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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 175. JOHN RANDALL AND EDWARD FREESE.


Now also it cometh into my remembrance to speak of another, one John Randall my kinsman, who, through the privy malice of divers, had not a far unlike tragical end and death to that of Richard Hun, before mentioned.

This John Randall being a young scholar in Christ's college, in Cambridge, about the year of our Lord 1531, had one Wyer for his tutor, unto whom, for the love of the Scriptures and sincere religion, he began not only to be suspected but also to be hated. And as this was unknown unto any man, so it is uncertain, whether he were afterwards hanged up by him or no; because as yet it is not come to light. But the matter happened in this sort: the young man, being studious and scarcely twenty-one years old, was long lacking among his companions; at last, after four days, through the stench of the corpse, his study door being broken open, he was found hanged with his own girdle within the study, in such sort and manner that he had his face looking upon his Bible, and his finger pointing to a place of Scripture, where predestination was treated of. Surely this matter lacked no singular and exquisite policy and craft of some old naughty and wicked man, whosoever he was that did the deed, that it should seem that the poor young man through fear of predestination was driven to despair; that other young men being feared through that example should be kept back from the study of the Scriptures as a thing most perilous. And albeit this brief history do not pertain to these times, yet I thought it by no means to be omitted, both for the profitable memory of the thing, as also for the similitude of the story that it seemeth not to be so fit in another place.


The apprehension of one Edward Freese, a painter.

Edward Freese was born in York, and was apprentice to a painter in the same city; and by the reason of working for his master in Bearsy abbey, or by some such occasion, was known unto the abbot of the same house; for he was a boy of a pregnant wit, and the abbot favoured him so much, that he bought his years of his master, and would have made him a monk. And the lad not liking that kind of living, and not knowing how to get out, because he was a novice, ran away after a long space, and came to Colchester, in Essex, and remaining there according to his former vocation, was married, and lived like an honest man. After he had been there a good time, he was hired to paint certain cloths for the new inn, in Colchester, which is in the middle of the market-place; and in the upper border of the cloths, he wrote certain sentences of the Scripture; and by that he was plainly known to be one of them that they call heretics.

And on a time, he being at his work in the same inn, they of the town, when they had seen his work, went about to take him; and he, having some inkling thereof, thought to shift for himself, but yet was taken forcibly in the yard of the same inn; and after this he was brought to London, and so to Fulham, to the bishop's house, where he was cruelly imprisoned, with certain others of Essex, that is to wit, one Johnson and his wife; Wylie, and his wife and son; and Father Bate, of Rowshedge. They were fed with fine manchet made of saw-dust, or at least a great part thereof; and were so straitly kept, that their wives and their friends could not come to them. After the painter had been there a long space, by much suit he was removed to Lollard's Tower. His wife, in the time of the suit, while he was yet at Fulham, being desirous to see her husband, and pressing to come in at the gate, being then great with child, the porter lifted up his foot and struck her on the body, that at length she died of the same; but the child was destroyed immediately. After that, they were all stocked for a long time, and then they were let loose into their prisons again. Some had horselocks on their legs, and some other irons. This painter would ever be writing on the walls with chalk or a coal, and in one place he wrote, "Doctor Dodipall would make me believe the moon were made of green cheese." And because he would be writing many things, he was manacled by the wrists so long that the flesh of his arms was grown higher than his irons. By means of his manacles he could not comb his head, and he remained so long manacled, that his hair was folded together.

After the death of his wife, his brother sued to the king for him, and after a long suit he was brought out into the consistory at Paul's, and (as his brother did report) they kept him three days without meat before he came to his answer. Then, what by the long imprisonment and much evil handling, and for lack of sustenance, the man was in that case, that he could say nothing, but look and gaze upon the people like a wild man; and if they asked him a question, he could say nothing but "My lord is a good man." And thus, when they had spoiled his body, and destroyed his wits, they sent him back again to Bearsy abbey; but he came away from thence, and would not tarry amongst them: albeit he never came to his perfect mind, to his dying day. His brother, of whom I before spake, whose name was Valentine Freese, and his wife, gave their lives at one stake in York, for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Also the wife of the said Father Bate, while he was at Fulham, made many supplications to the king without redress, and at the last she delivered one into his own hands, and he read it himself, whereupon she was appointed to go to Chancery-lane, to one whose name (as is thought) was Master Selyard; and at last she got a letter of the said Selyard to the bishop; and when she had it, she thought all her suit well bestowed, hoping that some good should come to her husband thereby. And because the wicked officers in those days were crafty, and desirous of his blood, as some others had proved their practice, some of her friends would needs see the contents of her letter, and not suffer her to deliver it to the bishop: and as they thought, so they found indeed; for it was after this manner: -- After commendations had, &c., Look, what you can gather against Father Bate, send me word by your trusty friend, Sir William Saxie, that I may certify the king's Majesty," &c. Thus the poor woman, when she thought her suit had been done, was in less hope of her husband's life than before. But within short space it pleased God to deliver him; for he got out in a dark night, and so he was caught no more, but died within a short time after.

In this year also, as we do understand by divers notes of old registers and otherwise, Friar Roy was burned in Portugal; but what his examination, or articles, or order of his death was, we can have no understanding: but what his doctrine was, it may be easily judged by the testimonies which he left here in England.

In the beginning of this year which we are now about, through the complaint of the clergy made to the king, the translation of the New Testament, with a great number of other books, were forbidden. For the bishops coming into the Star Chamber the twenty-fifth day of May, and communing with the king's counsel, after many pretences and long debating, alleged that the translations of Tyndale and Joye were not truly translated; and moreover, that in them were prologues and prefaces that smelled of heresy, and railed against the bishops: wherefore all such books were prohibited, and commandment given by the king to the bishops, that they, calling to them the best learned men of the universities, should cause a new translation to be made, so that the people might not be ignorant in the law of God. Notwithstanding this commandment, the bishops did nothing at all to the setting forth of any new translation, which caused the people much to study Tyndale's translation, by reason whereof many things came to light, as ye shall hereafter hear.

This year also, in the month of May, the bishop of London caused all the New Testaments of Tyndale's translation, and many other books which he had bought, to be brought unto Paul's Church-yard, and there openly to be burned.


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