Rev John Bradford And John Leaf An Apprentice
Rev. John Bradford was born at Manchester, in Lancashire; he was a good
Latin scholar, and afterward became a servant of Sir John Harrington,
He continued several years in an honest and thriving way; but the Lord
had elected him to a better function. Hence he departed from his master,
quitting the Temple, at London, for the university of Cambridge, to
learn, by God's law, how to further the building of the Lord's temple.
In a few years after, the university gave him the degree of master of
arts, and he became a fellow of Pembroke Hall.
Martin Bucer first urged him to preach, and when he modestly doubted his
ability, Bucer was wont to reply, If thou hast not fine wheat bread, yet
give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord hath
committed unto thee. Dr. Ridley, that worthy bishop of London, and
glorious martyr of Christ, first called him to take the degree of a
deacon and gave him a prebend in his cathedral church of St. Paul.
In this preaching office Mr. Bradford diligently laboured for the space
of three years. Sharply he reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ
crucified, ably he disproved heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded
to godly life. After the death of blessed king Edward VI. Mr. Bradford
still continued diligent in preaching, till he was suppressed by queen
Mary. An act now followed of the blackest ingratitude, and at which a
Pagan would blush. It has been recited, that a tumult was occasioned by
Mr. Bourne's (then bishop of Bath) preaching at St. Paul's Cross; the
indignation of the people placed his life in imminent danger; indeed a
dagger was thrown at him. In this situation he entreated Mr. Bradford,
who stood behind him, to speak in his place, and assuage the tumult. The
people welcomed Mr. Bradford, and the latter afterward kept close to
him, that his presence might prevent the populace from renewing their
The same Sunday in the afternoon, Mr. Bradford preached at Bow church in
Cheapside, and reproved the people sharply for their seditious
misdemeanor. Notwithstanding this conduct, within three days after, he
was sent for to the tower of London, where the queen then was, to appear
before the council. There he was charged with this act of saving Mr.
Bourne, which was called seditious, and they also objected against him
for preaching. Thus he was committed, first to the Tower, then to other
prisons, and, after his condemnation, to the Poultry Compter, where he
preached twice a day continually, unless sickness hindered him. Such was
his credit with the keeper of the king's Bench, that he permitted him in
an evening to visit a poor, sick person near the Steel-yard, upon his
promise to return in time, and in this he never failed.
The night before he was sent to Newgate, he was troubled in his sleep by
foreboding dreams, that on Monday after he should be burned in
Smithfield. In the afternoon the keeper's wife came up and announced
this dreadful news to him, but in him it excited only thankfulness to
God. At night, half a dozen friends came, with whom he spent all the
evening in prayer and godly exercises.
When he was removed to Newgate, a weeping crowd accompanied him, and a
rumor having been spread that he was to suffer at four the next morning,
an immense multitude attended. At nine o'clock Mr. Bradford was brought
into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his
brother-in-law, Roger Beswick, having taken him by the hand as he
passed, Mr. Woodroffe, with his staff, cut his head open.
Mr. Bradford, being come to the place, fell flat on the ground, secretly
making his prayers to Almighty God. Then, rising again, and putting off
his clothes unto the shirt, he went to the stake, and there suffered
with a young man of twenty years of age, whose name was John Leaf, an
apprentice to Mr. Humphry Gaudy, tallow-chandler, of Christ-church,
London. Upon Friday before Palm Sunday, he was committed to the Compter
in Bread-street, and afterward examined and condemned by the bloody
It is reported of him, that, when the bill of his confession was read
unto him, instead of pen, he took a pin, and pricking his hand,
sprinkled the blood upon the said bill, desiring the reader thereof to
show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already.
They both ended this mortal life, July 12th, 1555, like two lambs,
without any alteration of their countenances, hoping to obtain that
prize they had long run for; to which may Almighty God conduct us all,
through the merits of Christ our Saviour! We shall conclude this article
with mentioning, that Mr. Sheriff Woodroffe, it is said, within half a
year after, was struck on the right side with a palsy and for the space
of eight years after, (till his dying day) he was unable to turn
himself in his bed; thus he became at last a fearful object to behold.
The day after Mr. Bradford and John Leaf suffered in Smithfield, William
Minge, priest, died in prison at Maidstone. With as great constancy and
boldness he yielded up his life in prison, as if it had pleased God to
have called him to suffer by fire, as other godly men had done before at
the stake, and as he himself was ready to do, had it pleased God to have
called him to this trial.
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