391. WILL FETTY, A YOUNG LAD OF EIGHT YEARS OLD, SCOURGED TO DEATH IN BISHOP BONNER'S HOUSE IN LONDON.
Illustration -- Cluney carrying Will FettyF bloody torments and cruel death of a poor innocent, suffering for no cause of his own, but in the truth of Christ and his religion, do make a martyr, no less deserveth the child of one John Fetty to be reputed in the catalogue of holy martyrs, who in the house of Bishop Bonner unmercifully was scourged to death, as by the sequel of this story here following may appear.
Amongst those that were persecuted and miserably imprisoned for the profession of Christ's gospel, and yet mercifully delivered by the providence of God, there was one John Fetty, a simple and godly poor man, dwelling in the parish of Clerkenwell, and was by vocation a tailor, of the age of forty-two years or thereabout, who was accused and complained of unto one Brokenbury, a priest and parson of the same parish, by his own wife, for that he would not come unto the church, and be partaker of their idolatry and superstition; and therefore, through the said priest's procurement, he was apprehended by Richard Tanner and his fellow constables there, and one Martin the headborough. Howbeit immediately upon his apprehension, his wife (by the just judgment of God) was stricken mad, and distract of her wits; which declared a marvellous example of the justice of God against such unfaithful and most unnatural treachery. And although this example, perhaps for lack of knowledge and instruction in such cases, little moved the consciences of those simple poor men to surcease their persecution; yet natural pity towards that ungrateful woman wrought so in their hearts, that for the preservation and sustentation of her and her two children, (like otherwise to perish,) they for that.present let her husband alone, and would not carry him to prison, but yet suffered him to remain quietly in his own house; during which time, he, as it were forgetting the wicked and unkind fact of his wife, did yet so cherish and provide for her, that within the space of three weeks, (through God's merciful providence,) she was well amended, and had recovered again some stay of her wits and senses.
But such was the power of Satan in the malicious heart of that wicked woman, that notwithstanding his gentle dealing with her, yet she, so soon as she had recovered some health, did again accuse her husband; whereupon he was the second time apprehended, and carried unto Sir John Mordant, knight, one of the queen's commissioners, and he, upon examination, sent him by Cluney the bishop's sumner unto the Lollards' Tower, where he was (even at the first) put into the painful stocks, and had a dish of water set by him, with a stone put into it: to what purpose God knoweth, except it were to show that he should look for little other sustenance; which is credible enough, if we consider their like practices upon divers before mentioned in this history, as, amongst others, upon Richard Smith, who died through their cruel imprisonment; touching whom, when a godly woman came to Dr. Story, to have leave that she might bury him, he asked her if he had any straw or blood in his mouth: but what he meant thereby, I leave to the judgment of the godly wise.
After the aforesaid Fetty had thus lain in the prison by the space of fifteen days, hanging in the stocks, sometimes by the one leg, and the one arm, sometimes by the other, and otherwhiles by both, it happened that one of his children, (a boy of the age of eight or nine years,) came unto the bishop's house, to see if he could get leave to speak with his father. At his coming thither, one of the bishop's chaplains met with him, and asked him what he lacked and whom he would have. The child answered, that he came to see his father. The chaplain asked again, who was his father. The boy then told him, and pointing towards Lollards' Tower, showed him that his father was there in prison. "Why," quoth the priest, "thy father is a heretic." The child, being of a bold and quick spirit, and also godly brought up, and instructed by his father in the knowledge of God, answered and said, "My father is no heretic; for you have Balaam's mark."
With that the priest took the child by the hand, and carried him into the bishop's house, (whether to the bishop or not, I know not, but like enough he did,) and there, amongst them, they did most shamefully and without all pity so whip and scourge, being naked, this tender child, that he was all in a gore-blood; and then, in jolly brag of their catholic tyranny, they caused Cluney, having his coat upon his arm, to carry the child in his shirt unto his father being in prison, the blood running down by his heels.
At his coming unto his father the child fell down upon his knees, and asked his blessing. The poor man then beholding his child, and seeing him so cruelly arrayed, cried out for sorrow, and said, "Alas, Will! who hath done this to thee?" The boy answered, that as he was seeking how to come to see his father, a priest with Balaam's mark took him into the bishop's house, and there was he so handled. Cluney therewith violently plucked the child away out of his father's hands, and carried him back again into the bishop's house, where they kept him three days after. And at the three days' end, Bonner (minding to make the matter whole, and somewhat to appease the poor man, for this their horrible fact) determined to release him; and therefore caused him early in a morning to be brought out of Lollards' Tower into his bed-chamber, where he found the bishop basting of himself against a great fire; and at his first entering into the chamber, Fetty said, "God be here, and peace." "God be here, and peace!" quoth Bonner; "that is neither God speed, nor Good morrow." "If ye kick against this peace," said Fetty, "then this is not the place that I seek for."
A chaplain of the bishop's standing by, turned the poor man about, and thinking to deface him, said in mocking-wise, "What have we here, a player?" Whilst this Fetty was standing in the bishop's chamber, he espied hanging about the bishop's bed a great pair of black beads: whereupon he said, "My Lord, I think the hangman is not far off; for the halter" (pointing to the beads) "is here already." At which words the bishop was in a marvellous rage.
Then, immediately after, he espied also standing in the said bishop's chamber in the window, a little crucifix (before which, belike, Bonner used to kneel in the time of his hypocritical prayers). Then he asked the bishop what it was; and he answered that it was Christ. "Was he handled so cruelly as he is here pictured?" quoth Fetty.
"Yea, that he was," said the bishop.
"And even so cruelly will you handle such as come before you. For you are unto God's people, as Caiaphas was unto Christ."
The bishop being in a great fury, said, "Thou art a vile heretic; and I will burn thee, or else I will spend all that I have, unto my gown." "Nay, my Lord," said Fetty, "ye were better to give it a poor body, that he may pray for you."
But yet Bonner, bethinking in himself of the danger that the child was in by their whipping, and what peril might ensue thereupon, thought better to discharge him; which thing was accomplished. Whereupon, after this and such-like talk, the bishop at last discharged him, willing him to go home, and carry his child with him; which he so did, and that with a heavy heart, to see his poor boy in such extreme pain and grief. But within fourteen days after, the child died, whether through this cruel scourging, or any other infirmity, I know not; and therefore I refer the truth thereof unto the Lord, who knoweth all secrets, and also to the discreet judgment of the wise reader. But howsoever it was, the Lord yet used their cruel and detestable fact as a means of his providence for the delivery of this good poor man and faithful Christian: his name be ever praised there-for. Amen.