Here followeth a copy of the letter of warrant, sent from the queen to Richard Atkinson, mayor of Oxford; Richard Ivery, and William Jony, bailiffs; and the rest of the aldermen and inhabitants of the same city, concerning the custody and bringing forth of the said bishops to the disputations.


A letter of Warrant, &c.

            To our trusty and well-beloved the mayor, aldermen, and other inhabitants, of the city of Oxford.

            "Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And whereas Dr. Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ridley, and Hugh Latimer, clerk, now remaining in your custody, by your appointment, have, besides other their great crimes, maintained and openly set forth divers heresies and erroneous and most pernicious opinions, contrary to the catholic faith of Christ's church, to the great offence of Almighty God, and evil and dangerous example of all our faithful and loving subjects:-- like as it hath been wisely considered in the convocation of the bishops, prelates, and other the clergy of our realm, that the heresies, moved and nourished by the fore-said persons and other their adherents, being no less perilous for the state of our realm than hurtful to the setting-forth of God's glory and the furtherance of the catholic religion, are meet to be, by learning, convinced and overthrown in time:-- so have they, for that purpose, appointed certain grave and well learned doctors and others, as well of that our university of Oxford as of our university of Cambridge, to hear, in open disputation, the said Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer; so as their erroneous opinions, being by the word of God justly and truly convinced, the residue of our subjects may be thereby the better established in the true catholic faith: We therefore, minding to have the truth of Christ's catholic religion set forth and justly established among our loving subjects, to his glory and benefit of this our realm, do let you wit, that our will and pleasure is, that when, and as often as, the said learned persons appointed for that purpose shall require you to cause the said Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer (every or any of them) to be brought to the place of open disputation, you shall not only give order for the same conveying thither of them, or any one or two of them, at the hours to them to be appointed, but also to receive them again into your custody, to be kept all together or separately as the commissioners shall appoint from time to time, until further order shall be taken in this behalf accordingly. Given under our signet, at our manor of St. James, the sixth of April, and in the first year of our reign."


The report and narration of Master Ridley, concerning the misordered disputation had against him and his fellow prisoners at Oxford.

            "I never yet, since I was born, saw or heard any thing done or handled more vainly or tumultuously, than the disputation which was with me in the schools at Oxford. Yea verily, I could never have thought that it had been possible to have found amongst men recounted to be of knowledge and learning in this realm, any so brazen-faced and shameless, so disorderly and vainly to behave themselves, more like to stage-players in interludes to set forth a pageant, than to grave divines in schools to dispute. The Sorbonical clamours -- which at Paris I have seen in times past, when popery most reigned -- might be worthily thought (in comparison of this Thrasonical ostentation) to have had much modesty. And no great marvel, seeing they which should have been moderators and overseers of others, and which should have given good examples in words and gravity; they themselves, above all others, gave worst example, and did, as it were, blow the trump to the rest, to rave, roar, rage, and cry out. By reason whereof (good Christian reader) manifestly it may appear, that they never sought for any truth or verity, but only for the glory of the world, and their own bragging victory. But lest, by the innumerable railings and reproachful taunts, wherewith I was baited on every side, our cause -- yea, rather God's cause and his church's -- should be evil spoken of, and slandered to the world, through false reports and untrue examples given out of our disputation, and so the verity might sustain some damage, I thought it no less than my duty to write mine answers; to the intent that whosoever is desirous to know the truth thereof, may by this perceive, as well those things which were chiefly objected, as summarily that which was answered of me unto every of them. Howbeit (good reader) I confess this to be most true, that it is impossible to set forth either all that was (God knoweth) tumultuously and confusedly objected of their parts, being so many; speaking many times all together so thick, that one could not well hear another, neither all that was answered on my behalf to them so sundry and divers opponents.

            "Moreover, a great part of the time appointed for the disputations was vainly consumed in opprobrious checks and reviling taunts, (with hissing and clapping of hands,) and that in the English tongue, to procure the people's favour withal. All which things, when I with great grief of heart did behold, protesting openly, that such excessive and outrageous disorder was unseemly for those schools, and men of learning and gravity, and that they which were the doers and stirrers of such things, did nothing else but betray the slenderness of their cause, and their own vanities: I was so far off, by this my humble complaint, from doing any good at all, that I was enforced to hear such rebukes, checks, and taunts for my labour, as no person of any honesty, without blushing, could abide to hear the like spoken of a most vile varlet, against a most wretched ruffian.

            "At the first beginning of the disputation, when I should have confirmed mine answer to the first proposition in few words (and that after the manner and law of schools); afore I could make an end of my first probation, which was not very long, even the doctors themselves cried out, 'He speaketh blasphemies! he speaketh blasphemies!' And when I on my knees besought them, and that heartily, that they would vouchsafe to hear me to the end (whereat the prolocutor, being moved, cried out on high, 'Let him read it! let him read it!'): yet, when I began to read again, there followed immediately such shouting, such a noise and tumult, such confusion of voices, crying, 'Blasphemies! blasphemies!' as I, to my remembrance, never heard or read the like; except it be that one, which was in the Acts of the Apostles, stirred up of Demetrius the silversmith, and others of his occupation, crying out against Paul, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians! great is Diana of the Ephesians!' And except it be a certain disputation which the Arians had against the orthodox, and such as were of godly judgment in Africa; where, it is said, that such as the president and rulers of the disputation were, such was the end of the disputations: all were in a hurly-burly; and so great were the slanders which the Arians cast out, that nothing could quietly be heard. This writeth Victor, in the second book of his history.

            "The which cries and tumults of them against me so prevailed, that, will I, nill I, I was enforced to leave off the reading of my probations, although they were short. If any man doubt of the truth hereof, let the same ask any one that was there, and not utterly perverted in popery; and I am assured he will say, I spake the least. But, to complain of these things further, I will cease."

            And further, speaking of this disputation, he concludeth with these words:

            "And thus was ended this most glorious disputation of the most holy fathers, sacrificers, doctors, and masters; which fought most manfully, as ye may see, for their God and goods, for their faith and felicity, for their country and kitchen, for their beauty and belly, with triumphant applauses, and favour of the whole university."

            After the disputation of Master Latimer ended, which was the eighteenth of April; the Friday following, which was the twentieth of the said month, the commissioners sat in St. Mary's church, as they did the Saturday before, and Dr. Weston used particularly dissuasions with every one of them, and would not suffer them to answer in any wise, but directly and peremptorily, as his words were, to say whether they would subscribe, or no. And first to the archbishop of Canterbury, he said, he was overcome in disputations. To whom the archbishop answered, that whereas Dr. Weston said, he hath answered and opposed, and could neither maintain his own errors, nor impugn the verity; all that he said was false. For he was not suffered to oppose as he would, nor could answer as he was required, unless he would have brawled with them; so thick their reasons came one after another. Ever four or five did interrupt him, that he could not speak. Master Ridley and Master Latimer were asked what they would do: they replied, that they would stand to that they had said. Then were they all called together, and sentence read over them, that they were no members of the church: and therefore they, their supporters and patrons, were condemned as heretics. And in reading of it, they were asked, whether they would turn or no: and they bade them read on in the name of God; for they were not minded to turn. So they were condemned all three.

            After which, sentence of condemnation being awarded against them, they answered again every one in his turn, in manner and effect of words, as followeth: the archbishop first beginning thus:

            The archbishop of Canterbury.--"From this your judgment and sentence, I appeal to the just judgment of God Almighty; trusting to be present with him in heaven, for whose presence in the altar I am thus condemned."

            Dr. Ridley.--"Although I be not of your company, yet doubt I not but my name is written in another place, whither this sentence will send us sooner, than we should by the course of nature have come."

            Master Latimer.--"I thank God most heartily, that he hath prolonged my life to this end, that I may in this case glorify God by that kind of death."

            Dr. Weston to Latimer.--" If you go to heaven in this faith, then I will never come thither, as I am thus persuaded."

            After the sentence pronounced, they were separated one from another; videlicet, the archbishop was returned to Bocardo, Dr. Ridley was carried to the sheriff's house, Master Latimer to the bailiff's.

            On Saturday following, they had a mass with a general procession and great solemnity. Dr. Cranmer was caused to behold the procession out of Bocardo; Dr. Ridley out of the sheriff's house; Latimer also, being brought to see it from the bailiff's house, thought that he should have gone to burning, and spake to one Augustine Cooper, a catchpole, to make a quick fire. But when he came to Carfax, and saw the matter, he ran as fast as his old bones would carry him, to one Spenser's shop, and would not look towards it. Last of all, Dr. Weston carried the sacrament, and four doctors carried the canopy over him. Immediately after the sentence was given, Dr. Ridley writeth to the prolocutor in manner as followeth.

            "Master Prolocutor, you remember, I am sure, how you promised me openly in the schools, after my protestation, that I should see how my answers were there taken and written of the notaries whom ye appointed (me fateor neminem recusare) to write what should be said, and to have had licence to have added unto them, or to have altered them, as upon more deliberation should have seemed me best. Ye granted me also at the delivery of my answer unto your first proposition, a copy of the same:-- these promises are not performed. If your sudden departure be any part of the cause thereof, yet I pray you remember that they may be performed; for performance of promise is to be looked for at a righteous judge's hands. Now I send you here my answers in writing to your second and third propositions, and do desire and require earnestly a copy of the same; and I shall, by God's grace, procure the pains of the writer to be paid for, and satisfied accordingly. Master Prolocutor, in the time of my answering in the schools, when I would have confirmed my sayings with authorities and reasons, ye said then openly, that I should have time and place, to say and bring whatsoever I could, another time, and the same your saying was then and there confirmed of other of the commissioners: yea, and (I dare say) the audience also thought then, that I should have had another day, to have brought and said what I could, for the declaration and confirmation of mine assertions. Now that this was not done, but so suddenly sentence given, before the cause was perfectly heard, I cannot but marvel at it all; and the due reformation of all things which are amiss, I commit to Almighty God my heavenly Father, who, by his dear Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, whom he hath made the universal judge of all flesh, shall truly and righteously judge both you and me."

            On Monday next ensuing, after these things done and past, being the twenty-third of the said month of April, Dr. Weston, prolocutor, took his journey up to London, with the letters certificatory from the university unto the queen, by whom the archbishop of Canterbury directed his letters supplicatory unto the council. The which letters, after the prolocutor had received, and had carried them well-near half way to London, by the way he opened the same, and seeing the contents thereof, sent them back again, refusing to carry them, &c. Likewise Bishop Ridley, hearing of the prolocutor's going to London, writeth to him his letters, wherein he desireth him to carry his answers up to certain bishops in London, the form of which letters, first of Dr. Ridley, then of the archbishop, and lastly, another letter of Dr. Ridley to the archbishop, here in order followeth.


Another letter of Bishop Ridley to the prolocutor.

            "Master Prolocutor, I desire you, and in God's name require you, that you truly bring forth and show all mine answers, written and subscribed with mine own hand, unto the higher house of the convocation, and especially to my lord chancellor, my lords of Durham, Ely, Worcester, Norwich, and Chichester; and also to show and exhibit this my writing unto them, which in these few lines here I write unto you. And that I did make this request unto you by this my writing, know ye that I did take witness of them by whom I send you this writing, and also of those which were then with them present; videlicet, the two bailiffs of Oxford -- and of Master Irish, alderman, then there called to be a witness.

            "By me Nicholas Ridley, the 13th of April, anno 1554."


The copy of the archbishop of Canterbury's letter to the council, sent by Dr. Weston, who refused to deliver it.

            "In right humble wise showeth unto your honourable Lordships Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury, beseeching the same to be a means for me unto the queen's Highness for her mercy and pardon. Some of you know by what means I was brought and trained unto the will of our late sovereign lord King Edward the Sixth, and what I spoke against the same; wherein I refer me to the reports of your honours and worships. Furthermore, this is to signify unto your Lordships, that upon Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday last past, were open disputations here in Oxford against me, Master Ridley, and Master Latimer, in three matters concerning the sacrament: first, of the real presence: secondly, of transubstantiation: and thirdly, of the sacrifice of the mass. Upon Monday, against me; upon Tuesday, against Dr. Ridley; and upon Wednesday, against Master Latimer. How the other two were ordered, I know not; for we were separated, so that none of us knoweth what the other said, nor how they were ordered. But as concerning myself, I can report. Dr. Chedsey was appointed to dispute against me, but the disputation was so confused, that I never knew the like; every man bringing forth what him liked without order: and such haste was made, that no answer could be suffered to be taken fully to any argument, before another brought a new argument. And in such weighty matters the disputation must needs be ended in one day, which can scantly be ended in three months. And when we had answered them, they would not appoint us one day to bring forth our proofs, that they might answer us, being required by me thereunto; whereas I myself have more to say, than can be well discussed, as I suppose, in twenty days. The means to resolve the truth, had been to have suffered us to answer fully to all that they could say; and then they again to answer us fully to all that we can say. But why they would not answer us, what other cause can there be, but that either they feared their matter, that they were not able to answer us, or else for some consideration they made such haste, not to seek the truth, but to condemn us, that it must be done in post-haste before the matters could be thoroughly heard--for in haste we were all three condemned of heresy. Thus much I thought good to signify unto your Lordships, that you may know the indifferent handling of matters, leaving the judgment thereof unto your wisdoms. And I beseech your Lordships, to remember me, a poor prisoner, unto the queen's Majesty; and I shall pray, as I do daily unto God, for the long preservation of your good Lordships in all godliness and felicity.

            "April 23, 1554."


Bishop Ridley to Archbishop Cranmer.

            "I wish ye might have seen these mine answers before I had delivered them, that ye might have corrected them. But, I trust, in the substance of the matter we do agree fully, both led by one Spirit of truth, and both walking after one rule of God's word. It is reported, that Serjeant Morgan, the chief justice of the Common Pleas, is gone mad. It is said also, that Justice Hales hath recanted, perverted by Dr. Moreman. Item, that Master Rogers, Dr. Crome, and Master Bradford shall he had to Cambridge, and there be disputed with, as we were here; and that the doctors of Oxford shall go likewise thither, as Cambridge men came hither. When ye have read mine answers, send them again to Austin, except ye will put any thing to them. I trust the day of our delivery out of all miseries, and of our entrance into perpetual rest, and into perpetual joy and felicity, draweth nigh: the Lord strengthen us with his mighty Spirit of grace!

            "If you have not to write with, you must make your man your friend. And this bearer deserveth to be rewarded; so he may, and will do you pleasure. My man is trusty, but it grieveth both him and me, that when I send him with any thing to you, your man will not let him come up to see you, as he may to Master Latimer, and yours to me. I have a promise to see how my answers were written in the schools, but as yet I cannot come by it. Pray for me, I pray for you, and so shall I for you. The Lord have mercy of his church, and lighten the eyes of the magistrates, that God's extreme plagues light not on this realm of England! -- Turn, or burn."


Previous Next