421. GERTRUDE CROKHAY.
Gertrude Crokhay, dwelling at St. Katharine's by the Tower of London, and being then in her husband's house, it happened in the year 1556, that the pope's childish St. Nicholas went about the parish; which she understanding, shut her door against him, not suffering him to enter into her house.
Then Dr. Mallet hearing thereof, and being then master of the said St. Katharine's, the next day came to her with twenty at his tail, thinking belike to fray her, and asked why she would not the night before let in St. Nicholas, and receive his blessing, &c. to whom she answered thus: "Sir, I know no St. Nicholas," said she, "that came hither." "Yes," quoth Mallet, "here was one that represented St. Nicholas."
"Indeed, sir," said she, "there was one that was my neighbour's child, but not St. Nicholas; for St. Nicholas is in heaven. I was afraid of them that came with him, to have had my purse cut by them: for I have heard of men robbed by St. Nicholas's clerks," &c. So Mallet, perceiving that nothing could be gotten at her hands, went his way as he came, and she for that time so escaped.
Then, in the year 1557, a little before Whitsuntide, it happened that the said Gertrude answered for a child that was baptized of one Thomas Saunders, which child was christened secretly in a house after the order of the service-book in King Edward's time: and that being shortly known to her enemies, she was sought for; which, understanding nothing thereof, went beyond the sea into Gelderland, to see certain lands that should come to her children in the right of her first husband, who was a stranger born: and being there about a quarter of a year, at the length coming homeward by Antwerp, she chanced to meet with one John Johnson, a Dutchman, alias John de Villa, of Antwerp, shipper, who, seeing her there, went of malice to the margrave, and accused her to be an Anabaptist, whereby she was taken and carried to prison. The cause why this naughty man did thus, was, for that he claimed of Master Crokhay her husband a piece of money which was not his due, for a ship that Master Crokhay bought of him; and for that he could not get it, he wrought this displeasure. Well, she being in prison, lay there a fortnight; in the which time she saw some that were prisoners there, who privily were drowned in Rhenish wine-vats, and after secretly put in sacks, and cast into the river. Now she, good woman, thinking to he so served, took thereby such fear, that it brought the beginning of her sickness, of the which at length she died.
Then at the last she was called before the margrave, and charged with Anabaptistry; which she there utterly denied, and detested the error, declaring before him in Dutch her faith boldly, without any fear. So the margrave, hearing the same, in the end being well pleased with her profession, at the suit of some of her friends delivered her out of prison, but took away her book; and so she came over into England again.