Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 215. THOMAS FORRET AND HIS FOLLOWERS


            And now, to prosecute such others as followed, beginning first in order with Thomas Forret and his fellows: their story is this.


The story of Thomas Forret, priest, and his fellows.

            Thomas Forret, priest; Friar John Kelow, Friar Beverage, Duncan Sympson, priest; Robert Foster, a gentleman, with three or four other men of Stirling; martyrs.

            Their persecutors: David Beaton, bishop and cardinal of St. Andrews; George Creighton, bishop of Dunkeld.

            Not long after the burning of David Stratton and Master Gurlay above-mentioned, in the days of David Beaton, bishop and cardinal of St. Andrews, and George Creighton, bishop of Dunkeld, a canon of St. Colm's Inche, and vicar of Dolor, called Dean Thomas Forret, preached every Sunday to his parishioners out of the epistle or gospel as it fell for the time; which then was a great novelty in Scotland, to see any man preach, except a Black Friar or a Grey Friar: and therefore the friars envied him, and accused him to the bishop of Dunkeld, (in whose diocese he remained,) as a heretic, and one that showed the mysteries of the Scriptures to the vulgar people in English, to make the clergy detestable in the sight of the people. The bishop of Dunkeld, moved by the friars' instigation, called the said Dean Thomas, and said to him, "My joy Dean Thomas, I love you well, and therefore I must give you my counsel, how you shall rule and guide yourself." To whom Thomas said, "I thank your Lordship heartily." Then the bishop began his counsel after this manner:

            Bishop.--"My joy Dean Thomas! I am informed that you preach the epistle or gospel every Sunday to your parishioners, and that you take not the cow, nor the uppermost cloth, from your parishioners, which thing is very prejudicial to the churchmen; and therefore, my joy Dean Thomas, I would you took your cow, and your uppermost cloth, as other churchmen do; or else it is too much to preach every Sunday: for in so doing you may make the people think that we should preach likewise. But it is enough for you, when you find any good epistle, or any good gospel, that setteth forth the liberty of the holy church, to preach that, and let the rest be."

            The martyr.--Thomas answered, "My Lord, I think that none of my parishioners will complain that I take not the cow, nor the uppermost cloth, but will gladly give me the same, together with any other thing that they have; and I will give and communicate with them any thing that I have; and so, my Lord, we agree right well, and there is nodiscord among us. And whereas your Lordship saith, It is too much to preach every Sunday, indeed I think it is too little, and also would wish that your Lordship did the like."

            Bishop.--"Nay, nay, Dean Thomas," saith my Lord, "let that be, for we are not ordained to preach."

            Martyr.-- Then said Thomas, "Whereas your Lordship biddeth me preach when I find any good epistle, or a good gospel, truly, my Lord, I have read the New Testament and the Old, and all the Epistles and Gospels, and among them all I could never find an evil epistle, or an evil gospel: but, if your Lordship will show me the good epistle and the good gospel, and the evil epistle and the evil gospel, then I shall preach the good, and omit the evil."

            Bishop.-- Then spake my Lord stoutly and said, "I thank God that I never knew what the Old and New Testament was; [and of these words rose a proverb which is common in Scotland, Ye are like the bishop of Dunkeldene, that know neither new nor old law:] therefore, Dean Thomas, I will know nothing but my portuese and my pontifical. Go your way, and let be all these fantasies; for if you persevere in these erroneous opinions, ye will repent it, when you may not mend it."

            Martyr.--"I trust my cause be just in the presence of God, and therefore I pass not much what do follow thereupon."

            And so my Lord and he departed at that time. And soon after a summons was directed from the cardinal of St. Andrews and the said bishop of Dunkeld, upon the said Dean Thomas Forret, upon two Black Friars, one called Friar John Kelow, and another called Beverage, and upon one priest of Stirling, called Duncan Sympson, and one gentleman, called Robert Foster, in Stirling, with other three or four with them, of the town of Stirling; who, at the day of their appearance after their summoning, were condemned to the death without any place for recantation, because (as was alleged) they were heresiarchs, or chief heretics and teachers of heresies; and, especially, because many of them were at the bridal and marriage of a priest, who was vicar of Tulibothy beside Stirling, and did eat flesh in Lent at the said bridal. And so they were all together burned upon the castle hill at Edinburgh, where they that were first bound to the stake godly and marvellously did comfort them that came behind.


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