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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 299. NICHOLAS HALL AND CHRISTOPHER WADE.


            The same month of July, next after the suffering of the Kentish-men above named, followed the death and martyrdom of Nicholas Hall, bricklayer, and Christopher Wade, of Dartford, which both were condemned by Maurice, bishop of Rochester, about the last day of the month of June. The six articles ministered to them were of the same ordinary course and effect with the articles of the other martyrs before specified, the brief sum whereof were these.

            "First, That they were Christian men, and professed the catholic determinations of our mother holy church.

            "2. That they which maintain or hold otherwise than our holy mother the catholic church doth, are heretics.

            "3. That they hold and maintain, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, is not the very body and blood of Christ. And that the said very body of Christ is verily in heaven only, and not in the sacrament.

            "4. Item, that they have and do hold and maintain, that the mass, as it is now used in the catholic church, is naught and abominable.

            "5. Item, that they have been and be, amongst the people of that jurisdiction, vehemently suspected upon the premises, and thereupon indicted," &c.


Their answers.

            "To these articles they answered, as commonly others used to do, which stand with Christ and his truth against these pretended catholics, and their sinister doctrine.

            "First, granting themselves Christian men, and acknowledging the determinations of the holy church, that is, of the congregation or body of Christ,-- save that Hall denied to call the catholic and apostolic church his mother, because he found not this word, 'mother,' in the Scripture.

            "To the 2nd they granted.

            "To 3rd article, as touching the very body and blood of Christ to be under the forms of bread and wine in substance, they would not grant, only affirming the very body of him to be in heaven, and in the sacrament to be a token or remembrance of Christ's death; Nicholas Hall adding moreover, and saying, that whereas, before, he held the sacrament to be but only a token or remembrance of Christ's death, now, he said, that therein is neither token nor remembrance, because it is now misused and clean turned from Christ's institution, &c.

            "And concerning the mass in the 4th article, to be abominable, Christopher Wade with the other answered, that as they had confessed before, so would they now not go from that they had said.

            "To the 5th article, for the people's suspicion, they made no great account nor sticking to grant to the same."

            And thus much concerning the articles and answers of these good men: which being received, immediately sentence of condemnation was pronounced by the said Maurice the bishop against them, the copy of which sentence, as it runneth much after the common course in condemning all other like servants of Christ; so the same being exemplified before in the story of Master Rogers, shall not greatly need here again to be repeated, but rather may be referred over to the place above noted.

            Nicholas Hall was burned at Rochester about the nineteenth day of July. Furthermore, with the aforesaid Hall and Wade, in the same month of July, three others were condemned by Maurice, bishop aforenamed, whose names were Joan Beach, widow, John Harpol of Rochester, and Margery Polley: of which Margery Polley, touching her examination and condemnation, here followeth in story.

            Margery Polley, widow, wife some time of Richard Polley of Pepenbury, was accused and brought before the said Maurice, bishop of Rochester, about the beginning of the month of June: which bishop, according to the pontifical solemnity of that church, rising up out of the chair of his majesty, in the high swelling style, after his ordinary fashion, to dash the silly poor woman, began in these words:--

            "We Maurice, by the sufferance of God, bishop of Rochester, proceeding of our mere office in a cause of heresy, against thee, Margery Polley, of the parish of Pepenbury, of our diocese and jurisdiction of Rochester, do lay and object against thee all and singular these articles ensuing. To the which, and to every parcel of them, we require of thee a true, full, and plain answer, by virtue of thine oath thereupon to be given," &c.

            Thus the oath first being ministered, and the articles commenced against her, which articles were the same that were ministered to Nicholas Hall and Wade before, she so framed her answers again, especially answering to the 3rd and 4th articles, that she neither allowed the deity of their sacrament, nor the absurdity of their mass. For the which, sentence was read against her about the beginning of June, and she condemned for the same. But because her death followed not upon the same, we will therefore defer the tractation thereof to the due place and time, first setting down in order of history the execution of Christopher Wade above-mentioned.


The execution and martyrdom of Christopher Wade.

Illustration -- Christoper Wade at the Place of execution

            Christopher Wade of Dartford, in the county of Kent, linen-weaver, was condemned by Maurice, bishop of Rochester, and appointed to be burned at Dartford aforesaid. At the day appointed for his execution, which was in the month of July, there was, betimes in the morning, carried out of the town, in a cart, a stake, and therewith many bundles of reeds, to a place a quarter of a mile out of the town, called the Brimpt, into a gravel-pit thereby, the common place of the execution of felons. Thither also was brought a load of broom-faggots, with other faggots and tall wood: unto which place resorted the people of the country in great numbers, and there tarried his coming, insomuch that thither came divers fruiterers with horse-loads of cherries, and sold them. About ten of the clock cometh riding the sheriff, with a great many of other gentlemen and their retinue appointed to assist him therein, and with them Wade, riding pinioned, and by him one Margery Polley of Tunbridge; both singing of a psalm: which Margery, as soon as she espied afar off the multitude gathered about the place where he should suffer, waiting his coming, she said unto him very loud and cheerfully, "You may rejoice, Wade, to see such a company gathered to celebrate your marriage this day."

            And so, passing by the place, which joined hard to the highway, they were carried straight down to the town, where she was kept until the sheriff returned from Wade's execution. And Wade, being made ready, and stripped out of his clothes in an inn, had brought unto him a fair long white shirt from his wife, which being put on, and he pinioned, he was led up on foot again to the foresaid place. And coming straight to the stake, he took it in his arms, embracing it, and kissed it, setting his back unto it, and standing in a pitch-barrel, which was taken from the beacon, being hard by. Then a smith brought a hoop of iron, and, with two staples, made him fast to the stake under his arms.

            As soon as he was thus settled, he spake, with his hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, with a cheerful and loud voice, the last verse of Psalm lxxxvi.: Show some good token upon me, O Lord, that they which hate me, may see it, and be ashamed; because thou, Lord, hast helped me, and comforted me. Near unto the stake was a little hill, upon the top whereof were pitched up four staves, quadrangle-wise, with a covering round about like a pulpit: into the which place, as Wade was thus praying at the stake, entered a friar with a book in his hand; whom when Wade espied, he cried earnestly unto the people, to take heed of the doctrine of the whore of Babylon, exhorting them to embrace the doctrine of the gospel preached in King Edward's days; whom the sheriff, thus speaking to the people, often interrupted, saying, "Be quiet, Wade! and die patiently." "I am," said he, "I thank God, quiet, Master Sheriff! and so trust to die." All this while the friar stood still, looking over the coverlet, as though he would have uttered somewhat: but Wade very mightily admonished the people to beware of that doctrine; which when the friar perceived, whether he were amazed, or could have no audience of the people, he withdrew himself out of the place immediately, without speaking any word, and went away down to the town. Then the reeds being set about him, Wade pulled them, and embraced them in his arms, always with his hands making a hole against his face, that his voice might be heard, which they perceiving that were his tormentors, always cast faggots at the same hole, which, notwithstanding, he still, as he could, put off, his face being hurt with the end of a faggot cast thereat. Then fire being put unto him, he cried unto God often, "Lord Jesus! receive my soul;" without any token or sign of impatiency in the fire, till at length, after the fire was once thoroughly kindled, he was heard by no man to speak, still holding his hands up over his head together towards heaven, even when he was dead and altogether roasted; as though they had been stayed up with a prop standing under them.

            This sign did God show upon him, whereby his very enemies might perceive, that God had, according to his prayer, showed such a token upon him, even to their shame and confusion. And this was the order of this godly martyr's execution: this was his end; whereby God seemed to confound and strike with the spirit of dumbness the friar, that locust which was risen up to have spoken against him; and also no less wonderfully sustained those hands which he lifted up to him for comfort in his torment.


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