Rev Julius Palmer
This gentleman's life presents a singular instance of error and
conversion. In the time of Edward, he was a rigid and obstinate papist,
so adverse to godly and sincere preaching, that he was even despised by
his own party; that this frame of mind should be changed, and he suffer
persecution and death in queen Mary's reign, are among those events of
omnipotence at which we wonder and admire.
Mr. Palmer was
born at Coventry, where his father had been mayor. Being
afterward removed to Oxford, he became, under Mr. Harley, of Magdalen
college, an elegant Latin and Greek scholar. He was fond of useful
disputation, possessed of a lively wit, and a strong memory.
Indefatigable in private study, he rose at four in the morning, and by
this practice qualified himself to become reader in logic in Magdalen
college. The times of Edward, however, favouring the reformation, Mr.
Palmer became frequently punished for his contempt of prayer and orderly
behaviour, and was at length expelled the house.
He afterwards embraced the doctrines of the reformation, which
occasioned his arrest and final condemnation. He was tried on the 15th
of July, 1556, together with one Thomas Askin, a fellow-prisoner. Askin
and one John Guin had been sentenced the day before, and Mr. Palmer, on
the 15th, was brought up for final judgment.--Execution was ordered to
follow the sentence, and at five o'clock in the same afternoon, at a
place called the Sand-pits, these three martyrs were fastened to a
stake. After devoutly praying together, they sung the 31st psalm. When
the fire was kindled, and it had seized their bodies, without an
appearance of enduring pain, they continued to cry, Lord Jesus,
strengthen us! Lord Jesus receive our souls! till animation was
suspended and human suffering was past. It is remarkable, that, when
their heads had fallen together in a mass as it were by the force of the
flames, and the spectators thought Palmer was lifeless, his tongue and
lips again moved, and were heard to pronounce the name of Jesus, to whom
be glory and honour forever!
About this time, three women were burnt in the island of Guernsey, under
circumstances of aggravated cruelty, whose names were, Catherine
Cauches, and her two daughters, Mrs. Perotine Massey, and Guillemine
The day of execution having arrived, three stakes were erected: the
middle post was assigned to the mother, the eldest daughter on her right
hand, and the younger on the left. They were strangled previous to
burning, but the rope breaking before they were dead, the poor women
fell into the fire. Perotine, at the time of her inhuman sentence, was
largely pregnant, and now, falling on her side upon the flaming fagots,
presented a singular spectacle of horror!--Torn open by the tremendous
pangs she endured, she was delivered of a fine male child, who was
rescued from its burning bed by the humanity of one W. House, who
tenderly laid it on the grass. The infant was taken to the provost, and
by him presented to the bailiff, when the inhuman monster decreed it to
be re-cast into the fire, that it might perish with its heretical
mother! Thus was this innocent baptised in its own blood, to make up the
very climax of Romish barbarity; being born and dying at the same time a
martyr; and realizing again the days of Herodian cruelty, with
circumstances of bigoted malice unknown even to that execrable murderer.
Their execution took place, July 18, 1556. On the same day, were burnt
at Grinstead, in Sussex, Thomas Dungate, John Foreman, and Mother Tree.
June 26, 1556, at Leicester, was executed Thomas Moor, a servant, aged
24 years, who was taken up for saying that his Saviour was in Paradise,
and not in the popish paste or wafer.