Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 390. JOHN HUNT AND RICHARD WHITE



The story and condemnation of John Hunt and Richard White, ready to be burnt, but who, by the death of Queen Mary, escaped the fire.

            Besides these martyrs above named, divers there were in divers other places of the realm imprisoned, whereof some were but newly taken and not yet examined; some begun to be examined, but were not yet condemned; certain were both examined and condemned, but for lack of writ they escaped.

            Others there were also, both condemned, and the writ also was brought down for their burning, and yet by the death of the chancellor, the bishop, and of Queen Mary happening together about one time, they most happily and marvellously were preserved, and lived many years after; in the number of whom was one John Hunt and Richard White, imprisoned at Salisbury: touching which history something here is to be showed.

            First, these two good men and faithful servants of the Lord above named, to wit, John Hunt and Richard White, had remained long time in prison at Salisbury, and other places thereabout, the space of two years and more. During which time, oft-times they were called to examination, and manifold ways were impugned by the bishops and the priests. All whose examinations, as I thought not much needful here to prosecute or to search out, for the length of the volume; so neither again did I think it good to leave no memory at all of the same, but some part to express, namely, of the examination of Richard White, before the bishop of Salisbury, the bishop of Gloucester, with the chancellor and other priests, not unworthy, perchance, to be rehearsed.

            The bishop of Salisbury at that time was Dr. Capon. The bishop of Gloucester was Dr. Brooks. These, with Dr. Geffery, the chancellor of Salisbury, and a great number of priests sitting in judgment, Richard White was brought before them; with whom first the bishop of Gloucester, who had the examination of him, beginneth thus.

            Bishop Brooks.--"Is this the prisoner?"

            The Chancellor.--"Yea, my Lord."

            Brooks.--"Friend, wherefore comest thou hither?"

            White.--"My Lord, I trust to know the cause: for the law saith, In the mouth of two or three witnesses, things must stand."

            Dr. Capon.--"Did not I examine thee of thy faith, when thou tamest hither?"

            White.--"No, my Lord, you did not examine me, but commanded me to the Lollards' Tower, and that no man should speak with me. And now I do require mine accuser."

            Then the registrar said, "The mayor of Marlborough did apprehend you for words that you spake there; and, for that, I commanded you to be conveyed hither to prison."

            White.--"You had the examination of me in Marlborough. Say what I have said; and I will answer you."

            Geffery.--"Thou shalt confess thy faith ere thou depart; and therefore say thy mind freely, and be not ashamed so to do."

            White.--"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God to salvation unto all that believe: and St. Peter saith, If any man do ask thee a reason of the hope that is in thee, make him a direct answer, and that with meekness. Who shall have the examination of me?"

            Chancellor.--"My Lord of Gloucester shall have the examination of thee."

            White.--"My Lord, will you take the pains to wet your coat in my blood? Be not guilty thereof; I warn you beforehand!"

            Brooks.--"I will do nothing contrary to our law."

            White.--"My Lord, what is it that you do request at my hands?"

            Brooks.--"I will appose thee upon certain articles, and principally upon the sacrament of the altar: How dost thou believe of the blessed sacrament of the altar? Believest thou not the real, carnal, and corporal presence of Christ in the same, even the very same Christ that was born of the Virgin Mary, that was hanged on the cross, and that suffered for our sins?" And at these words they all put off their caps, and bowed their bodies.

            White.--"My Lord, what is a sacrament?"

            Brooks.--"It is the thing itself the which it representeth."

            White.--"My Lord, that cannot be; for he that representeth a prince, cannot be the prince himself."

            Brooks.--"How many sacraments findest thou in the Scriptures, called by the name of sacraments?"

            White.--"I find two sacraments in the Scriptures, but not called by the names of sacraments. But I think St. Augustine gave them the first name of sacraments."

            Brooks.--"Then thou findest not that word sacrament in the Scriptures?"

            White.--"No, my Lord."

            Brooks.--"Did not Christ say, This is my body? and are not his words true?"

            White.--"I am sure the words are true; but you play by me, as the devil did by Christ, for he said, If thou be, &c., for it is written, &c. But the words that followed after he clean left out, which are these: Thou shalt walk upon the lion and asp, &c. These words the devil left out, because they were spoken against himself; and even so do you recite the Scriptures."

            Brooks.--"Declare thy faith upon the sacrament."

            White.--"Christ and his sacraments are like, because of the natures; for in Christ are two natures, a divine and a human nature: so likewise in the sacraments of Christ's body and blood there be two natures, the which I divide into two parts, that is, external and internal. The external part is the element of bread and wine, according to the saying of St. Augustine: the internal part is the invisible grace, which by the same is represented. So is there an external receiving of the same sacrament, and an internal. The external is with the hand, the eye, the mouth, and the ear: the internal is by the Holy Ghost in the heart, which worketh in me faith. Whereby I apprehend all the merits of Christ, applying the same wholly unto my salvation. If this be truth, believe it; and if it be not, reprove it."

            Dr. Hoskins.--"This is Ścolampadius's doctrine, and Hooper taught it the people."

            Brooks.--"Dost thou not believe, that after the words of consecration there is the natural presence of Christ's body?"

            White.--" My Lord, I will answer you, if you will answer me to one question. Is not this article of our belief true: 'He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty?' If he be come from thence to judgment, say so."

            Brooks.--"No: but if thou wilt believe the Scriptures, I will prove to thee that Christ was both in heaven and in earth at one time."

            White.--"As he is God, he is in all places; but as for his manhood, he is but in one place."

            Brooks.--"St. Paul saith, Last of all he was seen of me, &c. Here St. Paul saith he saw Christ; and St. Paul was not in heaven."

            White.--"St. Paul's chief purpose was by this place to prove the resurrection. But how do you prove that Christ, when he appeared to St. Paul, was not still in heaven; like as he was seen of Stephen sitting at the right hand of God? St. Augustine saith, the Head that was in heaven did cry for the body and members which were on the earth, and said, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And was not Paul taken up into the third heaven, where he might see Christ? as he witnesseth in 1 Cor. xv. For there he doth but only say he saw Christ, but concerning the place he speaketh nothing. Wherefore this place of Scripture proveth not that Christ was both in heaven and earth at one time."

            Brooks.--"I told you before, he would not believe. Here be three opinions, the Lutherans, the Ścolampadians, and we the catholics. If you the Ścolampadians have the truth, then the Lutherans, and we the catholics, be out of the way. If the Lutherans have the truth, then you the Ścolampadians, and we the catholics, be out of the way. But if we the catholics have the truth, as we have indeed, then the Lutherans, and you the Ścolampadians, are out of the way; as you are indeed, for the Lutherans do call you heretics."

            White.--"My Lord, ye have troubled me greatly with the Scriptures."

            Brooks.--"Did I not tell you it was not possible to remove him from his error? Away with him to the Lollards' Tower, and despatch him as soon as ye can?"

            "This was the effect of my first examination. More examinations I had after this, which I have no time now to write ont."

            Amongst many other examinations of the foresaid Richard White, at divers and sundry times sustained, it happened one time, that Dr. Blackstone, chancellor of Exeter, sat upon him with divers other, who, alleging certain doctors (as Chrysostom, Cyprian, Tertullian) against the said Richard, and being reproved by him for his false patching of the doctors, fell in such a quaking and shaking, (his conscience belike remorsing him,) that he was fain, stooping down, to lay both his hands upon his knees to stay his body from trembling.

            Then the said John Hunt and Richard White, after many examinations and long captivity, at length were called for, and brought before Dr. Geffery, the bishop's chancellor, there to be condemned; and so they were. The high sheriff at that present was one named Sir Anthony Hungerford, who being then at the sessions, was there charged with these two condemned persons, with other malefactors there condemned likewise the same time, to see the execution of death ministered unto them.

            In the mean time Master Clifford of Boscombe in Wiltshire, son-in-law to the said Sir Anthony Hungerford the sheriff, cometh to his father, exhorting him and counselling him earnestly in no case to meddle with the death of these two innocent persons; and if the chancellor and priests would needs be instant upon him, yet he should first require the writ to be sent down de comburendo, for his discharge.

            Sir Anthony Hungerford hearing this, and understanding Justice Brown to be in the town the same time, went to him to ask his advice and counsel in the matter; who told him that without the writ sent down from the superior powers, he could not be discharged; and if the writ were sent, then he must by the law do his charge.

            The sheriff, understanding by Justice Brown how far he might go by the law, and having at that time no writ for his warrant, let them alone, and the next day after, taking his horse, departed.

            The chancellor all this while marvelling what the sheriff meant, and yet disdaining to go unto him, but looking rather the other should have come first to him, at last hearing that he was ridden away, taketh his horse and rideth after him; who, at length overtaking the said sheriff, declared unto him how he had committed certain condemned prisoners to his hand, whose duty had been to see execution done: the matter he said was great, and therefore willed him to look well unto it, how he would answer the matter. And thus began he fiercely to lay to his charge.

            Wherein note, gentle reader! by the way, the close and covert hypocrisy of the papists in their dealings; who, in the form and style of their own sentence condemnatory, pretend a petition unto the secular power, "that the rigour of the law may be mitigated, and their life may be spared." And how standeth this now with their own doings and dealings, when this chancellor (as ye see) is not only contented to give sentence against them, but also hunteth after the officer, not suffering him to spare them, although he would? What dissimulation is this of men, going and doing contrary to their own words and profession! But let us return to our matter again.

            Dr. Geffery the chancellor, thus sent away from the sheriff, went home, and there fell sick upon the same; for anger belike, as they signified unto me, which were the parties themselves, both godly and grave persons, who were then condemned, the one of them, which is Richard White, being yet alive.

            The sheriff hearing the chancellor's words, and seeing him so urgent upon him, told him again that he was no babe, which now was to be taught of him. If he had any writ to warrant and discharge him in burning those men, then he knew what he had to do. "Why," saith the chancellor, "did I not give you a writ, with my hand, and eight more of the close, set unto the same?" "Well," quoth the sheriff, "that is no sufficient discharge for me; and therefore, as I told you, if ye have a sufficient writ and warrant from the superior powers, I know then what I have to do in my office: otherwise, if you have no other writ but that, I tell you, I will neither burn them for you, nor any of you all," &c.

            Where note again, good reader! how by this it may be thought and supposed, that the other poor saints and martyrs of God, such as had been burnt at Salisbury before, were burnt belike without any authorized or sufficient writ from the superiors, but only upon the information of the chancellor and of the close, through the uncircumspect negligence of the sheriffs, which should have looked more substantially upon the matter. But this I leave and refer unto the magistrates. Let us return to the story again.

            The under-sheriff to this Sir Anthony Hungerford above named, was one Master Michel, likewise a right and a perfect godly man. So that not long after this came down the writ to burn the above-named Richard White and John Hunt: but the under-sheriff, receiving the said writ, said, "I will not be guilty," quoth he, "of these men's blood;" and immediately burnt the writing, and departed his way. Within four days after the chancellor died; concerning whose death this cometh by the way to be noted, that these two foresaid, John Hunt and Richard White, being the same time in a low and dark dungeon, being Saturday, toward evening (according to their accustomed manner) fell to evening prayer; who, kneeling there together, as they should begin their prayer, suddenly fell both to such a strange weeping, and tenderness of heart, (but how, they could not tell,) that they could not pray one word, but so continued a great space, bursting out in tears. After that night was past, and the morning come, the first word they heard was, that the chancellor their great enemy was dead; the time of whose death they found to be the same hour when as they fell in such a sudden weeping. The Lord in all his works be praised, Amen. Thus much concerning the death of that wicked chancellor.

            This Richard White and the said John Hunt, after the death of the chancellor, the bishop also being dead a little before, continued still in prison till the happy coming in of Queen Elizabeth; and so were at liberty.


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