413. JEFFERY HURST, BROTHER-IN-LAW TO GEORGE MARSH THE MARTYR.
In the town of Shakerley in Lancashire dwelled one Jeffery Hurst, the son of an honest yeoman, who had, besides him, eleven children, the said Jeffery being the twelfth and eldest of the rest: and for that their father was willing to bring them up, so that they should be able another day to help themselves, he did bind this Jeffery prentice unto the craft of nailing, to make all kind of nails, which occupation he learned, and served out the time of seven years; the which years being expired, he gave himself at times to learn of his other brethren which went to school; and as he was very willing to the same, so God sent him knowledge, wherein he did persevere and go forwards in such sort, that he could write and read indifferently; and in longer continuance came by more knowledge; and so, having the Bible and divers other books in his house, did come by pretty knowledge in the Scripture. After this he took unto him a wife, being the sister of Master George Marsh, of whose martyrdom mention is made before; and being much familiar with him, did mend his knowledge not a little. Now when Queen Mary was entered the first year of her reign, he kept himself away from their doings and came not at the church; whereupon he was laid in wait for, and called heretic, and Lollard; and so, for fear of further danger, he was compelled to leave his wife and child, and all, and fled into Yorkshire; and there, being not known, did lead his life, returning sometimes by night to his house, to comfort his wife, and bringing with him some preacher or other, who used to preach unto them so long as the time would serve; and so departed by night again. The names of the preachers were Master Reneses, Master Best, Master Brodbanke, Master Russel: and every time they came thither they were about twenty, or twenty-four sometimes, but sixteen at least, who had there also sometimes a communion. And thus in much fear did he with others lead his life, till the last year of the reign of Queen Mary. Then it chanced that the said Jeffery Hurst, after the death of his father, came home, and kept himself close for seven or eight weeks.
There dwelt not far off, at Morless, a certain justice of peace, and of the quorum, named Master Thomas Lelond, who, hearing of him, appointed a time to come to his father's house, where he, then dwelt, to rifle the house for books, and to search for him also; and so did. Jeffery and his company, having knowledge of his coming, took the books which were in the house, as the Bible, the communion-book, and the New Testament of Tyndale's translation, and divers others, and threw them all underneath a tub or vat, conveying also the said Jeffery under the same, with a great deal of straw underneath him; for, as it chanced, they had the more time, because that when the justice came almost to the door, he staid and would not enter the house till he had sent for Hurst's mother's landlady, Mistress Shakerley; and then, with her consent, intended to go forwards. In the mean time, Jeffery, by such as were with him, was willed to lay in his window the Testament of Tyndale's translation, and a little book containing the third part of the Bible, with the book of Ecclesiasticus, to try what they would say unto them.
This done, Mistress Shakerley came; unto whom eftsoons the justice declared the cause of his coming, and how he was sorry to attempt any such thing against any of her tenants for her sake, but notwithstanding, he must needs execute his office. "And again you must," said he, "note this, that a scabbed sheep is able to infect a great number; and especially having, as he hath, so many brethren and sisters, he is able to mar them all, if he be not looked unto in time." And thus concluding, Master Lelond entered into the house; and being come in, set himself in a chair in the middle of the house; and, sending Sir Ralph Parkinson his priest, and one of his men, and one of Mistress Shakerley's men, about the house, to search and rifle the chests for books, (which so did,) in the mean time he talked with Hurst's mother, being of the age almost of sixty years: and chiding with her that she would suffer her son so to order and behave himself like a heretic, said, "Thou old fool, I know myself that this new learning shall come again; but for how long?-- even for three months or four months, and no longer. But I will lay thee, old fool, in Lancaster dungeon, for this gear; and well worthy."
Now as concerning the searchers, they found nothing but Latin books, as grammar, and such like. "These be not they that we look for," said they, "we must see further:" and so looked into Hurst's chamber, where they found the foresaid books. Then Sir Ralph, taking up the Testament, looked on it, and smiled. His master seeing that, said, "Now, Sir Ralph, what have we here?" "Forsooth," saith he, "a Testament of Tyndale's translation, plain heresy, and none worse than it." "Then are all their goods," saith he, "lost to the queen, and their bodies to prison:" and was wonderfully hasty; notwithstanding, through Mistress Shakerley, for a space, he was content to see farther.
Then the priest looked on the other book: "What say ye to that, Sir Ralph; is that as evil as the other?" "No," said he, "but it is not good that they should have such English books to look on; for this and such others may do much harm." Then he asked his mother where her eldest son was, and her daughter Alice. She answered, she could not tell: they were not with her of long time before. And he swore by God's body, he would make her tell where they were, or he would lay her in Lancaster dungeon; and yet he would have them notwithstanding too. To be short, for fear, he had his brother John Hurst and his mother bound in a hundred pounds, to bring the parties before him within fourteen days. And so departed he; and the priest put both the books in his bosom, and carried them away with him. Then John Hurst went after them, desiring that he might have the book which the priest found no fault with: but he said, they should answer to them both; and whichsoever was the better, was not good.
As this passed on, when the time was come that Jeffrey Hurst and his sister should be examined, the justice sent for them betimes in the morning, and had prepared a mass to begin withal, asking Jeffrey Hurst if he would first go and see his Maker, and then he would talk further with him. To whom when Jeffery answered and said; "Sir, my Maker is in heaven, and I am assured in going to your mass I shall find no edification thereby; and therefore I pray you hold me excused." "Well, well," said he, "I perceive I shall find you a heretic, by God! But I will go to mass, and I will not lose it, for all your prattling."
Then into his chapel he went; and when mass was done, he sent for them, and caused his priest to read a scroll unto them, as concerning the seven sacraments. And ever as he spake of the body and blood of Christ, he put off his cap, and said, "Lo! ye may see, you will deny these things, and care not for your prince; but you shall feel it ere I have done with you, and all the faculty of you:" with other talk more between them, I know not what. But in the end they were licensed to depart under sureties to appear again before him within three weeks, and then go to Lancaster. Howbeit, in the mean while it so pleased God, that within four days of the day appointed, it was noised that the queen was dead, and within fourteen days after, the said Jeffery Hurst had his two books sent home, and nothing was said unto him.
It followed after this, that God's word began to take place, and the queen's visitors came down into that country, who did choose four men in the parish, to wit, Simon Smith, Jeffery Hurst, Henry Brown, George Eccersly, which four were protestants, to see the queen's proceedings to take place; who, according to their power, did the same. Notwithstanding it did little prevail; and therefore the said Jeffery, being sore grieved with the office, fell sick; in which sickness it pleased God to call him, making a very godly end -- God have the praise for it!
Now to return to the foresaid Thomas Lelond again, be, continuing in his office still, did very few times come to the church, but said he was aged, and might not labour: and there kept with him Sir Ralph Parkinson his priest, which could (as it was said) minister the communion unto the people, and sing mass unto his master: yes, and (as fame reported) did a prettier feat than all that; for he begat two children by a servant in a house, his master knowing it, and saying nothing, for that he would not lose his good mass-priest.
Furthermore, this was noted in the same Justice Lelond's behaviour at service-time, that he had a little dog which he would play with all service-time, and the same dog had a collar full of bells, so that the noise of them did molest and trouble others, as well as himself, from hearing the service. Also, in the same justice it was noted and observed, that as he sat in his chapel at service-time, his manner was on a willow bark to knit knots, for that he could not be suffered to have his beads, and to put the same upon a string also.-- Witness hereof Edward Hurst, with others.
Furthermore, as concerning Henry Brown, one of the four chosen men above mentioned, this is also to be added, that the said Henry Brown, dwelling in the town of Pennington in the same parish, A. D. 1564, had a little boy, who, as he was playing in the town, one Glave's wife gave unto the boy a pair of beads made of wood, for him to play withal. The little boy, being glad thereof to have such a trim thing, went home and showed his father of them. His father, seeing the beads, took them and burnt them; and when he had so done, went forth and asked who had given unto his little boy that pair of beads.
"That did I," said Glave's wife. "Well," said he, "I have burnt them " "Hast thou so?" said she, and thrust him from her. "They shall be the dearest beads that ever thou sawest;" and incontinent went and complained unto the said justice, how Brown had burnt her beads.
This matter the justice took sore to snuff, and was very angry, and did direct his letter unto the constables of the same town, by his own hand subscribed; the title of which superscription on the back side was this; "To the Constables of Pennington give this."
This done, the constables, according to this their charge, did bring him afore the justice at the time appointed; and when the justice came to talk with him, he was in such a heat, that he called him "thief;" and said, that he had robbed his neighbour in burning of her beads, and that there were rings and other jewels on them, and that he might as well have picked her purse; "wherefore," said he, "I will lay thee in Lancaster dungeon for this gear."
Whilst they were thus talking, there came all his servants about them from their work, saying, "Is this Master Dr. Brown, that will burn beads? I pray you, sir, let us have him here and preach." "I will give you a quarter's wages," saith one: "and I will give money," said another: "and he shall be Master Doctor;" with much derision and scoffung at this poor man.
He, hearing this, spake again boldly, and said; "Did you send for me to make a laughing-stock of me? You be in office, and ought rather to come to the church, and see such papistry abolished yourself, than thus to trouble me for doing my duty: but, I tell you plainly, that you do not come to church as you ought to do, and therefore (with more things that I have to charge you withal) I say, you do not well." When all this misdemeanour of the justice laid to his charge would not prevail, and also witness came in of the papists, which did know the beads, and testified that they were plain, and cost but a halfpenny, he then went into his parlour in a chafe, and one Master Exberston a papist with him; which Exberston turned back, and said, "Is it you, Henry Brown, that keepeth this stir? You are one of them that pulled down crosses in the church, and pulled down the rood-sollor, and all the saints; you were best now to go paint a. black devil, and set him up and worship him, for that will serve well for your religion." And thus, under suretiship, he did depart till July following, and then he said he should go to Lancaster prison; and so came he away.
The time drew on that he should appear, but God stayed the matter, and in July, as the foresaid Thomas Lelond sat in his chair talking with his friends, he fell down suddenly dead, not much moving any joint. And thus was his end: from such God us defend!