Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 141. RICHARD HUN


As it is the property of Satan ever to malice the prosperous estate of the saints of God, and true professors of Christ; so ceaseth he not continually to stir up his wicked members to the effectual accomplishing of that which his envious nature so greedily desireth; if not always openly by colour of tyrannical laws, yet, at the leastwise, by some subtle practice of secret murder; which thing doth most plainly appear not only in a great number of the blessed martyrs of Christ's church, mentioned in this book, but also, and especially, in the discourse of this lamentable history that now I have in hand, concerning the secret and cruel murdering of Richard Hun, whose story here consequently ensueth, excerped and collected partly out of the registers of London, partly out of a bill exhibited and denounced in the parliament house.

There was in the year of our Lord 1514, one Richard Hun, merchant tailor, dwelling within the city of London, and freeman of the same, who was esteemed during his life, and worthily reputed and taken, not only for a man of true dealing and good substance, but also for a good catholic man. This Richard Hun had a child at nurse in Middlesex in the parish of St. Mary Matsilon, which died; by the occasion whereof, one Thomas Drifield, clerk, being parson of the said parish, sued the said Richard Hun in the spiritual court for a bearing sheet, which the said Thomas Drifield claimed, unjustly, to have of the said Hun, for a mortuary for Stephen Hun, son of the said Richard Hun; which Stephen, being at nurse in the said parish, died being of the age of five weeks, and not above. Hun answered him again, that forasmuch as the child had no property in the sheet, he therefore neither would pay it, nor the other ought to have it. Whereupon the priest, moved with a covetous desire, and loth to lose his pretended right, cited him to appear in the spiritual court, there to answer the matter. Whereupon the said Richard Hunne, being troubled in the spiritual court, was forced to seek counsel of the learned in the law of this land, and pursued a writ of præmunire against the said Thomas Drifield, and other, his aiders, counsellors, proctors,and adherents, as by the process thereof is yet to be seen; which when the rest of the priestly order heard of, greatly disdaining that any layman should so boldly enterprise such a matter against any of them; and fearing also that if they should now suffer this priest to be condemned at the suit of Hun, there would be thereby ever after a liberty opened unto all others of the laity to do the like with the rest of the clergy in such-like cases; they straightways, both to stop this matter, and also to be revenged of him, for that he had already done, sought all means they possibly could how to entrap and bring him within the danger of their own cruel laws; and thereupon making secret and diligent inquisition, and seeking all corners they could against him, at length they found a means how to accuse him of heresy, unto Richard Fitzjames, then bishop of London, and so did; who (desirous to satisfy the revenging and bloody affection of his chaplains) caused him thereupon to be apprehended and committed unto prison within the Lollard's Tower at Paul's, so that none of his friends might be suffered to come to him. This Richard Hun being clapped in the Lollard's Tower, shortly after, at the earnest instigation of one Doctor Horsey the bishop's chancellor, (a man more ready to prefer the clergy's cruel tyranny than the truth of Christ's gospel,) was brought before the bishop at his manor of Fulham, the second day of December, in the year before-mentioned; where within his chapel he examined him upon these articles following, collected against him by the said Horsey and his accomplices.

"First, That he had read, taught, preached, published, and obstinately defended, against the laws of Almighty God; that tithes, or paying of tithes, was never ordained to he due, saving only by the covetousness of priests.

"2. Item, That he had read, taught, preached, published, and obstinately defended; that bishops and priests be the scribes and Pharisees that did crucify Christ, and damned him to death.

"3. Item, That he had read, taught, preached, &c., that bishops and priests be teachers and preachers, but no doers, neither fulfillers of the law of God; but catching, ravening, and all things taking, and nothing ministering, neither giving.

"4. Item, Where and when one Joan Baker was detected and abjured of many great heresies, (as it appeareth by her abjuration,) the said Richard Hun, said, published, taught, preached, and obstinately took upon him, saying, that he would defend her and her opinions, if it cost him five hundred marks.

"5. Item, Afterwards (where and when the said Joan taker, after her abjuration, was enjoined open penance according to her demerits) the said Richard Hun said, published, taught, and obstinately did defend her, saying, The bishop of London and his officers have done open wrong to the said Joan Baker, in punishing her for heresy; for her sayings and opinions be according to the laws of God; wherefore the bishop and his officers are more worthy to be punished for heresy than she is.

"6. Item, That the said Richard Him hath in his keeping divers English books, prohibited and damned by the law; as the Apocalypse in English, Epistles and Gospels in English, Wickliff's damnable works, and other books, containing infinite errors, in the which he hath been long time accustomed to read, teach, and study daily."

Particular answer unto these several objections, in the Register, I find none, saving that next under them, there is written in his name with a contrary hand these words following: "As touching these articles, I have not spoken them as they be here laid: howbeit, unadvisedly I have spoken words somewhat sounding to the same; for the which I am sorry, and ask God mercy, and submit me unto my lord's charitable and favourable correction." Which they affirm to be written with Hun's own hand: but how likely to truth that is, let the discreet wisdom of the reader indifferently judge by the whole sequel of this process. And further, if it were his own act, what occasion then had they so cruelly to murder him as they did? seeing he had already so willingly confessed his fault, and submitted himself unto the charitable and favourable correction of the bishop, (for the which even by their own law, in cases of most heinous heresy, he ought to be again received and pardoned,) except perhaps they will account horrible murder to be but the bishop's favourable correction. Again, it seemeth they had very few credible witnesses to prove certainly that this was his answer and hand-writing; for the Register, or some other for him (appointed to record the same) hath certified it, as of hearsay from others, and not of his own proper sight and knowledge, as the words noted in the margin of the book, adjoining to the aforesaid answer, plainly do declare, which are these, Hoc fuit scriptum manu propria Richardi Hunne, ut dicitur. Now if he had had any sure ground to stablish this certificate, I doubt not but he would (instead of ut dicitur) have registered the names of the assistants at the time of his examination, (which he confesseth to be many,) as generally they do in all their acts, especially in cases of heresy, as they term it. But how scrupulous those good fellows that spared not so shamelessly to murder him, would be to make a lie of him that was already dead, let (as I said) the indifferent judgment of the godly wise discern.

This examination ended, the bishop sent him back again the same day,unto the Lollard's Tower; and then by the appointment of Doctor Horsey, his chancellor, he was colourably committed from the custody of Charles Joseph, the sumner, unto John Spalding, the bell-ringer, a man by whose simpleness in wit (though otherwise wicked) the subtle chancellor thought to bring his devilish pretended homicide the easier to pass; which most cruelly he did by his ministers suborned, within two nights then next following accomplish; as is plainly proved hereafter by the diligent inquiry and final verdict of the coroner of London, and his inquest, made by order of the laws in that behalf limited. But when this usual practice of the papists was once accomplished, there wanted then no secret shifts nor worldly wiles for the crafty colouring of this mischief; and therefore, the next morning after they had in the night committed this murder, John Spalding (I doubt not but by the counsel of his master chancellor) got himself out of the way, into the city, and leaving the keys of the prison with one of his fellows, willed him to deliver them unto the sumner's boy, which accustomably did use to carry Hun his meat, and other necessaries that he needed; thinking that the boy, first finding the prisoner dead, and hanged in such sort as they left him, they might (by his relation) be thought free from any suspicion of this matter. Which thing happened in the beginning almost as they wished. For the boy, the same morning (being the fourth day of December) having the keys delivered him, accompanied with two other of the bishop's sumners, went about ten of the clock into the prison, to serve the prisoner, as he was wont to do; and when they came up, they found him hanged with his face towards the wall. Whereupon they (astonished at this sight) gave knowledge thereof immediately unto the chancellor, being then in the church, and watching, I suppose, of purpose, for such news; who forthwith got unto him certain of his colleagues, and went with them into the prison, to see that which his own wicked conscience knew full well before, as was afterwards plainly proved, although then he made a fair face to the contrary, blazing abroad among the people, by their officers and servants, that Hun had desperately hanged himself. Howbeit, the people having good experience as well of the honest life and godly conversation of the man, as also of the devilish malice of his adversaries the priests, judged rather that by their procurement he was secretly murdered. Whereof arose great contention; for the bishop of London on the 'one side, taking his clergy's part, affirmed stoutly that Hun had hanged himself. The citizens again on the other side, vehemently suspecting some secret murder, caused the coroner of London (according to law) to choose an inquest, and to take good view of the dead body, and so to try out the truth of the matter. Whereby the bishop and his chaplains were then driven to the extremity of shifts; and therefore minding by some subtle show of justice, to stop the mouths of the people, they determined that in the mean while, as the inquest was occupied about their charge, the bishop should, for his part, proceed ex officio, in case of heresy, against the dead person; supposing (most like) that if the party were once condemned of heresy, the inquest durst not then but find him guilty of his own death, and so clearly acquit them from all the former suspicion of privy murder. This determination of theirs they did immediately put in practice, in order as followeth.

Illustration -- Richard Hun Found Hanged in the Lollard's Tower

First, besides the articles before mentioned, (which they affirm were objected against him in his lifetime,) Doctor Hed did now also after his death, collect certain others out of the prologue of his English Bible, remaining then in the bishop's hands; which he diligently perused, not to learn any good thing therein, but to get thereout such matter, as he thought might best serve their cursed purpose, as appeareth by the tenor of the articles, which are these:

"1. First, The said book damneth all holy canons, calling them ceremonies and statutes of sinful men and uncunning; and calleth the pope Sathanas and antichrist.

"2. Item, It damneth the pope's pardons, saying, they be but leasings.

"3. Item, The said book of Hun saith, that kings and lords, called Christian in name, and heathen in conditions, defile the sanctuary of God, bringing clerks full of covetousness, heresy, and malice, to stop God's law that it cannot be known, kept, and freely preached.

"4. Item, The said book saith, that lords and prelates pursue full cruelly them that would teach truly and freely the law of God; and cherish them that preach sinful men's traditions and statutes, by the which he meaneth the holy canons of Christ's church.

"5. Item, That poor men and idiots have the truth of the Holy Scriptures, more than a thousand prelates and religious men, and clerks of the school.

"6. Item, That Christian kings and lords set idols in God's house, and excite the people to idolatry.

"7. Item, That princes, lords, and prelates, so doing, be worse than Herod that pursued Christ, and worse than Jews and heathen men that crucified Christ.

"8. Item, That every man swearing by our Lady, or any other saint or creature, giveth more honour to the saints, than to the holy Trinity; and so he saith they be idolaters.

"9. Item, He saith, that saints ought not to be honoured.

"10. Item, He damneth adoration, prayer, kneeling, and offering to images, which he calleth stocks and stones.

"11. Item, He saith, that the very body of the Lord is not contained in the sacrament of the altar, but that men, receiving it, shall thereby keep in mind, that Christ's flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

"12. Item, He damneth the university of Oxford, with all degrees and faculties in it, as art civil, canon, and divinity, saying, that they let the true way to come to the knowledge of the laws of God and Holy Scripture.

"13. Item, He defendeth the translation of the Bible and Holy Scripture into the English tongue, which is prohibited by the laws of our mother holy church."

These articles thus collected, as also the others before specified, they caused for a more show of their pretended justice and innocence, to be openly read the next Sunday following by the preacher at Paul's Cross, with this protestation made before.

"Masters and friends, for certain causes and considerations, I have in commandment to rehearse, show, and publish here unto you, the articles of heresy, upon which Richard Hun was detected and examined; and also other great articles and damnable points and opinions of heresy contained in some of his books, be come to light and knowledge, here ready to be showed."

And therewith he read the articles openly unto the people, concluding with these words:

"And, masters, if there be any man desirous to see the specialty of these articles, or doubt whether they be contained in this book or not, for satisfying of his mind, let him come to my lord of London, and he shall see it with good will. Moreover, here I counsel and admonish, that if there be any persons, that of their simpleness have been familiar and acquainted with the said Richard Hun in these articles, or have heard him read upon this book, or any other sounding to heresy, or have any like books themselves, let them come unto my lord of London betwixt this and Candlemas next, and acknowledge their fault, and they shall be charitably treated and dealt withal, so that both their goods and honesty shall be saved; and if they will not come of their own offer, but abide the process of the law, then at their own peril be it, if the rigour of the law be executed against them."

After which open publication and admonition, the bishop at sundry times examined divers of his priests, and other lay persons, upon the contents of both these articles. Among which examinates, there was a man servant and a maid of the said Hun's, who, although they had of long time dwelt with him, were not able to charge him with any great thing worthy reprehension; no, not in such points as the bishop chiefly objected against him. But yet the priests (through whose procurement this mischief was first begun) spared no whit stoutly and maliciously to accuse him, some in the contents of the first articles, and some in the second. Wherefore, having now (as they thought) sufficient matter against him, they purposed speedily to proceed to his condemnation. And because they would seem to do all things formally, and by prescript order, they first drew out certain short and summary rules, by the which the bishop should be directed in this solemn session; which are these:

"First, Let the bishop sit in his tribunal seat, in our Lady's chapel.

"Secondly, Let him recite the cause of his coming, and take notaries to him, to enact that shall be there done.

"Thirdly, Let him declare, how, upon Sunday last, at Paul's Cross, he caused to be published a general monition, or denunciation, that all abettors and maintainers of Richard Hun, should come in, as by this day, and submit themselves; and let him signify withal, how certain have come in, and have appeared already.

"Fourthly, Let him protest and say, that if there remain any yet behind which have not appeared according to the former monition and denunciation; yet if they will come, and appear, and submit themselves, they shall be heard and received with grace and favour.

"Fifthly, Let the bishop, or some other at his appointment, recite the articles objected against Richard Hun; in the time of his life; and then the other articles likewise, which were out of his great book of the Bible extracted.

"Sixthly, Let the answers and confessions of the said Richard Hun summarily be recited, with the attestations made to the same articles. Also let his books be exhibited, and then Thomas Brook his servant be called for.

"Seventhly, Let it be openly cried at the choir door, that if there be any which will defend the articles, opinions, books, or the memory of the said Richard Hun, let them come and appear, and they shall be heard, as the law in that behalf shall require.

"Eighthly, Let it be openly cried, as in manner before, for such as be receivers, favourers, defenders, or believers of the said Richard Hun, that all such do appear and submit themselves to the bishop, or else he intendeth to proceed to the excommunication of them in general, according to the exigence of the law in that behalf.

"Ninthly, Then the bishop speaking to the standers by, and to them which sat with him upon the bench, of the clergy, demanding of them, what their judgment and opinion is touching the premises, and whether they think it convenient and agreeable for him to proceed to the sentence against the said Richard Hun, in this part to be awarded.

"Tenthly, After their consent and counsel given, let the bishop read out the sentence.

"Finally, After the sentence read, let the bishop appoint the publication and denunciation of the aforesaid sentence to be read at Paul's Cross or elsewhere, as to him shall seem expedient, with a citation likewise generally against all them that be receivers, favourers, and believers of the said Hun, to give to understand why he ought not further to proceed against them," &c.

Now according to the tenor of these prescripts and rules, the bishop of London, accompanied with the bishops of Durham and Lincoln, sat in judgment the 16th day of December, then next following, within the place by the same appointed; adjoining also unto them as witnesses of their proceedings, six public notaries, his own register, and about twenty-five doctors, abbots, priors, and priests of name, with a great rabble of their common anointed catholics. Where, after a solemn proclamation made, that if there were any that would defend the opinions and books of Richard Hun, they should presently appear and be heard according to law, he commanded all the articles and objections against Hun openly to be read before the assembly; and then, perceiving that none durst appear in his defence, by the advice of his assistants, he pronounced the sentence definitive against the dead carcass, condemning it of heresy, and therewith committed the same unto the secular power, to be by them burned accordingly. Which ridiculous decree was as fondly accomplished in Smithfield the 20th day of the same month of December, (being full sixteen days after they had thus horribly murdered him,) to the great grief and disdain of all the people.

Notwithstanding, after all this tragical and cruel handling of the dead body, with their fair and colourable show of justice, yet the inquest no whit stayed their diligent searching out of the true cause and means of his death. Insomuch that when they had been divers times called both before the king's privy council, (his Majesty himself being sometime present,) and also before the chief judges and justices of this realm, and that the matter being by them thoroughly examined, and perceived to be much bolstered and borne withal by the clergy, was again wholly remitted unto their determination and ending; they found by good proof and sufficient evidence, that Doctor Horsey, the chancellor, Charles Joseph, the sumner, and John Spalding, the bell-ringer, had privily and maliciously committed this murder, and therefore indicted them all three as wilful murderers. Howbeit, through the earnest suit of the bishop of London unto Cardinal Wolsey, (as appeareth by his letters hereafter mentioned,) means was found, that at the next sessions of gaol delivery, the king's attorney pronounced the indictment against Doctor Horsey to be false and untrue; and him not to be guilty of the murder. Who being then thereby delivered in body, having yet in himself a guilty conscience, gat him unto Exeter, and durst never after for shame come again unto London. But now, that the truth of all this matter may seem more manifest and plain unto all men's eyes, here shall follow word by word the whole inquiry and verdict of the inquest, exhibited by them unto the coroner of London, so given up and signed with his own hand.


The verdict of the inquest.

"The fifth and the sixth day of December, in the sixth yeere of the reigne of our soueraigne lord King Henry the Eighth, William Barnewell crowner of London, the day and yeere abouesaid, within the ward of Castelbainard of London assembled a quest, whose names afterward doe appeare, and hath sworne them truely to enquire of the death of one Richard Hun, which lately was found dead in the Lollards Tower within Pauls church of London: whereupon all we of the inquest together went vp into the said Tower, where we found the body of the said Hun hanging vpon a staple of iron in a girdle of silke, with faire countenance, his head faire kemmed, and his bonet right sitting vpon his head, with his eyne and mouth faire closed, without any staring, gaping, or frowning, also without any driueling or spurging in any place of his body: whereupon by one assent all we agreed to take downe the dead body of the said Hun, and as soon as we began to heaue the body, it was loose; whereby, by good aduisement we perceiued that the girdle had no knot about the staple, but it was double cast, and the linkes of an iron chaine which did hang on the same staple, were laid vpon the same girdle whereby hee did hang: also the knot of the girdle that went about his necke, stood vnder his left eare, which caused his head to leane towards his right shoulder. Notwithstanding there came out of his nostrels two small streames of blood, to the quantity of foure drops. Saue onely these foure drops of blood, the face, lips, chinne, doublet, coller, and shirt of the said Hun, was cleane from any blood. Also we find that the skinne both of his necke and throte beneath the girdle of silke, was fret and faled away, with that thing which the murtherers had broken his necke withall. Also the hands of the said Hun were wrung in the wrists; whereby we perceiued that his hands had bin bound.

Moreouer, we find that within the said prison was no meane whereby a man might hang himselfe, but onely a stoole, which stoole stood vpon a bolster of a bed, so tickle, that any man or beast might not touch it so little, but it was ready to fall. Wherby we perceiued that it was not possible that Hun might hang himselfe, the stoole so standing. Also all the girdle from the staple to his necke, as well as the part which went about his neck, was too little for his head to come out thereat. Also it was not possible that the soft silken girdle should breake his necke or skin beneath the girdle. Also we find in a corner somewhat beyond the place where he did hang, a great parcell of blood. Also we find vpon the left side of Hunnes iacket from the brest downeward, two great streames of blood. Also within the flap of the left side of his iacket, we find a great cluster of blood, and the iacket folden downe thereupon; which thing the said Hun could neuer fold nor doe after he was hanged. Whereby it appeareth plainely to vs all, that the necke of Hun was broken, and the great plenty of blood was shed before he was hanged. Wherefore all we find by God and all our consciences; that Richard Hunne was murthered. Also we acquit the said Richard Hun of his own death.

"Also there was an end of a wax candle, which as Iohn Belringer saith, hee left in the prison burning with Hunne that same Sunday at night that Hun was murthered; which waxe candle we found sticking vpon the stockes faire put out, about seuen or eight foote from the place where Hunne was hanged; which candle after our opinion was neuer put out by him, for many likelihoods which we haue perceiued. Also at the going vp of master chancellor into the Lollard's Tower, we haue good proofe that there lay on the stockes a gowne either of murrey or crimosin in graine furred with shankes; whose gowne it was wee could neuer proue, neither who bare it away. All we find, that Master William Horsey, chancellour to my lord of London, hath had at his commandement both the rule and guiding of the said prisoner. Moreouer, all wee find that the said Master Horsey, chancellor, hath put Charles Ioseph out of his office, as the said Charles hath confessed, because he would not deale and vse the said prisoner so cruelly, and do to him as the chancellor would haue had him to doe. Notwithstanding, the deliuerance of the keyes to the chancellour by Charles on the Saturday at night before Hunnes death, and Charles riding out of the towne on that Sunday in the morning ensuing, was but a conuention made betwixt Charles and the chancellour for to colour the murther. For the same Sunday that Charles rode forth, he came againe to the towne at night, and killed Richard Hunne, as in the depositions of Iulian Littell, Thomas Chicheley, Thomas Simonds, and Peter Turner doth appeare.

"After colouring of the murther betwixt Charles and the chancellour conspired, the chancellour called to him one Iohn Spalding, belringer of Pauls, and deliuered to the same belringer the keyes of the Lollards Tower, giving to the said belringer a great charge, saying: I charge thee to keepe Hun more straitely then hee hath beene kept, and let him have but one meale a day. Moreouer I charge thee, let no body come to him without any licence, neither to bring him shirt, cappe, kirchiefe, or any other thing, but that I see it before it come to him. Also before Hunne was carried to Fulham, the chancellor commanded to bee put vpon Huns necke a great coller of iron with a great chaine, which is too heauie for any man or beast to weare, and long to endure.

"Moreouer, it is wel proued, that before Huns death, the said chancellor came vp into the said Lollard's Tower, and kneeled downe before Hun, holding vp his hands to him, praying him of forgiuenes of all that he had done to him, and must doe to him. And on Sunday following the chancellor commanded the penitensarie of Pauls to goe vp to him and say a gospel, and make for him holy water and holy bread, and giue it to him; which so did; and also the chancellor commanded that Hunne should haue his dinner. And the same dinner time Charles boy was shut in prison with Hun, which was neuer so before: and after dinner when the belringer let out the boy, the belringer said to the same boy; Come no more hither with meat for him, vntill to morrow at noone; for my master chancellor hath commanded that he should haue but one meale a day: and the same night following Richard Hun was murthered: which murther could not haue beene done without consent and licence of the chancellor, and also by the witting and knowledge of Iohn Spalding belringer: for there could no man come into the prison, but by the keies being in Iohn belringers keeping. Also as by my lord of Londons booke doth appeare, Iohn belringer is a poore innocent man. Wherefore all wee doe perceiue that this murther could not bee done, but by the commandement of the chancellor, and by the witting and knowing of John belringer.

"Charles Ioseph within the Tower of London of his own free will and vnconstrained said, that master chancellor deuised and wrote with his own hand, all such heresies as were laid to Huns charge, record Iohn God, Iohn True, Iohn Pasmere, Richard Gibson, with many other. Also Charles Ioseph saith, that when Richard Hun was slaine, Iohn belringer bare vp the staire into Lollards Tower a waxe candle, hauing the keies of the dores hanging on his arme, and I Charles went next to him, and master chancellor came vp last: and when all we came vp, wee found Hun lying on his bed, and then master chancellor said; Lay hands on the theefe, and so all wee murthered him: and then I Charles put the girdle about Huns necke, and then Iohn belringer and I Charles did heaue vp Hun, and master chancellor pulled the girdle ouer the staple, and so Hunne was hanged."


The copy of Richard Fitzjames's letter, then bishop of London, sent to Cardinal Wolsey.

"I beseech your good lordship to stand so good lord vnto my poor chancellor now in warde, and indighted by an vntrue quest, for the death of Richard Hun, vpon the onely accusation of Charles Ioseph, made by paine and durance; that by your intercession, it may please the kings grace to haue the matter duely and sufficiently examined by indifferent persons of his discreet councell, in the presence of the parties, ere there be any more done in the cause, and that vpon the innocencie of my said chancellor declared, it may further please the kings grace to award a plackard vnto his atturney to confesse the said enditement to be vntrue, when the time shall require it: for assured am I, if my chancellor be tried by any twelue men in London, they be so malitiouslie set In fauorem hereticæ prauitatis, that they will cast and condemne any clerke, though he were as innocent as Abel. Quare si potes beate pater adjuva infirmitates nostras, tibi in perpetuum deuincti erimus. Ouer this in most humble wise I beseech you, that I may have the kings gracious fauour, whom I neuer offended willingly, and that by your good meanes I might speake with his grace and you, and I with all mine, shall pray for your prosperous estate long to continue.

Your most humble Oratour R. L."

Lastly, now remaineth to infer the sentence of the questmen, which followeth in like sort to be seen and expended, after I have first declared the words of the bishop spoken in the parliament house.


The words that the bishop of London spake before the lords in the parliament house.

"Memorandum, That the bishop of London said in the parliament house, that there was a bill brought to the parliament, to make the jury that was charged upon the death of Hun, true men; and said, and took upon his conscience, that they were false, perjured caitiffs; and said furthermore to all the lords, there then being; For the love of God look upon this matter; for if you do not, I dare not keep mine house for heretics: and said, that the said Richard Hun hanged himself, and that it was his own deed, and no man's else. And furthermore said, that there came a man to his house, whose wife was appeached of heresy, to speak with him, and he said that he had no mind to speak with the same man; which man spake and reported to the servants of the same bishop, that if his wife would not hold still her opinions, he would cut her throat with his own hands, with other words."


The sentence of the inquest, subscribed by the coroner.

The inquisition intended and taken at the city of London in the parish of St. Gregory, in the ward of Bainard Castle, in London, the sixth day of December, in the sixth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth, before Thomas Barnewell, coroner of our sovereign lord the king, within the city of London, aforesaid, also before James Yarford and John Mundey, sheriffs of the said city, upon the sight of the body of Richard Hun, late of London, tailor, which was found hanged in the Lollard's Tower; and by the oath and proof of lawful men of the same ward, and of other three wards next adjoining, as it ought to be, after the custom of the city aforesaid, to inquire how, and in what manner wise, the said Richard Hun came unto his death; and upon the oath of John Bernard, Thomas Stert, William Warren, Henry Abraham, John Aborow, John Turner, Robert Allen, William Marler, John Burton, James Page, Thomas Pickhill, William Burton, Robert Bridgewater, Thomas Busted, Gilbert Howell, Richard Gibson, Christopher Crafton, John God, Richard Holt, John Palmere, Edmund Hudson, John Arunsell, Richard Cooper, John Tim: the which said upon their oaths, that where the said Richard Hun, by the commandment of Richard, bishop of London, was imprisoned and brought to hold in a prison of the said bishop's, called Lollard's Tower, lying in the cathedral church of St. Paul, in London, in the parish of St. Gregory, in the ward of Bainard Castle aforesaid, William Horsey of London, clerk, otherwise called William Heresy, chancellor to Richard, bishop of London, and one Charles Joseph, late of London, sumner, and John Spalding of London, otherwise called John Bellringer, feloniously, as felons to our lord the king, with force and arms, against the peace of our sovereign lord the king, and dignity of his crown, the fourth day of December, the sixth year of the reign of our sovereign lord aforesaid, of their great malice, at the parish of St. Gregory aforesaid, upon the said Richard Hun made a fray, and the same Richard Hun feloniously strangled and smothered, and also the neck they did break of the said Richard Hun, and there feloniously slew him, and murdered him.

After that the twenty-four had given up their verdict sealed and signed with the coroner's seal, the cause was then brought into the parliament house, where the truth was laid so plain before all men's faces, and the fact so notorious, that immediately certain of the bloody murderers were committed to prison, and should, no doubt, have suffered that they deserved, had not the cardinal, by his authority, practised for his catholic children, at the suit of the bishop of London. Whereupon the chancellor, by the king's pardon and secret shifting, rather than by God's pardon and his deserving, escaped, and went, as is said, to Exeter, &c. Nevertheless, though justice took no place, where favour did save, yet, because the innocent cause of Hun should take no wrong, the parliament became suitors unto the king's Majesty, that whereas the goods of the said Hun were confiscated into the king's hands, that it would please his Grace to make restitution of all the said goods unto the children of the said Hun; upon which motion, the king, of his gracious disposition, did not only give all the aforesaid goods unto the aforesaid children, under his broad seal, yet to be seen, but also did send out his warrants to those that were the cruel murderers, commanding them, upon his high displeasure, to redeliver all the said goods, and make restitution for the death of the said Richard Hun; all which goods came to the sum of 1500 pounds sterling, besides his plate and other jewels.


The tenor of the king's letter in the behalf of Richard Hun.

"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well: Whereas by the complaint to us made, as well as also in our high court of parliament, on the behalf and part of Roger Whapplot of our city of London, draper, and Margaret his wife, late the daughter of Richard Hun: And whereas you were indicted by our laws, of and for the death of the said Richard Hun, the said murder cruelly committed by you, like as by our records more at large plainly it doth appear, about the fifth day of December, in the sixth year of our reign; the same we abhor; nevertheless, we, of our especial grace, certain science, and mere motion, pardoned you upon certain considerations us moving: for the intent that the goods of the said Richard Hun, the administration of them were committed to the said Roger Whapplot, we then supposed and intended your amendment, and restitution to be made by you to the infants the children of the said Richard Hun, as well foi his death, as for his goods, embezzled, wasted, and consumed by your tyranny, and cruel act so committed, the same being of no little value; and as hitherto ye have made no recompence, according to our laws, as might stand with equity, justice, right, and good conscience, and for this cause due satisfaction ought to be made by our laws. Wherefore, we will and exhort, and otherwise charge and command you, by the tenor of this our especial letters, that ye satisfy and recompense the said Roger Whapplot, and the said Margaret his wife, according to our laws in this cause, as it may stand with right and good conscience, else otherwise at your further peril, so that they shall have no cause to return unto us, for their further remedy eftsoons in this behalf, as ye, in the same, tender to avoid our high displeasure; otherwise, that ye, upon the sight hereof, to set all excuses apart, and to repair unto our presence, at which your hither coming you shall be further advertised of our mind.

From our manor," &c.


Defence of Richard Hun against Sir Thomas More and Alen Cope.

I doubt not but by these premises thou hast (Christian reader) sufficiently to understand the whole discourse and story of Richard Hun from top to toe. First, how he came in trouble for denying the bearing sheet of this young infant departed; then how he was forced, for succour of himself, to sue a præmunire; and thereupon what conspiracy of the clergy was wrought against him, what snares were laid, what fetches were practised, and articles devised, to snarl him in the trap of heresy, and so to imprison him. Furthermore, being in prison, how he was secretly murdered; after his murder, hanged; after his hanging, condemned; after his condemnation, burned; and after his burning, lastly, how his death was inquired by the coroner, and cleared by acquittal of the inquest. Moreover, how the cause was brought into the parliament, and by the parliament the king's precept obtained for restitution of his goods. The debating of which tragical and tumultuous story, with all the branches and particular evidences of the same, taken out as well of the public acts, as of the bishop's registers, and special records, remaining in the custody of Dunstan Whapplot, the son of the daughter of the said Richard Hun, there to be seen, I thought here to unwrap and discover, so much the more, for three special purposes.

First, as is requisite, for testimony and witness of the truth falsely slandered, of innocence wrongfully condemned, and of the party cruelly oppressed.

The second cause moveth me, for Sir Thomas More's Dialogues, wherein he dallieth out the matter, thinking to jest poor simple truth out of countenance.

The third cause which constraineth me, be the Dialogues of Alen Cope; which two, the one in English, the other in Latin, railing and barking against Richard Hun, do doublewise charge him, both to be a heretic, and also a desperate homicide of himself. Which, as it is false in the one, so it is to be found as untrue in the other, if simple truth, which hath few friends, and many times cometh in crafty handling, might freely come in indifferent hearing. Wherefore, as I have hitherto described the order and manner of his handling, with the circumstances thereof, in plain and naked narration of story, simply laid out before all men's faces; so something here to intermit in the defence, as well of his oppressed cause as also in discharge of myself, I will now compendiously answer to both these aforesaid adversaries, stopping, as it were, with one bush two gaps, and the mouths also, if I can, of them both together. And first, against Sir Thomas More, albeit in degree worshipful, in place superior, in wit and learning singular, (if his judgment in Christ's matters had been correspondent to the same,) otherwise being a man with many worthy ornaments beautified, yet, being but a man, and one man, I lay and object against the person of him, the persons and censures of twenty-four questmen, the deposition of so many jurors, the judgment of the coroner, the approbation of the parliament, and lastly, the king's bill assigned for restitution of his goods, with his own broad seal confirmed, &c. And thus much to the person and credit of Sir Thomas More.

Now as touching his reasons: whereas he coming in with a flim-flam of a horse-mill, or a mill-horse, (in his own terms I speak,) thinketh it probation good enough, because he could not see him taken by the sleeve which murdered Hun: against these reasons unreasonable of his, I allege all the evidences and demonstrations of the history above prefixed to be considered, and of all indifferent men to he poised.

First, how he was found hanging, with his countenance fair, with his beard and head fair combed, his bonnet set right upon his head, with his eyes and his mouth fair closed, without any drivelling or spurging. His body being taken down, was found loose, (which by hanging could not be,) his neck broken, and the skin thereof, beneath the throat where the girdle went, fret and faled away; his girdle notwithstanding being of silk, and so double cast about the staple, that the space of the girdle between the staple and his neck, with the residue also which went about his neck, was not sufficient for his head to come out at. His hands moreover wrung in his wrists, his face, lips, chin, doublet, and shirt collar unstained with any blood: when notwithstanding, in a manner somewhat beyond the place where he did hang, a great quantity of blood was found. Also, whereas the staple whereon he hanged was so that he could not climb thereto without some mean, there was a stool set up upon the bolster of a bed, so tickle, that with the first touch in the world it was ready to fall. And how was it possible that Hun might hang himself upon that staple, the stool so standing? Besides the confession moreover of Charles Joseph's own mouth to Julian Litten, of Robert Johnson, John Spalding the bell-ringer, Peter Turner, and others. All which testimonies and declarations being so clear and undeniable, may suffice (I trust) any indifferent man to see where the truth of this case doth stand: unless Master More, being a gentleman of Utopia, peradventure, after some strange guise of that country, useth to carry his eyes not in his head but in his affection, not seeing but where he liketh, nor believing but what he listeth.

Finally, where Sir Thomas More, speaking of himself, so concludeth, that he hearing in the matter, what well might be said, yet could not find contrary, but Hun to be guilty of his own death; so, in as many words to answer him again, I perusing and searching in the story of Richard Hun, what may well be searched, cannot but marvel with myself, either with what darkness the eyes of Master More be closed, not to see what is so plain; or else with what conscience he would dissemble, that which shame cannot deny. And thus by the way to the Dialogues of Sir Thomas More.

Thirdly, touching the Dialogues of Alen Cope, which had rather the bishop's chancellor and officers to be accounted among thieves and murderers, than Hun to be numbered among the martyrs; I have herein not much to say, because himself saith but little; and if he had said less, unless his ground were better, it had made as little matter. But forasmuch as he saying not much, sendeth us to seek more in More; so with like brevity again I may send him to William Tindall, to shape him an answer. Yet, notwithstanding, lest Cope, in saying something, should think Hun's innocent cause to lack some friends, which will not or dare not adventure in defence of truth, somewhat I will answer in this behalf.

And first, touching this murder of Hun, not to be his own wilful act, but the deed of others; besides the demonstrations above premised to Sir Thomas More, now to Master Cope, if I had no other evidences but only these two, I would require no more; that is, his cap found so straight standing upon his head, and the stool so tottering under his feet. For how is it, I will not say, like, but how is it possible for a man to hang himself in a silken girdle double cast about a staple, in such shortness, that neither the space of the knot could well compass his head about, and yet having his cap so straight set upon his head, as his was?

Again, how is it possible, or can it be imagined, for him to hang himself, climbing up by a stool which had no stay for him to stand upon, but stood so tickle, that if he had touched the same never so little, it must needs have fallen?

But Cope, being something more provident in this matter, seemeth to exceed not altogether so far as doth Master More. For he understanding the case to be ambiguous and doubtful, so leave it in suspense, neither determining that Hun did hang himself, and yet not admitting that he died a martyr, no more than they which are quelled by thieves and murderers in highway-sides. Well, be it so as Cope doth argue, that they which die by the hands of felons and murderers in thievish ways, be no martyrs; yet, notwithstanding, this his own similitude, comparing the bishop's chancellor and officers to thieves and murderers, doth grant at least that Hun died a true man, although no martyr. Now if the cause be it, and not the pain, that maketh a martyr, in pondering the cause why Hun was slain, we shall find it not altogether like to the cause of them which perish by thieves and robbers. For such commonly because of their goods, and for some worldly gain to be sought by their death, are made away, and being true men, may peradventure have the reward, although not the name, of martyrs: whereas this man's death, being wrought neither for money, nor any such temporal lucre to redound to his oppressors, as it hath another cause, so may it have another name, and deserve to be called by the name of martyrdom. Like as Abel being slain by wicked Cain, albeit he had no opinion of religion articulate against him, but of spite only and of malice was made away, yet, notwithstanding, is justly numbered among the martyrs; so what let to the contrary, but that Hun also with him may be reckoned in the same society, seeing the cause wherefore they both did suffer proceedeth together out of one fountain? And what, moreover, if a man should call Naboth (who for holding his right inheritance was slain) a martyr, what great injury should he do either to the name or cause of the person, worthy to be carped at? Against Thomas Becket, ye know, Master Cope, no special article of faith was laid, wherefore he died. And why then do you bestow upon him so devoutly the title of a martyr, for withholding that from the king which by the law of God and of the realm did belong unto him; and cannot suffer Hun to be titled for a martyr, dying in his own right by the hands of spiritual thieves and homicides, as you yourself do term them? But what do I strain my travail any further, to prove Hun a martyr, when Cope's own confession doth import no less, though I said nothing? For what if I should take no more but his own very words, and say that he was known to be a heretic, as Cope doth affirm; what could I say more, seeing he died for their heresy, to prove him to die a martyr? For to die a heretic with the papists, what is it else (to say truth) but to die with God a martyr?

But howsoever it pleaseth either Sir Thomas More to jest, or Alen Cope to scold out the matter, and to style Richard Hun for a known and desperate heretic; yet to all true, godly disposed men, Hun may well be known to be a godly and virtuous person; no heretic, but faithful and sound; save that only he seemed rather half a papist; at least no full protestant, for that he resorted daily to mass, and also had his beads in prison with him, after the catholic manner; albeit he was somewhat inclined (as may appear) toward the gospel. And if the name of a martyr be thought too good for him, yet I trust Master Cope will stand so good master to him, to let him at least to be a martyr's fellow. But what now if I go further with Master Cope, and name Richard Hun not only for a martyr, but also commend him for a double martyr? Certes, as I suppose, in so saying I should affirm nothing less than truth, nor any thing more than truly may be said, and justly proved. But to give and grant this contention unto the adversary, which notwithstanding might be easily proved; let us see now the proofs of Master Cope, how he argueth that Richard Hun is no martyr; "because," saith he, "true men being killed in highways by thieves and murderers, are not therefore to be counted martyrs," &c. And was there nothing else in the cause of Hun, but as in true men killed by thieves and murderers? They that are killed by thieves and murderers, are killed for some prey, or money about them. And what prey or profit was in the death of Hun, let us see, to redound to them which oppressed him? If it were the mortuary or the bearing cloth, that was a small thing, and not worthy his death. If it were the præmunire, the danger thereof pertained to the priest, and not to them. If they feared lest the example thereof once begun, should afterward redound to the prejudice of the whole church, then was the cause of his death not private, but public, tending to the whole Church and clergy of Rome; and so is his death not altogether like to the death of them, which for private respects are killed of thieves and murderers.

But he was a heretic, saith Cope. By the same reason that Cope taketh him for a heretic, I take him the more to be accepted for a martyr. For by that way which they call heresy, the living God is served by no way better. And if he were a heretic, why then did they not proceed against him as a heretic while he was alive? When they had him at Fulham before them, if they had been sure to entrap him in that snare, why did they not take their advantage, when they might with least jeopardy? why did they not proceed and condemn him for a heretic? why made they such haste to prevent his death before? why did they not tarry the sentence of the law, having the law in their own hands? But belike they perceived that he could not be proved a heretic while he lived; and therefore thought it best to make him away privily, and to stop the præmunire, and afterward to stop the pursuit of his death, by making him a heretic; and therefore were articles devised by the chancellor (as is proved by witness of Charles Joseph and another, above) against him, and he condemned for a heretic, and his favourers also, whosoever durst stir to take his part, and so thereupon was committed to the secular power, and burned. Wherein they did him double wrong; first, in that they burned him for a heretic, having before submitted himself to their favourable correction, as it appeareth yet in the bishop's registers by his own hand, as it is there pretended; which was against their own laws. Again, if he had not submitted himself at that time, yet did they him wrong to burn him, before they knew and heard him speak (as Tindall saith) whether he would recant or no. And yet admit that he was condemned and burned for a heretic, yet to be killed and burned of them for a heretic, that taketh not from him the name of a martyr, but rather giveth him to be a double martyr. But Cope yet proceeding in his hot choler against Richard Hun, after he hath made him first no martyr, and then a heretic, thirdly, he now maketh him also a murderer of himself, and saith, that no other man was any part of his death, but only his own hands, and that either for indignation and anger, or for desperation, or for some cause, he knoweth not what. And in his Epilogue, to make it probable, he allegeth the example of one, but nameless, who in Queen Mary's time in like sort went about to hang himself, had he not been taken in the manner, and rescued.

Furthermore, as touching the chancellor, he argueth that there was no cause why he should attempt any such violence against him, both for his age, for his dignity, for his learning, and for the greatness of his own peril, which might ensue thereof. Who if he had maligned the man, and had been so disposed to work his destruction, had means otherwise without danger to bring that about, having him within his danger convict and fast tied for heresy. Whereunto I answer, that to all this matter sufficient hath been answered by the story itself of his death, above specified. Whereby the manner of his death, by circumstances of his handling, and hanging, by his neck broke, by his body loose, by his skin fretted, by his wrists wrung, by his girdle in such shortness double cast about the staple, by his cap right upon his head, by his hair combed, by his eyes closed, by the cake of blood found in the floor, by his shirt collar, doublet, jacket, and other outward parts of his garments without drop of blood unspotted, by the stool so standing upon the bolster, by the chancellor's murrey gown found the day after upon the stocks, the wax candle fair put out; furthermore, by the verdict of the inquest, by the attestation of the witnesses sworn, by the coroner's judgment, by the assent of the parliament, by the king's letters assigned, and broad seal for restitution of his goods; and finally, by the confession of the parties themselves which murdered him, &c.: and yet thinketh Cope to make men such fools, having their five wits, to ween yet that Hun did hang himself, after so many demonstrations and evidences to the contrary, as in every part of this story may appear. And though it were, as it was unlike, and hard for a man to believe, that Doctor Horsey, a man of such age, dignity, and learning, would so much forget himself, to attempt such a villany, yet so great is the devil sometimes with man (where God permitteth) that he worketh greater things than this, and more incredible. For who would have thought it like that Cain would ever have killed Abel his own natural brother? which was more than a bishop's chancellor to kill a citizen: yet so he did. And where Cope pretendeth the causes of anger and desperation whereby Hun did hang himself; how is it like, or who did ever hear, a man being in such extremity of desperation, to stand first trimming himself, and combing his head, before he go to hang himself? No less credit is also to be given to that which followeth in the same Cope, where he saith, that Richard Hun being in prison, was convicted of heresy. By the which word, convicted, if he mean that Hun was proved a heretic, that is false; for that he, being at Fulham, examined upon certain articles, both denied the articles to be true, as they were objected; and also if they were true, yet he submitted himself to their favourable correction, and therefore, not standing obstinately in the same, could not be proved a heretic. And if by this term, convicted, he mean that he was by sentence cast; so was Hun never cast by any sentence for a heretic, so long as he lived, but after his death, when be could nothing answer for himself. And because this untruth should not go without his fellow, see how he huddleth up one false narration in the neck of another; affirming, moreover, that Hun was cast into prison before he entered his suit of præmunire against the priest. Which is utterly false and untrue, both disagreeing to other stories, and also refuted by the words of Sir Thomas More, his own author, who reporteth that Hun, (in suing his præmunire against the priest,) being set upon a glory of victory, made his boast among his friends, that he trusted to have the matter long spoken of, and to be called Hun's case. Whereby it appeareth, that Hun was not then in prison, clapped up for heresy, but was abroad seeking counsel among the lawyers, and boasting among his friends, as writeth More, lib. iii. Dial.

After this heap of untruths above passed, add yet further another copy of Cope's false dealing; who, seeking all corners, and every where, how to pick matter against my former history, chargeth me with arrogancy, as though I took so highly upon me to undo and derogate the king's acts and judgments in the acquittal of Doctor Horsey. If it so pleased the king to acquit Doctor Horsey, by his gracious pardon, I am not against it, neither do I deny but the king so did; neither do I say, nor ever did, but the king of his supereminent prerogative may so do: and wherein then do I unrip or loose the king's acts here done and concluded? But if the question be this, whether Doctor Horsey, with his colleagues, did kill Richard Hun or no, then do I say, that the pardon of the king doth not take away the verity of the crime committed, but removeth away the penalty of the law deserved; and so if the life of them was saved by way of pardon, (as Master More himself seemeth not to deny,) then was it not through their innocency claiming justice that they escaped, but through petition standing in need of mercy. For what needeth pardon, where justice absolveth? yea, who sueth pardon, but in so doing must yield himself guilty? for pardon never cometh lightly either with God or man, except the crime be first confessed. Wherefore, if they escaped by justice, as Cope pretendeth, how then doth Master More say, they were saved by pardon? and if they escaped by pardon, how then doth Cope say, they were not guilty? And be it admitted, that the sentence of the king's attorney in the king's name did absolve them as unguilty, according as the king was then informed by the cardinal and suit of friends; yet, afterward the king, being better informed by the parliament, and the truth better known, detested and abhorred their fact, and yet continued his pardon unto them, as by the king's own acts and his broad seal appeareth, yet remaining in records to be seen.

And as touching my former histories set forth in Latin and in English, which spake first of the foreman of the inquest, then of the king's attorney, to be laboured with some gifts or money; as Cope hath yet proved no untruth in my saying, so less can he find any repugnance or disagreeing in the same. For he that speaketh of bribing, first of one person, and then afterward of another, where both might be bribed together, is not contrary (I think) to himself, but rather doth comprehend that in the one book, which he before leaveth out in the other, and yet no great repugnance either in the one or in the other, seeing that which is said may be verified in both, as it is no other like but in this matter it was. For, how is it otherwise like or possible, but that there must needs be found some privy packing in this matter, seeing after such evidence found and brought in by the coroner's inquest and jury of twenty-four chosen persons, after so many marks and tokens of the murder so clear and demonstrable, and laid forth so plain to the eyes of all the world, that no man could deny, or not see the same; yet, through the handling of the aforesaid attorney, and of the foreman of the inquest, the murderers were borne out, and confessed to be no murderers? If such bolstering out of matters and partiality were then such a rare case in the realm of England in the time of Cardinal Wolsey, who then under the king and in the king's name did what he list, then let it seem untrue in my former stories, that I have written. And yet the words of my story which Cope carpeth at so much, be not mine, but the words of Edward Hall, his own author. Wherefore, if his disposition be so set, that he must needs be a censurer of other men's writings, let him expostulate with Hall, and not with me.


Previous Next