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sent thereto. I assure you, my lord, I am a true subject, and obedient to her majesty, and her laws, in any thing which may not hurt my conscience : but to say that I will go to church, I never will. Yea, rather than your lordships should have any light suspicion of me of such a consent, take my first answer as it is ; there is my hand, here is my whole body, most ready I am, and willing, to seal it with my blood. We were told, said one of the judges, you were a simple young man, and willing to recant; but we see now, thou art a resolute, wilful fellow, and there is no remedy, but law must proceed. Let me have law, in the name of Jesus : God's will be done.
• The next day, being Thursday, we went again to the sessions at St. Margaret's Hill, where about two in the afternoon, I was called to the bar. About an hour after, I was called again, and bidden to hold up my hand; which I did. My indictment was read, and it was a sharp one. Then my lord bid me speak: and I answered, briefly, in this manner :
Ist. Whereas, I am charged in my indictment, that I was reconciled; it is very true ; to God Almighty I so was, and I think lawfully might be ; and, as I remember, it is also allowed in your book of common prayer, in the visitation of the sick, that if any man find himself burthened in conscience, he should make his confession to the minister; which confession manifesteth a breach between God and his soul; and, by this humble confession, he craveth pardon of his sins, and reconciliation to God again, by the hands of his minister.
2dly. Whereas, I am charged, that I was reconciled from my obedience to her majesty, and to the Romish religion. I will depose the contrary ; for I was never reconciled from any obedience to my princess, for I obey her still ; nor to any religion, for although I sometimes went to church against my will, yet was I never of any other religion than the catholic, and therefore needed no reconciliation to religion.
3dly. Whereas, in my former answers, I said I went to church, it is true, for fear of temporal punishment I so did, but never minded 10 fall from the old religion, and therefore needed no reconciliation.
4thly and lastly. I humbly beseech your good lordships, as you will answer it before God, to explicate the meaning of the statute to the jury : if the meaning thereof be to make it treason for a man fallen into the displeasure of God, through his sins, to be reconciled to God again, by him to whom God hath committed the authority of reconciliation ? if this be treason, God's will be done.
• Then said both the judges, it was by a Romish priest, and therefore treason. I answered, it was by a catholic priest, who had the liberty of the prison, and was free for any man to come to him to relieve him; and, therefore, by the statute, no treason. Again, my lords, if it be not inquired of within a year and a day, there can be no advantage taken against me by this statute, if you wrong me not. Whereto replied one that sat under the judge; all this will not serve thy turn, for the jury must find it treason. Nay then, Sir, said I, if it must be, let it be ; God's will be done. Then said justice Gaudy her majesty and her laws are merciful ; if you will yet conform yourself, and say here, before the jury go forth, that you will go to church, we will proceed no farther. My lord, said I, if that be all the offence I have committed, as I know it is ; and if there be no other way but going to church to help it, I would not wish your lordship to think I have, (as I hope,) risen thus many steps towards heaven, and now will, wilfully, let my foot slip, and fall into the bottomless pit of hell. I hope in Jesus, he will strengthen me rather to suffer a thousand deaths, if I had so many lives to lose. Let your law proceed. Then, said the judge to the jury, you must consider of it; you see what is said ; you cannot but find it treason by the law. And so they went forth, and stood not long to think upon the matter, but came again, and I was called and bidden again hold up my hand : they bid the jury look on the prisoner, whether he is guilty or no? and who shall speak for you? they all said, the foreman. He spoke so softly, that I could not hear him. I willed him to speak up, and not be afraid. "Then he said, Guilty ; to the which, I said, with a loud voice, laus tibi, Domine! rex æternæ gloriæ. When the rest were arraigned, and judgment was to be given, I was first called, and justice Gaudy said, What canst thou say for thyself, wherefore thou shouldest not have judgment of death? I answered, If that, which before I have said, will not serve, I can say no more. Good Rigby, said he, think not I seek your death, will you yet go to church ? No, my lord: why then, said he, judgment must pass ; with a good will, my lord, said I. Then he pronounced sentence, as you know the manner is, which, when he had ended, I said, Deo gratias, all is but one death, and a flea-bite, in comparison of that which it pleased my sweet Saviour Jesus to suffer for my salvation. I humbly thank your lordship for your great pains, and I freely forgive your lordship and the poor jury, and all other persecutors whatsoever. Well said, saith he, indeed you show your charity; and then gave judgment to the rest, and when he had done, he called us together, willing us to send for a minister, and provide for death. I desired his lordship to spare my presence, and bestow that counsel elsewhere, for I hope I am as well provided as by his exhortation I should be. If you be, said he, it is the better for you ; God speed you well, and so we parted. I pray God forgive them all, and amend them, if it be his holy will. Amen.'
Thus much he wrote himself in prison, and sent it to a dear friend, who keepeth safe the original, saith Dr. W. For judge Gaudy procured him a reprieve, and he continued in prison till the next assizes ; when, on Thursday, the 19th of June, justice Kingsmel now sitting upon criminal matters, and justice Gaudy upon civil only, Mr. Rigby was again brought to the bar, and asked by the judge whether he would yet go to church, or no? he answered, I thank God I am the same man that I was. It is not lawful to go to your church. I will not go to it. Then thou must die, said the judge, for longer reprieve thou canst not have; he answered, My lord that is the thing which I desire and look for, but I think myself far unworthy to die for so good a cause. The judge perceiving he had no irons on his legs, sharply rebuked the keeper; who, thereupon, brought a strong pair of shackles, which Mr. Rigby taking into his hands, kneeled down, and making the sign of the cross, kissed them; and then the keeper's man rivetted them on very fast on both his legs, and so they continued all that day and the night following. The next day he was brought again to the sessions house, where, after he had stood awhile, the irons fell off his legs upon the ground, at which he smiled, and told his keeper his shackles had fallen off, and bid him rivet them on faster, which he did, as he thought, very fast ; but within a little time they fell off again, and then he called again upon his keeper and desired him to make them faster, for 1 esteem them, said he, jewels of too great price to be lost. The keeper's man that had put them on twice before, being much amazed, refused to put them on any more ; so that the keeper ordered another of his men to do it. Then Mr. Righy remembering that a catholic maid, called Mercy, had ihat morning told him, that, in the night, she saw, in her dream, his irons fall off from his legs, said to his keeper, now the maid's dieam is found to be true. What the judges thought on the matter we know not, but they spoke no more to the prisoner ; but, after much arguing among themselves, judge Kingsmel concluded that he should die ; upon which occasion, judge Gaudy was by some seen to weep. Mr. Rigby being asked what he thought of that falling off of his irons, which most men thought to be miraculous, answered, he hoped it was a token that the bands of his mortality should shortly be loosed, as indeed, it proved. He spent the remainder of his time in preparing himself, by religious exercises, for his last end; and a friend asking him in what dispositions he found himself at the approach of death, he answered, I thank our Lord, in very great comfort and consolation of mind.
On Saturday, in the morning, being the 21st of June, word was brought him, that he was to die that day; he answered very cheerfully, Deo Gratias. It is the best tidings that ever was brought me since I was born. The minister of St. George's coming to him upon this occasion, and offering his help, Mr. Rigby courteously thanked him, but told him, . We two, sir, are opposite in religion, and therefore I must not communicate with you in matters of faith. I have long looked for death; I am prepared, fully resolved, and most ready to offer up.my life for so worthy a cause. Fare you well, sir; I pray God make you a good man.' Between five and six in the afternoon he was called for by one of the officers, and sweetly taking leave of the catholics, his fellow prisoners, he desired they would help him with their prayers in this his journey towards his true country. Then going down into the yard, where the hurdle waited for him, he knelt down by it, making the sign of the cross, and was beginning to say some prayers, but was interrupted by Mr. More, the under-sheriff's deputy. So rising up, and striking his hand upon the horse, he cheerfully said, Go thy ways, this is the joyfullest day that ever I knew. Then signing himself again with the sign of the cross, he laid himself upon the hurdle, showing so much alacrity in his smiling countenance, that the standers-by asked him, if he laughed from his heart? Yes, verily, said he, from my heart; and bear witness with me, all good people, that I am now forth with to give my life only for the catholic cause. Mr. More told him, You die for treason, for being reconciled by a seminary priest: yes, said he, sir, but neither can that be treason, nor yet do I die for that only ; for, as you know, the judge oftentimes offered to save my life if I would go to
church. Then pulling his hat down over his eyes, he said, in the name of our Lord, go on, and so settled himself to his devotions.
The place designed for execution was St. Thomas's Watering. In his way thither he was met by the earl of Rutland and captain Whitlock, on horseback, who, coming to the hurdle, asked him, what he was, of what age, and for what cause he was to die? He answered, my name is John Rigby, a poor gentleman of the house of Harrock, in Lancashire: my age about thirty years; and my judgment and condemnation to this death, is only and merely for that I answered the judge that I was reconciled, and for that I refused to go to church. The captain wished him to do as the queen would have him, and consorm; and turning to the sheriff's deputy, conferred with him about the matter; then riding again with the earl to the hurdle, and causing it to be stopped a little, he asked Mr. Rigby, are you a married inan, or a bachelor ? Sir, said he, I am a bachelor; and more than that, I am a maid : that is much, said the captain, sor a man of your years, you must have strove much against your own flesh. I would be loth, said Mr. Rigby, to speak any thing contrary to the truth ; I am indeed a maid, and that is more than I needed to say. The captain concluded; Then I see thou hast worthily deserved a virgin's crown: I pray God, send thee the kingdom of heaven; I desire thee, pray for me. And so they rode to the place of execution, and staid there, till the officers were about to drive away the cart, and then posted away, much admiring his cour. age and constancy. The captain often related these particulars, and declared, that he had never seen his fellow for modesty, patience, and resolution in his religion.
When Mr. Rigby was taken off the hurdle and brought to the cart, he knelt down and said aloud, his Pater, Ave, Credo, and Confiteor ; in the last of which, he was interrupted by the ruder sort of people crying out against him, for praying to saints. When the executioner helped him up into the cart, he gave him an angel of gold, saying, Here, take this in token that I freely forgive thee and all others that have been accessory to my death. Then viewing the multitude, which was very great, and making the sign of the cross, with a cheerful countenance, holding his hands before his breast, he spent a little time in silent prayer. When the rope was to be put about his neck, he first kissed it, and ihen began to speak to the people, but was interrupted by More, the sheriff's deputy, bidding him pray for the queen, which he did, very affectionately. Then the deputy asked him, What traitors dost thou know in England ? God is my witness, said he, I know none. What! saith the deputy again, If he will confess nothing, drive away the cart; which was done so suddenly, that he had no time to say any thing more, or recommend his soul again to God, as he was about to do.
The deputy shortly after commanded the hangman to cut him down, which was done so soon, that he stood upright on his feet, like to a man a little amazed, till the butchers threw him down: then coming perfectly to himself, he said aloud and distinctly, God forgive you. Jesus, receive my soul. And immediately, another cruel fellow standing by, who was no officer, but a common porter, set his foot upon Mr. Rigby's throat, and so held him down, that he could speak no more.
THOMAS SPROTT-THOMAS HUNT.
Others held his arms and legs, whilst the executioner dismembered and bowelled him. And when he felt them pulling out his heart, he was yet so strong, that he thrust the men from him, who held his arms. At last they cut off his head and quartered him, and disposed of his head and quarters in several places in and about Southwark. The people, going away, complained very much of the barbarity of the execution ; and generally, all sorts bewailed his death.
His execution is mentioned by Howes, upon Stow, in his chronicle.
THOMAS SPROTT, AND THOMAS HUNT, PRIESTS.*
Thomas SPROTT was born in the parish of Schelsmere, near Kendal, in Westmoreland, and performed his higher studies in the English college of Douay; where he was ordained priest, in 1596, and sent, the same year, upon the English mission.
Thomas Hunt was born in Norfolk, and was a sceular priest of the English college of Seville : who, being sent upon the English mission, and there falling into the hands of the persecutors, was committed prisoner to Wisbich castle ; from whence, he, with five more, made their escape, some few months before his second apprehension and execution. The history of which, is as follows:
In the month of July, 1600, search being made in and about Lincoln, after certain malefactors, who had committed a robbery, the searchers found, at the Saracen's Head, in Lincoln, Mr. Sprott and Mr. Hunt, strangers to the people of the house, and close up in their chambers ; whom they vehemently suspecting to be the men they were seeking after, took up, upon suspicion, and strictly examined, what was their names? their places of abode ? what business they followed ? what had brought them thither? what acquaintance they had in that city or neighbourhood, &c. So that, to be rid of the importunity of these questions, and of the suspicion of being robbers, they confessed, that they were catholics, who had come thither in hopes of living there more quietly for a time, than they could do where they were more known. The officers searched their mails, and found there, the holy oils, and two breviaries, which gave suspicion that they were priests. Whereupon, they were brought before the mayor, and by him examined upon these four articles.
1st. Whether they had been at the church within these ten or twelve years ?
2dly. If the pope should invade the realm, whether they would take part with him, or with the queen ?
* From Dr. Worthington's relation of sixteen martyrs, published at Douay, in 1601; the bishop of Chalcedon's catalogue, and Raissius's catalogue of the martyrs of Douay college.