Dr. Ridley being unclothed to his shirt, the smith placed an
iron chain about their waists, and Dr. Ridley bid him fasten it
securely; his brother having tied a bag of gunpowder about his
neck, gave some also to Mr. Latimer.
Dr. Ridley then requested of Lord Williams, of Fame, to
advocate with the queen the cause of some poor men to whom he
had, when bishop, granted leases, but which the present bishop
refused to confirm. A lighted fagot was now laid at Dr. Ridley's
feet, which caused Mr. Latimer to say: "Be of good cheer, Ridley;
and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up
such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out."
When Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried
with a wonderful loud voice, "Lord, Lord, receive my spirit."
Master Latimer, crying as vehemently on the other side, "O Father
of heaven, receive my soul!" received the flame as it were
embracing of it. After that he had stroked his face with his
hands, and as it were, bathed them a little in the fire, he soon
died (as it appeareth) with very little pain or none.
Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world they have
already. What reward remaineth for them in heaven, the day of the
Lord's glory, when he cometh with His saints, shall declare.
In the following month died Stephen Gardiner, bishop of
Winchester and lord chancellor of England. This papistical
monster was born at Bury, in Suffolk, and partly educated at
Cambridge. Ambitious, cruel, and bigoted, he served any cause; he
first espoused the king's part in the affair of Anne Boleyn: upon
the establishment of the Reformation he declared the supremacy of
the pope an execrable tenet; and when Queen Mary came to the
crown, he entered into all her papistical bigoted views, and
became a second time bishop of Winchester. It is conjectured it
was his intention to have moved the sacrifice of Lady Elizabeth,
but when he arrived at this point, it pleased God to remove him.
It was on the afternoon of the day when those faithful
soldiers of Christ, Ridley and Latimer, perished, that Gardiner
sat down with a joyful heart to dinner. Scarcely had he taken a
few mouthfuls, when he was seized with illness, and carried to
his bed, where he lingered fifteen days in great torment, unable
in any wise to evacuate, and burnt with a devouring fever, that
terminated in death. Execrated by all good Christians, we pray
the Father of mercies, that he may receive that mercy above he
never imparted below.
Mr. John Philpot
This martyr was the son of a knight, born in Hampshire, and
brought up at New College, Oxford, where for several years he
studied the civil law, and became eminent in the Hebrew tongue.
He was a scholar and a gentleman, zealous in religion, fearless
in disposition, and a detester of flattery. After visiting Italy,
he returned to England, affairs in King Edward's days wearing a
more promising aspect. During this reign he continued to be
archdeacon of Winchester under Dr. Poinet, who succeeded
Gardiner. Upon the accession of Mary, a convocation was summoned,
in which Mr. Philpot defended the Reformation against his
ordinary, Gardiner, again made bishop of Winchester, and soon was
conducted to Bonner and other commissioners for examination,
October 2, 1555, after being eighteen months' imprisoned. Upon
his demanding to see the commission, Dr. Story cruelly observed,
"I will spend both my gown and my coat, but I will burn thee! Let
him be in Lollard's tower, (a wretched prison,) for I will sweep
the king's Bench and all other prisons of these heretics!"
Upon Mr. Philpot's second examination, it was intimated to him
that Dr. Story had said that the lord chancellor had commanded
that he should be made away with. It is easy to foretell the
result of this inquiry. He was committed to Bonner's coal house,
where he joined company with a zealous minister of Essex, who had
been induced to sign a bill of recantation; but afterward, stung
by his conscience, he asked the bishop to let him see the
instrument again, when he tore it to pieces; which induced Bonner
in a fury to strike him repeatedly, and tear away part of his
beard. Mr. Philpot had a private interview with Bonner the same
night, and was then remanded to his bed of straw like other
prisoners, in the coal house. After seven examinations, Bonner
ordered him to be set in the stocks, and on the following Sunday
separated him from his fellow-prisoners as a sower of heresy, and
ordered him up to a room near the battlements of St. Paul's,
eight feet by thirteen, on the other side of Lollard's tower, and
which could be overlooked by any one in the bishop's outer
gallery. Here Mr. Philpot was searched, but happily he was
successful in secreting some letters containing his examinations.
In the eleventh investigation before various bishops, and Mr.
Morgan, of Oxford, the latter was so driven into a corner by the
close pressure of Mr. Philpot's arguments, that he said to him,
"Instead of the spirit of the Gospel which you boast to possess,
I think it is the spirit of the buttery, which your fellows have
had, who were drunk before their death, and went, I believe,
drunken to it." To this unfounded and brutish remark, Mr. Philpot
indignantly replied, "It appeareth by your communication that you
are better acquainted with that spirit than the Spirit of God;
wherefore I tell thee, thou painted wall and hypocrite, in the
name of the living God, whose truth I have told thee, that God
shall rain fire and brimstone upon such blasphemers as thou art!"
He was then remanded by Bonner, with an order not to allow him
his Bible nor candlelight.
On December 4, Mr. Philpot had his next hearing, and this was
followed by two more, making in all, fourteen conferences,
previous to the final examination in which he was condemned; such
were the perseverance and anxiety of the Catholics, aided by rthe
argumentative abilities of the most distinguished of the papal
bishops, to bring him into the pale of their Church. Those
examinations, which were very long and learned, were all written
down by Mr. Philpot, and a stronger proof of the imbecility of
the Catholic doctors, cannot, to an unbiased mind, be exhibited.
On December 16, in the consistory of St. Paul's Bishop Bonner,
after laying some trifling accusations to his charge, such as
secreting powder to make ink, writing some private letters, etc.,
proceeded to pass the awful sentence upon him, after he and the
other bishops had urged him by every inducement to recant. He was
afterward conducted to Newgate, where the avaricious Catholic
keeper loaded him with heavy irons, which by the humanity of Mr.
Macham were ordered to be taken off. On December 17, Mr. Philpot
received intimation that he was to die next day, and the next
morning about eight o'clock, he joyfully met the sheriffs, who
were to attend him to the place of execution.
Upon entering Smithfield, the ground was so muddy that two
officers offered to carry him to the stake, but he replied:
"Would you make me a pope? I am content to finish my journey on
foot." Arriving at the stake, he said, "Shall I disdain to suffer
at the stake, when my Redeemer did not refuse to suffer the most
vile death upon the cross for me?" He then meekly recited the One
hundred and seventh and One hundred and eighth Psalms, and when
he had finished his prayers, was bound to the post, and fire
applied to the pile. On December 18, 1555, perished this
illustrious martyr, reverenced by man, and glorified in heaven!
John Lomas, Agnes Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Sole, and Joan
These five martyrs suffered together, January 31, 1556. John
Lomas was a young man of Tenterden. He was cited to appear at
Catnerbury, and was examined January 17. His answers being
adverse to the idolatrous doctrine of the papacy, he was
condemned on the following day, and suffered January 31.
Agnes Snoth, widow, of Smarden Parish, was several times
summoned before the Catholic Pharisees, and rejecting absolution,
indulgences, transubstantiation, and auricular confession, she
was adjudged worthy to suffer death, and endured martyrdom,
January 31, with Anne Wright and Joan Sole, who were placed in
similar circumstances, and perished at the same time, with equal
resignation. Joan Catmer, the last of this heavenly company, of
the parish Hithe, was the wife of the martyr George Catmer.
Seldom in any country, for political controversy, have four
women been led to execution, whose lives were irreproachable, and
whom the pity of savages would have spared. We cannot but remark
here that, when the Protestant power first gained the ascendency
over the Catholic superstition, and some degree of force in the
laws was necessary to enforce uniformity, whence some bigoted
people suffered privation in their person or goods, we read of
few burnings, savage cruelties, or poor women brought to the
stake, but it is the nature of error to resort to force instead
of argument, and to silence truth by taking away existence, of
which the Redeemer himself is an instance.
The above five persons were burnt at two stakes in one fire,
singing hosannahs to the glorified Savior, until the breath of
life was extinct. Sir John Norton, who was present, wept bitterly
at their unmerited sufferings.
Dr. Thomas Cranmer was descended from an ancient family, and
was born at the village of Arselacton, in the county of
Northampton. After the usual school education he was sent to
Cambridge, and was chosen fellow Jesus College. Here he married a
gentleman's daughter, by which he forfeited his fellowship, and
became a reader in Buckingham College, placing his wife at the
Dolphin Inn, the landlady of which was a relation of hers, whence
arose the idle report that he was an ostler. His lady shortly
after dying in childbed; to his credit he was re-chosen a fellow
of the college before mentioned. In a few years after, he was
promoted to be Divinity Lecturer, and appointed one of the
examiners over those who were ripe to become Bachelors or Doctors
in Divinity. It was his principle to judge of their
qualifications by the knowledge they possessed of the Scriptures,
rather than of the ancient fathers, and hence many popish priests
were rejected, and others rendered much improved.
He was strongly solicited by Dr. Capon to be one of the
fellows on the foundation of Cardinal Wolsey's college, Oxford,
of which he hazarded the refusal. While he continued in
Cambridge, the question of Henry VIII's divorce with Catharine
was agitated. At that time, on account of the plague, Dr. Cranmer
removed to the house of a Mr. Cressy, at Waltham Abbey, whose two
sons were then educating under him. The affair of divorce,
contrary to the king's approbation, had remained undecided above
two or three years, from the intrigues of the canonists and
civilians, and though the cardinals Campeius and Wolsey were
commissioned from Rome to decide the question, they purposely
protracted the sentence.
It happened that Dr. Gardiner (secretary) and Dr. Fox,
defenders of the king in the above suit, came to the house of Mr.
Cressy to lodge, while the king removed to Greenwich. At supper,
a conversation ensued with Dr. Cranmer, who suggested that the
question whether a man may marry his brother's wife or not, could
be easily and speedily decided by the Word of God, and this as
well in the English courts as in those of any foreign nation. The
king, uneasy at the delay, sent for Dr. Gardiner and Dr. Fox to
consult them, regretting that a new commission must be sent to
Rome, and the suit be endlessly protracted. Upon relating to the
king the conversation which had passed on the previous evening
with Dr. Cranmer, his majesty sent for him, and opened the
tenderness of conscience upon the near affinity of the queen. Dr.
Cranmer advised that the matter should be referred to the most
learned divines of Cambridge and Oxford, as he was unwilling to
meddle in an affair of such weight; but the king enjoined him to
deliver his sentiments in writing, and to repair for that purpose
to the earl of Wiltshire's, who would accommodate him with
books,a nd everything requisite for the occasion.
This Dr. Cranmer immediately did, and in his declaration not
only quoted the authority of the Scriptures, of general councils,
and the ancient writers, but maintained that the bishop of Rome
had no authority whatever to dispense with the Word of God. The
king asked him if he would stand by this bold declaration, to
which replying in the affirmative, he was deputed ambassador to
Rome, in conjunction with the earl of Wiltshire, Dr. Stokesley,
Dr. Carne, Dr. Bennet, and others, previous to which, the
marriage was discussed in most of the universities of Christendom
and at home.
When the pope presented his toe to be kissed, as customary,
the earl of Wiltshire and his party refused. Indeed, it is
affirmed that a spaniel of the earl's attracted by the littler of
the pope's toe, made a snap at it, whence his holiness drew in
his sacred foot, and kicked at the offender with the other.
Upon the pope demanding the cause of their embassy, the earl
presented Dr. Cranmer's book, declaring that his learned friends
had come to defend it. The pope treated the embassy honorably,
and appointed a day for the discussion, which he delayed, as if
afraid of the issue of the investigation. The earl returned, and
Dr. Cranmer, by the king's desire, visited the emperor, and was
successful in bringing him over to his opinion. Upon the doctor's
return to England, Dr. Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, having
quitted this transitory life, Dr. Cranmer was deservedly, and by
Dr. Warham's desire, elevated to that eminent station.
In this function, it may be said that he followed closely the
charge of St. Paul. Diligent in duty, he rose at five in the
morning, and continued in study and prayer until nine: between
then and dinner, he devoted to temporal affairs. After dinner, if
any suitors wanted hearing, he would determine their business
with such an affability that even the defaulters were scarcely
displeased. Then he would play at chess for an hour, or see
others play, and at five o'clock he heard the Common Prayer read,
and from this until supper he took the recreation of walking. At
supper his conversation was lively and entertaining; again he
walked or amused himself until nine o'clock, and then entered his
He ranked high in favor with King Henry, and even had the
purity and the interest of the English Church deeply at heart.
His mild and forgiving disposition is recorded in the following
instance. An ignorant priest, in the country, had called Cranmer
an ostler, and spoken very derogatory of his learning. Lord
Cromwell receiving information of it, the man was sent to the
Fleet, and his case was told to the archbishop by a Mr. Chertsey,
a grocer, and a relation of the priest's. His grace, having sent
for the offender, reasoned with him, and solicited the priest to
question him on any learned subject. This the man, overcome by
the bishop's good nature, and knowing his own glaring incapacity,
declined, and entreated his forgiveness, which was immediately
granted, with a charge to employ his time better when he returned
to his parish. Cromwell was much vexed at the lenity displayed,
but the bishop was ever more ready to receive injury than to
retaliate in any other manner than by good advice and good
At the time that Cranmer was raised to be archbishop, he was
king's chaplain, and archdeacon of Taunton; he was also
constituted by the pope the penitentiary general of England. It
was considered by the king that Cranmer would be obsequious;
hence the latter married the king to Anne Boleyn, performed her
coronation, stood godfather to Elizabeth, the first child, and
divorced the king from Catharine. Though Cranmer received a
confirmation of his dignity from the pope, he always protested
against acknowledging any other authority than the king's, and he
persisted in the same independent sentiments when before Mary's
commissioners in 1555.
One of the first steps after the divorce was to prevent
preaching throughout his diocese, but this narrow measure had
rather a political view than a religious one, as there were many
who inveighed against the king's conduct. In his new dignity
Cranmer agitated the question of supremacy, and by his powerful
and just arguments induced the parliament to "render to Caesar
the things that are Caesar's." During Cranmer's residence in
Germany, 1531, he became acquainted with Ossiander, at Nuremberg,
and married his niece, but left her with him while on his return
to England. After a season he sent for her privately, and she
remained with him until the year 1539, when the Six Articles
compelled him to return her to her friends for a time.
It should be remembered that Ossiander, having obtained the
approbation of his friend Cranmer, published the laborious work
of the Harmony of the Gospels in 1537. In 1534 the archbishop
completed the dearest wish of his heart, the removal of every
obstacle to the perfection of the Reformation, by the
subscription of the nobles and bishops to the king's sole
supremacy. Only Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More made objection;
and their agreement not to oppose the succession Cranmer was
willing to consider at sufficient, but the monarch would have no
other than an entire concession.
Not long after, Gardiner, in a privat einterview with the
king, spoke inimically of Cranmer, (whom he maliciously hated)
for assumiong the title of primate of all England, as derogatory
to the supremacy of the king. This created much jealousy against
Cranmer, and his translation of the Bible was strongly opposed by
Stokesley, bishop of London. It is said, upon the demise of Queen
Catharine, that her successor Anne Boleyn rejoiced--a lesson this
to show how shallow is the human judgment! since her own
execution took place in the spring of the following year, and the
king, on the day following the beheading of this sacrificed lady,
married the beautiful Jane Seymour, a maid of honor to the late
queen. Cranmer was ever the friend of Anne Boleyn, but it was
dangerous to oppose the will of the carnal tyrannical monarch.
In 1538, the Holy Scriptures were openly exposed to sale; and
the places of worship overflowed everywhere to hear its holy
doctrines expounded. Upon the king's passing into a law the
famous Six Articles, which went nearly again to establish the
essential tenets of the Romish creed, Cranmer shone forth with
all the luster of a Christian patiot, in resisting the doctrines
they contained, and in which he was supported by the bishops of
Sarum, Worcester, Ely, and Rochester, the two former of whom
resigned their bishoprics. The king, though now in opposition to
Cranmer, still revered the sincerity that marked his conduct. The
death of Lord Cromwell in the Tower, in 1540, the good friend of
Cranmer, was a severe blow to the wavering Protestant cause, but
even now Cranmer, when he saw the tide directly adverse to the
truth, boldly waited on the king in person, and by his manly and
heartfelt pleading, caused the Book of Articles to be passed on
his side, to the great confusion of his enemies, who had
contemplated his fall as inevitable.
Cranmer now lived in as secluded a manner as possible, until
the rancor of Winchester preferred some articles against him,
relative to the dangerous opinion he taught in his family, joined
to other treasonable charges. These the king himself delivered to
Cranmer, and believing firmly the fidelity and assertions of
innocence of the accused prelate, he caused the matter to be
deeply investigated, and Winchester and Dr. Lenden, with Thornton
and Barber, of the bishop's household, were found by the papers
to be the real conspirators. The mild, forgiving Cranmer would
have interceded for all remission of publishment, had not Henry,
pleased with the subsidy voted by parliament, let them be
discharged. These nefarious men, however, again renewing their
plots against Cranmer, fell victims to Henry's resentment, and
Gardiner forever lost his confidence. Sir G. Gostwick soon after
laid charges against the archbishop, which Henry quashed, and the
primate was willing to forgive.
In 1544, the archbishop's palace at Canterbury was burnt, and
his brother-in-law with others perished in it. These various
afflictions may serve to reconcile us to a humble state; for of
what happiness could this great and good man boast, since his
life was constantly harassed either by political, religious, or
natural crosses? Again the inveterate Gardfiner laid high charges
against the meek archbishop and would have sent him to the Tower;
but the king was his friend, gave him his signet that he might
defend him, and in the Council not only declared the bishop one
of the best affected men in his realm, but sharpoly rebuked his
accusers for their calumny.
A peace having been made, Henry, and the French king, Henry
the Great, were unanimous to have the Mass abolished in their
kingdom, and Cranmer set about this great work; but the death of
the English monarch, in 1546, suspended the precedure, and King
Edwarrd his successor continued Cranmer in the same functions,
upon whose coronation he delivered a charge that will ever honor
his memory, for its purity, freedom, and truth. During this reign
he prosecuted the glorious Reformation with unabated zeal, even
in the year 1552, when he was seized with a severe ague, from
which it pleased God to restore him that he might testify by his
death the truth of that seed he had diligently sown.
The death of Edward, in 1553, exposed Cranmer to all the rage
of his enemies. Though the archbishop was among those who
supported Mary's accession, he was attainted at the meeting of
parliament, and in November adjudged guilty of high treason at
Guildhall, and degraded from his dignities. He sent a humble
letter to Mary, explaining the cause of his signing the will in
favor of Edward, and in 1554 he wrote to the Council, whom he
pressed to obtain a pardon from the queen, by a letter delivered
to Dr. Weston, but which the letter opened, and on seeing its
contents, basely returned.
Treason was a charge quite inapplicable to Cranmer, who
supported the queen's right; while others, who had favored Lady
Jane were dismissed upon paying a small fine. A calumny was now
spread against Cranmer that he complied with some of the popish
ceremonies to ingratiate himself with the queen, which he dared
publicly to disavow, and justified his articles of faith. The
active part which the prelate had taken in the divorce of Mary's
mother had ever rankled deeply in the heart of the queen, and
revenge formed a prominent feature in the death of Cranmer.
We have in this work noticed the public disputations at
Oxford, in which the talents of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer
shone so conspicuously, and tended to their condemnation. The
first sentence was illegal, inasmuch as the usurped power of the
pope had not yet been re-established by law.
Being kept in prison until this was effected, a commission was
despatched from Rome, appointing Dr. Brooks to sit as the
representative of his holiness, and Drs. Story and Martin as
those of the queen. Cranmer was willing to bow to the authority
of Drs. Story and Martin, but against that of Dr. Brooks he
protested. Such were the remarks and replies of Cranmer, after a
long examination, that Dr. Broks observed, "We come to examine
you, and methinks you examine us."
Being sent back to confinement, he received a citation to
appear at Rome within eighteen days, but this was impracticable,
as he was imprisoned in England; and as he stated, even had he
been at liberty, he was too poor to employ an advocate. Absurd as
it must appear, Cranmer was condemned at Rome, and on February
14, 1556, a new commission was appointed, by which, Thirlby,
bishop of Ely, and Bonner, of London, were deputed to sit in
judgment at Christ-church, Oxford. By virtue of this instrument,
Cranmer was gradually degraded, by putting mere rags on him to
represent the dress of an archbishop; then stripping him of his
attire, they took off his own gown, and put an old worn one upon
him instead. This he bore unmoved, and his enemies, finding that
severity only rendered him more determined, tried the opposite
course, and placed him in the house of the dean of Christ-church,
where he was treated with every indulgence.
This presented such a contrast to the three years' hard
imprisonment he had received, that it threw him off his guard.
His open, generous nature was more easily to be seduced by a
liberal conduct than by threats and fetters. When Satan finds the
Christian proof against one mode of attack, he tries another; and
what form is so seductive as smiles, rewards, and power, after a
long, painful imprisonment? Thus it was with Cranmer: his enemies
promised him his former greatness if he would but recant, as well
as the queen's favor, and this at the very time they knew that
his death was determined in council. To soften the path to
apostasy, the first paper brought for his signature was conceived
in general terms; this once signed, five others were obtained as
explanatory of the first, until finally he put his hand to the
following detestable instrument:
"I, Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury, do
renounce, abhor, and detest all manner of heresies and errors of
Luther and Zuinglius, and all other teachings which are contrary
to sound and true doctrine. And I believe most constantly in my
heart, and with my mouth I confess one holy and Catholic Church
visible, without which there is no salvation; and therefore I
acknowledge the Bishop of Rome to be supreme head on earth, whom
I acknowledge to be the highest bishop and pope, and Christ's
vicar, unto whom all Christian people ought to be subject.
"And as concerning the sacraments, I believe and worship int
he sacrament of the altar the body and blood of Christ, being
contained most truly under the forms of bread and wine; the
bread, through the mighty power of God being turned into the body
of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the wine into his blood.
"And in the other six sacraments, also, (alike as in this) I
believe and hold as the universal Church holdeth, and the Church
of Rome judgeth and determineth.
"Furthermore, I believe that there is a place of purgatory,
where souls departed be punished for a time, for whom the Church
doth godily and wholesomely pray, like as it doth honor saints
and make prayers to them.
"Finally, in all things I profess, that I do not otherwise
believe than the Catholic Church and the Church of Rome holdeth
and teacheth. I am sorry that I ever held or thought otherwise.
And I beseech Almighty God, that of His mercy He will vouchsafe
to forgive me whatsoever I have offended against God or His
Church, and also I desire and beseech all Christian people to
pray for me.
"And all such as have been deceived either by mine example or
doctrine, I require them by the blood of Jesus Christ that they
will return to the unity of the Church, that we may be all of one
mind, without schism or division.
"And to conclude, as I submit myself to the Catholic Church of
Christ, and to the supreme head thereof, so I submit myself unto
the most excellent majesties of Philip and Mary, king and queen
of this realm of England, etc., and to all other their laws and
ordinances, being ready always as a faithful subject ever to obey
them. And God is my witness, that I have not done this for favor
or fear of any person, but willingly and of mine own conscience,
as to the instruction of others."
"Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall!" said the
apostle, and here was a falling off indeed! The papists now
triumphed in their turn: they had acquired all they wanted short
of his life. His recantation was immediately printed and
dispersed, that it might have its due effect upon the astonished
Protestants. But God counter worked all the designs of the
Catholics by the extent to which they carried the implacable
persecution of their prey. Doubtless, the love of life induced
Cranmer to sign the above declaration: yet death may be said to
have been preferable to life to him who lay under the stings of a
goaded conscience and the contempt of every Gospel Christian;
this principle he strongly felt in all its force and anguish.
The queen's revenge was only to be satiated by Cranmer's
blood, and therefore she wrote an order to Dr. Pole, to prepare a
sermon to be preached March 21, directly before his martyrdom, at
St. Mary's, Oxford. Dr. Pole visited him the day previous, and
was induced to believe that he would publicly deliver his
sentiments in confirmation of the articles to which he had
subscribed. About nine in the morning of the day of sacrifice,
the queen's commissioners, attended by the magistrates, conducted
the amiable unfortunate to St. Mary's Church. His torn, dirty
garb, the same in which they habited him upon his degradation,
excited the commiseration of the people. In the church he found a
low mean stage, erected opposite to the pulpit, on which being
placed, he turned his face, and fervently prayed to God.
The church was crowded with persons of both persuasions,
expecting to hear the justification of the late apostasy: the
Catholics rejoicing, and the Protestants deeply wounded in spirit
at the deceit of the human heart. Dr. Pole, in his sermon,
represented Cranmer as having been guilty of the most atrocious
crimes; encouraged the deluded sufferer not to fear death, not to
doubt the support of God in his torments, nor that Masses would
be said in all the churches of Oxford for the repose of his soul.
The doctor then noticed his conversion, and which he ascribed to
the evident working of Almighty power and in order that the
people might be convinced of its reality, asked the prisoner to
give them a sign. This Cranmer did, and begged the congregation
to pray for him, for he had committed many and grievous sins;
but, of all, there was one which awfully lay upon his mind, of
which he would speak shortly.
During the sermon Cranmer wept bitter tears: lifting up his
hands and eyes to heaven, and letting them fall, as if unworthy
to live: his grief now found vent in words: before his confession
he fell upon his knees, and, in the following words unveiled the
deep contrition and agitation which harrowed up his soul.
"O Father of heaven! O Son of God, Redeemer of the world! O
Holy Ghost, three persons all one God! have mercy on me, most
wretched caitiff and miserable sinner. I have offended both
against heaven and earth, more than my tongue can express.
Whither then may I go, or whither may I flee? To heaven I may be
ashamed to lift up mine eyes and in earth I find no place of
refuge or succor. To Thee, therefore, O Lord, do I run; to Thee
do I humble myself, saying, O Lord, my God, my sins be great, but
yet have mercy upon me for Thy great mercy. The great mystery
that God became man, was not wrought for little or few offences.
Thou didst not give Thy Son, O Heavenly Father, unto death for
small sins only, but for all the greatest sins of the world, so
that the sinner return to Thee with his whole heart, as I do at
present. Wherefore, have mercy on me, O God, whose property is
always to have mercy, have mercy upon me, O Lord, for Thy great
mercy. I crave nothing for my own merits, but for Thy name's
sake, that it may be hallowed thereby, and for Thy dear Son,
Jesus Christ's sake. And now therefore, O Father of Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name," etc.
Then rising, he said he was desirous before his death to give
them some pious exhortations by which God might be glorified and
themselves edified. He then descanted upon the danger of a love
for the world, the duty of obedience to their majesties, of love
to one another and the necessity of the rich administering to the
wants of the poor. He quoted the three verses of the fifth
chapter of James, and then proceeded, "Let them that be rich
ponder well these three sentences: for if they ever had occasion
to show their charity, they have it now at this present, the poor
people being so many, and victual so dear.
"And now forasmuch as I am come to the last end of my life,
whereupon hangeth all my life past, and all my life to come,
either to live with my master Christ for ever in joy, or else to
be in pain for ever with the wicked in hell, and I see before
mine eyes presently, either heaven ready to receive me, or else
hell ready to swallow me up; I shall therefore declare unto you
my very faith how I believe, without any color of dissimulation:
for now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have said or
written in times past.
"First, I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
and earth, etc. And I believe every article of the Catholic
faith, every word and sentence taught by our Savior Jesus Christ,
His apostles and prophets, in the New and Old Testament.
"And now I come to the great thing which so much troubleth my
conscience, more than any thing that ever I did or said in my
whole life, and that is the setting abroad of a writing contrary
to the truth, which now here I renounce and refuse, as things
written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my
heart, and written for fear of death, and to save my life, if it
might be; and that is, all such bills or papers which I have
written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I
have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand hath
offended, writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall
first be punished; for when I come to the fire it shall first be
"And as for the pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy, and
Antichrist, with all his false doctrine."
Upon the conclusion of this unexpected declaration, amazement
and indignation were conspicuous in every part of the church. The
Catholics were completely foiled, their object being frustrated,
Cranmer, like Samson, having completed a greater ruin upon his
enemies in the hour of death, than he did in his life.
Cranmer would have proceeded in the exposure of the popish
doctrines, but the murmurs of the idolaters drowned his voice,
and the preacher gave an order to "lead the heretic away!" The
savage command was directly obeyed, and the lamb about to suffer
was torn from his stand to the place of slaughter, insulted all
the way by the revilings and taunts of the pestilent monks and
With thoughts intent upon a far higher object than the empty
threats of man, he reached the spot dyed with the blood of Ridley
and Latimer. There he knelt for a short time in earnest devotion,
and then arose, that he might undress and prepare for the fire.
Two friars who had been parties in prevailing upon him to abjure,
now endeavored to draw him off again from the truth, but he was
steadfast and immovable in what he had just professed, and
publicly taught. A chain was provided to bind him to the stake,
and after it had tightly encircled him, fire was put to the fuel,
and the flames began soon to ascend.
Then were the glorious sentiments of the martyr made manifest;
then it was, that stretching out his right hand, he held it
unshrinkingly in the fire until it was burnt to a cinder, even
before his body wa sinjured, frequently exclaiming, "This
unworthy right hand."
His body did abide the burning with such steadfastness that he
seemed to have no more than the stake to which he was bound; his
eyes were lifted up to heaven, and he repeated "this unworthy
right hand," as long as his voice would suffer him; and using
often the words of Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," in
the greatness of the flame, he gave up the ghost.
The Vision of Three Ladders
When Robert Samuel was brought forth to be burned, certain
there were that heard him declare what strange things had
happened unto him during the time of his imprisonment; to wit,
that after he had famished or pined with hunger two or three days
together, he then fell into a sleep, as it were one half in a
slumber, at which time one clad all in white seemed to stand
before him, who ministered comfort unto him by these words:
"Samuel, Samuel, be of good cheer, and take a good heart unto
thee: for after this day shalt thou never be either hungry or
No less memorable it is, and worthy to be noted, concerning
the three ladders which he told to divers he saw in his sleep,
set up toward heaven; of the which there was one somewhat longer
than the rest, but yet at length they became one, joining (as it
were) all three together.
As this godly martyr was going to the fire, there came a
certain maid to him, which took him about the neck, and kissed
him, who, being marked by them that were present, was sought for
the next day after, to be had to prison and burned, as the very
party herself informed me: howbeit, as God of His goodness would
have it, she escaped their fiery hands, keeping herself secret in
the town a good while after.
But as this maid, called Rose Nottingham, was marvellously
preserved by the providence of God, so there were other two
honest women who did fall into the rage and fury of that time.
The one was a brewer's wife, the other was a shoemaker's wife,
but both together now espoused to a new husband, Christ.
With these two was this maid aforesaid very familiar and well
acquainted, who, on a time giving counsel to the one of them,
that she should convey herself away while she had time and space,
had this answer at her hand again: "I know well," saith she,
"that it is lawful enough to fly away; which remedy you may use,
if you list. But my case standeth otherwise. I am tied to a
husband, and have besides young children at home; therefore I am
minded, for the love of Christ and His truth, to stand to the
extremity of the matter."
And so the next day after Samuel suffered, these two godly
wives, the one called Anne Potten, the other called Joan
Trunchfield, the wife of Michael Trunchfield, shoemaker, of
Ipswich, were apprehended, and had both into one prison together.
As they were both by sex and nature somewhat tender, so were they
at first less able to endure the straitness of the prison; and
especially the brewer's wife was cast into marvellous great
agonies and troubles of mind thereby. But Christ, beholding the
weak infirmity of His servant, did not fail to help her when she
was in this necessity; so at the length they both suffered after
Samuel, in 1556, February 19. And these, no dobut, were those two
ladders, which, being joined with the third, Samuel saw stretched
up into heaven. This blessed Samuel, the servant of Christ,
suffered the thirty-first of August, 1555.
The report goeth among some that were there present, and saw
him burn, that his body in burning did shine in the eyes of them
that stood by, as bright and white as new-tried silver.
When Agnes Bongeor saw herself separated from her
prison-fellows, what piteous moan that good woman made, how
bitterly she wept, what strange thoughts came into her mind, how
naked and desolate she esteemed herself, and into what plunge of
despair and care her poor soul was brought, it was piteous and
wonderful to see; which all came because she went not with them
to give her life in the defence of her Christ; for of all things
in the world, life was least looked for at her hands.
For that morning in which she was kept back from burning, had
she put on a smock, that she had prepared only for that purpose.
And also having a child, a little young infant sucking on her,
whom she kept with her tenderly all the time that she was in
prison, against that day likewise did she send away to another
nurse, and prepared herself presently to give herself for the
testimony of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. So little did
she look for life, and so greatly did God's gifts work in her
above nature, that death seemed a great deal better welcome than
life. After which, she began a little to stay herself, and gave
her whole exercise to reading and prayer, wherein she found no
In a short time came a writ from London for the burning, which
according to the effect thereof, was executed.
Hugh Laverick and John Aprice
Here we perceive that neither the impotence of age nor the
affliction of blindness, could turn aside the murdering fangs of
these Babylonish monsters. The first of these unfortunates was of
the parish of Barking, aged sixty-eight, a painter and a cripple.
The other was blind, dark indeed in his visual faculties, but
intellectually illuminated with the radiance of the everlasting
Gospel of truth. Inoffensive objects like these were informed
against by some of the sons of bigotry, and dragged before the
prelatical shark of London, where they underwent examination, and
replied to the articles propounded to them, as other Christian
martyrs had done before. On the ninth day of May, in the
consistory of St. Paul's, they were entreated to recant, and upon
refusal, were sent to Fulham, where Bonner, by way of a dessert
after dinner, condemned them to the agonies of the fire. Being
consigned to the secular officers, May 15, 1556, they were taken
in a cart from Newgate to Stratford-le-Bow, where they were
fastened to the stake. When Hugh Laverick was secured by the
chain, having no further occasion for his crutch, he threw it
away saying to his fellow-martyr, while consoling him, "Be of
good cheer my brother; for my lord of London is our good
physician; he will heal us both shortly--thee of thy blindness,
and me of my lameness." They sank down in the fire, to rise to
The day after the above martyrdoms, Catharine Hut, of Bocking,
widow; Joan Horns, spinster, of Billerica; Elizabeth Thackwel,
spinster, of Great Burstead, suffered death in Smithfield.
Thomas Dowry. We have again to record an act of unpitying
cruelty, exercised on this lad, whom Bishop Hooper, had confirmed
in the Lord and the knowledge of his Word.
How long this poor sufferer remained in prison is uncertain.
By the testimony of one John Paylor, register of Gloucester, we
learn that when Dowry was brought before Dr. Williams, then
chancellor of Gloucester, the usual articles were presented him
for subscription. From these he dissented; and, upon the doctor's
demanding of whom and where he had learned his heresies, the
youth replied, "Indeed, Mr. Chancellor, I learned from you in
that very pulpit. On such a day (naming the day) you said, in
preaching upon the Sacrament, that it was to be exercised
spiritually by faith, and not carnally and really, as taught by
the papists." Dr. Williams then bid him recant, as he had done;
but Dowry had not so learned his duty. "Though you," said he,
"can so easily mock God, the world, and your own conscience, yet
will I not do so."
Preservation of George Crow and His Testament
This poor man, of Malden, May 26, 1556, put to sea, to lade in
Lent with fuller's earth, but the boat, being driven on land,
filled with water, and everything was washed out of her; Crow,
however, saved his Testament, and coveted nothing else. With Crow
was a man and a boy, whose awful situation became every minute
more alarming, as the boat was useless, and they were ten miles
from land, expecting the tide should in a few hours set in upon
them. After prayer to God, they got upon the mast, and hung there
for the space of ten hours, when the poor boy, overcome by cold
and exhaustion, fell off, and was drowned. The tide having
abated, Crow proposed to take down the masts, and float upon
them, which they did; and at ten o'clock at night they were borne
away at the mercy of the waves. On Wednesday, in the night,
Crow's companion died through the fatigue and hunger, and he was
left alone, calling upon God for succor. At length he was picked
up by a Captain Morse, bound to Antwerp, who had nearly steered
away, taking him for some fisherman's buoy floating in the sea.
As soon as Crow was got on board, he put his hand in his bosom,
and drew out his Testament, which indeed was wet, but not
otherwise injured. At Antwerp he was well received, and the money
he had lost was more than made good to him.
Executions at Stratford-le-Bow
At this sacrifice, which we are about to detail no less than
thirteen were doomed to the fire.
Each one refusing to subscribe contrary to conscience, they
were condemned, and the twenty-seventh of June, 1556, was
appointed for their execution at Stratford-le-Bow. Their
constancy and faith glorified their Redeemer, equally in life and
Rev. Julius Palmer
This gentleman's life presents a singular instance of error
and conversion. In the time of Edward, he was a rigid and
obstinate papist, so adverse to godly and sincere preaching, that
he was even despised by his own party; that this frame of mind
should be changed, and he suffer persecution and death in Queen
Mary's reign, are among those events of omnipotence at which we
wonder and admire.
Mr. Palmer was born at Coventry, where his father had been
mayor. Being afterward removed to Oxford, he became, under Mr.
Harley, of Magdalen College, an elegant Latin and Greek scholar.
He was fond of useful disputation, possessed of a lively wit, and
a strong memory. Indefatigable in private study, he rose at four
in the morning, and by this practice qualified himself to become
reader in logic in Magralen College. The times of Edward,
however, favoring the Reformation, Mr. Palmer became frequently
punished for his contempt of prayer and orderly behavior, and was
at length expelled the house.
He afterwards embraced the doctrines of the Reformation, which
occasioned his arrest and final condemnation.