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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 166. MARTYRS IN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND, 1525-32.



Henry Forest, martyred at St. Andrews, in Scotland. Persecuted by James Beton, archbishop of St. Andrews; and by Friar Walter Laing, betrayer of the confession of this Henry Forest.

Within few years after the martyrdom of Master Patrick Hamilton, one Henry Forest, a young man born in Linlithgow, who, a little before, had received the orders of Benet and Collet, (as they term them,) affirmed and said, that Master Patrick Hamilton died a martyr, and that his articles were true. For the which he was apprehended and put in prison, by James Beton, archbishop of St. Andrew's, who, shortly after, caused a certain friar, named Walter Laing, to hear his confession; to whom when Henry Forest in secret confession had declared his conscience, how he thought Master Patrick to be a good man, and wrongfully to be put to death, and that his articles were true, and not heretical, the friar came and uttered to the bishop the confession that he had heard, which before was not thoroughly known. Whereupon it followed, that his confession being brought as sufficient probation against him, he was therefore convented before the council of the clergy and doctors, and there concluded to be a heretic, equal in iniquity with Master Patrick Hamilton, and there decreed to be given to the secular judges, to suffer death.

When the day came for his death, and that he should first be degraded, and was brought before the clergy in a green place, being between the castle of St. Andrew and another place called Monymaill; as soon as he entered in at the door, and saw the faces of the clergy, perceiving whereunto they tended, he cried with a loud voice, saying, "Fie on falsehood! Fie on false friars, revealers of confession! After this day let no man ever trust any false friars, contemners of God's word, and deceivers of men!" And so they proceeding to degrade him of his small orders of Benet and Collet, he said with a loud voice, "Take from me not only your own orders, but also your own baptism!" meaning thereby whatsoever is besides that which Christ himself instituted, whereof there is a great rabblement in baptism. Then, after his degradation, they condemned him as a heretic equal with Master Patrick aforesaid. And so he suffered death for his faithful testimony of the truth of Christ and of his gospel, at the north church-stile of the abbey church of St. Andrew, to the intent that all the people of Forfar might see the fire, and so might hethe more feared from falling into the like doctrine which they term by the name of heresy.


James Hamilton, brother to Master Patrick; Katharine Hamilton; a woman of Leith; David Straton, and Master Norman Gurley: the two last burned. Persecuted by James Hay, bishop of Ross, commissioner of King James the Fifth; by Beton, archbishop of St. Andrews; and by Master John Spens, lawyer.

Within a year after the martyrdom of Henry Forest, or thereabout, was called James Hamilton, of Linlithgow; his sister Katharine Hamilton, the spouse of the captain of Dunbar; also another honest woman of Leith; David Straton, of the house of Lawristone; and Master Norman Gurley. These were called to the abbey church of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, by James Hay, bishop of Ross, commissioner to James Beton, archbishop, in presence of King James the Fifth of that name; who, upon the day of their accusation, was altogether clad in red apparel. James Hamilton was accused as one that maintained the opinion of Master Patrick his brother; to whom the king gave counsel to depart, and not to appear: for in case he appeared, he could not help him; because the bishops had persuaded him that the cause of heresy did in no wise appertain unto him. And so Hamilton fled, and was condemned as a heretic, and also his goods and lands confiscated and disposed unto others.

Katharine Hamilton, his sister, appeared upon the scaffold, and being accused of a horrible heresy, to wit, that her own works could not save her, she granted the same; and after a long reasoning between her and Master John Spens, the lawyer, she concluded in this manner, "Work here, work there; what kind of working is all this? I know perfectly, that no kind of works can save me, but only the works of Christ my Lord and Saviour." The king, hearing these words, turned him about and laughed, and called her unto him, and caused her to recant, because she was his aunt; and she escaped.

The woman of Leith was detected hereof, that when the midwife, in time of her labour, bade her say, "Our Lady help me!" she cried, "Christ help me, Christ help me, in whose help I trust!" She also was caused to recant, and so escaped without confiscation of her goods, because she was married.

Master Norman Gurley, for that he said there was no such thing as purgatory, and that the pope was not a bishop but antichrist, and had no jurisdiction in Scotland.

Also David Straton, for that he said there was no purgatory, but the passion of Christ, and the tribulations of this world. And because, when Master Robert Lawson, vicar of Eglesgrig, asked his tithe-fish of him, he did cast them to him out of the boat, so that some of them fell into the sea; therefore he accused him, as one that should have said, that no tithes should be paid. These two, because, after great solicitation made by the king, they refused to abjure and recant, were therefore condemned by the bishop of Ross as heretics, and were burned upon the green side, between Leith and Edinburgh, to the intent that the inhabitants of Fife, seeing the fire, might be struck with terror and fear, not to fall into the like.

And thus much touching those martyrs of Scotland that suffered under James Beton, archbishop of St. Andrews; after whom succeeded David Be-ton, in the same archbishopric, under whom divers others were also martyred; as hereafter (God willing) in their order shall appear.


Thomas Harding, an aged father, dwelling at Chesham in Buckinghamshire, burned A.D. 1532. Persecuted by John Longland, bishop of Lincoln, and by Rowland, vicar of Great Wycombe, the bishop's chaplain.

Thomas Harding, dwelling at Chesham, in the county of Buckingham, with Alice his wife, was first abjured by William Smith, bishop of Lincoln, A.D. 1506, with divers other more, which, the same time, for speaking against idolatry and superstition, were taken, and compelled, some to bear faggots, some were burnt in the cheeks with hot irons, some condemned to perpetual prison, some thrust into monasteries, and spoiled clean of all their goods, some compelled to make pilgrimage to the great block, otherwise called our Lady of Lincoln, some to Walsingham, some to St. Romuld of Buckingham, some to the rood of Wendover, some to St. John Shorne, &c.: of whom mention is made in the table before.

Of this Thomas Harding much rehearsal hath been made before. First, this Thomas Harding, with Alice his wife, being abjured and enjoined penance, with divers other more, by William Smith, bishop of Lincoln; afterwards by the said bishop was released again, A.D. 1515, of all such penance as was enjoined him and his wife at their abjuration, except these three articles following; and were discharged of their badges or signs of their faggots, &c. Only this penance following the bishop continued sub pna relapsus.

"First, That neither of them, during their life, should dwell out of the parish of Amersham.

"Item, That both of them, during their lives, should fast bread and ale every Corpus Christi even.

"Item, That both of them should, during their lives, upon Corpus Christi day, every year go on pilgrimage to Ashridge, and there make their offerings, as other people did; but not to do penance. Also they were licensed by the said bishop to do their pilgrimage at Ashridge on Corpus Christi even, or Corpus Christi day, or some other, upon any cause reasonable."

This penance, being to them enjoined, A.D. 1515, they observed till the year 1522, save that in the last year only the aforesaid Alice, his wife, omitted her pilgrimage, going to Ashridge upon Corpus Christi day. Also the said Thomas Harding, being put to his oath to detect others, because he, contrary to his oath, dissembled, and did not disclose them, was therefore enjoined, in penance for his perjury, to bear upon his right sleeve, both before and behind, a badge or patch of green cloth, or silk, embroidered like a faggot, during his whole life, unless he should be otherwise dispensed withal. And thus continued he from the year 1522, until the year 1532.

At last the said Harding, in the year abovesaid, (1532,) about the Easter holidays, when the other people went to the church to commit their wonted idolatry, took his way into the woods, there solitarily to worship the true living God, in spirit and in truth; where, as he was occupied in a book of English prayers, leaning or sitting upon a stile by the wood's side, it chanced that one did espy him where he was, and came in great haste to the officers of the town, declaring, that he had seen Harding in the woods looking on a book: whereupon immediately a rude rabble of them, like mad men, ran desperately to his house to search for books, and in searching went so nigh, that under the boards of his floor they found certain English books of Holy Scripture. Whereupon this godly father, with his books, was brought before John Longland, bishop of Lincoln, then lying at Woburn; who, with his chaplains, calling Father Harding to examination, began to reason with him, proceeding rather with checks and rebukes, than with any sound arguments. Thomas Harding, seeing their folly and rude behaviour, gave them but few words, but fixing his trust and care in the Lord, did let them say what they would. Thus at last they sent him to the bishop's prison, called Little-ease, where he did lie with hunger and pain enough for a certain space, till at length the bishop, sitting in his tribunal-seat like a potestate, condemned him for relapse to be burned to ashes, committing the charge and oversight of his martyrdom to Rowland Messenger, vicar of Great Wycombe. This Rowland, at the day appointed, with a rabble of others like to himself, brought Father Harding to Chesham again; where, the next day after his return, the said Rowland made a sermon in Chesham church, causing Thomas Harding to stand before him all the preaching time; which sermon was nothing else, but the maintaining of the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome, and the state of his apostolical see, with the idolatry, fantasies, and traditions belonging unto the same. When the sermon was ended, Rowland took him up to the high altar, and asked, whether he believed that in the bread, after the consecration, there remained any other substance than the substance of Christ's natural body, born of the Virgin Mary? To this Thomas Harding answered, "The articles of our belief do teach us, that our Saviour Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and that he suffered death under Pilate, and rose from death the third day; that he then ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, in the glory of his Father."

Then was he brought into a man's house in the town, where he remained all night in prayer and godly meditations. So the next morning came the aforesaid Rowland again, about ten o'clock, with a company of bills and staves, to lead this godly father to his burning; whom a great number both of men and women did follow, of whom many bewailed his death, and contrary, the wicked rejoiced thereat. He was brought forth, having thrust into his hands a little cross of wood, but no idol upon it. Then he was chained unto the stake, and desiring the people to pray for him, and forgiving all his enemies and persecutors, he commended his spirit to God, and took his death most patiently and quietly, lifting up his hands to heaven, saying, "Jesus, receive my spirit."

When they had set fire on him, there was one that threw a billet at him, and dashed out his brains: for what purpose he so did, it is not known, but, as it was supposed, that he might have forty days of pardon, as the proclamation was made at the burning of William Tylsworth, above mentioned; where proclamation was made the same time, that whosoever did bring a faggot or a stake to the burning of. a heretic, should have forty days of pardon: whereby many ignorant people caused many of their children to bear billets and faggots to their burning.

In fine, when the sacrifice and burnt-offering of this godly martyr was finished, and he burnt to ashes, in the dell, going to Botley, at the north end of the town of Chesham, Rowland, their ruler of the roast, commanding silence, and thinking to send the people away with an Ita, missa est, with a loud voice said to the people these words, not advising belike what his tongue did speak: "Good people! when ye come home, do not say that you have been at the burning of a heretic, but of a good true Christian man:" and so they departed to dinner, Rowland, with the rabble of other priests, much rejoicing at the burning of this good man. After dinner they went to church to even-song, because it was Corpus Christi even, where they fell to singing and chanting, with ringing, and piping of the organs. Well was he that could reach the highest note, so much did they rejoice at this good man's burning. He should have been burned on the Ascension even, but the matter was deferred unto the even of Corpus Christi, because they would honour their "bready Messias" with a bloody sacrifice. Thus Thomas Harding was consumed to ashes, he being of the age of sixty years and above.

I find in the records of Lincoln, about the same time, and in the same county of Buckinghamshire, in which the aforesaid Thomas Harding did suffer, that divers others, for the like doctrine, were molested and troubled, whose names with their causes hereunder follow:


Mistress Alice Dolly, accused by Elizabeth Wighthill, her own servant, and by Dr. London.

Elizabeth Wighthill, being brought before Dr. London in the parsonage at Staunton Harecourt, and there put to her oath, deposed against Mistress Alice Dolly, her mistress, that the said Mistress Dolly, speaking of John Hacker, of Coleman Street, in London, water-bearer, said, that he was very expert in the Gospels, and all other things belonging to divine service, and could express and declare them, and the Pater-noster in English, as well as any priest, and it would do one good to hear him; saying moreover, that she would in no case that this were known, for hurting the poor man: commanding moreover the said Elizabeth, that she should tell no man hereof; affirming at that same time, that the aforesaid Hacker could tell by divers prophecies, what should happen in the realm.

Over and besides, the aforenamed Elizabeth deposed, that the said Mistress Dolly, her mistress, showed unto her, that she had a book which held against pilgrimages; and after that, she caused Sir John Booth, parson of Britwel, to read upon a book which he called Legenda Aurea; and one saint's life he read, which did speak against pilgrimages. And after that was read, her mistress said unto her, "Lo, daughter! now ye may hear, as I told you, what this book speaketh against pilgrimages."

Furthermore, it was deposed against Mistress Dolly, by the said Elizabeth, that she, being at Sir William Barenten's place, and seeing there in the closet images new gilded, said to the said Elizabeth, "Look, here be my Lady Barenten's gods:" to whom the said Elizabeth answered again, that they were set for remembrance of good saints. Then said she, "If I were in a house where no images were, I could remember to pray unto saints as well as if I did see the images." "Nay," said the other, "images do provoke devotion." Then said her mistress, "Ye should not worship that thing that hath ears and cannot hear, and hath eyes and cannot see, and hath mouth and cannot speak, and hath hands and cannot feel."

Item, The said Mistress Dolly was reported by the said party to have a book containing the twelve articles of the Creed, covered with boards and red covering. Also another black book, which she set most price by, which book she kept ever in her chamber, or in her coffer, with divers other books. And this was about A.D. 1520.

Note here, good reader! in this time, which was above forty-six years ago, what good matter here was, to accuse and molest good women.


Roger Hachman, accused at North Stoke, in Oxfordshire, A.D. 1525. Persecuted by William Smith of North Stoke, in Oxfordshire; and by Thomas Ferrar.

Against this Roger Hachman it was laid, by depositions brought in, that he, sitting at the church aisle at North Stoke, said these words, "I will never look to be saved for no good deed that ever I did, neither for any that ever I will do, without I may have my salvation by petition, as an outlaw shall have his pardon of the king;" and said, that if he might not have his salvation so, he thought he should be lost.


Robert West, priest of St. Andrew Undershaft, accused at London, A.D. 1529. Persecuted by Dr. Wharton, chancellor to Tonstal, bishop of London.

Against this Robert West, priest, it was objected, that he had commended Martin Luther, and thought that he had done well in many things, as in having a wife and children, &c.

Item, For saying, that whereas the doctors of the church have commanded priests to say matins and even-song, they had no authority so to do: for which he was abjured, and was enjoined penance.


John Ryburn, accused at Roshborough, A. D, 1530. Persecuted by Doctor Morgan.

It was testified against John Ryburn, by his sister Elizabeth Ryburn, being put to her oath, that she, coming to him upon the Assumption even, found him at supper with butter and eggs, and being bid to sit down and eat with him, she answered, that it was no convenient time then to eat; to whom he said again, that God never made such fastingdays; "but you," quoth he, "are so far in limbo patrum, that you can never turn again." And in further communication, when she said that she would go on pilgrimage to the holy cross at Wendover, he said again, that she did wrong, "for there is never a step," said he, "that you set in going on pilgrimage, but you go to the devil: and you go to the church to worship what the priest doth hold above his head, which is but bread; and if you cast it to the mouse it will eat it:" and further he said, that he would never believe that the priest hath power to make his Lord.

Item, It was testified by another sister, named Alice Ryburn, that she, being with her brother in a close called Brimmer's Close, beard him say these words, "That a time shall come when no elevation shall be made." Whereunto she answering again asked, "And what service shall we have then?

He said, "That service that we have now." Furthermore, the said John Ryburn was accused upon these words, for saying that the service of the church was nought, because it was not in English: "For," said he, "if we had our Pater-noster in English, we would say it nine times against once now."

Note here, out of the records of the register, that in this examination of John Ryburn, first his two sisters, then his own wife, and at last his own father, were called before John Longland, bishop of Lincoln, and compelled by oath to depose against him.


John Eaton, and Cecily his wife, accused at Roshborough, A.D. 1530. Persecuted by John Longland, bishop of Lincoln, and by Richard Ryburn.

John Eaton, and Cecily his wife, of the parish of Speen, were detected by Richard Ryburn, that they were marked of certain in the parish on the Sunday then last past, in the sacring time, to hold down their heads, and that they would not look upon the sacrament.

Item, In the feast of exaltation of the holy cross, when the bells did ring solemnly, between matins and high mass, for saying, in a butcher's house, "What a clampering of bells is here!"

Item, The said John Ryburn was detected by Richard his father, for saying these words, "The priests do wrong, for they should say their service in English, that every man may know it."

Item, For these words speaking to one of his sisters, "The sacrament of the altar is not as they take it to be: but if it be as I trust, we shall see none of them holden up, one of these days, over the priest's head."

Item, For saying that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ hath made satisfaction for all ill deeds that were done, or should be done; and therefore it was no need to go on pilgrimage. It was also laid to his charge, and confessed by himself, that he had the Gospels of Jesus in English, and that he was present in the house of John Taylor, when one John Simons read to them a lecture out of the Gospel, of the passion of Christ, the space of two hours.

Item, For saying that images were but idols, and it was idolatry to pray to them.

For saying moreover, that at sacring time he kneeled down, but he had no devotion, nor believed in the sacrament.

Item, That the pope's authority and pardon cannot help man's soul, and it was but cast away money that is given for pardon; for if we ask pardon of our Lord Jesus Christ, he will give us pardon every day.

Thomas Lound, priest, who had been with Luther two years, being afterwards cast into the Fleet at London, was a great instructor of this John Ryburn.


John Simonds accused.

It was laid against John Simonds, for saying that men do walk all day in purgatory in this world, and when they depart out of this world, there are but two ways, either to hell or to heaven.

Item, He said, that priests should have wives.

It was reported by the confession of the said John Simonds, that he had converted to his doctrine eight priests, and had holpen two or three friars out of their orders.


William Wingrave, Thomas Hawks of Hichenden, Robert Hawes of West Wycombe, John Taylor, John Hawks, Thomas Hern of Cobshil, Nicholas Field, Richard Dean, Thomas Clerk the younger, William Hawks of Chesham; accused, A.D.1530. Persecuted by John Longland, bishop of Lincoln.

These persons with others were examined, excommunicated, and abjured, for being together in John Taylor's house at Hichenden, and there hearing Nicholas Field, of London, read a parcel of Scripture in English unto them, who there expounded to them many things: that they that went on pilgrimage were accursed: that it booted not to pray to images, for they were but stocks made of wood, and could not help a man: that God Almighty biddeth us work as well one day as another, saving the Sunday; for six days he wrought, and the seventh day he rested: that they needed not to fast so many fasting days, except the ember days; for he was beyond the sea in Almany, and there they used not so to fast, nor to make such holy days.

Item, That offerings do no good, for they have them that have no need thereof. And when it was answered again by one, that they maintained God's service; "Nay," said Nicholas, "it maintain great houses, as abbeys and others."

Item, That men should say their Pater-noster and Ave Maria in English, with the Creed; and declared the same in English.

Item, That the sacrament of the altar was not, as it was pretended, the flesh, blood, and bone of Christ; but a sacrament, that is, a typical signification of his holy body.

To William Wingrave moreover it was objected, that he should say, that there was no purgatory: and if there were any purgatory, and every mass that is said should deliver a soul out of purgatory, there should be never a soul there; for there be more masses said in a day, than there be bodies buried in a month.


Simon Wisdom, of Burford. Persecuted by John Longland, bishop of Lincoln.

Simon Wisdom, of Burford, was charged in judgment, for having three books in English; one was the Gospels in English, another was the Psalter, the third was the Sum of the Holy Scripture in English.


James Algar, or Ayger, accused, A.D. 1530. Persecuted by Dr. Prin, commissary to the bishop of Lincoln.

It was articulated and objected to James Algar, first, that he, speaking to a certain doctor of divinity, named Aglonby, said, that every true Christian man, living after the laws of God, and observing his commandments, is a priest as well as he, &c.

Item, That he said that he would not his executors to deal any penny for his soul after his death, for he would do it with his own hands while he was alive; and that his conscience gave him, that the soul, as soon as it departeth out of the body, goeth straight either to heaven or to hell.

Item, When Dr. Aglonby aforesaid had alleged to him the place in St. Matthew, chap. xvi., Thou art Peter, &c., he answered him again with that which followeth in the Gospel after, Get thee after me, Satan, &c.

Item, The said James, hearing of a certain church to be robbed, said openly, it made no. great matter, for the church had enough already.


John French, of Long Witham. Persecuted there, A.D. 1530.

Against John French likewise these three articles were objected.

First, that he believed not the body of Christ, flesh, blood, and bone, to be in the sacrament. Secondly, That he was not confessed to any priest of long time. Thirdly, That priests had not power to absolve from sins, &c.: for which he likewise, with the others, was troubled, and at length compelled also with them to kneel down, and to ask a blessing of his holy catholic father and mother of Rome.

For what stand I here numbering the sand? for if all the register books were sought, it would be an infinite thing to recite all them which through all the other diocesees of the realm in these days, before and since, were troubled and pursued for these and such-like matters. But these I thought for example's sake here to specify, that it might appear what doctrine it is, and long hath been in the church, for the which the prelates and clergy of Rome have judged men heretics, and so wrongfully have molested poor simple Christians.

Now, passing from the abjurations of those poor men, we will something speak (God willing) of the life and doings of the contrary part, who were their persecutors, and chief rulers then of the church; to the intent that by those rulers it may better be discerned and judged, what manner of church that was, which then so persecuted the true doctrine of Christ, and members of his church.


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