Rev John Bradford And John Leaf An Apprentice

Rev. John Bradford was born at Manchester, in Lancashire; he was a good

Latin scholar, and afterward became a servant of Sir John Harrington,


He continued several years in an honest and thriving way; but the Lord

had elected him to a better function. Hence he departed from his master,

quitting the Temple, at London, for the university of Cambridge, to

learn, by God's law, how to further the buildi
g of the Lord's temple.

In a few years after, the university gave him the degree of master of

arts, and he became a fellow of Pembroke Hall.

Martin Bucer first urged him to preach, and when he modestly doubted his

ability, Bucer was wont to reply, If thou hast not fine wheat bread, yet

give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord hath

committed unto thee. Dr. Ridley, that worthy bishop of London, and

glorious martyr of Christ, first called him to take the degree of a

deacon and gave him a prebend in his cathedral church of St. Paul.

In this preaching office Mr. Bradford diligently laboured for the space

of three years. Sharply he reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ

crucified, ably he disproved heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded

to godly life. After the death of blessed king Edward VI. Mr. Bradford

still continued diligent in preaching, till he was suppressed by queen

Mary. An act now followed of the blackest ingratitude, and at which a

Pagan would blush. It has been recited, that a tumult was occasioned by

Mr. Bourne's (then bishop of Bath) preaching at St. Paul's Cross; the

indignation of the people placed his life in imminent danger; indeed a

dagger was thrown at him. In this situation he entreated Mr. Bradford,

who stood behind him, to speak in his place, and assuage the tumult. The

people welcomed Mr. Bradford, and the latter afterward kept close to

him, that his presence might prevent the populace from renewing their


The same Sunday in the afternoon, Mr. Bradford preached at Bow church in

Cheapside, and reproved the people sharply for their seditious

misdemeanor. Notwithstanding this conduct, within three days after, he

was sent for to the tower of London, where the queen then was, to appear

before the council. There he was charged with this act of saving Mr.

Bourne, which was called seditious, and they also objected against him

for preaching. Thus he was committed, first to the Tower, then to other

prisons, and, after his condemnation, to the Poultry Compter, where he

preached twice a day continually, unless sickness hindered him. Such was

his credit with the keeper of the king's Bench, that he permitted him in

an evening to visit a poor, sick person near the Steel-yard, upon his

promise to return in time, and in this he never failed.

The night before he was sent to Newgate, he was troubled in his sleep by

foreboding dreams, that on Monday after he should be burned in

Smithfield. In the afternoon the keeper's wife came up and announced

this dreadful news to him, but in him it excited only thankfulness to

God. At night, half a dozen friends came, with whom he spent all the

evening in prayer and godly exercises.

When he was removed to Newgate, a weeping crowd accompanied him, and a

rumor having been spread that he was to suffer at four the next morning,

an immense multitude attended. At nine o'clock Mr. Bradford was brought

into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his

brother-in-law, Roger Beswick, having taken him by the hand as he

passed, Mr. Woodroffe, with his staff, cut his head open.

Mr. Bradford, being come to the place, fell flat on the ground, secretly

making his prayers to Almighty God. Then, rising again, and putting off

his clothes unto the shirt, he went to the stake, and there suffered

with a young man of twenty years of age, whose name was John Leaf, an

apprentice to Mr. Humphry Gaudy, tallow-chandler, of Christ-church,

London. Upon Friday before Palm Sunday, he was committed to the Compter

in Bread-street, and afterward examined and condemned by the bloody


It is reported of him, that, when the bill of his confession was read

unto him, instead of pen, he took a pin, and pricking his hand,

sprinkled the blood upon the said bill, desiring the reader thereof to

show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already.

They both ended this mortal life, July 12th, 1555, like two lambs,

without any alteration of their countenances, hoping to obtain that

prize they had long run for; to which may Almighty God conduct us all,

through the merits of Christ our Saviour! We shall conclude this article

with mentioning, that Mr. Sheriff Woodroffe, it is said, within half a

year after, was struck on the right side with a palsy and for the space

of eight years after, (till his dying day) he was unable to turn

himself in his bed; thus he became at last a fearful object to behold.

The day after Mr. Bradford and John Leaf suffered in Smithfield, William

Minge, priest, died in prison at Maidstone. With as great constancy and

boldness he yielded up his life in prison, as if it had pleased God to

have called him to suffer by fire, as other godly men had done before at

the stake, and as he himself was ready to do, had it pleased God to have

called him to this trial.