Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 385. ALICE DRIVER AND ALEXANDER GOUCH.


            Master Noone, a justice in Suffolk, dwelling in Martlesham, hunting after good men to apprehend them, (as he was a bloody tyrant in the days of trial,) at the length had understanding of one Gouch of Woodbridge, and Driver's wife of Grundisburgh, to be at Grundisburgh together, a little from his house; and immediately took his men with him, and went thither, and made diligent search for them, where the poor man and woman were compelled to step into a hay-golph, to hide themselves from their cruelty. At the last they came to search the hay for them, and by gauging thereof with pitchforks, at the last found them: so they took them and led them to Melton gaol, where they, remaining a time, at the length were carried to Bury, against the assize at St. James's tide; and being there examined of matters of faith, did boldly stand to confess Christ crucified, defying the pope with all his papistical trash. And among other things

            Driver's wife likened Queen Mary in her persecution to Jezebel; and so in that sense calling her Jezebel, for that Sir Clement Higham, being chief judge there, adjudged her ears immediately to be cut off, which was accomplished accordingly, and she joyfully yielded herself to the punishment, and thought herself happy that she was counted worthy to suffer any thing for the name of Christ.

            After the assize at Bury, they were carried to Melton gaol again, where they remained a time. This Alexander Gouch was a man of the age of thirty-six years, or thereabouts, and by his occupation was a weaver of shredding-coverlets, dwelling at Woodbridge in Suffolk, and born at Ufford in the same county. Driver's wife was a woman about the age of thirty years, and dwelt at Grundisburgh, where they were taken, in Suffolk: her husband did use husbandry. These two were carried from Melton gaol to Ipswich, where they remained and were examined; the which their examination, as it came to our hands, hereafter followeth.

            First, she coming into the place where she should be examined with a smiling countenance, Dr. Spenser said, "Why, woman, dost thou laugh us to scorn?"

            Alice.--"Whether I do or no, I might well enough, to see what fools ye be."

            Then the chancellor asked her wherefore she was brought before him, and why she was laid in prison.

            Alice.--"Wherefore? I think I need not tell you; for ye know it better than I."

            Spenser.--"No, by my troth, woman, I know not why."

            "Then have ye done me much wrong," quoth she, "thus to imprison me, and know no cause why: for I know no evil that I have done, I thank God; and I hope there is no man that can accuse me of any notorious fact that I have done, justly."

            Spenser.--"Woman, woman, what sayest thou to the blessed sacrament of the altar? dost thou not believe that it is very flesh and blood, after the words be spoken of consecration?"

            Driver's wife at those words held her peace, and made no answer. Then a great chuff-headed priest that stood by spake, and asked her, why she made not the chancellor an answer. With that, the said Driver's wife looked upon him austerely, and said, "Why, priest, I come not to talk with thee, but I come to talk with thy master: but, if thou wilt I shall talk with thee, command thy master to hold his peace." And with that the priest put his nose in his cap, and spake never a word more. Then the chancellor bid her make answer to that he demanded of her.

            "Sir," said she, "pardon me though I make no answer, for I cannot tell what you mean thereby: for in all my life I never heard nor read of any such sacrament in all the Scripture."

            Spenser.--"Why, what Scriptures have you read, I pray you?"

            Alice.--"I have (I thank God) read God's book."

            Spenser.--"Why, what manner of book is that you call God's book?"

            Alice.--"It is the Old and New Testament. What call you it?"

            Spenser.--"That is God's book indeed, I cannot deny."

            Alice.--"That same book have I read throughout, but yet never could find any such sacrament there; and for that cause I cannot make you answer to that thing I know not. Notwithstanding, for all that, I will grant you a sacrament, called the Lord's supper; and therefore, seeing I have granted you a sacrament, I pray you show me what a sacrament is."

            Spenser.--"It is a sign." And one Dr. Gascoine, being by, confirmed the same, that it was the sign of a holy thing.

            Alice.--"You have said the truth, sir," said she: "it is a sign indeed, I must needs grant it; and therefore seeing it is a sign, it cannot be the thing signified also. Thus far we do agree; for I have granted your own saying."

            Then stood up the said Gascoine, and made an oration with many fair words, but little to purpose, both offensive and odious to the minds of the godly. In the end of which long tale, he asked her if she did not believe the omnipotency of God, and that he was almighty, and able to perform that he spake. She answered, "Yes;" and said, "I do believe that God is almighty, and able to perform that he spake and promised."

            Gascoine.--"Very well. Then he said to his disciples, Take, eat, this is my body: ergo, it was his body. For he was able to perform that he spake, and God useth not to lie."

            Alice.--"I pray you did he ever make any such promise to his disciples, that he would make the bread his body?"

            Gascoine.--"Those be the words. Can you deny it?"

            Alice.--"No, they be the very words indeed, I cannot deny it: but I pray you, was it not bread that he gave unto them?"

            Gascoine.--"No, it was his body."

            Alice.--"Then was it his body that they did eat overnight?"

            Gascoine.--"Yea, it was his body."

            Alice.--"What body was it, then, that was crucified the next day?"

            Gascoine.--"It was Christ's body."

            Alice.--"How could that be, when the disciples had eaten him overnight, except he had two bodies, as by your argument he had? one they did eat overnight, and another was crncified the next day. Such a doctor, such doctrine! Be you not ashamed to teach the people, that Christ had two bodies? In Luke xxii., He took bread and brake it to his disciples, saying, Take, &c. and do this in remembrance of me. St. Paul saith, 1 Cor. xi., Do this in remembrance of me; for as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shall show the Lord's death till he come: and therefore I marvel you blush not before all this people to lie so manifestly as ye do." With that Gascoine; held his peace, and made her no answer; for, as it seemed, he was ashamed of his doings. Then the chancellor lift up his head off from his cushion, and commanded the gaoler to take her away.

            "Now," said she, "ye be not able to resist the truth, ye command me to prison again. Well, the Lord in the end shall judge our cause, and to him I leave it. I wis, I wis, this gear will go for no payment then." So went she with the gaoler away.


Another examination before Drs. Spenser and Gascoine.

            The next day she came before them again, and the chancellor then asked her, What she said to the blessed sacrament of the altar.

            Alice.--"I will say nothing to it; for you will neither believe me nor yourselves. For yesterday I asked you what a sacrament was, and you said it was a sign, and I agreed thereto, and said it was the truth, confirming it by the Scriptures; so that I went not from your own words: and now ye come and ask me again of such a sacrament as I told you I never read of in the Scriptures."

            Spenser.--"Thou liest, naughty woman! we did not say that it was a sign."

            Alice.--"Why, masters, be ye not the men that you were yesterday? Will ye eat your own words? Are ye not ashamed to lie before all this multitude here present, who heard you speak the same?"

            Then stood up Dr. Gascoine, and said, she was deceived; for there are three churches -- the malignant church, the church militant, and the church triumphant. So he would fain have made matter, but he could not tell which way.

            Alice.--"Sir, is there mention made of so many churches in the Scripture?


            Alice.--"I pray you where find you this word 'church' written in the Scripture?"

            Gascoine.--"It is written in the New Testament."

            Alice.--"I pray you, sir, show the place where it is written."

            Gascoine.--"I cannot tell the place, but there it is." With that she desired him to look in his Testament. Then he fumbled and sought about him for one: but, at that time, he had none; and that he knew well enough, though he seemed to search for it. At the last she said, "Have ye none here, sir?"


            Alice.--"I thought so much indeed, that ye were little acquainted withal. Surely, you be a good doctor. You say you sit here to judge according to the law, and how can you give judgment, and have not the book of the law with you?" At which words Gascoine was out of countenance, and asked her if she had one.

            Alice.--"No," said she.

            Then said he, "I am as good a doctor as you."

            Alice.--"Well, sir, I had one, but you took it from me (as you would take from me Christ, if you could); and since, would ye not snffer me to have any book at all, so burning is your charity. But you may well know, (I thank God,) that I have exercised the same; else could I not have answered you (to God's glory be it spoken) as I have." Thus she pnt them all to silence, that one looked on another, and had not a word to speak.

            Alice.--"Have you no more to say? God be honoured! You be not able to resist the Spirit of God in me, a poor woman. I was an honest poor man's daughter, never brought up in the nniversity, as you have been, but I have driven the plough before my father many a time (I thank God): yet, notwithstanding, in the defence of God's truth, and in the cause of my Master Christ, by his grace I will set my foot against the foot of any of you all, in the maintenance and defence of the same, and if I had a thousand lives, they should go for payment thereof."

            So the chancellor rose up, and read the sentence in Latin of condemnation, and committed her to the secular power: and so went she to prison again as joyful as the bird of day, praising and glorifying the name of God.


Alexander Gouch, martyr.

            At which time Alexander Gouch also was examined, who was taken with her, as before is said, whose examination hereafter followeth.

            This Alexander Gouch was examined chiefly of the sacrament and other ceremonies of the popish church; and for that his belief was, that Christ was ascended into heaven, and there remaineth, and that the sacrament was the remembrance of his death and passion, and for refusing the mass, and the pope to be the supreme head of Christ's church. For these causes was he condemned, and died with Alice Driver at Ipswich, the fourth of November, which was the Monday after All Saints, 1558, Dr. Miles Spenser being chancellor; they both ending their lives with earnest zeal, nothing fearing to speak their conscience, when they were commanded to the contrary.

            These two godly persons being come to the place where the stake was set, by seven of the clock in the morning, (notwithstanding they came the selfsame morning from Melton gaol, which is six miles from Ipswich,) being in their prayers, and singing of psalms both of them together, Sir Henry Dowell, then being sheriff, was very much offended with them, and willed the bailiffs of Ipswich to bid them make an end of their prayers (they kneeling upon a broom-faggot): one of the bailiffs, whose name was Richard Smart, commanded them to make an end, saying, "On, on, have done; make an end; nail them to the stake;" yet they continued in prayer.

            Then Sir Henry sent one of his men, whose name was  Richard Cove, that they should make an end.

            Then Gouch stood up and said unto the sheriff, "I pray you, Master Sheriff, let us pray a little while, for we have but a little time to live here."

            Then said the bailiff, "Come off, have them to the fire."

            Then the said Gouch and Alice Driver said, "Why, Master Sheriff and Master Bailiff, will you not suffer us to pray?"

            "Away," said Sir Henry, "to the stake with them!"

            Gouch answered, "Take heed, Master Sheriff. If you forbid prayer, the vengeance of God hangeth over your heads." Then they, being tied to the stake, and the iron chain being put about Alice Driver's neck, "Oh!" said she, "here is a goodly neckerchief; blessed be God for it."

            Then divers came, and took them by the hands, as they were bound, standing at the stake. The sheriff cried, "Lay hands on them, lay hands on them!" With that a great number ran to the stake. The sheriff seeing that, let them all alone, so that there was not one taken.

            There was one Bate, a barber, a busy doer about them, who, having then a frieze gown upon him, sold it immediately, saying, It stank of heretics, with other foul words more. After this, within three or four weeks, God's hand was upon him, and so he died very miserably in Ipswich.


Previous Next