Ex-Classics Home Page



Five other godly martyrs burned at one fire in Smithfield, with their answers to the articles.


Illustration -- The Five Martyrs led to Execution

            The learned being at this time, in a manner, all despatched in this furious rage of persecution, we now have little or small matter to write, touching the other silly sheep and simple lambs of Christ's flock, yet remaining behind; upon whom they satisfied still their blood-thirsty and slaughterous affections. I thought it therefore not beside the matter to admonish the reader, to judge of them, and of such others, before specified, as of the dear elect children and true martyrs of God; by whose simplicity the merciful wisdom and mighty power of God were more manifested and showed, who hath chosen in them the foolish and weak things of this world to confound the wise and mighty ones, and things that are not, to bring to nought things that are.

            And as touching those of whom there is no matter mentioned in this history, as occasions of their death, (for that none as yet came to my hands,) this one sure and only cause is certainly to be adjudged generally to them, that it was for the sincere profession of Christ's gospel: and as for the rest, of whom out of the registrar's notes somewhat is and shall be said, though there may sometimes appear in their answers and confessions to the bishops and others, before whom they were examined, a certain ignorance and lack of knowledge in some points, (which, for the most part, is made worse by the unfaithful dealings of the registrars,) nevertheless this is to be weighed and truly considered, that, in the chief and principal ground and foundation of their religion and faith, they swerved not, laying Jesus Christ for their corner-stone, as the most perfect prop and sure foundation of their building: upon whom albeit it seemeth they built sometimes, through their ignorance, stubble or hay, (and, the rather, through the papists' crafty couching of the interrogatories,) yet, that being consumed by the fire of God's Holy Spirit, they themselves, through the same Spirit, abide both safe and sure. And therefore, in hope of this charitable and true judgment, I will proceed in the prosecuting of our history.

            In this story of persecuted martyrs, next in order follow five others burned at London, in Smithfield, in the aforesaid year of the Lord 1557, April the twelfth, whose names were these:-- Thomas Loseby, Henry Ramsey, Thomas Thirtel, Margaret Hide, and Agnes Stanley: who being, some by the Lord Riche, some by other justices of peace, and constables, (their old neighbours,) at the first accused and apprehended for not coming to their parish churches, were in the end sent unto Bonner, bishop of London, and by his commandment the twenty-seventh day of January were examined before Dr. Darbyshire, then chancellor to the said bishop, upon the former general articles mentioned. Whose answers thereunto were, that as they confessed there was one true and catholic church, whereof they stedfastly believed, and thought the Church of Rome to be no part or member; so in the same church they believed there were but two sacraments, that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord. Howbeit some of them attributed the title and honour of a sacrament to the holy estate of matrimony, which undoubtedly was done rather of simple ignorance, than of any wilful opinion, and are thereof to be adjudged as before is admonished. Moreover, they acknowledged themselves to be baptized into the faith of that true church, as in the third article is specified.

            And here in reading as well of these articles, as also of the rest, mark, I beseech you, the crafty subtlety of these catholic companions, who, intermixing certain points of faith, and of the true church, with the idolatrous and superstitious maumetry of their Romish synagogue, cause the poor and simple people, for lack of knowledge, oftentimes to fall into their crafty nets. For after they have made them grant a true church with the sacraments of the same, though not in such number as they would have them, and also that they were christened into the faith thereof, that is, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, they craftily now in the other their objections, descending as it were from the faith of the Trinity unto their idolatrous mass and other superstitious ceremonies, would make them grant, that now in denying thereof they have severed themselves from the faith of the true church, whereunto they were baptized; which is most false. For though the true light of God's gospel and holy word was marvellously darkened, and in a manner utterly extinguished; yet the true faith of the Trinity, by the merciful providence of God, was still preserved; and into the faith thereof were we baptized, and not into the belief and profession of their horrible idolatry and vain ceremonies.

            These things, not thoroughly weighed by these poor, yet faithful and true members of Christ, caused some of them ignorantly to grant, that when they came to the years of discretion, and understood the light of the gospel, they did separate themselves from the faith of the church, meaning none other but only to separate themselves from the admitting or allowing of such their popish and erroneous trash as they now had defiled the church of Christ withal, and not from their faith received in baptism, which in express words in their answers to the other articles they constantly affirmed, declaring the mass and sacrament of the altar to be most wicked blasphemy against Christ Jesus, and contrary to the truth of his gospel; and therefore utterly they refused to assent unto and to be reconciled again thereunto.

            These answers in effect of them thus taken by the said chancellor, they were for that time dismissed; but the bishop, taking the matter into his own hands, the sixth day of March, propounded unto them certain other new articles, the copy whereof followeth.

            "First, That thou hast thought, believed, and spoken, within some part of the city and diocese of London, that the faith, religion, and ecclesiastical service here observed and kept, as it is in the realm of England, is not a true and a laudable faith, religion, and service, especially concerning the mass and the seven sacraments, nor is agreeable to God's word and Testament; and that thou canst not find in thy heart without murmuring, grudging, or scruple to receive and use it, and to conform thyself unto it, as other subjects of this realm customably have done and do.

            "2. Item, That thou hast thought, &c., that the English service set forth in the time of King Edward the Sixth, here in this realm of England, was and is good and godly, and catholic in all points, and that it alone ought here in this realm to be received, used, and practised, and none other.

            "3. Item, Likewise thou hast thought, &c., that thou art not bound to come to thy parish church, and there to be present, and hear matins, mass, even-song, and other divine service, sung or said there.

            "4. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that thou art not bound to come to procession to the church, upon days and times appointed, and to go in the same with others of the parish, singing or saying then the accustomed prayers used in the church; nor to bear a taper or candle on Candlemas day; nor take ashes upon Ash Wednesday; nor bear palms upon Palm Sunday; nor to creep to the cross upon days accustomed; nor to receive and kiss the pax at mass-time; nor to receive holy water or holy bread; nor to accept and allow the ceremonies and usages of the church, after the manner and fashion, as they are used in this realm.

            "5. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that thou art not bound at any time to confess thy sins to any priest, and to receive absolution at his hands, as God's minister, nor to receive at any time the blessed sacrament of the altar, especially as it is used in this church of England.

            "6. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that in matters of religion and faith, thou must follow and believe thine own conscience only, and not give credit to the determination and common order of the catholic church, and the see of Rome, nor to any member thereof.

            "7. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that all things do chance of an absolute and precise mere necessity; so that whether man do well or evil, he could not choose but do so; and that therefore no man hath any free-will at all.

            "8. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that the fashion and manner of christening of infants, is not agreeable to God's word; and that none can be effectually baptized, and thereby saved, except he have years of discretion to believe himself, and so willingly accept or refuse baptism at his pleasure.

            "9. Item, thou hast thought, &c., that prayers to saints, or prayers for the dead, are not available, and not allowable by God's word, or profitable in any wise; and that the souls departed do straight-ways go to heaven or hell, or else do sleep till the day of doom, so that there is no place of purgation at all.

            "10. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that all such as in the time of King Henry the Eighth, or in the time of Queen Mary, in England, have been burned as heretics, were no heretics at all, but faithful and good Christian people; especially Barnes, Garret, Jerome, Frith, Rogers, Hooper, Cardmaker, Latimer, Taylor, Bradford, Philpot, Cranmer, Ridley, and such like; and that thou didst and dost allow, like, and approve all their opinions, and dost mislike their condemnations and burnings.

            "11. Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that fasting, and prayers used in this church of England, and the appointing of days for fasting, and the abstaining from flesh upon fasting days, and especially in the time of Lent, is not laudable or allowable by God's word, but is hypocrisy and foolishness; and that men ought to have liberty to eat at all times all kinds of meat.

            "12. Item, Thou hast taught, &c., that the sacrament of the altar is an idol, and to reserve and keep it, or to honour it, is plain idolatry and superstition: and likewise of the mass and elevation of the sacrament.

            13. "Item, Thou hast thought, &c., that thou or any else, convented before an ecclesiastical judge concerning matters of belief and faith, art not bound to make answer at all, especially under an oath upon a book."


Their answers to the articles before objected.

            "Their answers to these objections were, that as touching the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, ninth, tenth, and twelfth, they generally granted unto, saving that they denied the souls of the departed to sleep till the day of judgment, as is mentioned in the ninth article.

            "And as concerning the sixth objection, they thought themselves bound to believe the true catholic church, so far forth as the same doth instruct them according to God's holy word; but not to follow the determinations of the erroneous and Babylonical church of Rome.

            "As for the seventh, eighth, and thirteenth, they utterly denied, that ever they were of any such absurd opinions as are contained therein, but they granted that man of himself, without the help and assistance of God's Holy Spirit, hath no power to do any good thing acceptable in God's sight.

            "To the eleventh they said, that true fasting and prayer, used according to God's word, are allowable and available in his sight; and that by the same word every faithful man may eat all meats at all times, with thanksgiving to God for the same."

            After this, the first day of April, they were again convented before the bishop in his palace at London, where little appeareth to be done, except it were to know whether they would stand to their answers, and whether they would recant or no. But when they refused to recant and deny the received and infallible truth, the bishop caused them to be brought into the open consistory, the third day of the same month of April, in the forenoon, where first understanding by them their immutable constancy and stedfastness, he demanded particularly of every one, what they had to say, why he should not pronounce the sentence of condemnation.

            To whom Thomas Loseby first answered, "God give me grace and strength to stand against you, and your sentence, and also against your law, which is a devouring law, for it devoureth the flock of Christ. And I perceive there is no way with me but death, except I would consent to your devouring law, and believe in that idol the mass."

            Next unto him answered Thomas Thirtel, saying, "My Lord, I say thus, if you make me a heretic, then you make Christ and all the twelve apostles heretics: for I am in the true faith and right belief; and I will stand in it, for I know full well I shall have eternal life there-for."

            The bishop then asked the like question of Henry Ramsey, who said again, "My Lord, will you have me to go from the truth that I am in? I say unto you, that my opinions be the very truth, which I will stand unto, and not go from them: and I say unto you further, that there are two churches upon the earth, and we," meaning himself, and other true martyrs and professors of Christ, "be of the true church, and ye be not."

            Unto this question next answered Margaret Hide, saying, "My Lord, you have no cause to give sentence against me; for I am in the true faith and opinion, and will never forsake it; and I do wish that I were more strong in it than I am."

            Last of all answered Agnes Stanley, and said, "I had rather every hair of my head were burned, if it were never so much worth, than that I will forsake my faith and opinion, which is the commanded."

            The time being now spent, they were commanded to appear again at afternoon in the same place: which commandment being obeyed, the bishop first called for Loseby, and after his accustomed manner willed his articles and answers to be read; in reading thereof, when mention was made of the sacrament of the altar, the bishop with his colleagues put off their caps. Whereat Loseby said, "My Lord, seeing you put off your cap, I will put on my cap;" and therewithal did put on his cap. And after, the bishop continuing in his accustomable persuasions, Loseby again said unto him, "My Lord, I trust I have the spirit of truth, which you detest and abhor; for the wisdom of God is foolishness unto you." Whereupon the bishop pronounced the sentence of condemnation against him: and delivering him unto the sheriff, called for Margaret Hide, with whom he used the like order of exhortations. To whom notwithstanding she said, "I will not depart from my sayings till I be burned: and my Lord," quoth she, "I would see you instruct me with some part of God's word, and not to give me instructions of holy bread and holy water, for it is no part of the Scripture." But he, being neither himself, nor any of his, able rightly to accomplish her request, to make short work, used his final rcondemnation;ncement, which was the sentence of condemnation; and therefore leaving her off, called for another, viz. Agnes Stanley, who upon the bishop's like persuasions made this answer: "My Lord, whereas you say I am a heretic, I am none; neither yet will I believe you, nor any man that is wise will believe as you do. And as for these that ye say be burnt for heresy, I believe they are true martyrs before God: therefore I will not go from my opinion and faith as long as I live."

            Her talk thus ended, she received the like reward that the other had. And the bishop then turning his tale and manner of enticement unto Thomas Thirtel, received of him likewise this final answer: "My Lord, I will not hold with your idolatrous ways, as you do; for I say, the mass is idolatry, and will stick to my faith and belief, so long as the breath is in my body." Upon which words he was also condemned as a heretic.

            Last of all was Henry Ramsey demanded if he would (as the rest) stand unto his answers, or else, recanting the same, come home again, and be a member of their church. Whereunto he answered, "I will not go from my religion and belief as long as I live; and my Lord," quoth he, "your doctrine is naught, for it is not agreeable to God's word."

            After these words, the bishop, to conclude, pronouncing the sentence of condemnation against him and the rest, as ye have heard, charged the sheriff of London with them; who being thereunto commanded, the twelfth day of the same month of April, brought them into Smithfield, where all together in one fire most joyfully and constantly they ended their temporal lives, receiving there-for the life eternal.


Previous Next