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Persecutions In England During The Reign Of Queen Mary

The premature death of that celebrated young monarch, Edward the Sixth,
occasioned the most extraordinary and wonderful occurrences, which had
ever existed from the times of our blessed Lord and Saviour's
incarnation in human shape. This melancholy event became speedily a
subject of general regret. The succession to the British throne was soon
made a matter of contention; and the scenes which ensued were a
demonstration of the serious affliction which the kingdom was involved
in. As his loss to the nation was more and more unfolded, the
remembrance of his government was more and more the basis of grateful
recollection. The very awful prospect, which was soon presented to the
friends of Edward's administration, under the direction of his
counsellors and servants, was a contemplation which the reflecting mind
was compelled to regard with most alarming apprehensions. The rapid
approaches which were made towards a total reversion of the proceedings
of the young king's reign, denoted the advances which were thereby
represented to an entire revolution in the management of public affairs
both in church and state.

Alarmed for the condition in which the kingdom was likely to be involved
by the king's death, an endeavour to prevent the consequences, which
were but too plainly foreseen, was productive of the most serious and
fatal effects. The king, in his long and lingering affliction, was
induced to make a will, by which he bequeathed the English crown to lady
Jane, the daughter of the duke of Suffolk, who had been married to the
lord Guilford, the son of the duke of Northumberland, and was the
grand-daughter of the second sister of king Henry, by Charles, duke of
Suffolk. By this will, the succession of Mary and Elizabeth, his two
sisters, was entirely superseded, from an apprehension of the returning
system of popery; and the king's council, with the chief of the
nobility, the lord-mayor of the city of London, and almost all the
judges and the principal lawyers of the realm, subscribed their names to
this regulation, as a sanction to the measure. Lord chief justice Hale,
though a true protestant and an upright judge, alone declined to unite
his name in favour of the lady Jane, because he had already signified
his opinion, that Mary was entitled to assume the reins of government.
Others objected to Mary's being placed on the throne, on account of
their fears that she might marry a foreigner, and thereby bring the
crown into considerable danger. Her partiality to popery also left
little doubt on the minds of any, that she would be induced to revive
the dormant interests of the pope, and change the religion which had
been used both in the days of her father, king Henry, and in those of
her brother Edward: for in all his time she had manifested the greatest
stubbornness and inflexibility of temper, as must be obvious from her
letter to the lords of the council, whereby she put in her claim to the
crown, on her brother's decease.

When this happened, the nobles, who had associated to prevent Mary's
succession, and had been instrumental in promoting, and, perhaps,
advising the measures of Edward, speedily proceeded to proclaim lady
Jane Gray, to be queen of England, in the city of London and various
other populous cities of the realm. Though young, she possessed talents
of a very superior nature, and her improvements under a most excellent
tutor had given her many very great advantages.

Her reign was of only five days continuance, for Mary, having succeeded
by false promises in obtaining the crown, speedily commenced the
execution of her avowed intention of extirpating and burning every
protestant. She was crowned at Westminister in the usual form, and her
elevation was the signal for the commencement of the bloody persecution
which followed.

Having obtained the sword of authority, she was not sparing in its
exercise. The supporters of Lady Jane Gray were destined to feel its
force. The duke of Northumberland was the first who experienced her
savage resentment. Within a month after his confinement in the Tower, he
was condemned, and brought to the scaffold, to suffer as a traitor. From
his various crimes, resulting out of a sordid and inordinate ambition,
he died unpitied and unlamented.

The changes, which followed with rapidity, unequivocally declared, that
the queen was disaffected to the present state of religion.--Dr. Poynet
was displaced to make room for Gardiner to be bishop of Winchester, to
whom she also gave the important office of lord-chancellor. Dr. Ridley
was dismissed from the see of London, and Bonne introduced. J. Story
was put out of the bishopric of Chichester, to admit Dr. Day. J. Hooper
was sent prisoner to the Fleet, and Dr. Heath put into the see of
Worcester. Miles Coverdale was also excluded from Exeter, and Dr. Vesie
placed in that diocess. Dr. Tonstall was also promoted to the see of
Durham. "These things being marked and perceived, great heaviness and
discomfort grew more and more to all good men's hearts; but to the
wicked great rejoicing. They that could dissemble took no great care how
the matter went; but such, whose consciences were joined with the truth,
perceived already coals to be kindled, which after should be the
destruction of many a true christian."

Next: The Words And Behaviour Of The Lady Jane Upon The Scaffold

Previous: An Account Of The Life Sufferings And Death Of Mr George Wishart Who Was Strangled And Afterward Burned In Scotland For Professing The Truth Of The Gospel

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