Executions At Colchester
It was before mentioned that twenty-two persons had been sent up from
Cholchester, who upon a slight submission, were afterward released. Of
these, Wm. Munt, of Much-Bentley, husbandman, with Alice, his wife, and
Rose Allin, her daughter, upon their return home, abstained from church,
which induced the bigoted priest secretly to write to Bonner. For a
short time they absconded, but returning again, March 7th, one Mr.
Edmund Tyrrel, (a relation of the Tyrrel who murdered king Edward V. and
his brother) with the officers, entered the house while Munt and his
wife were in bed, and informed them that they must go to Colchester
Castle. Mrs. Munt at that time very ill, requested her daughter to get
her some drink; leave being permitted, Rose took a candle and a mug; and
in returning through the house was met by Tyrrel, who cautioned her to
advise her parents to become good catholics. Rose briefly informed him
that they had the Holy Ghost for their adviser; and that she was ready
to lay down her own life for the same cause. Turning to his company, he
remarked that she was willing to burn; and one of them told him to prove
her, and see what she would do by and by. The unfeeling wretch
immediately executed this project; and, seizing the young woman by the
wrist, he held the lighted candle under her hand, burning it crosswise
on the back, till the tendons divided from the flesh, during which he
loaded her with many opprobious epithets. She endured his rage unmoved,
and then, when he had ceased the torture, she asked him to begin at her
feet or head, for he need not fear that his employer would one day repay
him. After this she took the drink to her mother.
This cruel act of torture does not stand alone on record. Bonner had
served a poor blind harper in nearly the same manner, who had steadily
maintained a hope that if every joint of him were to be burnt, he should
not fly from the faith. Bonner, upon this, privately made a signal to
his men, to bring a burning coal, which they placed in the poor man's
hand, and then by force held it closed, till it burnt into the flesh
deeply. But to return.--
In searching Munt's house, John Thurston and Margaret his wife were
found, and conveyed to Colchester Castle; where lay J. Johnson, of
Thorp, Essex, aged 34, widower, with his three young children, all
indicted for heresy.
The following lay in Mote-hall, or town prison: Wm. Bongeor, of St.
Nicholas, in Colchester; Thomas Penold, Colchester, tallow chandler; W.
Pucras, of Bocking, Essex, fuller, 20; Agnes Silversides, Colchester,
widow, 70; Helen Ewring, wife of John Ewring, miller, of Colchester, 45;
and Eliz. Folks, a servant, Colchester.
Shortly after their condemnation, Bonner's writ arrived for their
execution, which was fixed for the 2d of August, 1557. About seven
o'clock in the morning, the town prisoners in the Mote-hall were brought
to a plot of ground on the outside of the town wall, where the stake was
erected, surrounded by fagots and fuel. Having prayed, and prepared
themselves for the fiery torment, Elizabeth Folks, as she was standing
at the stake, received a dreadful blow on the shoulder from the stroke
of a hammer, which was aimed at the staple that secured the chain. This,
however, in no wise discomposed her, but turning her head round, she
continued to pray and exhort the people. Fire being put to the pile,
these martyrs died amidst the prayers and commisseration of thousands
who came to be witnesses of their fortitude and their faith.
In the same manner, in the afternoon, the county prisoners from
Colchester castle were brought out, and executed, at different stakes,
on the same spot; praising God, and exhorting the people to avoid
idolatry and the church of Rome.
John Thurston, of whom mention was made before, died in May, in
George Eagles, tailor, was indicted for having prayed that "God would
turn queen Mary's heart, or take her away;" the ostensible cause of his
death was his religion, for treason could hardly be imagined in praying
for the reformation of such an execrable soul as that of Mary. Being
condemned for this crime, he was drawn to the place of execution upon a
sledge, with two robbers, who were executed with him. After Eagles had
mounted the ladder, and been turned off a short time, he was cut down,
before he was at all insensible; a bailiff, named Wm. Swallow, then
dragged him to the sledge, and with a common blunt cleaver, hacked off
the head: in a manner equally clumsy and cruel, he opened his body and
tore out the heart.
In all this suffering the poor martyr repined not, but to the last
called upon his Saviour. The fury of these bigots did not end here; the
intestines were burnt, and the body was quartered, the four parts being
sent to Colchester, Harwich, Chelmsford, and St. Rouse's.--Chelmsford
had the honor of retaining his head, which was affixed to a long pole in
the market-place. In time it was blown down, and lay several days in the
streets, till it was buried at night in the church-yard. God's judgment
not long after fell upon Swallow, who in his old age became a beggar,
and affected with a leprosy that made him obnoxious even to the animal
creation; nor did Richard Potts, who troubled Eagles in his dying
moments, escape the visiting hand of God.
About this time, Richard Crashfield, of Wymundham, suffered at Norwich.
Nearly about this time a person named Fryer, and the sister of George
Eagles, suffered martyrdom.
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