This poor honest woman, blind from her birth, and unmarried, aged 22,
was of the parish of Allhallows, Derby. Her father was a barber, and
also made ropes for a living: in which she assisted him, and also
learned to knit several articles of apparel. Refusing to communicate
with those who maintained doctrines contrary to those she had learned in
the days of the pious Edward, she was called before Dr. Draicot, the
chancellor of bishop Blaine, and Peter Finch, official of Derby.
With sophistical arguments and threats they endeavoured to confound the
poor girl; but she proffered to yield to the bishop's doctrine, if he
would answer for her at the day of judgment, (as pious Dr. Taylor had
done in his sermons) that his belief of the real presence of the
sacrament was true. The bishop at first answered that he would; but Dr.
Draicot reminding him that he might not in any way answer for a heretic,
he withdrew his confirmation of his own tenets; and she replied, that if
their consciences would not permit them to answer at God's bar for that
truth they wished her to subscribe to, she would answer no more
questions. Sentence was then adjudged, and Dr. Draicot appointed to
preach her condemned sermon, which took place August 1, 1556, the day of
her martyrdom. His fulminating discourse being finished, the poor
sightless object was taken to a place called Windmill Pit, near the
town, where she for a time held her brother by the hand, and then
prepared herself for the fire, calling upon the pitying multitude to
pray with her, and upon Christ to have mercy upon her, till the glorious
light of the everlasting sun of righteousness beamed upon her departed
September 8, 1556, Edward Sharp, aged 40, was condemned at Bristol.
September 24, Thomas Ravendale, a currier, and John Hart, suffered at
Mayfield, in Essex; and on the day following, a young man, a carpenter,
died at Bristol with joyous constancy. September 27, John Horn, and a
female martyr suffered at Wooten-under-edge, Gloucestershire, professing
abjurgation of popery.
In November, fifteen martyrs were imprisoned in Canterbury castle, of
whom all were either burnt or famished. Among the latter were J. Clark,
D. Chittenden, W. Foster of Stone, Alice Potkins, and J. Archer, of
Cranbrooke, weaver. The two first of these had not received
condemnation, but the others were sentenced to the fire. Foster, at his
examination, observed upon the utility of carrying lighted candles about
on Candlemas-day, that he might as well carry a pitch fork; and that a
gibbet would have as good an effect as the cross.
We have now brought to a close the sanguinary proscriptions of the
merciless Mary, in the year 1556, the number of which amounted to above
The beginning of the year 1557, was remarkable for the visit of Cardinal
Pole to the University of Cambridge, which seemed to stand in need of
much cleansing from heretical preachers and reformed doctrines. One
object was also to play the popish farce of trying Martin Bucer and
Paulus Phagius, who had been buried about three or four years; for which
purpose the churches of St. Mary and St. Michael, where they lay, were
interdicted as vile and unholy places, unfit to worship God in, until
they were perfumed and washed with the Pope's holy water, &c. &c. The
trumpery act of citing these dead reformers to appear, not having had
the least effect upon them, on January 26, sentence of condemnation was
passed, part of which ran in this manner, and may serve as a specimen of
proceedings of this nature:--"We therefore pronounce the said Martin
Bucer and Paulus Phagius excommunicated and anathematized, as well by
the common law, as by letters of process; and that their memory be
condemned, we also condemn their bodies and bones (which in that wicked
time of schism, and other heresies flourishing in this kingdom, were
rashly buried in holy ground) to be dug up, and cast far from the bodies
and bones of the faithful, according to the holy canons; and we command
that they and their writings, if any be there found, be publicly burnt;
and we interdict all persons whatsoever of this university, town, or
places adjacent, who shall read or conceal their heretical book, as
well by the common law, as by our letters of process!"
After the sentence thus read, the bishop commanded their bodies to be
dug out of their graves, and being degraded from holy orders, delivered
them into the hands of the secular power; for it was not lawful for such
innocent persons as they were, abhorring all bloodshed, and detesting
all desire of murder, to put any man to death.
February 6, the bodies, enclosed as they were in chests, were carried
into the midst of the market place at Cambridge, accompanied by a vast
concourse of people. A great post was set fast in the ground, to which
the chests were affixed with a large iron chain, and bound round their
centres, in the same manner as if the dead bodies had been alive. When
the fire began to ascend, and caught the coffins, a number of condemned
books were also launched into the flames, and burnt. Justice, however,
was done to the memories of these pious and learned men in queen
Elizabeth's reign, when Mr. Ackworth, orator of the university, and Mr.
J. Pilkington, pronounced orations in honour of their memory, and in
reprobation of their catholic persecutors.
Cardinal Cole also inflicted his harmless rage upon the dead body of
Peter Martyr's wife, who, by his command, was dug out of her grave, and
buried on a distant dunghill, partly because her bones lay near St.
Fridewide's relics, held once in great esteem in that college, and
partly because he wished to purify Oxford of heretical remains as well
as Cambridge. In the succeeding reign, however, her remains were
restored to their former cemetary, and even intermingled with those of
the catholic saint, to the utter astonishment and mortification of the
disciples of his holiness the pope.
Cardinal Cole published a list of fifty-four Articles, containing
instructions to the clergy of his diocess of Canterbury, some of which
are too ludicrous and puerile to excite any other sentiment than
laughter in these days.
Jerom Of Prague John Calvin