398. ELIZABETH LAWSON.
In the town of Bedfield, and in the county of Suffolk, was dwelling an ancient godly matron, named Elizabeth Lawson, about the age of sixty years. This Elizabeth was apprehended as a heretic by the constables of the same town, named Robert Kitrich, and Thomas Elas, in the year of our Lord 1556, because she would not go to church, to hear mass, and receive the sacrament and believe in it. First, they laid her in a dungeon; and, after that, she was carried unto Norwich, and from thence to Bury gaol, where at last she was condemned to be burnt. In the mean time Sir John Sylliard had her home unto his house, he being high sheriff that year; where she was hardly kept, and wrapped in irons, till at length, when they by no means could move her to recant, she was sent to prison again with shameful revilings.
Thus she continued in prison the space of two years and three quarters. In the mean time there was burnt her son, and many more, whereby she would often say, "Good Lord, what is the cause that I may not yet come to thee with thy children? Well, good Lord! thy blessed will be done, and not mine."
Not long after this (most happily) followed the death of Queen Mary, after whom succeeded our queen that now is; at which time this Elizabeth Lawson remained yet still in Bury prison, till at last she was bailed upon sureties, or else she could not be delivered. For she being a condemned person, neither temporalty, nor yet spiritual authority, would discharge her without sureties.
Now, she being abroad, and her sureties made afraid by wicked men, they said, they would cast her again in prison, except she would see them discharged.
Then she got a supplication to go unto the queen's Majesty, and came to a friend of hers, to have his counsel therein; who willed her to stay a while, because she was old, the days short, and the expenses great, and winter foul, (for it was a little before Christmas,) and to tarry until summer. In the mean time God brake the bond, and shortened her journey; for he took her home to himself out of this life in peace.
This good old woman, long before she went to prison, had the falling-sickness, and told a friend of hers, one Simon Harlston, after she was apprehended, that she never had it more, but lived in good health and joy of heart, through our Lord Christ.
She had a very unkind man to her husband, who, while she was in prison, sold away her raiment, and would not help her; and after she was out of prison, she returned home unto him, yet would he show her no kindness, nor help her neither; and yet the house and land that he dwelt in, he had by her: wherefore, as long as she lived, she was found of the congregation.
The said Elizabeth Lawson also had a sister, wife to one Robert Hollon in Mickfield in the same county of Suffolk, which likewise was persecuted and driven out from house to house, and a young man her son with her, because they would not go to church to hear mass, and receive the sacrament of the altar.