Mr William Flower
William Flower, otherwise Branch, was born at Snow-hill, in the county
of Cambridge, where he went to school some years, and then came to the
abbey of Ely. After he had remained a while he became a professed monk,
was made a priest in the same house, and there celebrated and sang mass.
After that, by reason of a visitation, and certain injunctions by the
authority of Henry VIII he took upon him the habit of a secular priest,
and returned to Snow-hill, where he was born, and taught children about
half a year.
He then went to Ludgate, in Suffolk, and served as a secular priest
about a quarter of a year; from thence to Stoniland; at length to
Tewksbury, where he married a wife, with whom he ever after faithfully
and honestly continued: after marriage he resided at Tewksbury about two
years, and from thence went to Brosley, where he practised physic and
surgery; but departing from those parts, he came to London, and finally
settled at Lambeth, where he and his wife dwelt together: however, he
was generally abroad, excepting once or twice in a month, to visit and
see his wife. Being at home upon Easter Sunday morning, he came over the
water from Lambeth into St. Margaret's church at Westminster; when
seeing a priest, named John Celtham, administering and giving the
sacrament of the altar to the people, and being greatly offended in his
conscience with the priest for the same, he struck and wounded him upon
the head, and also upon the arm and hand, with his wood knife, the
priest having at the same time in his hand a chalice with the
consecrated host therein, which became sprinkled with blood.
Mr. Flower, for this injudicious zeal, was heavily ironed, and put into
the gatehouse at Westminster; and afterward summoned before bishop
Bonner and his ordinary, where the bishop, after he had sworn him upon a
book, ministered articles and interrogations to him.
After examination, the bishop began to exhort him again to return to the
unity of his mother the catholic church, with many fair promises. These
Mr. Flower steadfastly rejecting, the bishop ordered him to appear in
the same place in the afternoon, and in the mean time to consider well
his former answer; but he, neither apologizing for having struck the
priest, nor swerving from his faith, the bishop assigned him the next
day, April 20th, to receive sentence, if he would not recant. The next
morning, the bishop accordingly proceeded to the sentence, condemning
and excommunicating him for a heretic, and after pronouncing him to be
degraded, committed him to the secular power.
April 24, St. Mark's eve, he was brought to the place of martyrdom, in
St. Margaret's churchyard, Westminster, where the fact was committed:
and there coming to the stake, he prayed to Almighty God, made a
confession of his faith, and forgave all the world.
This done, his hand was held up against the stake, and struck off, his
left hand being fastened behind him. Fire was then set to him and he
burning therein, cried with it loud voice, O thou Son of God, have mercy
upon me! O thou Son of God, receive my soul! three times; his speech
being now taken from him, he spoke no more, but notwithstanding he
lifted up the stump with his other arm as long as he could.
Thus he endured the extremity of the fire, and was cruelly tortured for
the few fagots that were brought being insufficient to burn him, they
were compelled to strike him down into the fire, where lying along upon
the ground, his lower part was consumed in the fire, whilst his upper
part was little injured, his tongue moving in his mouth for a