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Mr John Philpot








This martyr was the son of a knight, born in Hampshire, and brought up
at New College, Oxford, where he several years 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, Oct. 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 way 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.
December 4th, 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 the 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 unbiassed mind, be exhibited.
December 16th, 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, &c. 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. December 17th, 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." Arrived 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 cvii. and
cviii. Psalms, and when he had finished his prayers, was bound to the
post, and fire applied to the pile. On December 18th, 1555, perished
this illustrious martyr, reverenced by man, and glorified in heaven! His
letters arising out of the cause for which he suffered, are elegant,
numerous, and elaborate.





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