The Life And Conduct Of Dr Rowland Taylor Of Hadley
Dr. Rowland Taylor, vicar of Hadley, in Suffolk, was a man of eminent
learning, and had been admitted to the degree of doctor of the civil and
His attachment to the pure and uncorrupted principles of christianity
recommended him to the favour and friendship of Dr. Cranmer, archbishop
of Canterbury, with whom he lived a considerable time, till through his
interest he obtained the living of Hadley.
Dr. Taylor promoted the interest of the great Redeemer, and the souls of
mankind, both by his preaching and example, during the time of king
Edward VI. but on his demise, and the succession of queen Mary to the
throne, he escaped not the cloud that burst on so many beside; for two
of his parishioners, Foster, an attorney, and Clark, a tradesman, out of
blind zeal, resolved that mass should be celebrated, in all its
superstitious forms, in the parish church of Hadley, on Monday before
Easter; this Dr. Taylor, entering the church, strictly forbade; but
Clark forced the Doctor out of the church, celebrated mass, and
immediately informed the lord-chancellor, bishop of Winchester of his
behaviour, who summoned him to appear, and answer the complaints that
were alleged against him.
The doctor upon the receipt of the summons, cheerfully prepared to obey
the same; and rejected the advice of his friends to fly beyond sea. When
Gardiner saw Dr. Taylor, he, according to his common custom, reviled
him. Dr. Taylor heard his abuse patiently, and when the bishop said, How
darest thou look me in the face! knowest thou not who I am? Dr. Taylor
replied, You are Dr. Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and
lord-chancellor, and yet but a mortal man. But if I should be afraid of
your lordly looks, why fear ye not God, the Lord of us all? With what
countenance will you appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, and
answer to your oath made first unto king Henry the Eighth, and afterward
unto king Edward the Sixth, his son?
A long conversation ensued, in which Dr. Taylor was so piously collected
and severe upon his antagonist, that he exclaimed, Thou art a
blasphemous heretic! Thou indeed blasphemist the blessed sacrament,
(here he put off his cap) and speakest against the holy mass, which is
made a sacrifice for the quick and the dead. The bishop afterward
committed him into the king's bench.
When Dr. Taylor came there, he found the virtuous and vigilant preacher
of God's word, Mr. Bradford; who equally thanked God that he had
provided him with such a comfortable fellow-prisoner; and they both
together praised God, and continued in prayer, reading and exhorting one
After that Dr. Taylor had lain some time in prison, he was cited to
appear in the arches of Bow-church.
Dr. Taylor being condemned, was committed to the Clink, and the keepers
were charged to treat him roughly; at night he was removed to the
When Dr. Taylor had lain in the Compter about a week, on the 4th of
February, Bonner came to degrade him, bringing with him such ornaments
as appertained to the massing mummery; but the Doctor refused these
trappings till they were forced upon him.
The night after he was degraded, his wife came with John Hull, his
servant, and his son Thomas, and were by the gentleness of the keepers
permitted to sup with him.
After supper, walking up and down, he gave God thanks for his grace,
that had so called him and given him strength to abide by his holy word
and turning to his son Thomas, he exhorted him to piety and filial
obedience in the most earnest manner.
Dr. Taylor, about two o'clock in the morning, was conveyed to the
Woolpack, Aldgate, and had an affecting interview with his wife and
daughter, and a female orphan he had brought up who had waited all night
in St. Botolph's porch, to see him pass, before being delivered to the
sheriff of Essex. On coming out of the gates, John Hull, his good
servant, stood at the rails with Thomas, (Dr. Taylor's son.) This, said
he, is my own son. Then he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed for
his son and blessed him.
At Chelmsford the sheriff of Suffolk met them, there to receive him, and
to carry him into Suffolk. Being at supper, the sheriff of Essex very
earnestly besought him to return to the popish religion, thinking with
fair words to persuade him. When they had all drunk to him, and the cup
was come to him, he said, Mr. Sheriff, and my masters all, I heartily
thank you for your good will. I have hearkened to your words, and marked
well your counsels. And to be plain with you, I perceive that I have
been deceived myself, and am like to deceive a great many in Hadley of
their expectations. At these words they all rejoiced, but the Doctor had
a meaning very remote from theirs. He alluded to the disappointment that
the worms would have in not being able to feast upon his portly and
goodly body, which they would have done if, instead of being burnt, he
had been buried.
When the sheriff and his company heard him speak thus, they were amazed,
marvelling at the constant mind that could thus without fear make a jest
of the cruel torments and death now at hand, prepared for him. At
Chelmsford he was delivered to the sheriff of Suffolk, and by him
conducted to Hadley.
When Dr. Taylor had arrived at Aldham-Common, the place where he should
suffer, seeing a great multitude of people, he asked, What place is
this, and what meaneth it that so much people are gathered hither? It
was answered, It is Aldham-Common, the place where you must suffer; and
the people are come to look upon you. Then he said, Thanked be God, I am
even at home; and he alighted from his horse and with both hands rent
the hood from his head.
His head had been notched and clipped like as a man would clip a fool's;
which cost the good bishop Bonner had bestowed upon him. But when the
people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long white beard, they
burst out with weeping tears, and cried, saying, God save thee, good Dr.
Taylor! Jesus Christ strengthen thee, and help thee! the Holy Ghost
comfort thee! with such other like good wishes.
When he had prayed, he went to the stake and kissed it, and set himself
into a pitch barrel, which they had put for him to stand in, and stood
with his back upright against the stake, with his hands folded together,
and his eyes towards heaven, and continually prayed.
They then bound him with the chains, and having set up the fagots, one
Warwick cruelly cast a fagot at him which struck him on his head, and
cut his face, so that the blood ran down. Then said Dr. Taylor, O
friend, I have harm enough, what needed that?
Sir John Shelton standing by, as Dr. Taylor was speaking, and saying the
psalm Miserere in English, struck him on the lips: You knave, said he,
speak Latin: I will make thee. At last they kindled the fire; and Dr.
Taylor holding up both his hands, calling upon God, and said, Merciful
Father of heaven! for Jesus Christ, my Saviour's sake, receive my soul
into thy hands! So he stood still without either crying or moving, with
his hands folded together, till Soyce, with a halberd struck him on the
head till his brains fell out, and the corpse fell down into the fire.
Thus rendered up this man of God his blessed soul into the hands of his
merciful Father, and to his most dear Saviour Jesus Christ, whom he most
entirely loved, faithfully and earnestly preached, obediently followed
in living, and constantly glorified in death.
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