Ex-Classics Home Page



Illustration -- The Thirteen Martyrs of Stratford-le-Bow

            Not long after the death of the merchant's servant before mentioned, there followed in this happy and blessed order of martyrs burnt in one fire at Stratford-le-Bow by London, eleven men and two women, whose dwellings were in sundry places in Essex, and whose names hereafter follow:-- Henry Adlington, Laurence Pernam, Henry Wye, William Halliwel, Thomas Bowyer, George Searles, Edmund Hurst, Lyon Cawch, Ralph Jackson, John Derifall, John Routh, Elizabeth Pepper, and Agnes George.

            Unto whom the sixth of June, anno 1556, Dr. Darbyshire, Bonner's chancellor, in form of law ministered the same articles that were pronounced unto Thomas Whittle and his company, mentioned before; to the which they made their several answers, in simplicity and in a good conscience, the sum and effect whereof ensueth.


Their answers to the articles.

            "To the first, they all answered affirmatively; but Lyon Cawch added further, that he believed that the true faith and religion of Christ is wheresoever the word of God is truly preached.

            "To the second article they all answered in effect, denying that there be seven sacraments; some affirming that in the church of Christ there be but two sacraments, that is to say, baptism and the Lord's supper. Others referring themselves to believe as the Scripture teacheth them: and other some refused to make answer because of their simplicity.

            "To the third article they all answered affirmatively.

            "To the fourth article they all answered affirmatively, saving John Routh, who said he would make no answer thereunto. But Lyon Cawch added, that he believed the article to be true; but it was because he had no better knowledge. And Agnes George added, that in King Edward the Sixth's time she went from her old faith and religion, and believed in the faith and religion that was then taught and set forth.

            "To the fifth, they all answered in effect affirmatively, saving John Routh, whose answer was, that the mass is such a thing, which neither can nor will enter into his conscience. And Henry Adlington answered, that for nine or ten years before, he misliked the mass, and also the sacrament of the altar, because they cannot be proved by the Scriptures. And as touching the authority of the see of Rome, he, being but fourteen years of age, took an oath against the same, which oath (he said) he intended to keep by the grace of God.

            "To the sixth they all answered affirmatively, saving John Routh, and William Halliwel, who both refused to answer, because they knew not what they meant by this article. But the two women added, that they refused to be reconciled to the faith and religion that was then used in the realm of England. And Laurence Pernam added, that he never refused to be reconciled and brought to the unity of the catholic church of Christ.

            "To the seventh article they all answered affirmatively; but William Halliwel denied that ever he called the mass idolatry and abomination. And Henry Wye affirming the article to be true, yet he confessed his infirmity, that he went to his parish church and received, before he was put in prison.

            "To the eighth article Edmund Hurst, Ralph Jackson, and George Searles answered affirmatively. Henry Wye said he was brought before certain justices of peace in Essex, concerning one Higbed his late master, and thereupon he was committed to Colchester castle, and from thence sent to London to the bishop to be further examined. William Halliwel affirmed the like confession as Henry Wye did, only Higbed excepted. John Derifall said he was called before the Lord Riche, and Master Mildmay of Chelmsford, and was by them sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be further by him examined. Thomas Bowyer said he was brought before one Master Wiseman of Felstead, and by him was sent to Colchester castle, and from thence was carried to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. Lyon Cawch said that he was sent to come before the king and queen's Majesties' commissioners, and there before them appearing three times, was sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. Henry Adlington said, that he, coming to Newgate to speak with one Gratwike there, being prisoner for the testimony of Jesus Christ, was apprehended and brought before Dr. Story, and by him sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. John Routh said, that he was convented before the earl of Oxford, and by him sent to the castle of Colchester, and from thence conveyed to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. Laurence Pernam said, that he was committed to Hertford prison, because he would not go to church, and from thence sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. Agnes George said, that she was committed to prison in Colchester, at the commandment of one Master Maynard, an alderman of the town, because she would not go to church, and from thence she was sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined. Elizabeth Pepper said she was apprehended by two constables and an alder-man, for that she would not come to church, and by them was sent to Bonner, bishop of London, to be by him further examined.

            "To the ninth article, they all believed the premises to be true above by them confessed, and that they were of the diocese and jurisdiction of London. But Elizabeth Pepper added, that she was of the town of Colchester.

            "And Agnes George added, that she was of the parish of Barefold. And Lyon Cawch added, that he was then of the city of London, by reason that he was at that present a merchant there.

            "Henry Wye, brewer, was of the parish of Stanford-le-Hope, and of thirty-two years of age.

            "William Halliwell was a smith, of the parish of Waltham Holy Cross, and of the age of twenty-four years, or thereabouts.

            "Ralph Jackson was a servingman, of Chipping Ongar, and of the age of twenty-four years.

            "Laurence Pernam was a smith of Hoddesdon, within the parish of Amwell, in the county of Hert-ford, and of the age of twenty-two years.

            "John Derifall was a labourer, of the parish of Rettendon in Essex, and of the age of fifty years.

            "Edmund Hurst was a labourer, of the parish of St. James's, Colchester, and of the age of fifty years and above.

            "Thomas Bowyer was a weaver of Great Dun-mow, and of the age of thirty-six years.

            "George Searles was a tailor, between twenty or twenty-one years of age, of the parish of White Notley, where he was taken and carried to the Lord Riche, who sent him to Colchester castle, with a commandment that no friend he had should speak with him. There he lay six weeks, and was sent up to London, where he was sometime in the bishop's coal-house, sometime in Lollards' Tower, and last of all in Newgate. He was apprehended in Lent, about a fortnight before Easter, in the place aforesaid.

            "Lyon Cawch was a broker, born in Flanders, and then resident, at his taking, in the city of London, and of the age of twenty-eight years or thereabouts.

            "Henry Adlington was a sawyer, and of Grinstead in the county of Sussex, and of the age of thirty years.

            "John Routh was a labourer, and of the parish of Wickes in Essex, and of the age of twenty-six years.

            "Elizabeth Pepper was the wife of Thomas Pepper, weaver, of the parish of St. James's in the town of Colchester, and of the age of thirty years, or thereabouts, who, when she was burned at Stratford, was eleven weeks gone with child, as she then testified to one Bosom's wife, who then unloosed her neckerchief; saying, moreover, when she was asked why she did not tell them; and answering, 'Why,' quoth she, 'they knew it well enough.' Oh such be the bloody hearts of this cruel generation, that no occasion can stay them from their mischievous murdering of the saints of the Lord, which truly profess Christ crucified only and alone, for the satisfaction of their sins.

            Agnes George was the wife of Richard George, husbandman, of West Barefold in the county of Essex, and of the age of twenty-six years. This Richard George had another wife burned beside her in the Postern at Colchester, and himself lay in prison until Queen Elizabeth came to the crown, and then was delivered."

            When these thirteen were condemned, and the day appointed they should suffer, which was the twenty-seventh day of June, anno 1556, they were carried from Newgate in London the said day to Stratford-le-Bow, (which was the place appointed for their martyrdom,) and there divided into two parts, in two several chambers.

            Afterward the sheriff, who there attended upon them, came to the one part, and told them that the other had recanted, and their lives therefore should be saved, willing and exhorting them to do the like, and not to cast away themselves: unto whom they answered, that their faith was not builded on man, but on Christ crucified.

            Then the sheriff, perceiving no good to be done with them, went to the other part, and said (like a liar) the like to them, that they whom he had been with before, had recanted, and should therefore not suffer death, counselling them to do the like, and not wilfully to kill themselves, but to play the wise men, &c.; unto whom they answered as their brethren had done before, that their faith was not builded on man, but on Christ and his sure word, &c.

            Now when he saw it booted not to persuade, (for they were, God be praised, surely grounded on the

            Rock, Jesus Christ,) he then led them to the place where they should suffer: and being all there together, most earnestly they prayed unto God, and joyfully went to the stake, and kissed it, and embraced it very heartily.

            The eleven men were tied to three stakes, and the two women loose in the midst without any stake; and so they were all burnt in one fire, with such love to each other, and constancy in our Saviour Christ, that it made all the lookers-on to marvel. The Lord grant us the like grace in the like need, according to the good pleasure of his will, Amen.

            In the company of these foresaid thirteen, were three more condemned to die; whose names are hereunder specified: Thomas Freeman, William Stannard, and William Adams; which three answered to those articles that were propounded unto the said thirteen, in effect as they did: And being thus in the hands of the secular power, Cardinal Pole sent his dispensation for their lives, by what occasion I cannot safely say, but by means thereof they then escaped.

            The Sunday after these aforesaid sixteen were condemned, Fecknam, dean of Paul's, preached at Paul's Cross, where he declared, that they had as many sundry opinions as they were sundry persons. At the hearing whereof they drew out their faith, and set to their hands as hereafter followeth, and directed the same to their friends and the faithful congregation, as followeth.

            "Unto all our dearly beloved friends, and the holy congregation of Jesus Christ, even so many as love God, grace be with you, and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. So be it.

            "Be it manifest to all by whom this our certificate shall be seen, that whereas upon Sunday, being the thirteenth day of June, at Fulham, before the bishop of London, sixteen of us (whose names hereunder are subscribed) were condemned to die for the most pure and sincere truth of Christ's verity; which most godly truth hath been from the beginning with the wicked adversaries thereof continually defaced, and is by the devil and his imps even at this present likewise daily slandered: upon this occasion, dearly beloved brethren, we are moved, yea, constrained, in the ears of all men to manifest our belief, and also briefly the articles whereof we are condemned, for the avoiding of false reports and slanderous tongues, which might happen by the most ungodly and uncharitable sermon lately preached at Paul's Cross, the fourteenth of the said month, being Sunday, by Master Fecknam, now dean of the same church; where he in that most worthy audience defamed us to be in sixteen sundry opinions, which were a thing prejudicial to all Christian verity; and for a testimonial thereof, this hereunder written shall answer our cause: and therefore we pray you that are of God to judge.

            "The first: We believe we were baptized in the faith of Christ's church, and incorporate unto him, and tnade members of his church, in the which faith we continue. And although we have erred for a certain time, yet the root of faith was preserved in us by the Holy Ghost, which hath reduced us into a full certainty of the same; and we do persist, and will, by God's assistance, to the end.

            "Now mark, that although the minister were of the church malignant, yet his wickedness did not hurt us, for that he baptized us in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There was both the word and the element, and our godfathers and godmothers renouncing for us the devil and all his works, and confessing the articles of the Christian faith for us, and also witnesses that we are baptized, not in the faith of the Church of Rome, but in the faith of Christ's church.

            "1. Item, There are but two sacraments in Christ's church, that is, the sacrament of baptism, and tbe Lord's supper. For in these are contained the faith of Christ's church; that is, the two testaments, the law and the gospel. The effect of the law is repentance, and the effect of the gospel remission of sins.

            "2. Item, We believe that there is a visible church, wherein the word of God is preached, and the holy sacraments truly ministered, visible to the wicked world, although it be not credited, and by the death of saints confirmed, as it was in the time of Elias the prophet, as well as now.

            "3. The see of Rome is the see of antichrist, the congregation of the wicked, &c., whereof the pope is head, under the devil.

            "4. Item, The mass is not only a profanation of the Lord's supper, but also a blasphemous idol.

            "5. Item, God is neither spiritually nor corporally in the sacrament of the altar, and there remaineth no substance in the same, but only the substance of bread and wine.

            "For these the articles of our belief, we being condemned to die, do willingly offer our corruptible bodies to be dissolved in the fire, all with one voice assenting and consenting thereunto, and in no one point dissenting or disagreeing from any of our for-mer articles.

            "Apparent also let it be and known, that being of the former articles before the bloody bishop ex-amined the said day and dine, we affirmed to believe all that he or they would approve by the Scriptures. But he ,said that be would not stand to prove it with heretics, but said they themselves were the holy church, and that we ought to believe them, or else to be cut off like withered branches."

Their names subscribed to the same.
"Ralph Jackson.
Henry Adlington.
Lyon Cawch.
William Halliwel.
George Searles.
John Routh.
John Derifall.
Henry Wye.
Edmund Hurst.
Laurence Pernam.
Thomas Bowyer.
Elizabeth Pepper.
Agnes George.
Thomas Freeman.
William Stannard.
William Adams."


Previous Next