The History Imprisonment And Examinations Of Mr John Hooper Bishop Of Worcester And Gloucester
John Hooper, student and graduate in the university of Oxford, was
stirred with such fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the
scriptures, that he was compelled to remove from thence, and was
retained in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel, as his steward, till Sir
Thomas had intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no
case did favour, though he exceedingly favoured his person and
condition, and wished to be his friend. Mr. Hooper now prudently left
Sir Thomas' house and arrived at Paris, but in a short time returned
into England, and was retained by Mr. Sentlow, till the time that he was
again molested and sought for, when he passed through France to the
higher parts of Germany; where, commencing acquaintance with learned
men, he was by them free and lovingly entertained, both at Basil, and
especially at Zurich, by Mr. Bullinger, who was his singular friend;
here also he married his wife, who was a Burgonian, and applied very
studiously to the Hebrew tongue.
At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the six
articles, and to give us king Edward to reign over this realm, with some
peace and rest unto the church, amongst many other English exiles, who
then repaired homeward, Mr. Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought
not to absent himself, but seeing such a time and occasion, offered to
help forward the Lord's work, to the uttermost of his ability.
When Mr. Hooper had taken his farewell of Mr. Bullinger, and his friends
in Zurich, he repaired again into England in the reign of king Edward
the Sixth, and coming to London, used continually to preach, most times
twice, or at least once a day.
In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin,
and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and the corrupt
abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies daily
came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus'
harp, insomuch, that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would
be so full, that none could enter further than the doors thereof. In his
doctrine, he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the scriptures,
perfect, in pains indefatigable, in his life exemplary.
Having preached before the king's majesty, he was soon after made bishop
of Gloucester. In that office he continued two years, and behaved
himself so well, that his very enemies could find no fault with him, and
after that he was made bishop of Worcester.
Dr. Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor for
the space of two years and more, so long as the state of religion in
king Edward's time was sound and flourishing.
After he had been cited to appear before Bonner and Dr. Heath, he was
led to the Council, accused falsely of owing the queen money, and in the
next year, 1554, he wrote an account of his severe treatment during
near eighteen months' confinement to the Fleet, and after his third
examination, January 28, 1555, at St. Mary Overy's, he, with the Rev.
Mr. Rogers, was conducted to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain
till the next day at nine o'clock, to see whether they would recant.
Come, brother Rogers, said Dr. Hooper, must we two take this matter
first in hand, and begin to fry in these fagots? Yes, Doctor, said Mr.
Rogers, by God's grace. Doubt not, said Dr. Hooper, but God will give us
strength; and the people so applauded their constancy, that they had
much ado to pass.
January 29, bishop Hooper was degraded and condemned, and the Rev. Mr.
Rogers was treated in like manner. At dark, Dr. Hooper was led through
the city to Newgate; notwithstanding this secrecy, many people came
forth to their doors with lights, and saluted him, praising God for his
During the few days he was in Newgate, he was frequently visited by
Bonner and others, but without avail. As Christ was tempted, so they
tempted him, and then maliciously reported that he had recanted. The
place of his martyrdom being fixed at Gloucester, he rejoiced very much,
lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and praising God that he saw it
good to send him among the people over whom he was pastor, there to
confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them.
On Feb. 7th, he came to Gloucester, about five o'clock, and lodged at
one Ingram's house. After his first sleep, he continued in prayer until
morning; and all the day, except a little time at his meals, and when
conversing with such as the guard kindly permitted to speak to him, he
spent in prayer.
Sir Anthony Kingston, at one time Doctor Hooper's good friend, was
appointed by the queen's letters to attend at his execution. As soon as
he saw the bishop he burst into tears. With tender entreaties he
exhorted him to live. "True it is," said the bishop, "that death is
bitter, and life is sweet: but alas! consider that the death to come is
more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet."
The same day a blind boy obtained leave to be brought into Dr. Hooper's
presence. The same boy, not long before, had suffered imprisonment at
Gloucester for confessing the truth. "Ah! poor boy," said the bishop,
"though God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what reason he
best knoweth, yet he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and
of faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou
lose not that sight, for then wouldst thou indeed be blind both in body
When the mayor waited upon him preparatory to his execution, he
expressed his perfect obedience, and only requested that a quick fire
might terminate his torments. After he had got up in the morning, he
desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he
might be solitary till the hour of execution.
About eight o'clock, on February 9, 1555, he was led forth, and many
thousand persons were collected, as it was market-day. All the way,
being straitly charged not to speak, and beholding the people who
mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards
heaven, and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never
known, during the time of his being among them, to look with so cheerful
and ruddy a countenance as he did at that time. When he came to the
place appointed where he should die, he smilingly beheld the stake and
preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm-tree over
against the college of priests, where he used to preach.
Now, after he had entered into prayer, a box was brought and laid before
him upon a stool, with his pardon from the queen, if he would turn. At
the sight whereof he cried, If you love my soul away with it. The box
being taken away, lord Chandois said, Seeing there is no remedy,
despatch him quickly.
Command was now given that the fire should be kindled. But because there
were not more green fagots than two horses could carry, it kindled not
speedily, and was a pretty while also before it took the reeds upon the
fagots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full strength
at that place, and being a lowering cold morning, it blew the flame from
him, so that he was in a manner little more than touched by the fire.
Within a space after, a few dry fagots were brought, and a new fire
kindled with fagots, (for there were no more reeds) and those burned at
the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the wind, saving
that it burnt his hair, and scorched his skin a little. In the time of
which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly, and
not very loud, but as one without pain, O Jesus, Son of David, have
mercy upon me, and receive my soul! After the second fire was spent, he
wiped both his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said
with an indifferent loud voice, For God's love, good people, let me have
more fire! and all this while his nether parts did burn; but the fagots
were so few, that the flame only singed his upper parts.
The third fire was kindled within a while after, which was more extreme
than the other two. In this fire he prayed with a loud voice, Lord
Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit! And these were
the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the
mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips
went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with
his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with
the other, while the fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers'
ends, until by renewing the fire, his strength was gone, and his hand
clave fast in knocking to the iron upon his breast. Then immediately
bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.
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