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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 274. THOMAS CAUSTON AND THOMAS HIGBED.


            Here followeth the history of Master Causton and Master Higbed, two worthy gentlemen of Essex, who, for their sincere confession of their faith under Bonner, bishop of London, were martyred and burned in Essex, A. D. 1555.

LTHOUGH the condemnation of Master Causton and Master Higbed followed after the condemnation of those who were condemned with Tomkins and Hunter above mentioned, yet, because the time of their execution was before the burning of the aforesaid four martyrs, forasmuch that they suffered the same day that William Hunter did, which was the twenty-sixth of March, I thought therefore, next after the story of the said William Hunter, following the order of time, here to place the same.

            This Master Causton and Master Higbed, two worshipful gentlemen in the county of Essex, the one at Horndon on the Hill, the other of the parish of Thundersby, being zealous and religious in the true service of God; as they could not dissemble with the Lord their God, nor flatter with the world, so in time of blind superstition and wretched idolatry, they could not long lie hid and obscure in such a number of malignant adversaries, accusers, and servants of this world, but at length they were perceived and detected to the aforesaid Edmund Bonner, bishop of London: peradventure not without the same organ which sent up William Hunter, as is above declared. By reason whereof, by commandment they were committed to the officers of Colchester to be safely kept, and with them also a servant of Thomas Causton, who, in this praise of Christian godliness, was nothing inferior to his master.

            Bonner, the foresaid bishop, perceiving these two gentlemen to be of worshipful estate, and of great estimation in that country, lest any tumult should thereby arise, came thither himself, accompanied with Master Fecknam and certain others, thinking to reclaim them to his faction and fashion: so that great labour and diligence was taken therein, as well by terrors and threatenings, as by large promises and flattering, and all fair means, to reduce them again to the unity (as they termed it) of the mother church.

            In fine, when nothing could prevail to make them assent to their doings, at length they came to this point, that they required certain respite to consult with themselves what was best to do. Which time of deliberation being expired, and they remaining still constant and unmovable in their professed doctrine, and setting out also their confession in writing, the bishop seeing no good to be done in tarrying any longer there, departed thence, and carried them both with him to London; and with them certain other prisoners also, which about the same time in those quarters were apprehended.

            It was not long after this, but these prisoners, being at London committed to strait prison, and there attempted sundry ways by the bishop and his chaplains to revoke their opinions: at length, when no persuasions would serve, they were brought forth to open examination at the consistory in Paul's, the seventeenth day of February, A. D. 1555; where they were demanded as well by the said bishop, as also by the bishop of Bath, and others, whether they would recant their errors and perverse doctrine, (as they termed it,) and so come to the unity of the popish church. Which when they refused to do, the bishop assigned them likewise the next day to appear again, being the eighteenth of February.

            On the which day, among many other things there said and passed, he read unto them severally certain articles, and gave them respite until the next day to answer unto the same; and so committed them again to prison. The copy of which articles hereunder followeth.

            "First, That thou Thomas Causton (or Thomas Higbed) hast been and art of the diocese of London, and also of the jurisdiction now of me, Edmund, bishop of London.

            "Item, That thou wast in time past, according to the order of the Church of England, baptized and christened.

            "Item, That thou hadst godfathers and godmother, according to the said order.

            "Item, That the said godfathers and godmother did then promise for thee, and in thy name, the faith and religion that then was used in the realm of England.

            "Item, That that faith and religion, which they did profess and make for thee, was accounted and taken to be the faith and religion of the church, and of the Christian people: and so was it in very deed.

            "Item, Thou coming to the age of discretion, (that is to say, to the age of fourteen years,) didst not mislike nor disallow that faith, that religion, or promise then used and approved and promised by the said godfathers and godmother, but for a time didst continue in it, as others (taking themselves for Christian people) did likewise.

            "Item, That at that time, and also before, it was taken for a doctrine of the church, catholic and true, and every where in Christendom then allowed for catholic and true, and to be the profession of a Christian man, to believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, after the consecration, there was, and is, by the omnipotent power and will of Almighty God, and his word, without any substance of bread and wine there remaining, the true and natural body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ in substance, which was born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered upon the cross, really, truly, and in very deed.

            "Item, That at that time thy father and mother, all thine ancestors, all thy kindred, acquaintance, and friends, and thy said godfathers and godmother, did then so believe and think in all the same as the said church did therein believe.

            "Item, That thyself hast had no just cause or lawful ground to depart or swerve from the said religion or faith, nor any occasion at all, except thou wilt follow and believe the erroneous opinion or belief that hath been (against the common order of the church) brought in by certain disordered persons of late, at the uttermost within these thirty or forty years last past.

            "Item, That thou dost know, or credibly hast heard, and dost believe, that Dr. Robert Barnes, John Frith, Thomas Gerrard, Jerome Lassels, Anne Askew, John Hooper, late bishop of Gloucester, Sir Laurence Saunders, priest, John Bradford, Sir John Rogers, priest, Sir Rowland Taylor, priest, Sir John Laurence, priest, William Pygot, Stephen Knight, William Hunter, Thomas Tomkins, and Thomas Hawkes, have been heretofore reputed, taken, and accounted as heretics, and also condemned as heretics, and so pronounced openly and manifestly; specially in holding and believing certain damnable opinions, against the verity of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the altar, and all the same persons (saving John Bradford, Sir John Laurence, William Pygot, Stephen Knight, William Hunter, Thomas Tomkins, and Thomas Hawkes) have suffered pains of death by fire, for the maintenance and defence of the said opinions and misbelief.

            "Item, That thou dost know, or credibly hast heard, and dost believe, that Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury; and Nicholas Ridley, naming himself bishop of London; Robert Ferrar, late bishop of St. David's; and Hugh Latimer, some time bishop of Worcester; have been and are at this present reputed, accounted, and taken as heretics and misbelievers, in maintaining and holding certain damnable opinions against the verity of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the altar.

            "Item, That thou hast commended and praised all the said persons, so erring and believing, (or at the leastwise some of them, secretly, and also openly, taking and believing them to be faithful and catholic people, and their said opinions to be good and true; and the same, to the best and uttermost of thy power, thou hast allowed, maintained, and defended at sundry times.

            "Item, That thou, having heard, known, and understood, all the premises thus to be as is aforesaid, hast not regarded all or any part thereof, but, contrary to the same and every part thereof, hast attempted and done; condemning, transgressing, and breaking the promise, faith, religion, order, and custom aforesaid: and hast become and art a heretic and misbeliever in the premises, denying the verity of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the altar, and obstinately affirming, that the substance of the material bread and wine is there remaining, and that the substance of Christ's body and blood, taken of the Virgin Mary, is not there in the said sacrament really and truly being.

            "Item, That all the premises be true, notorious, famous, and manifest; and that upon all the same, there have and be amongst the sad and good people of the city of London, and diocese of the same, in great multitude, commonly and publicly, a common and public fame and opinion, and also in all places where thou hast been, within the said diocese of London."

            These articless being given to them in writing by the bishop, the next day following was assigned to them to give up and exhibit their answers unto the same.


The third day's session upon the examination of Master Causton and Master Higbed.

            Upon that day, being the first day of March, the said Thomas Causton and Thomas Higbed, gentlemen, being brought before the bishop in the consistory, there exhibited their answers to the articles aforesaid: the tenor of which answers here followeth.

            "To the first, they answer and confess the same to be true.

            "To the second, they answer and believe the same to be true.

            "To the third, they answer and believe the same to be true.

            "To the fourth, they answer and think the same to be true.

            "To the fifth, until this clause, 'and so was it in very deed,' they answer and believe the same to be true. And unto that clause, 'and so was it in very deed,' they answer negatively, and believe that it was not in very deed.

            "To the sixth, seventh, and eighth, they answer and believe the same to be true.

            "To the ninth, they answer and say, that they think they have a just and lawful cause and ground to swerve and go from the said faith and religion, because they have now read more Scripture, than either themselves, or their parents and kinsfolk, godfathers or godmothers, have read or seen heretofore in that behalf.

            "To the tenth, they answer, say, and believe, that the said persons articulate, have been named, taken, and counted for heretics, and so condemned for heretics: yet about three years past, they were taken for good Christian persons. And forasmuch as these respondents did ever hear them preach concerning the sacrament of the altar, they say that they preached well, in that they said and preached that Christ is not present really and truly in the sacrament; but that there is remaining the substance of bread and wine.

            "To the eleventh, they answer and say, that howsoever other folks do repute and take the said persons articulate, yet these respondents themselves did never, nor yet do, so account and take them. And further they say, that in case the said persons articulate, named in this article, have preached that in the sacrament of the altar is very material wine, and not the substance of Christ's body and blood under the forms of bread and wine, then they preached well and truly, and these respondents themselves do so believe.

            "To the twelfth, they answer and say, that whereas other folk have dispraised the said persons articulate, and disallowed their opinions, these respondents (for ought that they at any time have heard) did like and allow the said persons, and their sayings.

            "To the thirteenth, they answer and say, that they have not broken or condemned any promise made by their godfathers and godmothers for them at their baptism, and that they are no heretics or misbelievers, in that they believe that there remaineth only bread and wine in the sacrament of the altar, and that Christ's natural body is not there, but in heaven: for they say, that the Scriptures so teach them.

            "To the fourteenth, they answer and believe, that the premises before by them confessed be true, notorious, and manifest."

            After these answers exhibited and perused, then the bishop, speaking unto them after this sort, beginneth first (as he did ever before) with Thomas Causton. "Because ye shall not be suddenly trapped, and that men shall not say that I go about to seek snares to put you away; I have hitherto respited you, that you should weigh and consider with yourself your state and condition, and that you should, while ye have time and space, acknowledge the truth, and return to the unity of the catholic church." Then the bishop, reading their former articles and answers to the same, asked them if they would recant: which when they denied, they were again dismissed, and commanded to appear the Wednesday next after, at two o'clock at afternoon, there to receive their definitive sentence against them: which thing (as it seemeth) was yet deferred.


Another examination of Master Causton and Master Higbed.

            The next Friday, being the eighth of March, the said Thomas Causton was first called to examination before the bishop, Fecknam, and Dr. Stempe, being in his palace, and there had read unto him his aforesaid articles with his answers thereunto; and after certain exhortations to recant his former profession, and to be conformable to the unity of their church, they promised him, so doing, willingly to receive him again thereunto. To whom he answered, "You go about to catch us in snares and gins. But mark, by what measure ye measure us, look you to be measured with the same again at God's hands." The bishop still persuaded with him to recant. To whom he answered, "No, I will not abjure. Ye said that the bishops that were lately burned, be heretics: but I pray God make me such a heretic as they were."

            The bishop then leaving Master Causton, calleth for Master Higbed; using with him the like persuasions that he did with the other: but he answered, "I will not abjure; for I have been of this mind and opinion that I am now, these sixteen years; and do what ye can, ye shall do no more than God will permit you to do; and with what measure you measure us, look for the same again at God's hands."

            Then Fecknam asked him his opinion in the sacrament of the altar. To whom he answered. "I do not believe that Christ is in the sacrament as ye will have him, which is of man's making."

            Both their answers thus severally made, they were again commanded to depart for that time. and to appear the next day in the consistory at Paul's, between the hours of one and three o'clock at afternoon.


The last appearance of Master Causton and Master Higbed before Bonner.

            At which day and hour, being the ninth day of March, they were both brought thither; where the bishop caused Master Thomas Causton's articles and answers first to be read openly, and after persuaded with him to recant and abjure his heretical opinions, and to come home now, at the last, to their mother the catholic church, and save himself.

            But Master Thomas Causton answered again, and said, "No, I will not abjure; for I came not hither for that purpose:" and therewithal did exhibit in writing unto the bishop (as well in his own name, as also in Thomas Higbed's name) a confession of their faith, to the which they would stand; and required leave to read the same: which, after great suit, was obtained. And so he read it openly in the hearing of the people, as followeth.

            "First, we believe and profess in baptism, to forsake the devil and all his works and pomps, and the vanities of the wicked world, with all the sinful lusts of the flesh.

            "2. We believe all the articles of our Christian faith.

            "3. We believe, that we are bound to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of our life.

            "4. We believe, that there is contained in the Lord's prayer all things necessary both for body and soul; and that we are taught thereby to pray to our heavenly Father, and no other saint or angel.

            "5. We believe, that there is a catholic church, even the communion of saints, built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, as St. Paul saith, Christ being the head corner-stone. For the which church Christ gave himself, to make it to himself a glorious congregation, without fault in his sight.

            "6. We believe, that this church of herself, and by her own merits, is sinful, and must needs say, Father! forgive us our sins: but, through Christ and his merits, she is freely forgiven; for he in his own person, saith St. Paul, hath purged her sins, and made her faultless in his sight: Besides whom, there is no Saviour, saith the prophet: Neither is there salvation, saith St. Peter, in any other name.

            "7. We believe, as he is our only Saviour, so he is our only Mediator. For the apostle St. Paul saith, There is one God, one Mediator between God and man, even the man Jesus Christ. Wherefore, seeing none hath this name, God and man, but Jesus Christ, therefore there is no Mediator but Jesus Christ.

            "8. We believe, that this church of Christ is and hath been persecuted, by the words of Christ, saying, As they have persecuted me, so shall they persecute you: for the disciple is not above his master. For it is not only given unto you to believe in Christ, saith St. Paul, but also to suffer for his sake. For all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.

            "9. We believe that the church of Christ teacheth the word of God truly and sincerely, putting nothing to, nor taking any thing from: and also doth minister the sacraments according to the primitive church.

            "10. We believe, that this church of Christ suffereth all men to read the Scriptures, according to Christ's commandment, saying, Search the Scriptures; for they testify of me. We read also out of the Acts, that when St. Paul preached, the audience daily searched the Scriptures, whether he preached truly or no. Also the prophet David teacheth all men to pray with understanding: For how shall the unlearned, saith St. Paul, say Amen, at the giving of thanks, when they understand not what is said? And what is more allowed than true faith, which, St. Paul saith, cometh by hearing of the word of God?

            "11. We believe, that the church of Christ teacheth, that God ought to be worshipped according to his word, and not after the doctrine of men: For in vain, saith Christ, ye worship me, teaching nothing but the doctrine of men.

            "Also we are commanded of God by his prophet, saying, Walk not in the traditions and precepts of your elders: but walk, saith he, in my precepts: do that I command you: put nothing thereunto, neither take any thing from it. Likewise saith Christ, You shall forsake father and mother, and follow me. Whereby we learn, that if our elders teach otherwise than God commanded, in that point we must forsake them.

            "12. We believe, that the supper of the Lord ought not to be altered and changed, forasmuch as Christ himself, being the wisdom of the Father, did institute it. For it is written, Cursed is he that changeth my ordinances, and departeth from my commandments, or taketh any thing from them.

            "13. Now, we find by the Scriptures, that this holy supper is sore abused. First, in that it is given in one kind, where Christ gave it in both. Secondly, in that it is made a private mass, whereas Christ made it a communion: for he gave it not to one alone, but to all the apostles in the name of the whole church. Thirdly, in that it is made a sacrifice for the quick and the dead; whereas Christ ordained it for a remembrance of the everlasting sacrifice, which was his own body offered upon the altar of the cross once for all, as the holy apostle saith, Even the full and perfect price of our redemption: and where there is remission of sin, saith he, there is no more sacrifice for sin. Fourthly, in that it is worshipped contrary to the commandment, saying, Thou shalt worship nothing that is made with hands. Fifthly, in that it is given in an unknown tongue, whereby the people are ignorant of the right use thereof, how Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, by whom we be set at peace with God, and received to his favour and mercy by his promise, whereof this sacrament is a sure seal and witness. Besides this, it is hanged up, and shut in a box; yea, many times so long, that worms breed in it, and so it putrifieth: whereby the rude people have an occasion to speak irreverently thereof, which otherwise would speak reverently. Therefore they that thus abuse it, bring up the slander, and not we which pray daily to God to restore it to the right use, according to Christ's institution.

            "14. Now concerning Christ's words, This is my body, we deny them not; but we say, that the mind of Christ in them must be searched out by other open Scriptures, whereby we may come to the spiritual understanding of them, which shall be most to the glory of God: for, as the holy apostle saith, There is no Scripture that hath any private interpretation. Besides this, the Scriptures are full of the like figurative speeches: as for example: Christ saith, This cup is the new testament in my blood. The rock is Christ, saith St. Paul. Whosoever receiveth a child in my name, saith our Saviour Jesus Christ, receiveth me.

            "Which sentences must not be understood after the letter, lest we do err, as the Capernaites did, which thought that Christ's body should have been eaten with their teeth, when he spake of the eating thereof. Unto whom Christ said, Such a fleshly eating of my body profiteth nothing: it is the Spirit, saith our Saviour Jesus Christ, that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: for my words are spirit and life.

            "Thus we see that Christ's words must be understood spiritually, and not literally. Therefore he that cometh to this worthy supper of the Lord, must not prepare his jaw, but his heart; neither tooth nor belly; but, 'Believe,' saith St. Augustine, 'and thou hast eaten it:' so that we must bring with us a spiritual hunger, and, as the apostle saith, Try and examine ourselves, whether our conscience do testify unto us, that we do truly believe in Christ, according to the Scriptures; whereof if we be truly certified, being new-born from our old conversation in heart, mind, will, and deed, then may we boldly,with this marriage-garment of our faith, come to the feast.

            "15. In consideration whereof we have invincible Scriptures, as of Christ himself: This do in remembrance of me. And St. Paul: As often, saith he, as ye eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, ye shall remember the Lord's death until he come. Here is no change, but bread still. And St. Luke affirmeth the same. Also Christ hath made a just promise, saying, Me you shall not have always with you, I leave the world, and go to my Father: for if I should not depart, the Comforter which I will send, cannot come unto you. So, according to his promise, he is ascended as the evangelists testify. Also St. Peter saith, That heaven shall keep him until the last day also.

            "16. Now as touching his omnipotent power, we confess and say with St. Augustine, that Christ is both God and man. In that he is God, he is every where; but in that he is man he is in heaven, and can occupy but one place. Whereunto the Scriptures do agree: for his body was not in all places at once when he was here; for it was not in the grave when the woman sought it, as the angel saith: neither was it at Bethany, where Lazarus died, by Christ's own words, saying, I am glad I was not there. And thus we conclude with the Scriptures, that Christ is in his holy supper sacramentally and spiritually in all them that worthily receive it, and corporally in heaven, both God and man.

            "And further, we make here our protestation before God, (whom we call to record in this matter,) that this which we have said, is neither stubbornness, nor wilful mind, as some judge of us; but even of very conscience, truly (we trust) grounded on God's holy word. For before we took this matter in hand, we besought God from the bottom of our hearts, that we might do nothing contrary to his holy and blessed word. And in that he hath thus showed his power in our weakness, we cannot worthily praise him, unto whom we give hearty thanks, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

            When he had thus delivered and read their confession, the bishop, still persisting sometimes in fair promises, sometimes threatening to pronounce judgment, asked them whether they would stand to this their confession and other answers? To whom Causton said, "Yea, we will stand to our answers written with our hands, and to our belief therein contained." After which answer the bishop began to pronounce sentence against him.

            Then he said, that it was much rashness, and without all love and mercy, to give judgment without answering to their confession by the truth of God's word; whereunto they submitted themselves most willingly. "And therefore I," quoth Causton, "because I cannot have justice at your hand, but that ye will thus rashly condemn me, do appeal from you to my Lord Cardinal."

            Then Dr. Smith said, that he would answer their confession. But the bishop (not suffering him to speak) willed Harpsfield to say his mind, for the stay of the people; who, taking their confession in his hand, neither touched nor answered one sentence thereof. Which done, the bishop pronounced sentence, first against the said Thomas Causton; and then, calling Thomas Higbed, caused his articles and answers likewise to be read. In the reading whereof Higbed said, "Ye speak blasphemy against Christ's passion, and ye go about to trap us with your subtleties and snares. And though my father and mother, and other my kinsfolk, did believe as you say, yet they were deceived in so believing. And further, whereas you say, that my Lord, named Cranmer, (late archbishop of Canterbury,) and others specified in the said articles, be heretics; I do wish that I were such a heretic as they were, and be." Then the bishop asked him again, Whether he would turn from his error, and come to the unity of their church? To whom he said, "No; I would ye should recant: for I am in the truth, and you in error."

            "Well," quoth the bishop, "if ye will return, I will gladly receive you." "No," said Higbed, "I will not return as you will have me, to believe in the sacrament of the altar, your God." Whereupon the bishop proceeded, and gave judgment upon him, as he had done before upon Thomas Causton.

            When all this was thus ended, they were both delivered to the sheriffs, and so by them sent to Newgate, where they remained by the space of fourteen days, praised be God, not so much in afflictions as in consolations. For the increase whereof they earnestly desired all their good brethren and sisters in Christ to pray, that God, for his Son's sake, would go forth with that great mercy, which already he had begun in them, so that they might persevere unto the end, to the praise of the eternal God, and comfort of all their brethren.

            These fourteen days (after the condemnation) once expired, they were, the twenty-third day of this month of March, fetched from Newgate at four o'clock in the morning, and so led through the city to Aldgate, where they were delivered unto the sheriff of Essex, and there, being fast bound in a cart, were shortly after brought to their several appointed places of burning; that is to say, Thomas Higbed to Horndon on the Hill, and Thomas Causton to Raleigh, (both in the county of Essex,) where they did most constantly, the twenty-sixthday of the same month, seal this their faith with shedding of their blood by most cruel fire, to the glory of God, and great rejoicing of the godly. At the burning of which Master Higbed, Justice Brown was also present, as is above specified, and divers gentlemen in the shire were commanded to be present, for fear, belike, lest they should be taken from them.

            And thus much touching the apprehension, examination, confession, condemnation, and burning, of these two godly and constant martyrs of God.


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