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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 285. JOHN TOOLEY



The ridiculous handling and proceeding of Bishop Bonner and his mates against John Tooley, first suspected and condemned after his death, and then digged out of his grave, and given to the secular power, and so burned for a heretic.

            About the same time of the burning of these two aforesaid, in the beginning of the said month of June, fell out a solemn process, and much ado was made about the pope's spiritually against John Tooley, in a case of heresy. The story is this: There was about the time that the Spaniards began first to keep a stir in England, one John Tooley, a citizen and poulterer in London, who conspired with certain other of his society, to rob a Spaniard at St. James's: and although the deed were heinous and wicked of itself, yet was it aggravated and made greater than it was by others, being committed against such a person, and against such a country, which both the queen and her whole court did highly favour. The robbery being known, and brought into judgment, this Tooley was found guilty, and judged to be hanged, whereas notwithstanding in this realm there are many more thefts committed than thieves executed.

            The foresaid Tooley being led to the gallows, (which stood fast by Charing Cross,) a little before he died, standing upon the cart, read a certain prayer in a printed book, and two other prayers written in two several papers: who then, having the halter about his neck, desired the people there present to pray for him, and to bear him witness that he died a true Christian man, and that he trusted to be saved only by the merits of Christ's passion, and shedding of his precious blood; and not by any masses or trentals, images or saints, which were (as he said) mere idolatry and superstition, and devised by the bishop of Rome: and as the same Tooley, and two other his fellows which were there hanged with him, did steal and rob for covetousness, so the bishop of Rome did sell his masses and trentals, with such other paltry, for covetousness; and there being in a great anger (as appeared) against the bishop of Rome, spake with a loud voice these words following "From the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities; from false doctrine and heresy, and from the contempt of thy word and commandment, good Lord, deliver us!"

            And then adding further to the same, he spake unto the people,--"All you that be true Christian men, say with me, Amen." And immediately thereupon three hundred persons and more, to the judgment and estimation of those that were there present, answered and said, "Amen," three times together at the least.

            After this it happened, that when Tooley had read the bill the first time, it fell from him, and a certain young man (who was thought to be a prentice) stooped down and took up the bill, and climbed up by the cart, and delivered it unto Tooley again, which he again did read to the people. That done, he delivered unto one of the marshal's officers the book aforesaid, and willed him to deliver it unto one Haukes, saving, that it was his book. Furthermore, he delivered one of the prayers, written in a paper, to one Robert Bromley, sergeant, who desired to have it of him. Upon the top of which bill was written a line, containing these words, "Beware of Antichrist;" and subscribed underneath, "Per me Thomam Harold, prisoner in the Marshalsea, enemy to antichrist." For the bill aforesaid, Robert Bromley was brought afterward coram nobis; and was fain to ask pardon of the bishop, and to detest all the words of Tooley, and glad so to escape.

            Thus while Tooley had made his prayers, as is abovesaid, to be delivered from the pope's tyranny, by the same prayers he fell into great tyranny. For so soon as the bruit of this fact came unto the ears of the priests and mitred prelates, they were not a little mad thereat, thinking it not tolerable that so great a reproach should be done against the holy father. Calling therefore for a council together, as though it had been a matter of great importance, Tooley's talk at his death was debated among themselves.

            At last, after much pro and contra, they all consented to those men's judgments, who thought it meet that the violating of the pope's Holiness should be revenged with fire and faggot. And I do easily believe that Cardinal Pole was no small doer in this sentence; for as Winchester and Bonner did always thirst after the blood of the living, so Pole's lightning was for the most part kindled against the dead; and he reserved this charge only to himself, I know not for what purpose, except peradventure, being loth to be so cruel as the other, he thought nevertheless by this means to discharge his duty towards the pope. By the same cardinal's like lightning and fiery fist the bones of Martin Bucer and Paulus Phagius, which had lain almost two years in their graves, were taken up and burned at Cambridge, as Tooley's carcass was here at London. And besides this, because he would show some token of his diligence in both universities, he caused Peter Martyr's wife, a woman of worthy memory, to be digged out of the churchyard, and to be buried on the dunghill. Of these two prodigious acts ye shall hear more hereafter. But now to our purpose of Tooley, who, having ended his prayer, was hanged and put into his grave, out of which he was digged again, by the commandment of the bishops; and because he was so bold to derogate the authority of the bishop of Rome, at the time of his death, it pleased them to judge and condemn him as a heretic, upon the commandment of the council's letter, as here appeareth.


A letter sent unto Bonner, bishop of London, from the council, concerning Tooley.

            "After our very hearty commendations to your Lordship, understanding that of late amongst others that have suffered about London for their offences, one lewd person that was condemned for felony died very obstinately, professing at the time of his death sundry heretical and erroneous opinions; like as we think it not convenient that such a matter should be overpassed without some example to the world, so have we thought good to pray your Lordship to cause further inquiry to be made thereof, and thereupon to proceed to the making out of such process as by the ecclesiastical laws is provided in that behalf. And so we bid your Lordship heartily well to fare.
            "From Hampton Court, the 28th of April, 1555.
            "Your Lordship's loving friends.
            Step. Winton, chancellor.
            F. Shrewsbury
            John Gage.
            Thomas Cheney.
            R. Rochester.
            William Peter.
            Rich. Southwell."

            Anon after, a citation was set up upon Paul's church door under the bishop of London's great seal.

            When the time of this citation was expired, and this Tooley being cited did not appear, next in order of law came the suspension (whereas one suspension had been enough for him); and after that cometh the excommunication, that is, that no man should eat and drink with him; or if any met him by the way, he should not bid him good morrow; and besides that, he should be excluded from the communion of the church. These things being prepared in such manner, as in such cases full wisely they use to do, at length one stood out for the nonce, that made answer to certain articles, rehearsed in judgment openly, and that in the behalf of the dead man. But when the poor dead man could neither speak for himself, nor did (as they said) sufficiently answer them by the other -- to avoid the name of a heretic -- first witnesses were provided against him, whose names were Henry Clark, esquire, Thomas May, keeper of the Marshalsea, Philip Andrew, under-marshal, William Holingworth, fishmonger, William Gellard, William Walton, chandler, Richard Longman, merchant-tailor, Philip Britten, John Burton, brewer, Thomas Smith, sergeant. Then he was for a heretic condemned, and so committed to the secular power, namely, to the sheriffs of London, who, with the like diligence, went about to execute their charge. Therefore receiving the man, (being suspended, excommunicated, condemned as a heretic, and besides that, dead,) they laid him on the fire to be burned, namely, for a continual remembrance thereof: this was done the fourth day of June.


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