216. MARTYRS IN ST. JOHN'S-TOWN, OR PERTH
The manner of persecution used by the cardinal of Scotland against certain persons in St. John's-town, or Perth.
Robert Lamb, William Anderson, James Hunter, James Raveleson, James Finlason, lichen Stirke, his wife; martyrs.
Persecutor: David Beaton, bishop and cardinal of St. Andrews.
First, there was a certain act of parliament made in the government of the Lord Hamilton, earl of Arran, and governor of Scotland, giving privilege to all men of the realm of Scotland, to read the Scriptures in their mother tongue and language; secluding nevertheless all reasoning, conference, convocation of people to hear the Scriptures read or expounded. Which liberty of private reading being granted by public proclamation, lacked not its own fruit, so that in sundry parts of Scotland thereby were opened the eyes of the elect of God to see the truth, and abhor the papistical abominations; amongst whom were certain persons in St. John's-town, as after is declared.
At this time there was a sermon made by Friar Spence, in St. John's-town, otherwise called Perth, affirming prayer made to saints to be so necessary, that without it there could be no hope of salvation to man. Which blasphemous doctrine a burgess of the said town, called Robert Lamb, could not abide, but accused him, in open audience, of erroneous doctrine, and adjured him, in God's name, to utter the truth. This the friar, being stricken with fear, promised to do; but the trouble, tumult, and stir of the people increased so, that the friar could have no audience, and yet the said Robert, with great danger of his life, escaped the hands of the mltitude, namely, of the women, who, contrary to nature, addressed them to extreme cruelty against him.
At this time, A.D. 1543, the enemies of the truth procured John Charterhouse, who favoured the truth, and was provost of the said city and town of Perth, to be deposed from his office by the said governor's authority, and a papist, called Master Alexander Marbeck, to be chosen in his room, that they might bring the more easily their wicked enterprise to an end.
After the deposing of the former provost, and election of the other, in the month of January the year aforesaid, on St. Paul's day, came to St. John's-town, the governor, the cardinal, the earl of Argyle, justice Sir John Campbell of Lundie, knight, and Justice Defort, the Lord Borthwike, the bishops of Dunblane and Orkney, with certain other of the nobility. And although there were many accused for the crime of heresy, (as they term it,) yet these persons only were apprehended upon the said St. Paul's day: Robert Lamb, William Anderson, James Hunter, James Raveleson, James Finlason, and Hellen Stirke, his wife, and were cast that night in the Spay Tower of the said city, the morrow after to abide judgment.
Upon the morrow, when they appeared and were brought forth to judgment in the town, were laid in general to all their charge, the violating of the act of parliament before expressed, and their conference and assemblies in hearing and expounding of Scripture against the tenor of the said act. Robert Lamb was accused, in special, for interrupting of the friar in the pulpit; which he not only confessed, but also affirmed constantly, that it was the duty of no man, which understood and knew the truth, to hear the same impugned without contradiction; and therefore sundry who were there present in judgment, who hid the knowledge of the truth, should bear the burden in God's presence, for consenting to the same.
The said Robert also, with William Anderson and James Raveleson, were accused for hanging up the image of St. Francis in a cord, nailing of ram's horns to his head, and a cow's rump to his tail, and for eating of a goose on Allhallow-even.
James Hunter, being a simple man, and without learning, and a flesher by occupation, so that he could be charged with no great knowledge in doctrine, yet, because he often used that suspected company of the rest, he was accused.
The woman Hellen Stirke was accused, for that in her childbed she was not accustomed to call upon the name of the Virgin Mary, being exhorted thereto by her neighbours, but only upon God for Jesus Christ's sake; and because she said, in like manner, that if she herself had been in the time of the Virgin Mary, God might have looked to her humility and base estate, as he did to the Virgin's, in making her the mother of Christ: thereby meaning, that there were no merits in the Virgin, which procured her that honour, to be made the mother of Christ, and to be preferred before other women, but that only God's free mercy exalted her to that estate: which words were counted most execrable in the face of the clergy, and of the whole multitude.
James Raveleson aforesaid, building a house, set upon the round of his fourth stair, the three-crowned diadem of Peter carved out of a tree, which the cardinal took as done in mockage of his cardinal's hat; and this procured no favour to the said James, at their hands.
These aforenamed persons, upon the morrow after St. Paul's day, were condemned and judged to death, and that by an assize, for violating (as was alleged) the act of parliament, in reasoning and conferring upon Scripture, for eating flesh upon days forbidden, for interrupting the holy friar in the pulpit, for dishonouring of images. and for blaspheming of the Virgin Mary, as they alleged.
After sentence given, their hands were bound, and the men cruelly treated: which thing the woman beholding, desired likewise to be bound by the sergeants with her husband for Christ's sake.
There was great intercession made by the town in the mean season for the life of these persons aforenamed, to the governor, who of himself was willing so to have done, that they might have been delivered: but the governor was so subject to the appetite of the cruel priests, that he could not do that which he would. Yea, they menaced to assist his enemies and to depose him, except he assisted their cruelty.
There were certain priests in the city, who did eat and drink before in these honest men's houses, to whom the priests were much bounden. These priests were earnestly desired to entreat for their hostess at the cardinals hands: but they altogether refused, desiring rather their death, than preservation. So cruel are these beasts, from the lowest to the highest.
Then after, they were carried by a great band of armed men (for they feared rebellion in the town except they had their men of war) to the place of execution, which was common to all thieves, and that to make their cause appear more odious to the people.
Robert Lamb, at the gallows' foot, made his exhortation to the people, desiring them to fear God, and leave the leaven of papistical abominations, and manifestly there prophesied of the ruin and plague which came upon the cardinal thereafter. So every one comforting another, and assuring themselves that they should sop together in the kingdom of heaven that night, they commended themselves to God, and died constantly in the Lord.
The woman desired earnestly to die with her husband, but she was not suffered; yet, following him to the place of execution, she gave him comfort, exhorting him to perseverance and patience for Christ's sake, and, parting from him with a kiss, said on this manner, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we must die, ought to be most joyful unto us both, because we must have joy for ever; therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven." The woman, after that, was taken to a place to be drowned, and albeit she had a child sucking on herbreast, yet this moved nothing the unmerciful hearts of the enemies. So, after she had commended her children to the neighbours of the town for God's sake, and the sucking bairn was given to the nurse, she sealed up the truth by her death.