Mrs Joyce Lewes

This lady was the wife of Mr. T. Lewes, of Manchester. She had received

the Romish religion as true, till the burning of that pious martyr, the

Rev. Mr. Saunders, at Coventry. Understanding that his death arose from

a refusal to receive the mass, she began to inquire into the ground of

his refusal, and her conscience, as it began to be enlightened, became

restless and alarmed. In this inquietude, she resorted to Mr. John

> Glover, who lived near, and requested that he would unfold those rich

sources of gospel knowledge he possessed, particularly upon the subject

of transubstantiation. He easily succeeded in convincing her that the

mummery of popery and the mass were at variance with God's most holy

word, and honestly reproved her for following too much the vanities of a

wicked world. It was to her indeed a word in season, for she soon become

weary of her former sinful life, and resolved to abandon the mass and

idolatrous worship. Though compelled by her husband's violence to go to

church, her contempt of the holy water and other ceremonies were so

manifest, that she was accused before the bishop for despising the


A citation, addressed to her, immediately followed, which was given to

Mr. Lewes, who, in a fit of passion, held a dagger to the throat of the

officer, and made him eat it, after which he caused him to drink it

down, and then sent him away. But for this the bishop summoned Mr. Lewes

before him as well as his wife; the former readily submitted, but the

latter resolutely affirmed, that, in refusing holy water, she neither

offended God, nor any part of his laws. She was sent home for a month,

her husband being bound for her appearance, during which time Mr. Glover

impressed upon her the necessity of doing what she did, not from

self-vanity, but for the honour and glory of God.

Mr. Glover and others earnestly exhorted Lewes to forfeit the money he

was bound in, rather than subject his wife to certain death; but he was

deaf to the voice of humanity, and delivered her over to the bishop, who

soon found a sufficient cause to consign her to a loathsome prison,

whence she was several times brought for examination. At the last time

the bishop reasoned with her upon the fitness of her coming to mass, and

receiving as sacred the sacrament and sacramentals of the Holy Ghost.

"If these things were in the word of God," said Mrs. Lewes, "I would

with all my heart receive, believe, and esteem them." The bishop, with

the most ignorant and impious effrontery, replied, "If thou wilt believe

no more than what is warranted by scripture, thou art in a state of

damnation!" Astonished at such a declaration, this worthy sufferer ably

rejoined, "that his words were as impure, as they were profane."

After condemnation, she lay a twelvemonth in prison, the sheriff not

being willing to put her to death in his time, though he had been but

just chosen. When her death warrant came from London, she sent for some

friends, whom she consulted in what manner her death might be more

glorious to the name of God, and injurious to the cause of God's

enemies. Smilingly, she said, "As for death, I think but lightly of.

When I know that I shall behold the amiable countenance of Christ my

dear Saviour, the ugly face of death does not much trouble me." The

evening before she suffered, two priests were anxious to visit her, but

she refused both their confession and absolution, when she could hold a

better communication with the High Priest of souls. About three o'clock

in the morning, Satan began to shoot his fiery darts, by putting into

her mind to doubt whether she was chosen to eternal life, and Christ

died for her. Her friends readily pointed out to her those consolatory

passages of Scripture which comfort the fainting heart, and treat of the

Redeemer who taketh away the sins of the world.

About eight o'clock the sheriff announced to her that she had but an

hour to live; she was at first cast down, but this soon passed away, and

she thanked God that her life was about to be devoted to his service.

The sheriff granted permission for two friends to accompany her to the

stake--an indulgence for which he was afterward severely handled. Mr.

Reniger and Mr. Bernher led her to the place of execution; in going to

which, from its distance, her great weakness, and the press of the

people, she had nearly fainted. Three times she prayed fervently that

God would deliver the land from popery and the idolatrous mass; and the

people for the most part, as well as the sheriff, said Amen.

When she had prayed, she took the cup, (which had been filled with water

to refresh her,) and said, I drink to all them that unfeignedly love the

gospel of Christ, and wish for the abolition of popery. Her friends, and

a great many women of the place, drank with her, for which most of them

afterward were enjoined penance.

When chained to the stake, her countenance was cheerful, and the roses

of her cheeks were not abated. Her hands were extended towards heaven

till the fire rendered them powerless, when her soul was received into

the arms of the Creator. The duration of her agony was but short, as the

under-sheriff, at the request of her friends, had prepared such

excellent fuel that she was in a few minutes overwhelmed with smoke and

flame. The case of this lady drew a tear of pity from every one who had

a heart not callous to humanity.