The History Imprisonment And Examinations Of Mr John Hooper Bishop Of Worcester And Gloucester

John Hooper, student and graduate in the university of Oxford, was

stirred with such fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the

scriptures, that he was compelled to remove from thence, and was

retained in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel, as his steward, till Sir

Thomas had intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no

case did favour, though he exceedingly favoured his person and

condition, and wished
o be his friend. Mr. Hooper now prudently left

Sir Thomas' house and arrived at Paris, but in a short time returned

into England, and was retained by Mr. Sentlow, till the time that he was

again molested and sought for, when he passed through France to the

higher parts of Germany; where, commencing acquaintance with learned

men, he was by them free and lovingly entertained, both at Basil, and

especially at Zurich, by Mr. Bullinger, who was his singular friend;

here also he married his wife, who was a Burgonian, and applied very

studiously to the Hebrew tongue.

At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the six

articles, and to give us king Edward to reign over this realm, with some

peace and rest unto the church, amongst many other English exiles, who

then repaired homeward, Mr. Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought

not to absent himself, but seeing such a time and occasion, offered to

help forward the Lord's work, to the uttermost of his ability.

When Mr. Hooper had taken his farewell of Mr. Bullinger, and his friends

in Zurich, he repaired again into England in the reign of king Edward

the Sixth, and coming to London, used continually to preach, most times

twice, or at least once a day.

In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin,

and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and the corrupt

abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies daily

came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus'

harp, insomuch, that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would

be so full, that none could enter further than the doors thereof. In his

doctrine, he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the scriptures,

perfect, in pains indefatigable, in his life exemplary.

Having preached before the king's majesty, he was soon after made bishop

of Gloucester. In that office he continued two years, and behaved

himself so well, that his very enemies could find no fault with him, and

after that he was made bishop of Worcester.

Dr. Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor for

the space of two years and more, so long as the state of religion in

king Edward's time was sound and flourishing.

After he had been cited to appear before Bonner and Dr. Heath, he was

led to the Council, accused falsely of owing the queen money, and in the

next year, 1554, he wrote an account of his severe treatment during

near eighteen months' confinement to the Fleet, and after his third

examination, January 28, 1555, at St. Mary Overy's, he, with the Rev.

Mr. Rogers, was conducted to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain

till the next day at nine o'clock, to see whether they would recant.

Come, brother Rogers, said Dr. Hooper, must we two take this matter

first in hand, and begin to fry in these fagots? Yes, Doctor, said Mr.

Rogers, by God's grace. Doubt not, said Dr. Hooper, but God will give us

strength; and the people so applauded their constancy, that they had

much ado to pass.

January 29, bishop Hooper was degraded and condemned, and the Rev. Mr.

Rogers was treated in like manner. At dark, Dr. Hooper was led through

the city to Newgate; notwithstanding this secrecy, many people came

forth to their doors with lights, and saluted him, praising God for his


During the few days he was in Newgate, he was frequently visited by

Bonner and others, but without avail. As Christ was tempted, so they

tempted him, and then maliciously reported that he had recanted. The

place of his martyrdom being fixed at Gloucester, he rejoiced very much,

lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and praising God that he saw it

good to send him among the people over whom he was pastor, there to

confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them.

On Feb. 7th, he came to Gloucester, about five o'clock, and lodged at

one Ingram's house. After his first sleep, he continued in prayer until

morning; and all the day, except a little time at his meals, and when

conversing with such as the guard kindly permitted to speak to him, he

spent in prayer.

Sir Anthony Kingston, at one time Doctor Hooper's good friend, was

appointed by the queen's letters to attend at his execution. As soon as

he saw the bishop he burst into tears. With tender entreaties he

exhorted him to live. "True it is," said the bishop, "that death is

bitter, and life is sweet: but alas! consider that the death to come is

more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet."

The same day a blind boy obtained leave to be brought into Dr. Hooper's

presence. The same boy, not long before, had suffered imprisonment at

Gloucester for confessing the truth. "Ah! poor boy," said the bishop,

"though God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what reason he

best knoweth, yet he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and

of faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou

lose not that sight, for then wouldst thou indeed be blind both in body

and soul."

When the mayor waited upon him preparatory to his execution, he

expressed his perfect obedience, and only requested that a quick fire

might terminate his torments. After he had got up in the morning, he

desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he

might be solitary till the hour of execution.

About eight o'clock, on February 9, 1555, he was led forth, and many

thousand persons were collected, as it was market-day. All the way,

being straitly charged not to speak, and beholding the people who

mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards

heaven, and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never

known, during the time of his being among them, to look with so cheerful

and ruddy a countenance as he did at that time. When he came to the

place appointed where he should die, he smilingly beheld the stake and

preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm-tree over

against the college of priests, where he used to preach.

Now, after he had entered into prayer, a box was brought and laid before

him upon a stool, with his pardon from the queen, if he would turn. At

the sight whereof he cried, If you love my soul away with it. The box

being taken away, lord Chandois said, Seeing there is no remedy,

despatch him quickly.

Command was now given that the fire should be kindled. But because there

were not more green fagots than two horses could carry, it kindled not

speedily, and was a pretty while also before it took the reeds upon the

fagots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full strength

at that place, and being a lowering cold morning, it blew the flame from

him, so that he was in a manner little more than touched by the fire.

Within a space after, a few dry fagots were brought, and a new fire

kindled with fagots, (for there were no more reeds) and those burned at

the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the wind, saving

that it burnt his hair, and scorched his skin a little. In the time of

which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly, and

not very loud, but as one without pain, O Jesus, Son of David, have

mercy upon me, and receive my soul! After the second fire was spent, he

wiped both his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said

with an indifferent loud voice, For God's love, good people, let me have

more fire! and all this while his nether parts did burn; but the fagots

were so few, that the flame only singed his upper parts.

The third fire was kindled within a while after, which was more extreme

than the other two. In this fire he prayed with a loud voice, Lord

Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit! And these were

the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the

mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips

went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with

his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with

the other, while the fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers'

ends, until by renewing the fire, his strength was gone, and his hand

clave fast in knocking to the iron upon his breast. Then immediately

bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.