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SIX MARTYRS WHOM [ESSAY fallen comrades. Burnet would confirm his notion by telling him in plain terms “soon after the condemnation of these men, six others were apprehended on the account of heresy." Wily Winchester one would suppose was not prepared for anything of the sort, and finding that the five martyrs had revived in six fresh ones, “as if in death were propagation too,” he turned them over to Bonner, who was always ready for any cruelty, and called them before him the very day that they came into his hands, scarcely asked what they were charged with, sentenced them the next day, and killed them out of hand without grace or mercy"such quick speed these men could make in despatching their business at once" such care they took to “SPARE NONE.”
Strype, who generally lays hold on Fox's skirts, and follows him blindfold through all sorts of places, even where one might think that he must have known the way better, says that Gardiner “left the rest of this bloody work * to Bishop Bonner; and those six before mentioned he
began with ; who having been convented before him but the day before, were condemned this very next day.”! Savage work certainly; but what can one expect from bloody wolves, and forests of wild beasts ?
But what if it should turn out that these six new martyrs whom Bonner “began with ” were persons whom he had known a long time, and with whom he was particularly well acquainted ? and what if the “ quick speed ” should prove to be mere habitual misrepresentation, not meaning to tell an elaborate and well considered untruth about these particular facts, but naturally as it were, from long practice, colouring with different colours, and commenting with fulsome flattery or childish malice on the acts of different parties, and thus, in the most unprovoked and reckless manner casting abroad the firebrands of personal calumny and historical falsehood ? Facts and dates which Fox himself supplies, afford sufficient information; and show that Bonner did not first become acquainted with these persons on the 8th of February, 1555. Thomas Hawkes had certainly got the character of a heretic, and committed his alleged heresy, in Essex, and been sent up with a letter under charge of a special messenger to his ordinary Bonner from the Earl of Oxford, and was in actual
9 Hist. of Ref. vol. ii. p. 282.
1 Mem. III. i. 332.
custody in the bishop's house, before Midsummer 1554. Thomas Tomkins the weaver was also a prisoner there; if indeed one should so characterize a man making bay at Fulham, with the bishop sitting by chatting with him. When he went there I know not, but certainly in or before July, 1554. As to William Hunter, he had been formally denounced as a heretic nearly a year before, and had ied from London on that account. I do not find precisely on what day he came into Bonner's hands, but he had “ tinued in prison three quarters of a year,” when he was brought before Bonner on the 8th of February, 1555. Of the other three, Pygot, Knight, and Laurence, I do not find the exact time when they came into Bonner's custody: but as Bonner in the first conversation that he had with Hawkes, at Midsummer 1554, asked him if he knew Knight and Pygot, it is plain that he must by that time have known something of them himself?. I find also certain “ Articles and Interrogatories objected by the Bishop of London ” to these three jointly, in which the seventh is as follows:
“7. Whether is it true, that you being suspected, or infamed to be culpable and faulty in speaking against the sacrament of the altar, and against the very true presence of Christ's natural body, and the substance thereof in the said sacrament; and thereupon called before me upon complaint made to me against you; have not been a good space in my house, having freely meat and drink, and also divers times instructed and informed, as well by one being our ordinary, as also by my chaplains and divers other learned men, some whereof were bishops, some deans, and some archdeacons, and every one of them learned in divinity, and minding well unto you, and desiring the safeguard of your soul, and that you should follow and believe the doctrine of the catholic church, as afore, concerning the said sacrament of the altar; and whether you did not at all times since your said coming to me, utterly refuse to follow and believe the said doctrine concerning the said sacrament ?”-Fox, vol. vi. p. 738.
It would seem as if the same articles had been objected to the other three, but really Fox's way of writing is such that it is difficult to get at the bottom of any story. After giving these articles, he says, “ Their answers to these articles were not much discrepant from Tomkins, and other like martyrs above mentioned, as here followeth to be seen ;"3 and then he gives, “ The Answers of Pygot and Knight to the afore
said Articles," omitting Laurence. It is likely that the latter made a separate confession".
This is, I think, enough to shew how very unfair and untrue it is to represent the condemnation of these six men as having been carried with careless and merciless dispatch. Bad as it was to burn them, there is no pretence for saying that it was done in a hurry. Even after Bonner had passed sentence on them, and they had been delivered to the secular power, it can hardly be said that “quickspeed” was used in carrying that sentence into execution. The earliest sufferer of the six was allowed an interval of five weeks for reflection, and the others were burned on the 26th, 28th, and 29th of March and the 10th of June.
I say thus much here respecting these six prisoners, partly to refute on the spot the idle calumny with which their history is introduced; and partly because they are said to have been (though I know not when or where) before “th 2 bishops," by which I suppose we are to understand the Commission. They were however, as may be seen, in a peculiar manner Bonner's prisoners (those " he began with "), and their cases will come more properly before us in the history of his dealings with those heretics who were proceeded against in his court.
$ 5. BONNER'S DEALINGS WITH HIS OWN PRISONERS. Having seen how much Bonner had to do with the martyrs examined by the Commission in Southwark, let us briefly inquire what he did afterwards. Let us allow the King, Queen, and Council, the Commissioners, and the Chancellor, to follow their own pleasure unnoticed, while we attend on the proceedings of Bonner. Let us suppose that (as some writers represent it) the whole business of the persecution was turned over to him, and cursorily look at his course,
Pygot (as has been already stated) was a butcher, and Knight a barber ; and they seem as if they had received their opinions from Dr. Taylor of Hadley. Laurence was a priest, and I do not find any account of the reason, or the time, of his coming into trouble ; unless he was the same person as "Master Laurence of Barnball," who is mentioned as the first” in a list of the “ Principal Teachers of Heretical Doctrine in London by Stephen Morris's Confession " (Fox. viii. 384);but who Stephen Morris was, or when he made his confession, I do not know, nor have I found anything more about him in Fox.
imagining, as far as we can, that he was acting purely according to his own will, and upon his own responsibility.
I cannot, however, help suspecting that, by this time, some readers who have been used to think of Bonner as a sort of ecclesiastical Autocrat, have begun to doubt whether in point of power, influence, and position in the state, he was quite as great a person as they have supposed -whether he actually had, or desired to have, the unlimited powers of destruction ascribed to him, or even an intense and insatiable desire to use to the uttermost those powers with which he was invested by his office. I should be sorry,
however, for the reader, at this early stage of the business, to think that I am fighting with shadows. I am not so fond as to expostulate with the poet who tells us, as a general fact, that when a martyr suffered,
“Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake,
Enjoyed the shew, and danced about the stake."5 But I think it may be well to refresh the reader's memory and feelings by a curious extract from one of our regular historians of the Reformation, who writes as if he had actually been at Bonner's elbow, and heard his soliloquy, on receiving his appointment as deputy-executioner from the Lord Chancellor.
“Well then, said Bonner to himself, I see the honour of this work is reserved for me, who neither fear the Emperor's frowns, nor the people's curses. Which having said (as if he had been pumping for a Resolution) he took his times so to make it known unto the other two, that he perceived tbey were as willing as himself to have the Catholick Religion entertained in all parts of the Kingdom, though neither of them seemed desirous to Act any thing in it, or take the envy on himself ; that he was well enough pleased with that reservedness, hoping they did not mean it for a precedent unto him or others, who had a mind to shew their zeal and forwardness in the Catholick cause. Have I not seen (saith he) that the Hereticks themselves have broke the Ice, in putting one of their own number (I think they called him by name of Servetus) to a cruel death? Could it be thought no crime in them, to take that more severe course against one of their Brethren, for holding any contrary Doctrine from that which they had publickly agreed amongst them? And can they be so silly, or so partial rather, as to reckon it for a Crime in us, if we proceed against them with the like severity, and punish them by the most extream rigour of their own example? I plainly see, that neither you my Lord Cardinal, nor you my Lord
• Cowper, Expostulation, i. 96.
Chancellor, have any Answer to return to my present Argument, which is sufficient to encourage me to proceed upon it. I cannot Act Canonically against any of them, but such as live within the compass of my Jurisdiction, in which I shall desire no help nor countenance from either of you. But as for such as live in the Diocese of Canterbury, or that of Winchester, or otherwise not within my reach in what place soever, let them be sent for ap by order from the Lords of the Council, committed to the Tower, the Fleet, or any other Prison within my Diocese ; and when I have them in my Clutches, let God do so, and more to Bonner, if they scape his Fingers.”—Heylin, Pist. Ref. p. 218.
I have already said that I believe the whole number of Marian martyrs amounted to 277; and that those with whom Bonner was in any way concerned, were 120. We have seen what he had to do with the five who were before the Council; and I suppose that, with their cases, I may dismiss that of Archbishop Cranmer, of which also I have already spoken. Let us look, then, at those who may be more properly called Bonner's prisoners 6.
(5.) THOMAS TOMKINS has been already mentioned, but as there was a peculiarity in his case which has led to his being brought forward as an instance of Bonner's cruel disposition, it is necessary to say something more about him. That he was an honest, simple, and godly man, who never performed any act even of his business as a weaver without prayer, and who showed his kindness to his friends by the freedom with which he lent his money without interest, was the testimony of his neighbours to Fox, who says,
“Of whom more than half a dozen at once came to me discreet and substantial men reporting the same to me, recording moreover what followeth. That Dr. Bonner bishop of London kept the said Tomkins with him in prison half a year ; during which time the said bishop was so rigorous unto him that he beat him bitterly about the face, whereby his face was swelled. Whereupon the bishop caused his beard to be shaven, and gave the barber twelvepence."-Fox, vi. 718.
I take them in the order in which they stand in the Martyrology, numbering them for the convenience of using a list which I annex ; referring likewise to the volume and page of the octavo edition ; which, as I have already said, I quote because I believe it to be the most accessible to my readers ; and, moreover, notwithstanding its manifold and ludicrous blunders, it serves as a sort of reference to all the old editions, and contains many things which are in none of them except the first. It is curious that, though in very different senses, it may be truly said that there are two original editions of Fox.