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• To these interrogatories, Mr. John Shert, Mr. Laurence Richardson, and Mr. Thomas Cottam, would make no other answer, but, that they were catholics, and believed in all points as the catholic Roman church taught them. Mr. Richardson added, that in all matters not repugnant to the catholic religion, he professed obedience to her majesty. Mr. Forde answered, That he did not know what to say to the bull of Pius V. as being a stranger to the circumstances of that bull: that as to the deposing power, he thought the pope might have a power upon certain occasions, which he did not name, “as, where a whole kingdom would otherwise be perverted,” to discharge subjects from their allegiance : that he would not pretend to answer for the doctrine of Dr. Saunders or Dr. Bristow, let them answer for themselves : and, as to the last point, he thought it would be time enough to determine what was to be done, when the case should happen. And not unlike to his, were the answers of Mr. Robert Johnson, Mr. Luke Kirby, and Mr. William Filbie.
On the 28th of May, 1582, after a long series of cruel treatments, and much art used to make them either confess the feigned treason, or deny their faith, the reverend priests, Mr. Thomas Forde, Mr. John Shert, and Mr. Robert Johnson, were all trailed upon hurdles, from the Tower of London, through the streets, to Tyburn, betwixt six and seven of the clock in the morning. And, first, Mr. Forde, being set up in the cart, blessed himself with the sign of the cross ; being so weak, that he fell down in the cart, and after he was up, he said, I am a catholic, and do die in the catholic religion. And therewith, he was interrupted by sheriff Martin, saying, you come not hither to confess your religion, but as a traitor and malefactor to the queen's majesty, and the whole realm, moving and stirring of sedition : and, therefore, I pray you, go to and confess your fault, and submit yourself to the queen's mercy, and not doubt, but she would forgive you.
•Whereunto, Mr. Forde answered, That supposed offence, whereof I was indicted and condemned, was the conspiring of her majesty's death at Rome and Rhemes, whereof I was altogether not guilty : for the offence was supposed, for conspiring the queen's majesty's death in the 22d year of her majesty's reign; at which time, I was in England remaining, and long before that ; for I have remained here for the space of six or seven years, and never during that time, departed this realm ; whereof, I might bring the witness of an hundred, yea, of five hundred sufficient men, and had thereupon been discharged at the bar, if I would have disclosed their names with whom I have been ; which I did forbear to do, for fear of bringing them into trouble. Then sheriff Martin, said, here is your own hand-writing, with the testimony of worshipful men, the queen's attorney, Dr. Hammond, Dr. Lewis and others; and if that will not serve, here is one of your own companions (Munday) that was the pope's scholar, to testify your offence. Mr. Forde answered, That, notwithstanding, I am altogether not guilty, whatever you have written.
• He continued, for the most part, in prayer secretly to himself during the time that the sheriff, or any other spoke to him. Then, was a scroli
of his examination (of which, we have spoken above) read by a minister; and Munday, the pope's scholar, being called as a witness against him, said, That Forde was privy to their conspiracies ; but was not able to affirm, that ever he saw him beyond the seas. This, his assertion, Mr. Forde utterly denied upon his death : and being asked what he thought of the queen's majesty; and withal, willed to ask her and the whole realm forgiveness; he said, -He acknowledged her for his sovereign and queen, and that he never in his life had offended her. And so praying secretly, he desired all those that were of his faith to pray with him; and ended with this prayer, Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus, and hanged until his companion, Mr. Shert, (likely to terrify him the more) might see him.'
JOHN SHERT, PRIEST.*
He was born in Cheshire, and brought up in Brazen-nose college, in Oxford, where he took the degree of bachelor of arts, in 1566. But soon after, quitting the university, he became a noted school-master in London. Then crossing the seas to the college lately erected at Douay, he was admitted in 1578, there studied his divinity, and was made subdeacon : from whence he was sent to Rome, where he finished his studies and was made priest, and so returned to the college now translated to Rhemes : and from thence was sent to England, in 1579, the year before the pretended conspiracy of Rhemes and Rome ; for which he was afterwards arrainged and condemned. After he had laboured for some time in his mission, he was apprehended and brought to the Tower on the same day with Mr. Paine, viz., July 14, 1581. And in the November following, he was condemned, as we have seen, for the pretended conspiracy, though the witnesses had never seen him in their lives, before his apprehension.
• Being brought from the hurdle,' won which he had been drawn from the Tower to Tyburn,” • and seeing his companion, Mr. Forde, hanged before him, with a confident courage, smiling countenance, and with his hands listed up, he spoke as followeth,-0 happy Thomas ! happy art thou that hast run that happy race! O benedicta anima! O blessed soul! thou art in a good cause! thou blessed soul pray for me. And being lifted into the cart, he desired all catholics to pray for him : and turning to the place of execution, by commandment of the sheriff, and seeing his companion bowelled and beheaded, he kneeled down and cried out,-0 Thomas ! O happy Thomas ! 0 blessed soul! happy art thou : thy blessed soul pray for me. And being found fault withal, because he prayed to those that were dead; he said ; O blessed lady, mother of God, pray for me ; and all the saints of heaven pray for me. The sheriff finding fault with this as erroneous doctrine; he answered,
That it was both sound and true droctrine, which he would now seal with his blood. After which, he began as follows:
* From the same eye-witness, and from Arnoldus Raissius in his printed catalogue of the martyrs of Douay college, and from the records of that house.
O blessed Lord, to thee be all honour and praise: I give thee most hearty thanks, for that thou didst create me of nothing to thy likeness and similitude. 2dly, For my redemption by the death of thy sweet son, Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer. And lastly, that thou wilt bring me, thy poor servant, to so glorious and happy a death for thy sake ; although in the eyes of worldlings contumelious and reproachful; yet to me most joyful and glorious : and for the which, I yield thee most hearty thanks. Here he was stopped from proceeding further by the sheriff, who said to him, — Ask the queen's forgiveness for these treasons whereof thou art condernned; who answered, -The asking of forgiveness doch imply an offence done ; and for me to charge myself, being innocent, would be contrary to my duty. We have been' racked and tormented for these things, and nothing hath been found : we have also been twice examined since our condemnation, which hath not been seen heretofore in any malefactor. Those supposed treasons, for which I am condemned, I leave between God and myself; and, upon my death, I am altogether innocent and faultless; and I utterly refuse to ask her forgiveness for this fact whereof I am condemned, for that I am not guilty : but if in any other private matter I have offended, I ask her and all the world, forgiveness : for it is impossible for me to be guilty of the conspiracy at Rhemes or Rome, being in England long time before the said supposed treasons committed, and continuing here ever since : which Munday, his accuser, did not much deny: for he said, he never knew him beyond the seas, neither at Rome nor at Rhemes.
• Then sheriff Martin requested a minister that stood by, to read his examination. Who answered, that as the man is obstinate now, so upon his examination was he as obstinate, for he uttered nothing that is to be read. The sheriff desired Mr. Shert, again, to acknowledge his offence; affirming, that the queen would deal very mercifully with him ; and that he had authority himsell, if he did acknowledge his fault, to stay his execution, and to return him back without more ado. Who answered,-Should I, for saving this carcase, condemn my soul? God forbid.
• Being asked what he thought of the queen's majesty ? he answered, -I acknowledge her for my sovereign lady and queen, for whose prosperous estate and well doing, I did always pray. And being demanded whether he thought her to be supreme governor, under Christ, of the church of England ? He said,-1 will give to Cæsar that which is his, and to God that which belongeth to God. She is not, nor cannot be, nor any other but only the supreme pastor. What! do you mean that whore of Babylon, the pope ? said the sheriff. Take heed, Mr. Sheriff, said Mr. Shert, for the day will come, when that shall be a sore word for your soul! and then it shall repent you, that ever you called Christ's vicar upon earth, the whore : when you and I shall stand at one bar, before that equal Judge who judgeth all things a-right, then, I say, will you repent your saying; and then must I give testimony against you.
• And the hangman making ready at the importunate clamour of the people, who cried to despatch, saying, that he had lived too long. He delivered his handkerchief to the hangman with two shillings
therein, saying, take this for thy hire, and I pray God forgive thee. Then with a loud voice, that all might hear him, he denounced as fol
lows:- Whosoever dieth out of the catholic church, dieth in the state Leid of damnation. Therewith turning almost round about, he held up his hands, wagging them
to the people; and then began to pray as follow, eth: Domine Jesu Christe fili dei vivi pone passionem, crucem and mortem tuam, &c., with his pater, ave, and other prayers. And when the cart was trailed away, his hands being before on high, he lit upon the rope and so held it, and the officers pulled them down. The sheriff then said, notwithstanding his obstinacy, see how willing he is to live. And so he hanged till he was dead; but it seemed to me, that his hands, by chance, as he was putting them down, fell upon the rope, which he held fast in his hands, as, in that case, he would have done any other thing if he had chanced upon it.
ROBERT JOHNSON, PRIEST.*
He was born in Shropshire, though he is called Vigorniensis, in the Douay dairy, from his being of the diocese of Worcester. In his youth, he was for some time a servant in a gentleman's family : but quitting this service he went abroad, and was received in the English college of Douay, where, after he had sufficiently qualified himself by virtue and learning, he was made priest and sent upon the mission, in 1576, long before the pretended conspiracy of Rhemes and Rome. In what part of England he exercised his functions, or where, and in what manner he was first apprehended, I have not found: but this I have found, that, on the 5th of December, 1580, he was from some other prison, translated to the Tower, where he was at three different times, most cruelly racked: and in the November following, he was brought to the bar and condemned with father Campion and others; though his execution was put off, till the 28th of May, 1582.
• Being brought from the hurdle, he was commanded to look upon Mr. Shert, who was hanging, and then immediately cut down: and so being helped into the cart, he was commanded again, to look back towards Mr. Shert, who was then in quartering. And aster he had turned, and signed himself with the sign of the cross, saying, in nomine Patris, &c. Despatch, quoth the sheriff, and speak quietly. I would be sorry, answered Mr. Johnson, to trouble or offend your worship. You shall not offend me, saith the sheriff, so that you offend not God. Johnson-1 am a catholic, and am condemned for conspiring the queen's death at Rhemes, with the other company who were condemned with me. I protest, that as for some of them, with whom I was condemned to have conspired withal, I did never see them before we met at the bar, neither did I ever write unto them, or receive letters from them: and as for any treasons, I am not guilty in deed, nor thought.' · Here his examination was read, and his answers to the six articles. Then the
* From the same authors.
sheriff said," you shall hear also, what your own companion, named Munday, can say against you : whereupon, Munday was called, and came nigh to the cart.
• Johnson. Munday, didst thou ever know me beyond the seas, or was I ever in thy company?
• Munday. I was never in your company, neither did I ever know you beyond the seas: but I was privy to your most horrible treasons, whereof you were most clearly convicted. I pray God, you may repent, and ihat you may die a good subject.
Johnson. Munday, God give thee grace to repent thee of thy deeds; truly, thou art a shrewd fellow : but there is no time now, to reason these matters with thee; only, I protest before God, I am not guilty of any treason.
Sheriff. Dost thou acknowledge the queen, for lawful queen ? Repent thee, and notwithstanding thy traitorous practices, we have authority from the queen, to carry thee back.
• Johnson. I do acknowledge her as lawful as queen Mary was. I can say no more ; but pray to God, to give her grace, and that she may now stay her hand from shedding of innocent blood.
• Sheriff. Dost thou acknowledge her as supreme head of the church in ecclesiastical matters?
•Johnson. I acknowledge her to have as full and great authority, as ever queen Mary had ; and more with safety and conscience, I cannot give her.
· Sheriff. Thou art a traitor, most obstinate.
• Johnson. If I be a traitor for maintaining this faith, then all the kings and queens of this realm heretofore, and all our ancestors were traitors, for they maintained the same. • Sheriff. What? you will preach treason also, if we suffer you.
Johnson. I teach but the catholic religion. • Hereupon the rope was put about his neck, and he was willed to pray, which he did in Latin. They willed him to pray in English, that they might witness with him; he said, I pray that prayer, which Christ taught, in a tongue I well understand. A minister cried out, pray as Christ taught: to whom, Mr. Johnson replied, What! do you think Christ taught in English? He went on, saying, in Latin, his Pater, Ave and Creed, and in manus tuas, &c. And so the cart was drawn away, and he finished this life, as the rest did. They all hanged until they were dead, and so were cut down and quartered.
Two days after, viz: on the 30th of May, 1582, four more reverend priests, Mr. William Filbie, Mr. Luke Kirby, Mr. Laurence Richardson, whose right name was Johnson, and Mr. Thomas Cotiam, suffered for the same cause, at the same place. All these are mentioned by Mr. Slow in his annals.