Cuthbert Symson

Few professors of Christ possessed more activity and zeal than this

excellent person. He not only labored to preserve his friends from the

contagion of popery, but to guard them against the terrors of

persecution. He was deacon of the little congregation over which Mr.

Rough presided as minister.

Mr. Symson has written an account of his own sufferings, which we cannot

detail better than in his own words:<
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"On the 13th of December, 1557, I was committed by the council to the

tower of London. On the following Thursday, I was called into the

ware-room, before the constable of the tower, and the recorder of

London, Mr. Cholmly, who commanded me to inform them of the names of

those who came to the English service. I answered, that I would declare

nothing; in consequence of my refusal, I was set upon a rack of iron, as

I judge for the space of three hours!

"They then asked me if I would confess: I answered as before. After

being unbound, I was carried back to my lodging. The Sunday after I was

brought to the same place again, before the lieutenant and recorder of

London, and they examined me. As I had answered before, so I answered

now. Then the lieutenant swore by God I should tell; after which my two

fore-fingers were bound together, and a small arrow placed between them,

they drew it through so fast that the blood followed, and the arrow


"After enduring the rack twice again, I was retaken to my lodging, and

ten days after the lieutenant asked me if I would not now confess that

which they had before asked of me. I answered, that I had already said

as much as I would. Three weeks after I was sent to the priest, where I

was greatly assaulted, and at whose hand I received the pope's curse,

for bearing witness of the resurrection of Christ. And thus I commend

you to God, and to the word of his grace, with all those who unfeignedly

call upon the name of Jesus; desiring God of his endless mercy, through

the merits of his dear Son Jesus Christ, to bring us all to his

everlasting kingdom, Amen. I praise God for his great mercy shown upon

us. Sing Hosanna to the Highest with me, Cuthbert Symson. God forgive my

sins! I ask forgiveness of all the world, and I forgive all the world,

and thus I leave the world, in the hope of a joyful resurrection!"

If this account be duly considered, what a picture of repeated tortures

does it present! But, even the cruelty of the narration is exceeded by

the patient meekness with which it was endured. Here are no expressions

of malice, no invocations even of God's retributive justice, not a

complaint of suffering wrongfully! On the contrary, praise to God,

forgiveness of sin, and a forgiving all the world, concludes this

unaffected interesting narrative.

Bonner's admiration was excited by the steadfast coolness of this

martyr. Speaking of Mr. Symson in the consistory, he said, "You see what

a personable man he is, and then of his patience, I affirm, that, if he

were not a heretic, he is a man of the greatest patience that ever came

before me. Thrice in one day has he been racked in the tower: in my

house also he has felt sorrow, and yet never have I seen his patience


The day before this pious deacon was to be condemned, while in the

stocks in the bishop's coal-house, he had the vision of a glorified

form, which much encouraged him. This he certainly attested to his wife,

Mr. Austen, and others, before his death; but Mr. Fox, in reciting this

article, leaves it to the reader's judgment, to consider it either as a

natural or supernatural circumstance.

With this ornament of the Christian reformation were apprehended Mr.

Hugh Foxe and John Devinish; the three were brought before Bonner, March

19, 1558, and the papistical articles tendered. They rejected them, and

were all condemned. As they worshipped together in the same society, at

Islington, so they suffered together in Smithfield, March 28; in whose

death the God of Grace was glorified, and true believers confirmed!

Wm. Nichol, of Haverfordwest, Wales, was taken up for reprobating the

practice of the worshippers of antichrist, and April 9, 1558, bore

testimony to the truth at Haverfordwest, in Wales, by enduring the fire.