388. RICHARD SHARP, THOMAS BENION, AND THOMAS HALE
Illustration -- Thomas Hale arrested at night
In writing of the blessed saints which suffered in the bloody days of Queen Mary, I had almost over-passed the names and story of three godly martyrs, which with their blood gave testimony likewise to the gospel of Christ, being condemned and burnt in the town of Bristol. The names of whom were these: Richard Sharp, Thomas Benion, and Thomas Hale.
First, Richard Sharp, weaver, of Bristol, was brought the ninth day of March, anno 1556, before Master Dalby, chancellor of the town or city of Bristol; and after examination, concerning the sacrament of the altar, was persuaded by the said Dalby and others to recant; and the twenty-ninth of the same month was enjoined to make his recantation before the parishioners in his parish church. Which when he had done, he felt in his conscience such a tormenting hell, that he was not able quietly to work in his occupation, but decayed and changed both in colour and liking of his body; who shortly after, upon Sunday, came into his parish church, called Temple, and after high mass, came to the choir-door, and said with a loud voice, "Neighbours! bear me record that yonder idol," and pointed to the altar, "is the greatest and most abominable that ever was; and I am sorry that ever I denied my Lord God." Then the constables were commanded to apprehend him; but none stepped forth, but suffered him to go out of the church. After, by night, he was apprehended and carried to Newgate; and shortly after he was brought before the lord chancellor, denying the sacrament of the altar to be the body and blood of Christ; and said, it was an idol; and therefore was condemned to be burnt, by the said Dalby. He was burnt the seventh of May, 1557; and died godly, patiently, and constantly, confessing the articles of our faith.
The Thursday in the night before Easter, anno 1557, came one Master David Herris, alderman, and John Stone, to the house of one Thomas Hale, a shoemaker of Bristol, and caused him to rise out of his bed, and brought him forth of his door. To whom the said Thomas Hale said, "You have sought my blood these two years, and now much good do you with it:" who, being committed to the watchmen, was carried to Newgate the twenty-fourth of April, the year aforesaid, was brought before Master Dalby the chancellor, committed by him to prison, and after by him condemned to be burnt, for saying the sacrament of the altar to be an idol. He was burned the seventh of May with the foresaid Richard Sharp, and godly, patiently, and constantly embraced the fire with his arms.
Richard Sharp and Thomas Hale were burnt both together in one fire, and bound back to back.
Thomas Benion, a weaver, at the commandment of the commissioners, was brought by a constable, the thirteenth day of August, anno 1557, before Master Dalby, chancellor of Bristol, who committed him to prison for saying there was nothing but bread in the sacrament, as they used it. Wherefore, the twentieth day of the said August, he was condemned to be burnt by the said Dalby, for denying five of their sacraments, and affirming two, that is, the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and the sacrament of baptism. He was burnt the twenty-seventh of the said month and year, and died godly, constantly, and patiently, with confessing the articles of our Christian faith.