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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 460. A NOTE OF GERTRUDE CROCKHAY.


            In the late days of Queen Mary, among other strange dealings of the papists with the faithful, this is not with the rest to be forgotten, that a godly matron named Gertrude Crockhay, the wife of Master Robert Crockhay, dwelling then at St. Katharine's by the Tower of London, abstained herself from the popish church. And she, being in her husband's house, it happened in anno 1556, that the foolish popish St. Nicholas went about the parish; which she understanding shut her doors against him, and would not suffer him to come within her house. Then Dr. Mallet hearing thereof, (and being then master of the said St. Katharine's,) 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, "here was one that is 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 anno 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 have 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 Wille 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 Crockhay her husband a piece of money, which was not his due, for a ship, that the said Master Crockhay 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 which time she saw some that were prisoners there, who privily were drowned in Rhenish wine-fats, and after secretly put in sacks, and cast into the river. Now she, good woman, thinking to be 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 mar-grave, 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. And being at home in her husband's house, he thinking to find means to get her to go abroad, made one Vicars, a yeoman of the Tower, a friend of his, who was great with Bonner, to work that liberty for her. Now this Vicars making means to Bonner for the same, Bonner put the matter over to Darbishire his chancellor, who enjoined her to give certain money to poor folks, and to go on the Wednesday and Sunday after to church to evensong; which she so did, and afterward had such trouble in her conscience thereby, that she thought verily God had cast her off, and that she should be damned, and never be saved.

            So, not long after this, it happened that Master Rough, of whom mention is made before, came to her house, unto whom she made moan of her unquietness for going to church, and desired his counsel what she might do, that should best please God, and ease her troubled soul, &c. Unto whom Master Rough replied many comfortable sentences of Scripture to comfort her; and, in the end, gave her counsel to go to the Christian congregation, which secretly the persecuted had, and confess her fault unto them, and so to be received into their fellowship again; which, hearing that, was glad, and intended so to do; and so would have done, if sore sickness had not immediately prevented the same. But when Dr. Mallet heard by one Robert Hemmings, woodmonger, that she lay very sick indeed, which Hemmings was her great enemy, he came to her twice, to persuade her to recant, and to receive (as the papists term it) the rites of the church. Unto whom she answered, she could not, nor would, for that she was subject to vomit; and therefore he would not (she was sure, she said) have her to cast up their god again; as she should do, if she did receive it. And so immediately vomited, indeed! Wherefore he, seeing that, went from her into the hall to her daughter named Clare Sacke, and told her, if her mother would not receive, she should not be buried in Christian burial, as he termed it. Then Clare went and told her sick mother what he said unto her; which, hearing the same, spake these words following: "Oh," said she, "how happy am I, that I shall not rise with them, but against them. Well," quoth she, "the earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is; and therefore I commit the matter to him."

            Shortly hereupon, that is, the twenty-seventh day of March, 1558, the said Dr. Mallet came again to her with one Dr. West, Queen Mary's chaplain. And coming in, he saluted her, and told her that he had brought her a good learned man to persuade her, who was one of the queen's chaplains, &c., and therefore he desired her to hear and believe him in that he should say, &c. Then Dr. West exhorted her to receive their sacrament, and to be annealed, for he said, she was strong enough for it, &c. Unto whom she answered, that she was able and strong enough to receive it indeed; but she would not, for that it was abominable, &c. Then said West, "Ye be in an ill mind; do ye think to die a Christian woman?" "Yea," said she, "that I do." "I pray you," said West, "how came you first into that opinion?" "Marry," said she, "there is he that first taught it me," meaning Dr. Mallet, "at the marriage of my brother and his sister, where I heard him earnestly preach this doctrine, which I now do hold. And if God shall lay our sins to our charge, if we repent not, much more damnable is his offence, being once a public preacher of the same, and now to turn from it."

            Then Mallet told her he was then deceived by little new-fangled two-penny books, "as you be now," said he; "but now I am otherwise persuaded, as I would have you, and to receive the sacrament, which if you would, you should, I warrant you, be saved, my soul for yours. At whose words she earnestly desired them to be content: "for," saith she, "ye be come to rob and to draw me from my Christ, which, I tell you truth, you shall not do; for I will never consent to you while I live." When West heard her say so, he drew his stool nigher to hear her speak, and being drunken, he fell down, whereby Mallet was fain to help him up again; and so immediately after they departed thence. And the thirteenth day of April next after that, she died constantly in the Lord, and yielded her soul and life into his holy hands, with these words: "O Lord, into thy hands receive my soul!" and so immediately gave up her life unto the Lord, to whom be praise for ever, Amen.

            While she was beyond sea, as it is said before, Master Crockhay her husband, by the procurement of Dr. Mallet, was cited to come before Master Hussey the commissary, who (had it not been for that he made means unto the said Hussey before) would have sent him to prison, and bound him in recognisance to seek her out. But he more easily escaped their hands by friendship, as before I have said.

            Now, when Dr. Mallet heard of her death, Master Crockhay, and one Robert Hemmings, bailiff of St. Katharine's, being before him for the burying of her, he said plainly, she should be buried nigh to some highway, and a mark set up, in token that a heretic was buried there. Then the said Hemmings told him, the hogs would scrape her up, which were not decent, nor best; and Master Crockhay entreated she might be buried in his garden; which at length he granted, and willed the said Hemmings to see it done, and that he should be sure he buried her there indeed.

            After, when the corpse was brought to the said garden, the said Robert Hemmings the bailiff would needs see it opened: which when the cover was taken off, the wife of the said Hemmings put her hand within the sheet, and felt the hair of the said dead corpse, saying, "Now will I justify that she is here;" and so she did, telling Mallet that those her hands did feel her. This is the effect of this story.

            Now, since the coming in of Queen Elizabeth, the said Dr. Mallet came to the said Master Crockhay, and asked him forgiveness, alleging this verse of the poet:


"Amantium irę amoris integratio est."

            The Lord give him repentance and grace to seek perfect friendship with him, if it be his blessed will, Amen.


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