Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

the reputation of the ministers of God, and of his true church: but, that truth and innocence would, in these cases, sooner or later, prevail, to the confusion of their enemies.

Mr. Munden was about a twelvemonth, prisoner in the Tower, before he was called to the bar, to take his trial. But on the 6th and 7th of February, 1583-4, he was tried and condemned in Westminster-hall, at the same time, and for the same cause, with the other four, whom we have last treated of. When sentence was pronounced upon him, he, with the rest of those holy men, joined in reciting the hymn, Te Deum laudamus, with a serene and cheerful countenance; and so great was the inward joy he conceived in his soul upon this occasion, that he could not help discovering it in his voice, in his face, and in the whole outward man. Some, who had not been in the court that day, perceiving in him, when he returned to the Tower, that extraordinary alacrity, supposing he had been acquitted, congratulated with him; but he soon gave them to understand, that his joy proceeded from other sort of principles, than those of flesh and blood. This joy continued with him, till his happy death: and when his confessor came to him, the night before he was to suffer, he found him in the same disposition, enjoying so great a sweetness of internal consolation, as to stand in no need of his comfort; but rather, he who came to comfort him, went away himself, exceedingly comforted by him.

He was drawn with the rest, to Tyburn, on the 12th of February, according to Mr. Stow, or the 13th, according to Dr. Bridgewater: and after having been the spectator of the combat of the other four, assisting them, by his prayers, he, in his turn, had them, in heaven, spectators of his combat, and assisting him by their prayers; whilst, with equal constancy, he overcame gibbets, ropes, knives, and fire, and all the other instruments of cruelty; and so passed from short pains to everlasting rest.

This same year, 1584, several other catholics, suffered for religious matters: of whom, Dr. Bridgewater treats at large, in his Concertatio Ecclesice Catholicce. These were,

1. William Carter, a printer, for printing a Treatise of Schism, against catholics going to the protestant churches: In which, a paragragh touching Judith and Holofernes, by a forced construction, was interpreted to be an exhortation to murder the queen.

He was hanged, drawn and quartered, at Tybum, January the 11th, 1583-4.

2. James Bell, born at Warrington, in Lancashire, brought up in Oxford, and made priest in queen Mary's days; who, when the religion of the nation was changed, upon queen Elizabeth's accession to the crown, suffered himself to be carried away with the stream, against his conscience; and for many years officiated as a minister, in divers parts of the kingdom. He was, at length, reclaimed in 1581, by the remonstrances of a catholic matron, joined to a severe fit of sickness, with which God was pleased to visit him ; in which, he was reconciled to God and his church. He had no sooner recovered the health of his soul, by confession, but he recovered also the health of his body; and, after having applied himself for some months to penitential exercises, and brought forth fruits worthy of penance, he resumed his priestly functions, labouring with all diligence for the souls of his neighbours, for the space of about two years. In January, 1583-4, he was apprehended by a pursuivant, and carried before a justice of peace. To whom, he acknowledged himself to be a priest, and confessed, that he had been reconciled to the catholic church, after havmg a long time gone astray; and therefore, was by him, committed to Manchester jail. From hence, he was sent to Lancaster, to be tried at the Lent assizes; in which journey, his arms were tied behind him, and his legs under the horse's belly. He was arraigned, together with Mr. Thomas Williamson and Mr. Richard Hutton, priests, and Mr. John Finch, layman ; all for the supremacy. Mr. Bell, in his trial, showed a great deal of courage and resolution, boldly professing, that he had been reconciled to the church, and had faculties to absolve penitent sinners ; and that he did not acknowledge the queen's ecclesiastical supremacy, but that of the pope. In consequence of which supposed treasons, he had sentence to die, as in cases of high treason. The other two priests were also found guilty by the jury; but as the judge had instructions to put to death no more than two, they were not sentenced to die, but only condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and loss of all their goods, as in cases of premunire. Mr. Bell showed great content upon this occasion, and looking at the judge said,—I beg your lordship would add to the sentence, that my lips and the tops of my fingers may be cut off, for having sworn and subscribed to the articles of heretics, contrary both to my conscience and to God's truth. He spent the following night, which was his last, in prayer and meditation; and suffered on the ensuing day, which was the 'iOth of April, 1584, not only with great constancy, but with great joy; being then sixty years of age.

3. John Finch, born in Eccleston parish, in Lancashire, who, after he was come to man's estate, and was married and settled in the world, being heartily disgusted with the new religion, upon a long and serious examination of the merits of the cause, was reconciled to the catholic church; and was so fervent a convert, as not only to neglect no means of sanctifying his own soul; but also to endeavour, as much as he could, to be instrumental in procuring the conversion and salvation of others, as well by his own words and good examples, as by the assistance he gave to the labourers in God's vineyard; in whose service, for many years, he was wholly employed, accompanying them, and conducting them to the houses of the faithful, where the duties of their functions called them, and serving them in quality both of a clerk and of a catechist. At length, by the treachery of a false brother, he was apprehended, together with Mr. George Ostclifle, a priest of Douay college, by the earl of Derby. Mr. Finch, being now a prisoner, they spared neither threats nor promises to induce him to go to church; which, when they could not persuade him to, they dragged him thither by downright violence through the streets, his head beating all the way upon the stones; and being thereby grievously broken and wounded; then they thrust him into a dark stinking dungeon, where he had no other bed but the bare and wet floor; no other food but oxen's liver, and that very sparingly. Here they kept him, sometimes, for whole weeks

together, sometimes for whole months; not to speak of innumerable other sufferings which he had endured for some years, whilst he was in the hands of the enemies of his faith. At length, he was ordered from Manchester to Lancaster, to be tried for his life at the Lenten assizes, where he was indicted for deliberately and maliciously affirming. That the pope hath power or jurisdiction in the kingdom of England, and that he is the head of the catholic church; of which church, some part is in this kingdom. Of this treason, he was found guilty by the jury, and thereupon had sentence to die, as in case of high treason: which sentence he received with joy, having long desired to suffer death for the cause. He was executed the following day, April 20, with Mr. Bell, at Lancaster; and his quarters were disposed of, to be 6et up on poles, in four of the chief towns of the county.

4. Richard White, born at Llangdlos, in Montgomeryshire, of Wales, and brought up in Cambridge. He was, after his return from the university, for some time a schoolmaster, first at Wrexham, and then at Orton, in Flintshire, being all the while in his heart a catholic; yet, by an error too common in those days, outwardly conforming, so far as to frequent the protestant churches, till the Douay missioners, (of whom about sixty-four came over, before there were any from other places,) coming to those parts, made him sensible of his fault, and reconciled him to the church. His absenting himself from the protestant service began to be taken notice of; and after some time, he was apprehended, and committed by justice Pilson, to Ruthin gaol, where he lay for three months, loaded with double chains, till the next assizes; in which he was brought to the bar, and had a proffer of pardon for all that was past, if he would only once go to church; which he refusing, was again returned to prison. The following year, the assizes being held at Wrexham, in the month of May, judge Bromley being informed of all that was past, was resolved that Mr. White, who still refused to go to church, should be carried thither by force, which was done accordingly, Mr. White making all possible resistance, and loudly protesting all the way, against the violence that was offered him ; and in the church itself, making what noise he could, that neither he nor any others might hear the minister; so that the judge, not being able to silence him, ordered him to be carried out, and set in the stocks in the market-place. In the mean time, an indictment was drawn up against him, for having insolently and impiously, as they termed it, interrupted the minister and the people in the divine service; and a jury being impanelled, Mr. White was brought into the court to answer for himself; when, the clerk of the assizes, beginning to read the indictment, such a sudden dimness fell upon his eyes, that he could not distinguish one letter. The judge asked him, what was the matter; he said,—I do not know what is the matter with my eyes, but 1 cannot see. The judge put it off with a sneer, saying,—Take care lest the papists make a miracle of this. Mr. White was returned to prison, where, a short time after, he had two others sent to bear him company for the same cause, viz. Mr. John Pugh and Mr. Robert Morris. After some time, they were all three arraigned for high treason, and sent away from Wrexham gaol to the council of the Marches, at Bewdley, where they were all cruelly tortured, to make them discover by whom they had been reconciled, ice. Mr. White and Mr. Pugh, showed great courage and constancy upon this occasion. Mr. Morris was not so stout; for which weakness, he afterwards heartily repented. At length, on the 11th of October, 1584, they were all brought to their trial, and indicted for high treason; the witnesses, who were infamous wretches, suborned for the purpose, swearing that the prisoners had affirmed in their hearing, That the queen was not the head of the church, but the pope; and that they would have persuaded them, or one of them, to the catholic religion. The prisoners excepted against their testimony, as of men that had been notoriously perjured before, and publicly infamous; but these exceptions were not taken notice of: and the jury, instructed (as it seems,) by judge Bromley, brought in Mr. White and Mr. Pugh guilty, but acquitted Mr. Morris, who, to the surprise of the court, wept most bitterly at his hard lot, that he should not be so happy as to be condemned also, and to suffer with his companions for so good a cause. He was returned to prison, where he remained at the time that my author wrote his account of Mr. White's death. Mr. Pugh was reprieved; but Mr. White suffered according to sentence; being cut down alive, and butchered in a most cruel manner, pronouncing the sacred name of Jesus, twice, whilst the hangman had his hands in his bowels.

He suffered at Wrexham, in Derbyshire, October 17, 1584. His head and one of his quarters were set upon Denbigh castle, the other three quarters were disposed of to Wrexham, Ruthin, and Howlet,

Mr. John Bennet, priest, of Douay college, ordained in 1578, was also prisoner at the same time with Mr. White and Mr. Pugh: who, after he had been examined by Hughs, bishop of St. Assaph, and by judge Bromley, and had stoutly maintained his faith at Hawarden, in Flintshire, in 1583, was sent first to Flint, (where he was cast into a filthy prison, and loaded with double irons,) and then to the counsel of the Marches of Wales, where he was twice cruelly tortured, in order to make him confess whom he had reconciled, &c. But they could extort nothing out of him. He was, not long after, sent up to London, and from thence, in the year 1585, was, with thirty other priests, sent into perpetual banishment. Upon this occasion, he went straight to Rhemes, where, for some time, he lived with his brethren in the English college, then residing in that city, giving wonderful examples of virtue to all; and, at length, going from thence, he entered into the society of Jesus. With him also, Mr. Henry Pugh, a Flintshire gentleman, was cast into prison, and cruelly tortured, as may be seen in Dr. Bridgewater.

I find, likewise, in an ancient catalogue of Douay college, the names of several priests of the seminaries who lost their lives this, year in prison, for their character and religion. These were, Mr. Thomas Cotesmore, a native of the diocese of Lichfield, sent priest from Rhemes in 1580. Mr. Robert Holmes, of the diocese of Carlisle, sent priest from Rhemes the same year. Mr. Roger Wakeman, made priest at the same time with Mr. Nelson, and sent from Douay in 1576. Mr. Jas. Lumax, a priest of Rome, sent thither from Rhemes, in 1580. Of the thiee latter, the catalogue says, that they were killed by the stench and other incom modi tips of their respective prisons. Paedore carceris, et aliis commodis extincti sunt.

Of Mr. Wakeman, Dr. Bridgewater also relates, fol. 412, that being translated from one of the Counters to Newgate, and there lodged near a most stinking hole, where the prisoners emptied themselves and their chamber pots, he suffered much during two whole years, till at last he was killed with the stench of the place.

The same author, in the same place, relates likewise of Mr. Holmes, that falling into the hands of the persecutors, he was kept prisoner for two months in a certain dark hole, designed for keeping coals, which had on both sides of it, houses of office; that, laying here on the bare floor, without any bed, he was brought to death's door; and though, at the earnest suit of his friends, he was changed to a more commodious prison, yet, being too far gone to be recovered, died within two days.

In the same place he also informs us of Mr. Ailworth, a secular gentleman, who, for his constancy in his faith, was not only cast into prison, and there put into irons, but also thrust down by the jailor into a nasty dungeon, or rather, a common sewer, where he perished by the stench, within eight days.

The same author, in his short view of the sufferings of the catholics, at the end of his Concertatio, acquaints us, that in this same year, 1584, no less than fifty catholic gentlemen's houses in Lancashire were searched in one night, under pretence of looking for priests, but so as to plunder the houses, and send away the masters to divers prisons, where they suffered great hardships for their faith. My author names particularly, Mr. Travers, Mr. Holland, and Mr. Barlow; the last of whom was, at that very time, so ill as not to be able to sit upon his horse; yet this could not dispense him from being sent to prison. And, indeed, such was the case of the catholics at this time, not only in Lancashire, but all over the kingdom, that the jails were every where filled with them, and that barely for their recusancy; insomuch, that the old prison not being sufficient to hold them, new ones were built in many places, and all this for people whose conscience was their only crime.

THOMAS ALFIELD, PRIEST.—1585.*

Mr. Alfield, or Aufield, as some call him, was born in Glocester»hire, studied his divinity in the English college then residing in Rhemes, where he was made priest in 1581 ; and so went upon the English mission, where I find him a prisoner in April, 1582. In the latter end of the year 1583, or the beginning of 1584, there came out a book, penned, as it was supposed, by Cecil, lord treasurer, entitled, The Execution of Justice, &c., or Jus/itia Britannica. The drift of this book was to persuade the world, that the catholics, who had suffered

* From the Douay Journal and Catalogue, and from Dr. Bridgewater'a collections, fat. 2CG, 2

« AnteriorContinua »