William Fetty Scourged To Death

Among the numberless enormities committed by the merciless and unfeeling

Bonner, the murder of this innocent and unoffending child may be ranked

as the most horrid. His father, John Fetty, of the parish of

Clerkenwell, by trade a tailor, and only twenty-four years of age, had

made a blessed election; he was fixed secure in eternal hope, and

depended on Him who so builds his church that the gates of hell shall

not preva
l against it. But alas! the very wife of his bosom, whose

heart was hardened against the truth, and whose mind was influenced by

the teachers of false doctrine, became his accuser. Brokenbery, a

creature of the pope, and parson of the parish, received the information

of this wedded Delilah, in consequence of which the poor man was

apprehended. But here the awful judgment of an ever-righteous God, "who

is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," fell upon this stone-hearted

and perfidious woman; for no sooner was the injured husband captured by

her wicked contriving, than she also was suddenly seized with madness,

and exhibited an awful and awakening instance of God's power to punish

the evil doer. This dreadful circumstance had some effect upon the

hearts of the ungodly hunters who had eagerly grasped their prey; but,

in a relenting moment, they suffered him to remain with his unworthy

wife, to return her good for evil, and to comfort two children, who, on

his being sent to prison, would have been left without a protector, or

have become a burden to the parish. As bad men act from little motives,

we may place the indulgence shown him to the latter account.

We have noticed in the former part of our narratives of the martyrs,

some whose affection would have led them even to sacrifice their own

lives, to preserve their husbands; but here, agreeable to Scripture

language, a mother proves, indeed, a monster in nature! Neither conjugal

nor maternal affection could impress the heart of this disgraceful


Although our afflicted Christian had experienced so much cruelty and

falsehood from the woman who was bound to him by every tie, both human

and divine, yet, with a mild and forbearing spirit, he overlooked her

misdeeds, during her calamity endeavouring all he could to procure

relief for her malady, and soothing her by every possible expression of

tenderness: thus she became in a few weeks nearly restored to her

senses. But, alas! she returned again to her sin, "as the dog returneth

to his vomit." Malice against the saints of the Most High was seated in

her heart too firmly to be removed; and as her strength returned, her

inclination to work wickedness returned with it. Her heart was hardened

by the prince of darkness; and to her may be applied these afflicting

and soul-harrowing words, "can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the

leopard his spots? then will they do good who are accustomed to do

evil." Weighing this text duly with another, "I will have mercy on whom

I will have mercy," how shall we presume to refine away the sovereignty

of God, by arraigning Jehovah at the bar of human reason, which, in

religious matters, is too often opposed by infinite wisdom? "Broad is

the way which leadeth to death, and many walk therein. Narrow is the way

which leadeth to life, and few there be who find it." The ways of heaven

are indeed inscrutable, and it is our bounden duty to walk ever

dependent on God, looking up to him with humble confidence, and hope in

his goodness, and ever confess his justice; and where we "cannot

unravel, there learn to trust." This wretched woman, pursuing the horrid

dictates of a heart hardened and depraved, was scarcely confirmed in her

recovery, when, stifling the dictates of honour, gratitude, and every

natural affection, she again accused her husband, who was once more

apprehended, and taken before Sir John Mordant, Knight, and one of queen

Mary's commissioners.

Upon examination, his judge finding him fixed to opinions which

militated against those nursed by superstition and maintained by cruelty

he was sentenced to confinement and torture in Lollard's Tower. "Here

(says honest Fox) he was put into the painful stocks, and had a dish of

water set by him, with a stone put into it, to what purpose God knoweth,

except it were to show that he should look for little other subsistence:

which is credible enough, if we consider their like practices upon

divers before mentioned in this history; as, among others, upon Richard

Smith, who died through their cruel imprisonment; touching whom, when a

godly woman came to Dr. Story to have leave that she might bury him, he

asked her if he had any straw or blood in his mouth; but what he means

thereby, I leave to the judgment of the wise."

On the first day of the third week of our martyr's sufferings, an object

presented itself to his view, which made him indeed feel his tortures

with all their force, and to execrate, with bitterness only short of

cursing, the author of his misery. To mark and punish the proceedings of

his tormentors, remained with the Most High, who noteth even the fall of

a sparrow, and in whose sacred word it is written, "Vengeance is mine,

and I will repay." This object was his own son, a child of the tender

age of eight years. For fifteen days, had its hapless father been

suspended by his tormentor by the right arm and left leg, and sometimes

by both, shifting his positions for the purpose of giving him strength

to bear and to lengthen the date of his sufferings. When the unoffending

innocent, desirous of seeing and speaking to its parent, applied to

Bonner for permission so to do, the poor child being asked by the

bishop's chaplain the purport of his errand, he replied, he wished to

see his father. "Who is thy father?" said the chaplain. "John Fetty,"

returned the boy, at the same time pointing to the place where he was

confined. The interrogating miscreant on this said, "Why, thy father is

a heretic!" The little champion again rejoined, with energy sufficient

to raise admiration in any breast, except that of this unprincipled and

unfeeling wretch--this miscreant, eager to execute the behests of a

remorseless queen--"My father is no heretic: for you have Balaam's


Irritated by reproach so aptly applied, the indignant and mortified

priest concealed his resentment for a moment, and took the undaunted boy

into the house, where, having him secure, he presented him to others,

whose baseness and cruelty being equal to his own, they stripped him to

the skin, and applied their scourges to so violent a degree, that,

fainting beneath the stripes inflicted on his tender frame, and covered

with the blood that flowed from them, the victim of their ungodly wrath

was ready to expire under his heavy and unmerited punishment.

In this bleeding and helpless state was the suffering infant, covered

only with his shirt, taken to his father by one of the actors in the

horrid tragedy, who, while he exhibited the heart-rending spectacle,

made use of the vilest taunts, and exulted in what he had done. The

dutiful child, as if recovering strength at the sight of his father, on

his knees implored his blessing. "Alas! Will," said the afflicted

parent, in trembling amazement, "who hath done this to thee!" The

artless innocent related the circumstances that led to the merciless

correction which had been so basely inflicted on him; but when he

repeated the reproof bestowed on the chaplain, and which was prompted by

an undaunted spirit, he was torn from his weeping parent, and conveyed

again to the house, where he remained a close prisoner.

Bonner, somewhat fearful that what had been done could not be justified

even among the bloodhounds of his own voracious pack, concluded in his

dark and wicked mind, to release John Fetty, for a time at least, from

the severities he was enduring in the glorious cause of everlasting

truth! whose bright rewards are fixed beyond the boundaries of time,

within the confines of eternity; where the arrow of the wicked cannot

wound, even "where there shall be no more sorrowing for the blessed,

who, in the mansion of eternal bliss shall glorify the Lamb forever and

ever." He was accordingly by order of Bonner, (how disgraceful to all

dignity, to say bishop!) liberated from the painful bonds, and led from

Lollard's Tower, to the chamber of that ungodly and infamous butcher,

where, says Fox, he found the bishop bathing himself before a great

fire; and at his first entering the chamber, Fetty said, "God be here

and peace!" "God be here and peace, (said Bonner,) that is neither God

speed nor good morrow!" "If ye kick against this peace, (said Fetty,)

then this is not the place that I seek for."

A chaplain of the bishop, standing by, turned the poor man about and

thinking to abash him, said, in mocking wise, "What have we here--a

player!" While Fetty was thus standing in the bishop's chamber, he

espied, hanging about the bishop's bed, a pair of great black beads,

whereupon he said, "My Lord, I think the hangman is not far off; for the

halter (pointing to the beads) is here already!" At which words the

bishop was in a marvellous rage. Then he immediately after espied also,

standing in the bishop's chamber, in the window, a little crucifix. Then

he asked the bishop what it was, and he answered, that it was Christ.

"Was he handled as cruelly as he is here pictured?" said Fetty. "Yea,

that he was," said the bishop. "And even so cruelly will you handle such

as come before you; for you are unto God's people as Caiaphas was unto

Christ!" The bishop, being in a great fury, said, "Thou art a vile

heretic, and I will burn thee, or else I will spend all I have, unto my

gown." "Nay, my Lord, (said Fetty) you were better to give it to some

poor body, that he may pray for you." Bonner, notwithstanding his

passion, which was raised to the utmost by the calm and pointed remarks

of this observing Christian, thought it most prudent to dismiss the

father, on account of the nearly murdered child. His coward soul

trembled for the consequences which might ensue; fear is inseparable

from little minds; and this dastardly pampered priest experienced its

effects so far as to induce him to assume the appearance of that he was

an utter stranger to, namely, MERCY.

The father, on being dismissed, by the tyrant Bonner, went home with a

heavy heart, with his dying child, who did not survive many days the

cruelties which had been inflicted on him. How contrary to the will of

our great King and Prophet, who mildly taught his followers, was the

conduct of this sanguinary and false teacher, this vile apostate from

his God to Satan! But the arch-fiend had taken entire possession of his

heart, and guided every action of the sinner he had hardened: who, given

up to terrible destruction, was running the race of the wicked, marking

his footsteps with the blood of the saints, as if eager to arrive at the

goal of eternal death.