Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 300. DIRICK CARVER AND JOHN LAUNDER


            The twenty-second day of this month of July, was burned at Lewes, within the county of Sussex, one Dirick Carver, late of the parish of Brighthelmstone in the same county. And the next day, (being the twenty-third day of the same month,) was also burned at Stenning, another named John Launder, late of Godstone in the county of Surrey: which two men were, (with others,) about the end of the month of October, A. D. 1554, apprehended by Edward Gage, gentleman, as they were at prayer within the dwelling-house of the said Dirick; and by him were sent up unto the queen's council, who, after examination, sent them as prisoners to Newgate, there to attend the leisure of Bonner, bishop of London. From whence (upon the bishop's receipt of a letter from the lord marquis of Winchester, now lord treasurer) they were brought by the keeper of the prison the eighth of June next after, into the bishop's chamber at his house in London; and there (being examined upon divers points of religion) they made their several confessions, subscribing and signing them with their own hands. Which being read, the bishop objected unto them certain other articles, causing them to swear truly and directly to answer thereunto; which articles they confessed to be true, referring themselves chiefly to their former confessions.

            This done, after long persuasions and fair exhortations, they were demanded whether they would stand to their answers. To whom Launder said, "I will never go from these answers so long as I live." The other also confirmed the same, and therefore they were commanded to appear again before the bishop in the consistory at Paul's, the tenth day of the same month next following; which articles and confession, with the aforementioned letter, do here ensue.


A letter sent from the marquis of Winchester, lord treasurer, unto Bonner, bishop of London, touching the examination of the said prisoners.

            "After my right hearty commendations to your good Lordship, I shall not forget your livery of black against this time; no more I shall Master Dean, to whom I wrote to make the sermon, who must now assuredly do it; for my Lord of Chichester cannot attend it. To whom I have given like knowledge by my letter now sent, and your Lordship must command the sextons of your church to be in readiness for ringing-in the time of service. And if ye be not furnished with black apparel for the altar, and for the priest, deacon, and sub-deacon, I must have knowledge thereof, that it be taken of the queen's stuff, whereof I pray you let me be advertised.

            "And ye have sent Bradford to Newgate, as a man determined of heresy before you: but, as I perceive, ye have not sent a significavit, and therefore you must send me one, that I may proceed with him; and that I shall do, as soon as I am answered of you.

            "There be divers like prisoners that came from Sussex, that be not yet examined before you, lying now in Newgate, which must be examined by you, since they be come to London; and so I pray they may be, and I certified of your proceedings, that I may follow; which I shall do, thanking your Lordship heartily for my conies, trusting to recompense your Lordship again shortly with twice as many.--From my house this seventh of June, 1555.
            "Your loving friend.


The confession of Diriek Carver, before Bonner, bishop of London.

            "Dirick Carver, beer-brewer, of Brighthelmstone, in the county of Sussex, where he hath dwelled by the space of eight or nine years, born in the village of Dilson by Stockom in the land of Luke, forty years of age, (or thereabout,) and now prisoner in Newgate, where he hath remained and continued at the council's commandment, since Allhallow's day last past, being examined concerning his faith and belief in the sacrament of the altar, saith, that he hath, and doth believe, that the very substance of the body and blood of Christ is not in the said sacrament, and that there is no other substance remaining in the said sacrament after the words spoken by the priest, but only the substance of bread and wine.

            "Item, Being examined concerning the mass in Latin now used in the Church of England, he believeth that there is no sacrifice in the said mass, and that there is in it no salvation for a Christian man, except it should be said in the mother-tongue, that he might understand it; and concerning the ceremonies of the church, he saith and believeth, that they be not profitable to a Christian man.

            "Item, Being examined concerning auricular confession, he answereth, that he hath and doth believe, that it is necessary to go to a good priest for good counsel; but the absolution of the priest, laying his hand upon any man's head, as is now used, is nothing profitable to a Christian man's salvation. And further he saith, that he hath not been confessed, nor received the sacrament of the altar, since the coronation of the queen that now is.

            "Item, Concerning the faith and religion now taught, set forth, and believed in the Church of England, he answereth and believeth, that the faith and doctrine now taught, set forth, and used, in the said Church of England, is not agreeable to God's word. And furthermore he saith, that Bishop Hooper, Cardmaker, Rogers, and others of their opinion, which were of late burned, were good Christian men, and did preach the true doctrine of Christ, as' he believeth; and saith, that they did shed their blood in the same doctrine, which was by the power of God, as he saith and believeth.

            "And further, being examined, he saith that since the queen's coronation he hath had the Bible and Psalter in English, read in his house at Brighthelmstone divers times, and likewise since his coming into Newgate: but the keeper, hearing thereof, did take them away; and saith also, that about a twelvemonth now past, he had the English procession said in his house, with other English prayers.

            "And further saith, that Thomas Iveson, John Launder, and William Vesie, being prisoners with him in Newgate, were taken with this examinate in his house at Brighthelmstone, as they were hearing of the gospel, then read in English, a little before Allhallown day last past, and brought into the court: and being examined thereupon by the council, were committed by them to prison in Newgate."


The confession of John Launder, before Bonner, bishop of London.

            "John Launder, husbandman, of the parish of Godstone, in the county of Surrey, of the age of twenty-five years, born at Godstone aforesaid, being examined, loth confess and say, that about two days next before Allhallowntide last past, this examinate, and one Dirick Carver, Thomas Iveson, William Vesie, with divers other persons to the number of twelve, (being altogether in their prayers, and saying the service in English, set forth in the time of King Edward the Sixth, in the house of the said Dirick, situate at Brightonhamstead in Sussex,) were apprehended by one Master Edward Gage, and by him sent up hither to London, to the king and queen's council, and by them (upon his examination) committed to Newgate, where he, with his said other fellows, hath ever since remained in prison.

            "And further being examined, he doth confess and say, that the occasion of his coming to the said Brighthelmstone was upon certain business there to be sped for his father: and so being there, and hearing that the said Dirick was a man that did much favour the gospel, this examinate did resort to his house and company, (whom before that time he did never see or know,) and by reason of that his resort, he was apprehended as before. And further doth confess and believe, that there is here in earth one whole and universal catholic church, whereof the members be dispersed through the world; and doth believe also, that the same church doth set forth and teach only two sacraments, viz. the sacrament of baptism, and the sacrament of the supper of our Lord: and whosoever doth teach or use any more sacraments, or yet any ceremonies, he doth not believe that they be of the catholic church, but doth abhor them from the bottom of his heart. And doth further say and believe that all the service, sacrifices, and ceremonies, now used in this realm of England, (yea, and in all other parts of the world, which have been used after the same manner,) be erroneous and naught, and contrary to Christ's institution, and the determination of Christ's catholic church, whereof he believeth that he himself is a member.

            "Also he doth confess and believe, that in the sacrament, now called the sacrament of the altar, there is not really and truly contained, under the forms of bread and wine, the very natural body and blood of Christ in substance: but his belief and faith therein is as followeth, viz. that when he doth receive the material bread and wine, he doth receive the same in remembrance of Christ's death and passion; and, so receiving it, he doth eat and drink Christ's body and blood by faith, and none other ways, as he believeth.

            "And moreover he doth confess, say, and believe, that the mass now used in the realm of England, or elsewhere in all Christendom, is naught and abominable, and directly against God's word, and his catholic church; and that there is nothing said or used in it good and profitable. For he saith, that albeit the Gloria in excelsis, the Creed, Sanctus, Paternoster, Agnus, and other parts of the mass, be of themselves good and profitable, yet the same being used amongst other things that be naught and superfluous in the mass, the same good things do become naught also; as he believeth.

            "Also he doth believe and confess that auricular confession is not necessary to be made to any priest, or to any other creature, but every person ought to acknowledge and confess his sins only to God; and also that no person hath any authority to absolve any man from his sins. And also believeth that the right and true way, (according to the Scripture,) after a man hath fallen from grace to sin, to arise to Christ again, is to be sorry for his offences, and to do the same or the like no more: and not to make any auricular confession of them to the priest, either to take absolution for them at the priest's hands. All which his said opinions he hath believed by the space of these seven or eight years past, and in that time hath divers and many times openly argued and defended the same, as he saith," &c.


Articles objected by Bonner, bishop of London, against Dirick Carver and John Launder.

            "First, I do object against you, and every of you, that ye and every of you, being within the said prison of Newgate, and within the said city of London, are of my jurisdiction, (being bishop of London,) and subject unto the same, offending and trespassing within the said prison and city in matters of religion, and concerning the catholic faith and belief of the church in any wise.

            "2. Item, I do object against you, and every of you, that ye and every of you, since your first coming and entering into the said prison, and during your abode there, both there and in sundry places within this city and diocese of London, have holden, maintained, and defended sundry opinions against the sacraments of the church, especially against the sacrament of penance, and also against the sacrament of the altar.

            "3. Item, I do likewise object that ye, and every of you, in all or some of the said places, have (as concerning the sacrament of the altar) holden, maintained, and defended, to the best of your power, that in the said sacrament of the altar there is not the very substance of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, but that in the sacrament there is only the substance of natural bread and wine, and no other substance.

            "4. Item, I do likewise object that you, and every of you, in all or some of the said places, have, concerning the mass in Latin now used in the church, and the sacrifice of the same, holden, maintained, and likewise defended, that the said mass is not good, nor profitable, and that there is no sacrifice in the same.

            "5. Item, I do likewise object that you, and every of you, in all or some of the places, have, concerning the ceremonies of the church, holden, maintained, and likewise defended, that the said ceremonies are not profitable to a Christian man, but hurtful and evil.

            "6. Item, I do likewise object that you, and every of you, in all or some of the said places, have, concerning the sacrament of penance, holden, maintained, and likewise defended, that auricular confession, (being a part thereof,) albeit it may be made unto a good priest for counsel, yet the absolution of the priest, laying his hand upon any man's head, and doing as is now usually done in the church, is nothing profitable to any man's salvation; and that therefore ye neither have been confessed to the priest after the usual manner of the church, nor yet received the said sacrament of the altar, since the coronation of the queen's Majesty, which is more than the space of one year and a half.

            "7. Item, I do likewise object, that ye and every of you, in all or some of the said places, concerning the faith and religion now taught, set forth, used, and believed in the church of this realm of England, and the doctrine of the same, have holden, believed, and said, that it is not agreeable to God's word, but clean contrary to the same.

            "8. Item, I do likewise object that ye, and every of you, in all or some of the said places, have believed, spoken, and said, and to your power upholden, maintained, and said, that Bishop Hooper, Cardmaker, Rogers, and others of their opinion, which of late within this realm were burnt for heresy, were good Christian men, in speaking and holding against the said sacrament of the altar; and that they did preach nothing but the true doctrine of Christ, shedding their blood for the maintenance of the said doctrine.

            "9. Item, I do likewise object that ye, and every of you, have earnestly laboured and travailed, to the best and uttermost of your power, to have up again the English service, and the communion in all points, as was used in the latter days of King Edward the Sixth, here in this realm of England.

            "10. Item, I do likewise object that ye, and every of you, have thought and do think firmly and stedfastly, and so have and do believe, that the faith, religion, and doctrine, set forth in the said time of the aforesaid King Edward, was in all points good and godly, containing in it the true faith and religion of Christ, in every part.

            "11. Item, I do likewise object and say, that ye, and every of you, (for your mischief, offence, transgression, and misbehaviour in the premises, and for that also you would not come to your several parish churches, and hear your divine service there, as other Christian people did and do, but absent yourselves from the same, and have your private service in your houses, especially in the house of Dirick Carver,) were sent up unto the king and queen's Majesty's privy council, and by them or some of them sent afterward into the prison of Newgate aforesaid, having there, by their authority, remained as prisoners during all the time ye have been there.

            "12. Item, I do likewise object and say, that I the said bishop of London was commanded, by the authority of the said council, to make process against you, and every of you, so that it was not my procuring or searching that ye should be commanded or called before me in this matter of heresy, but partly your own demerits, and partly the said commandment, enforced me to call and send for you to make answer herein; and hereof to show you the said letters."

            Upon Monday, being the said tenth day of June, these two persons, with others, were brought by the keeper unto the bishop's consistory (as it was before commanded) at one of the clock in the afternoon; where the bishop, first beginning with the said Dirick Carver, caused his confession with the articles and answers to be openly read unto him, (which order he kept at the condemnation of every prisoner,) asking him whether he would stand to the same. To whom the said Dirick answered, that he would "for your doctrine," quoth he, "is poison and sorcery. If Christ were here you would put him to a worse death than he was put to before. You say, that you can make a god: ye can make a pudding as well. Your ceremonies in the church be beggary and poison. And further I say, that auricular confession is contrary to God's word, and very poison:" with divers other such words.

            The bishop, seeing this constancy, and that neither his accustomed flatteries, nor yet his cruel threatenings, could once move this good man to incline to their idolatry, pronounced his usual and general blessing, as well towards this Dirick as also upon the said John Launder, although severally: who (after the like manner of process used with him) remained in the same constancy, as did the other, and therefore were both delivered unto the sheriffs, who were there present; but afterwards were conveyed to the places above named, and there most joyfully gave their bodies to be burned in the fire, and their souls into the hands of Almighty God, by Jesus Christ, who had assured them to a better hope of life.

            This Dirick was a man whom the Lord had blessed as well with temporal riches, as with his spiritual treasures; which riches yet were no clog or let unto his true professing of Christ (the Lord by his grace so working in him); of the which, there was such havoc made by the greedy raveners of that time, that his poor wife and children had little or none thereof. During his imprisonment, although he was well stricken in years, (and, as it were, past the time of learning,) yet he so spent his time, that being at his first apprehension utterly ignorant of any letter of the book, he could, before his death, read perfectly any printed English: whose diligence and zeal is worthy no small commendation, and therefore I thought it good not to let it pass over in silence, for the good encouragement and example of others.

            Moreover, at his coming into the town of Lewes to be burned, the people called upon him, beseeching God to strengthen him in the faith of Jesus Christ. He thanked them, and prayed unto God, that of his mercy he would strengthen them in the like faith. And when he came to the sign of the Star, the people drew near unto him, where the sheriff said, that he had found him a faithful man in all his answers. And as he came to the stake, he kneeled down and made his prayers, and the sheriff made haste.

            Then his book was thrown into the barrel, and when he had stript himself, (as a joyful member of God,) he went into the barrel himself. And as soon as ever he came in, he took up the book, and threw it among the people; and then the sheriff commanded, in the king and queen's name, on pain of death, to throw in the book again. And immediately that faithful member spake with a joyful voice, saying:

            "Dear brethren and sisters, witness to you all, that I am come to seal with my blood Christ's gospel, because I know that it is true. It is unknown unto all you, but that it hath been truly preached here in Lewes and in all places of England, and now it is not. And for because that I will not deny here God's gospel, and be obedient to man's laws.

            "I am condemned to die. Dear brethren and sisters, as many of you as do believe upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, unto everlasting life, see you do the works appertaining to the same. And as many of you as do believe upon the pope of Rome, or any of his laws which he sets forth in these days, you do believe to your utter condemnation; and, except the great mercy of God, you shall burn in hell perpetually."

            Immediately the sheriff spake unto him, and said, "If thou dost not believe on the pope, thou art damned body and soul." And further the sheriff said unto him, "Speak to thy God, that he may deliver thee now; or else to strike me down to the example of this people." But this faithful member said, "The Lord forgive you your sayings."

            And then spake he again to all the people there present, with a loud voice, saying.

            "Dear brethren, and all you whom I have offended in words or in deed, I ask you, for the Lord's sake, to forgive me; and I heartily forgive all you which have offended me in thought, word, or deed."

            And he said further in his prayer as followeth:

            "O Lord my God, thou hast written, He that will not forsake wife, children, house, and all that ever he hath, and take up thy cross and follow thee, is not worthy of thee. But thou, Lord, knowest, that I have forsaken all, to come unto thee: Lord, have mercy upon me, for unto thee I commend my spirit; and my soul doth rejoice in thee."

            These were the last words of that faithful member of Christ, before the fire was put to him. And after that the fire came to him he cried, "O Lord, have mercy upon me;" and sprung up in the fire, calling upon the name of Jesus, and so ended.


Previous Next