Persecutions In England During The Reign Of Queen Mary

The premature death of that celebrated young monarch, Edward the Sixth,

occasioned the most extraordinary and wonderful occurrences, which had

ever existed from the times of our blessed Lord and Saviour's

incarnation in human shape. This melancholy event became speedily a

subject of general regret. The succession to the British throne was soon

made a matter of contention; and the scenes which ensued were a

of the serious affliction which the kingdom was involved

in. As his loss to the nation was more and more unfolded, the

remembrance of his government was more and more the basis of grateful

recollection. The very awful prospect, which was soon presented to the

friends of Edward's administration, under the direction of his

counsellors and servants, was a contemplation which the reflecting mind

was compelled to regard with most alarming apprehensions. The rapid

approaches which were made towards a total reversion of the proceedings

of the young king's reign, denoted the advances which were thereby

represented to an entire revolution in the management of public affairs

both in church and state.

Alarmed for the condition in which the kingdom was likely to be involved

by the king's death, an endeavour to prevent the consequences, which

were but too plainly foreseen, was productive of the most serious and

fatal effects. The king, in his long and lingering affliction, was

induced to make a will, by which he bequeathed the English crown to lady

Jane, the daughter of the duke of Suffolk, who had been married to the

lord Guilford, the son of the duke of Northumberland, and was the

grand-daughter of the second sister of king Henry, by Charles, duke of

Suffolk. By this will, the succession of Mary and Elizabeth, his two

sisters, was entirely superseded, from an apprehension of the returning

system of popery; and the king's council, with the chief of the

nobility, the lord-mayor of the city of London, and almost all the

judges and the principal lawyers of the realm, subscribed their names to

this regulation, as a sanction to the measure. Lord chief justice Hale,

though a true protestant and an upright judge, alone declined to unite

his name in favour of the lady Jane, because he had already signified

his opinion, that Mary was entitled to assume the reins of government.

Others objected to Mary's being placed on the throne, on account of

their fears that she might marry a foreigner, and thereby bring the

crown into considerable danger. Her partiality to popery also left

little doubt on the minds of any, that she would be induced to revive

the dormant interests of the pope, and change the religion which had

been used both in the days of her father, king Henry, and in those of

her brother Edward: for in all his time she had manifested the greatest

stubbornness and inflexibility of temper, as must be obvious from her

letter to the lords of the council, whereby she put in her claim to the

crown, on her brother's decease.

When this happened, the nobles, who had associated to prevent Mary's

succession, and had been instrumental in promoting, and, perhaps,

advising the measures of Edward, speedily proceeded to proclaim lady

Jane Gray, to be queen of England, in the city of London and various

other populous cities of the realm. Though young, she possessed talents

of a very superior nature, and her improvements under a most excellent

tutor had given her many very great advantages.

Her reign was of only five days continuance, for Mary, having succeeded

by false promises in obtaining the crown, speedily commenced the

execution of her avowed intention of extirpating and burning every

protestant. She was crowned at Westminister in the usual form, and her

elevation was the signal for the commencement of the bloody persecution

which followed.

Having obtained the sword of authority, she was not sparing in its

exercise. The supporters of Lady Jane Gray were destined to feel its

force. The duke of Northumberland was the first who experienced her

savage resentment. Within a month after his confinement in the Tower, he

was condemned, and brought to the scaffold, to suffer as a traitor. From

his various crimes, resulting out of a sordid and inordinate ambition,

he died unpitied and unlamented.

The changes, which followed with rapidity, unequivocally declared, that

the queen was disaffected to the present state of religion.--Dr. Poynet

was displaced to make room for Gardiner to be bishop of Winchester, to

whom she also gave the important office of lord-chancellor. Dr. Ridley

was dismissed from the see of London, and Bonne introduced. J. Story

was put out of the bishopric of Chichester, to admit Dr. Day. J. Hooper

was sent prisoner to the Fleet, and Dr. Heath put into the see of

Worcester. Miles Coverdale was also excluded from Exeter, and Dr. Vesie

placed in that diocess. Dr. Tonstall was also promoted to the see of

Durham. "These things being marked and perceived, great heaviness and

discomfort grew more and more to all good men's hearts; but to the

wicked great rejoicing. They that could dissemble took no great care how

the matter went; but such, whose consciences were joined with the truth,

perceived already coals to be kindled, which after should be the

destruction of many a true christian."