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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 393. MARTYRS IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL.



The cruel handling and burning of Nicholas Burton, Englishman and merchant, in Spain; also the trouble of John Fronton there.

            Forasmuch as in our former book of Acts and Monuments mention was made of the martyrdom of Nicholas Burton, I thought here also not to omit the same; the story being such as is not unworthy to be known, as well for the profitable example of his singular constancy, as also for the noting of the extreme dealing and cruel ravening of those catholic inquisitors of Spain, who, under the pretended visor of religion, do nothing but seek their own private gain and commodity, with crafty defrauding and spoiling of other men's goods, as by the noting of this story may appear.

            The fifth day of the month of November, about the year of our Lord God 1560, this Nicholas Burton, citizen sometime of London, and merchant, dwelling in the parish of Little St. Bartholomew, peaceably and quietly following his traffic in the trade of merchandise, and being in the city of Cadiz, in the parts of Andalusia in Spain, there came into his lodging a Judas, or (as they term them) a familiar of the fathers of the inquisition; who in asking for the said Nicholas Burton, feigned that he had a letter to deliver to his own hands; by which means he spake with him immediately. And having no letter to deliver to him, then the said promoter or familiar, at the motion of the devil, his master, whose messenger he was, invented another lie, and said, that he would take lading for London in such ships as the said Nicholas Burton had freighted to lade, if he would let any; which was partly to know where he laded his goods, that they might attach them, and chiefly to detract the time until the alguazil or sergeant of the said inquisition might come and apprehend the body of the said Nicholas Burton; which they did incontinently. Burton then, well perceiving that they were not able to burden nor charge him, that he had written, spoken, or done any thing there, in that country, against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm, boldly asked them what they had to lay to his charge that they did arrest him, and bade them to declare the cause, and he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but commanded him with cruel threatening words to hold his peace, and not to speak one word to them.

            And so they carried him to the cruel and filthy common prison of the town of Cadiz, where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves. All which time he so instructed the poor prisoners in the word of God, according to the good talent which, God had given him in that behalf, and also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in short space he had well reclaimed sundry of those superstitious and ignorant Spaniards to embrace the word of God, and to reject their popish traditions. Which being known unto the officers of the inquisition, they conveyed him, laden with irons, from thence to a city called Seville, into a more cruel and straiter prison called Triana, where the said fathers of the inquisition proceeded against him secretly, according to their accustomable cruel tyranny, that never after he could be suffered to write or to speak to any of his nation; so that to this day it is unknown who was his accuser.

            Afterward, the twentieth day of December, in the foresaid year, they brought the said Nicholas Burton, with a great number of other prisoners, for professing the true Christian religion, into the city of Seville, to a place where the said inquisitors sat in judgment, which they called the Auto, with a canvass coat, whereupon in divers parts was painted the huge figure of a devil, tormenting a soul in a flame of fire, and on his head a coping tank of the same work. His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon it, that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people; and so he was set with another Englishman of Southampton, and divers other men condemned for religion, as well Frenchmen as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the said inquisition, where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced against them. And immediately after the said sentences given, they were carried from thence to the place of execution without the city, where they most cruelly burnt him: for whose constant faith, God be praised.

            This Nicholas Burton, by the way and in the flames of the fire, made so cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness, that the tormentors and enemies which stood by, said that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses of feeling were past him.

            It happened that after the arrest of this Nicholas Burton aforesaid, immediately all the goods and merchandise which he brought with him into Spain by the way of traffic, were (according to their common usage) seized and taken into the sequester; among the which they also rolled up much that appertained to another English merchant, wherewith he was credited as factor; whereof so soon as news was brought to the merchant, as well of the imprisonment of his factor, as of the arrest made upon his goods, he sent his attorney into Spain, with authority from him, to make claim to his goods, and to demand them; whose name was John Fronton, citizen of Bristol.

            When his attorney was landed at Seville, and had showed all his letters and writings to the Holy House, requiring them that such goods might be redelivered into his possession, answer was made him that he must sue by bill, and retain an advocate (but all was doubtless to delay him); and they forsooth, of courtesy, assigned him one to frame his supplication for him, and other such bills of petition as he had to exhibit into their holy court, demanding for each bill eight rials, albeit they stood him in no more stead, than if he had put up none at all. And for the space of three or four months this fellow missed not twice a day, attending every morning and afternoon at the inquisitor's palace, suing unto them upon his knees for his despatch, but especially to the bishop of Tarragona, who was at that very time chief in the inquisition at Seville, that he, of his absolute authority, would command restitution to be made thereof; but the booty was so good and so great, that it was very hard to come by it again.

            At the length, after he had spent four whole months in suits and requests, and all to no purpose, he received this answer from them, that he must show better evidence, and bring more sufficient certificates out of England for proof of his matter, than those which he had already presented to the court: whereupon the party forthwith posted to London, and with all speed returned to Seville again with more ample and large letters testimonial, and certificates, according to their request, and exhibited them to the court.

            Notwithstanding the inquisitors still shifted him off, excusing themselves by lack of leisure, and for that they were occupied in greater and more weighty affairs; and with such answers delayed him other four months after.

            At the last, when the party had well-nigh spent all his money, and therefore sued the more earnestly for his despatch, they referred the matter wholly to the bishop; of whom, when he repaired unto him, he made this answer: That for himself, he knew what he had to do; howbeit he was but one man, and the determination of the matter appertained unto the other commissioners as well as unto him: and thus by posting and passing it from one to another, the party could obtain no end of his suit. Yet, for his importunity' sake, they were resolved to despatch him. It was on this sort: one of the inquisitors, called Gasco, a man very well experienced in these practices, willed the party to resort unto him after dinner. The fellow, being glad to hear these news, and supposing that his goods should be restored unto him, and that he was called in for that purpose, to talk with the other that was in prison, to confer with him about their accounts, the rather through a little misunderstanding, hearing the inquisitor cast out a word, that it should be needful for him to talk with the prisoner; and being thereupon more than half persuaded, that at the length they meant good faith, did so, and repaired thither about the evening. Immediately upon his coming, the gaoler was forthwith charged with him, to shut him up close in such a certain prison, where they appointed him. The party, hoping at the first that he had been called for about some other matter, and seeing himself contrary to his expectation cast into a dark dungeon, perceived at the length that the world went with him far otherwise than he supposed it would have done. But within two or three days after, he was brought forth into the court, where he began to demand his goods; and because it was a device that well served their turn, without any more circumstance they bade him say his Ave Maria. The party began, and said it after this manner: Ave Maria, gratić plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus. Amen.

            The same was written word by word as he spake it; and without any more talk of claiming his goods, because it was bootless, they command him to prison again, and enter an action against him as a heretic, forasmuch as he did not say his Ave Maria after the Romish fashion, but ended it very suspiciously: for he should have added moreover, Sancta Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus; by abbreviating whereof, it was evident enough (said they) that he did not allow the mediation of saints.

            Thus they picked a quarrel to detain him in prison a longer season, and afterwards brought him forth into their stage disguised after their manner; where sentence was given, that he should lose all the goods which he sued for, (though they were not his own,) and besides this, suffer a year's imprisonment.


The martyrdom of another Englishman in Spain.

            At what time this blessed martyr of Christ suffered, which was the year of our Lord 1560, December the twenty-second, there suffered also another Englishman, with other thirteen, one of them being a nun, another a friar, both constant in the Lord, of which thirteen read before.


John Baker and William Burgate, martyrs in Spain.

            John Baker and William Burgate, both Englishmen in Cadiz, in the country of Spain, were apprehended, and, in the city of Seville, burnt the second day of November.


Mark Burges, martyr in Portugal, and William Hoker.

            Mark Burges, an Englishman, master of an English ship, called the Minion, was burnt in Lisbon, a city in Portugal, anno 1560.

            William Hoker, a young man, about the age of sixteen years, being an Englishman, was stoned to death of certain young men there in the city of Seville, for the confession of his faith, anno 1560.

            But of these and such other acts and matters past in Spain, because they fell not within the compass of Queen Mary's reign, but since her time, another place shall serve hereafter, (the Lord willing,) to entreat more at large of the same, when we come to the years and reign of the queen that now is, where we have more conveniently to infer not only of these matters of the martyrs, (whereof somewhat also hath been touched before,) but also of the whole inquisition of Spain, Picardy, and of Flanders, with the tragical tumults and troubles happening within the last memory of these our later days, according as it shall please the mercy of the Lord to enable our endeavour with grace and space to theaccomplishment thereof.


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