred after, neither showed any one token of repentance.
This happened his neighbours being by, to the example of all others. The Lord grant we may observe his judgments! And those that had his great riches, since his death have so consumed with them, that they be poorer now, than they were before they had his goods: such judgment hath the Lord executed to the eyes of all men.
At that time one Dunning, chancellor of Lincoln, (which in some part of Queen Mary's days was chancellor of Norwich, and a very merciless tyrant as lived,) died in Lincolnshire of as sudden a warning as the said Berry did.
Thus have I showed thee, good reader, the constancy, boldness, and glorious victory, of these happy martyrs; as also the tyrannical cruelty of that unfortunate commissary, and his terrible end.
The Lord grant we may all effectually honour the judgments of God, and fear to displease his holy Majesty, Amen.
The persecution of Mother Seaman.
About this time, or somewhat before, was one Joan Seaman, mother to the aforesaid William Seaman, being of the age of threescore and six years, persecuted of the said Sir John Tyrrel also, out of the town of Mendlesham aforesaid, because she would not go to mass and receive against her conscience; which good old woman being from her house, was glad sometimes to lie in bushes, groves, and fields, and sometimes in her neighbour's house, when she could. And her husband being at home, about the age of eighty years, fell sick; and she, hearing thereof, with speed returned home to her house again, not regarding her life, but considering her duty; and showed her diligence to her husband most faithfully, until God took him away by death. Then by God's providence she fell sick also, and departed this life within her own house shortly after.
And when one Master Symonds the commissary heard of it, dwelling thereby in a town called Thorndon, he commanded straitly that she should be buried in no Christian burial, (as they call it,) where-through her friends were compelled to lay her in a pit, under a moat's side. Her husband and she kept a good house, and had a good report amongst their neighbours, willing always to receive strangers, and to comfort the poor and sick; and lived together in the holy estate of matrimony very honestly above forty years. And she departed this life willingly and joyfully, with a stedfast faith, and a good remembrance of God's promises in Christ Jesus.