SOME WHO ESCAPED MARTYRDOM
395. WILLIAM LIVING AND JOHN LITHALL
Although the secret purpose of Almighty God, which disposeth all things, suffered a great number of his faithful servants, both men and women, and that of all ages and degrees, to fall into the enemies' hands, and to abide the brunt of this persecution, to be tried with rods, with whips, with racks, with fetters, famine, with bnrning of hands, with plucking of beards, with burning also both hand, beard, and body, &c.; yet, notwithstanding, some there were again, and that a great number, who miraculously, by the merciful providence of God, against all men's expectation, in safety were delivered out of the fiery rage of this persecution, either by voiding the realm, or shifting of place, or the Lord so blinding the eyes of the persecutors, or disposing the opportunity of time, or working some such means or other for his servants, as not only ought to stir them up to perpetual thanks, but also may move all men both to behold and magnify the wondrous works of the Almighty.
About what time it began to be known that Queen Mary was sick, divers good men were in hold in divers quarters of the realm; some at Bury; some at Salisbury, as John Hunt and Richard White, of whom we have storied before; and some at London, amongst whom were William Living with his wife, and John Lithall, of whom something remaineth now compendiously to be touched.
The trouble and deliverance of William Living with his wife, and of John Lithall, ministers.
About the time of the latter end of Queen Mary, she then being sick, came one Cox, a promoter, to the house of William Living, about six of the clock, accompanied with one John Launce of the Greyhound. They being not ready, they demanded for buttons, saying they should be as well paid for them, as ever was any; and he would come again, about three hours after, for them. In the mean while he had gotten the constable, called Master Dean, and George Hancock, the beadle of that ward, and searching his books, found a book of astronomy, called "The work of Johannis Jacobus Manlius de Bosco, 'de Sphere,'" with figures, some round, some triangular, some quadrilateral; which book, because it was gilt, seemed to him the chiefest book there; and that he carried open in the street, saying, "I have found him at length. It is no marvel the queen be sick, seeing there be such conjurers in privy corners; but now, I trust, he shall conjure no more: "and so brought him and his wife from Shoe Lane, through Fleet Street, into Paul's churchyard, with the constable, the beadle, and two others following them, till they were entered into Darbishire's house, who was Bishop Bonner's chancellor: and after the constable and they had talked with Darbishire, he came forth, and walked in his yard, saying these words:
Darbishire.--"What is your name?"
Darbishire.--"What are you? a priest?"
Darbishire.--"Is this your wife, that is come with you?"
Living.--"That she is."
Darbishire.--"Where were you made priest?"
Darbishire.--"In what bishop's days?"
Living.--"By the bishop of Lincoln, that was King Henry's ghostly father in Cardinal Wolsey's time."
Darbishire--"You are a schismatic and a traitor."
Living.--"I wonld be sorry that were true. I am certain I never was traitor, but always have taught obedience, according to the tenor of God's word; and when tumults and schisms have been stirred, I have preached God's word, and suaged them, as in the time of King Edward."
Darbishire.--"What, you are a schismatic. You be not in the unity of the catholic church: for you pray not as the Church of Rome doth. You pray in English."
Living.--"We are certain we be in the true church."
Darbishire.--"There be that doubt thereof, forasmuch as there is but one true church. Well, you will learn against I talk with you again, to know the Church of Rome, and to be a member thereof."
Living.--"If the Church of Rome be of that church whereof Christ is the head, then am I a member thereof; for I know no other church but that."
Darbishire.--"Well, Cluney, take him with thee to the coal-house."
Then called he Cluney again, and spake secretly to him; what, I know not.
Then said Cluney, "Wilt thou not come?" and so plucked me away violently, and brought me to his own house in Paternoster Row, where he robbed me of my purse, my girdle, and my Psalter, and a New Testament of Geneva; and then brought me to the coal-house, to put me in the stocks, saying, "Put in both your legs and your hands also; and except you fine with me, I will put a collar about your neck." "What is the fine?" quoth I. "Forty shillings," quoth he. "I am never able to pay it," said I.
"Then," said he, "you have friends that be able." I denied it; and so he put both my legs into the stocks till supper time, which was six of the clock; and then a cousin of my wife's brought me meat, who, seeing me to sit there, said, "I will give you forty pence, and let him go at liberty." And he took her money, and presently let me forth in her sight, to eat my supper. And at seven of the clock, he put me into the stocks again; and so I remained till two of the clock the next day, and so he let me forth till night. This woman above mentioned, was Griffin's first wife, a brother dwelling then in Aldermanbury, and yet alive in Cheapside.
The Thursday following at afternoon was I called to the Lollards' Tower, and there put in the stocks, having the favour to put my leg in that hole that Master John Philpot's leg was in; and so lay all that night, nobody coming to me, either with meat or drink.
At eleven of the clock on the Friday, Cluney came to me with meat, and let me forth, and about one of the clock he brought me to Darbishire's house, who drew forth a scroll of names, and asked me if I knew none of them: I said, I know none of them but Foster. And so I kneeled down upon my knees, and prayed him that he would not inquire thereof any further. And with that came forth two godly women, which said, "Master Darbishire, it is enough;" and so became sureties for me, and paid to Cluney fifteen shillings for my fees, and bade me go with them.
And thus much concerning William Living. After this came his wife to examination, whose answers to Darbishire the chancellor, here likewise follow.
Darbishire.--"Ah, sirrah; I see by your gown, you be one of the sisters."
Julian.--"I wear not my gown for sisterhood, neither for nunnery, but to keep me warm."
Darbishire.--"Nun! No, I dare say you be none. Is that man your husband?"
Darbishire.--"He is a priest."
Julian.--"No, he saith no mass."
Darbishire.--"What then? he is a priest. How darest thou marry him?"
Then he showed me a roll of certain names of citizens. To whom I answered, I knew none of them.
Then said he, "You shall be made to know them."
Then said I, "Do no other but justice and right; for the day will come, that you shall answer for it."
Darbishire.--"Why, woman, thinkest thou not that I have a soul?"
Julian.--"Yes, I know you have a soul: but whether it be to salvation or damnation, I cannot tell."
Darbishire.--"O, Cluney! have her to the Lollards' Tower." And so he took me, and carried me to his house, where was one Dale, a promoter, which said to me, "Alas, good woman, wherefore be you here?" "What is that to you?" said I.
"You be not ashamed," quoth Dale, "to tell wherefore you came hither." "No," quoth I, "that I am not; for it is for Christ's testament."
"Christ's testament!" quoth he, "it is the devil's testament." "O Lord," quoth I, "God forbid that any man should speak any such word."
"Well, well," quoth he, "you shall be ordered well enough. You care not for burning," quoth he, "God's blood! there must be some other means found for you." "What," quoth I, "will you find any worse than you have found?"
"Well," quoth he, "you hope, and you hope: but your hope shall be aslope. For though the queen fail, she that you hope for shall never come at it: for there is my Lord Cardinal's Grace, and many more between her and it." "Then," quoth I, "my hope is in none but God."
Then said Cluney, "Come with me;" and so went I to the Lollards' Tower. On the next day Darbishire sent for me again, and inquired again of those citizens that he inquired of before. I answered, I knew them not.
"Where were you," quoth he, at the communion on Sunday was a fortnight?" and I said, "In no place."
Then the constable of St. Bride's, being there, made suit for me; and Darbishire demanded of him, if he would be bound for me. He answered, Yea, and so he was bound for my appearance betwixt that and Christmas.
Then Darbishire said, "You be constable, and should give her good counsel." "So do I," quoth he, "for I bid her go to mass, and to say as you say. For, by the mass, if you say the crow is white, I will say so too."
And thus much concerning the examination of William Living and his wife, whom although thou seest here delivered, through the request of women, his sureties; yet it was no doubt, but that the deadly sickness of Queen Mary abated and bridled then the cruelty of those papists, which otherwise would never have let them go.
But yet the archdeacon of Canterbury would remit none of his extreme tyranny, in burning those five, above named, at Canterbury.
The trouble and deliverance of John Lithall.
At the taking of William Living, it happened that certain of his books were in the custody of one John Lithall; which known, the constable of the ward of Southwark, with other of the queen's servants, were sent to his house, who, breaking open his doors and chests, took away not only the book of the said William Living, but also all his own books, writings, and bills of debts, which he never had again. All this while Lithall was not at home.
The next Saturday after, as he was returned, and known to be at home, John Avales and certain of the queen's servants beset his house all the night with such careful watch, that as he in the morning issued out of doors, thinking to escape their hands, John Avales, suddenly bursting out upon him, cried, "Stop the traitor! stop the traitor!" whereat Lithall being amazed, looked back.
And so John Avales came running to him, with other that were with him, saying, "Ah, sirrah! you are a pretty traitorly fellow indeed; we have had somewhat to do to get you." To whom he answered, that he was a truer man to the queen's Majesty than he: "for you," said he, "are commanded by God to keep holy the sabbath day, and you seek to shed your neighbour's blood on the sabbath day. Remember that you must answer there-for to God." But he said, "Come on, you villain! you must go before the council." So was Lithall brought into Paul's churchyard to the bishop's chancellor, by John Avales, saying, that he had there caught the captain of these fellows; and so caused him to be called to examination before Dr. Darbishire, who entered talk with him in this wise:
Bishop's Chancellor.--"What countryman are you?"
Lithall.--"I am an Englishman, born in Staffordshire."
Chancellor.--"Where were you brought up?"
Lithall.--"In this our country of England."
Chancellor.--"In what university?"
Lithall.--"In no university, but in a free-school."
Chancellor.--"We have had certain books from your house, and writings, wherein are both treason and heresy."
Lithall.--"Sir, there is neither treason nor heresy in them."
Then he asked for certain other men that I knew.
Lithall.--"If you have aught to lay to my charge, I will answer it: but I will have no other man's blood upon my head."
Chancellor.--"Why come you not to the church? Of what church be you, that you come not to your own parish church?"
Lithall.--"I am of the church of Christ, the fountain of all goodness."
Chancellor.--"Have you no ministers of your church, but Christ?"
Lithall.--"We have others."
Chancellor.--"Where be they?"
Lithall.--"In the whole world, dispersed, preaching and professing the gospel and faith only in our Saviour Jesus, as he commanded them."
Chancellor.--"You boast much, every one of you, of your faith and belief; let me hear therefore the effect, how you believe."
Lithall.--"I believe to be justified really by Christ Jesus, according to the saying of St. Paul to the Ephesians, without either deeds or works, or any thing that may be invented by man."
Chancellor.--"Faith cannot save without works."
Lithall.--"That is contrary to the doctrine of the apostles."
Chancellor.--"John Avales! you and the keeper have this fellow to prison."
Then John Avales and Cluney the keeper had me into Paul's, and would have had me to have seen the apostles' mass.
Lithall.--"I know none the apostles had, and therefore I will see none."
Cluney and John Avales.--"Come and kneel down before the rood, and say a Paternoster, and an Ave in the worship of the five wounds."
Lithall.--"I am forbidden by God's own mouth to kneel to any idol or image; therefore I will not."
Then they pulled me with great extremity, the one having me by one arm, and the other by the other; but God gave me at that present time more strength than both these, his name be praised for it.
Then, when they could not make me to kneel before the rood, neither to see the mass, there gathered a great company about us, and all against me. Some spat on me, and said, "Fie on thee, heretic!" and others said, It was pity I was not burned already.
Then they carried me to Lollards' Tower, and hanged me in a great pair of stocks, in which I lay three days and three nights, till I was so lame that I could neither stir nor move.
Then I offered the keeper certain money and gold that I had about me, to release me out of the stocks: and he said, I would not be ruled by him, either to see mass, or to kneel before the rood, and therefore I should lie there still. But I said, I would never do the thing that should be against my conscience: and though you have lamed my body, yet my conscience is whole, I praise God for it. So, shortly after, he let me out of the stocks, more for the love of my money (as it may be thought) than for any other affection; and within four or five days my wife got leave of Master Chancellor to come to me, to bring me such things as were needful for me; and there I lay five weeks and odd days, in the which time divers of my neighbours and friends made suit to the chancellor for my deliverance: the bishop, as they said, at that time being at Fulham, sick. So my neighbours being there, about twenty of them, the chancellor sent for me out of the Lollards' Tower to his own house, and said as followeth:
Chancellor.--"Lithall! here be of thy neighbours which have been with me to entreat for thee; and they have informed me, that thou hast been a very honest and quiet neighbour among them, and I think it be God's will that I should deliver thee before my Lord come home. For if he come, and thou go home again, I will be burned for thee: for I know his mind already in that matter."
Lithall.--"I give you hearty thanks for your gentleness, and my neighbours for their good report."
Chancellor.--"Lithall, if thy neighbours will be bound for thy forthcoming whensoever thou shalt be called for; and also if thou wilt be an obedient subject, I shall be content to deliver thee."
Neighbours.--"If it please your Worship, we will be bound for him in body and goods."
Chancellor.--"I will require no such bond of you, but that two of you will be bound in twenty pounds a piece, that he shall come to answer when he shall be called."
Lithall.--"Where find you, Master Chancellor, in all the Scriptures, that the church of God did bind any man for the profession of his faith? which profession you have heard of me, that all our justification, righteousness, and salvation, cometh only and freely by the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ; and all the inventions and works of men, be they never so glorious, be altogether vain, as the wise man saith."
Chancellor.--"Lo, where he is now! I put no such matter to you; for in that I believe as you do: but yet St. James saith, that a man is justified by works."
Lithall.--"St. James spake to them that boasted themselves of faith, and showed no works of faith: but, O Master Chancellor! remember, I pray you, how all the promises and prophecies of the Holy Scripture, even from the first promise that God made to Adam, and so even to the latter end of the Revelation of St. John, do testify that in the name of Jesus, and only by his merits, all that believe shall be saved from all their sins and offences. Esaias saith, I am found of them that sought me not, and am manifest to them that asked not after me: but against Israel he saith, All day long have I stretched out my hand to a people that believe not. And when the jailer asked St. Paul, what he should do to be saved, the apostle said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and all thy household. Again, St. John saith in the Revelation, that there was none, neither in heaven nor in earth, neither under the earth, that was able to open the book or the seals thereof, but only the Lamb Jesus, our only Saviour. And St. Paul saith, With one offering hath he made perfect for ever them that are sanctified."
Chancellor.--"With vain-glory you rehearse much Scripture, as all the sort of you do; but you have no more understanding than a many of sheep. But to the purpose: Will you that your neighbours shall enter into bonds for you, or not?"
Lithall.--"By my mind, they shall not. Wherefore I desire you that you would not bind me, but let me serve God with my conscience freely; for it is written, They that lead into captivity shall go into captivity; and they that strike with the sword shall perish with the sword. Also it is written in the gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ, That whoso doth offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the depth of the sea: of the which I am assured by his Holy Spirit that I am one. Wherefore be you well assured that such mercy as you show, unto you shall be showed the like."
Chancellor.--"You are a mad-man. I would not bind you, but that I must needs have somewhat to show for your deliverance." Then he called two of my neighbours, Thomas Daniel and Saunders Maybe, which offered themselves to be bound; and called me before them, and said, "I have a letter of his own handwriting, with his name and seal at it, with a book also against the regiment of women, for the which I could make him to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; but, on my faith, I will him no more hurt, than I mean to my own soul."
Lithall.--"I desire you that be my neighbours and friends, that you will not enter into bonds for me; for you know not the danger thereof, neither I myself. It goeth against my conscience that ye should so do."
Chancellor.--"Why, I will not bind you to do any thing against your conscience."
Then they made the bond and sealed to it, and willed me that I should seal to it also; and I said that I would not, neither could I observe the bond, and therefore I would not set to my hand.
Chancellor.--"It is pity that thou hast so much favour showed thee: yet for these honest men's sakes I will discharge thee."
Notwithstanding all these dissembling words of Master Darbishire, pretending for favour of his sureties to set him at liberty, it was no such thing, nor any zeal of charity that moved him so to do; but only fear of the time, understanding the dangerous and unrecoverable sickness of Queen Mary, which then began somewhat to assuage the cruel proceed, ing of these persecutors, whereby they durst not do that they would: for else, Lithall was not like to have escaped so easily.