Imatges de pàgina

house of a certain catholic, where many persons of distinction met, with great profit to their souls, to see and hear things far exceeding the forces of human nature, which obliged them to reverence the works of God, and the virtue and power which Christ our Lord has bequeathed to the ministers of his church. The martyr Dibdale obliged the devil to bring up by the mouth of one of the possessed persons, balls of hair, and pieces of iron, and other such like things, which it was impossible could ever naturally have gone into, or afterwards have come out of, a human body. The devil also, upon this occasion, told what relics of the saints each one had privately brought with him, and obeyed the prayers and exorcisms of the church, confessing and declaring, to their own confusion, the virtue which the sign of the cross, holy water, and . relics, (as well of the ancient saints, as of those that suffer in these days in England for the catholic faith) have against them. All which, though some incredulous and hardened heretics slighted, yet others that were not so much biassed by passion, but more reasonable, were convinced by the evidence of what they saw, and thereupon renounced their errors.' So far this prelate.

The same author, in this and the following chapters, relates several other remarkable histories, which happened in these times, of persons possessed by the devil. As of a young man in Derbyshire, who, being a catholic in his heart, to save his worldly substance (for he was rich,) outwardly conformed to the established religion, and received the protestant communion; which he had no sooner done, but he fell into a great trouble of mind, followed by strange fits, which, as it was not long after plainly discovered, proceeded from an evil spirit possessing him. Also of another young man, in Hampshire, to whom'the like happened upon his going, though but once, to the protestant church. He was delivered by a catholic priest, a prisoner for his faith, who having reconciled him by confession, and given him the holy communion, sent him home perfectly cured, giving him withal, as a defence against the devil, the cassock of another priest, who had suffered martyrdom a little before; ' which,' says my author, 'the young man kept with great reverence and devotion, and showed it to the person who related this history to me ; and he is living at this day, with great edification to all that know him.' He relates, also, of a third person, a student of Oxford, who was strangely obsessed by the devil, frequently persuading him to make away with himself. His friends would have it, that he was mad, and sent him to Bedlam. After some time, by the means of a catholic gentleman, who recounted this history to my author, he was, by degrees, convinced of the errors in which he was brought up, and reconciled to the catholic church; and having made a general confession, and received the holy communion, was perfectly cured both in soul and body. But returning to the university, that he might not lose his place, which he enjoyed before in his college, he concealed his being a catholic, and went to the protestant service; which he had no sooner done, but the devil returned again, molesting him as before; and shortly after, he hanged himself in despair. A fourth history, which the same author gives from the testimony of his English friends, is of one Mr. Bridges, a student of Middle Temple, who being possessed by the devil, was brought to Mr. Fox, the protestant martyrologist, to be delivered by his prayers. His friend* at first, imagined that he was actually delivered, and published aloud the success of the preacher, as a confirmation of their religion; but they were quickly undeceived, and the young gentleman was found to be worse than ever. They carried him, therefore, again to Mr. Fox: but instead of their finding him in a condition to deliver others, he appeared, by all symptoms, to be possessed himself; though his friends desirous to disguise the matter, gave another turn to the strange agitations they saw in him; attributing them to a temptation of despair, from the great sense he had of his own sins and of God's justice.

On the 26th of March, (some say the 25th,,) of this, or the foregoing year, for authors are divided about the time, Mrs. Margaret Clithero, whose maiden name was Middleton, a gentlewoman of a good family in Yorkshire, was pressed to death at York. She was prosecuted, under that violent persecution raised in those times, by the earl of Huntington, lord president of the North. The crime she was charged with, was relieving and harbouring priests. She refused to plead, that she might not bring others into danger by her conviction, or be accessory to the jurymen's sins in condemning the innocent. And, therefore, as the law appoints in such cases, she was pressed to death. She bore this cruel torment with invincible patience, often repeating in the way to execution, that This way to heaven, was as short as any other. Her husband was forced into banishment. Her little children, who wept and lamented for their mother, were taken up, and being questioned concerning the articles of their religion, and answering as they had been taught by her, were severely whipped; and the eldest, who was but twelve years old, was cast into prison. Her life was written by the reverend and learned Mr. John Mush, her director, who, after many years labouring with great fruit in the English mission, after having suffered prisons and chains, and received even the sentence of death, for his faith, died at length, in his bed, in a good old age, in 1617.

In this also, or the foregoing year, Robert Bickerdike, gentleman, was executed at York, for religious matters, October 8, "one manuscript says, July 23." He was born at Low-hall, in Yorshire, and suffered, as in cases of high treason, for being reconciled, says this manuscript, to the church of Rome, and refusing to go to the protestant church.

The reverend Mr. Ralph Fisher, in a manuscript relation, which I have in my hands, recounts the following particulars of him. 'Robert Bickerdike, gentleman, was born in Yorkshire, near to the town of Knaresborough; but his dwelling was in the city of York; who being brought before the magistrate there for matter of conscience and religion, was examined, among other things, if the pope, or his agent, the king of Spain, should invade England, whether he would take the queen's part, or the pope's? To this Mr. Bickerdike did make answer, if any such thing came to pass, he would then do as God should put him in mind. Upon this answer, he was first arraigned at the London hall of the city, of treason; but the jurors being men of conscience, found him not guilty. Whereupon, the judge being grieved that he was freed by the jury, caused him to be removed from the gaol or prison of the city, to the castle; and there again indicted him of the aforesaid treason; and, by a new jury, he was found guilty of treason: and the judge, whose name was Rhodes, gave sentence, that he should be hanged drawn and quartered. And so, constantly, lie suffered according to the same sentence: which was, for that he would do as God should put him in mind.'

On the 1st of December, of this same year, 1586, Richard Langley, Esq., horn at Grinthrop, in Yorkshire, was executed at York, for harbouring and assisting priests.

This year also, as I find in an ancient catalogue, John Harrison, priest of the college of Rhemes, died in chains, obiit in vinculis. He was ordained and sent upon the mission in 1585.

In the beginning of this year, viz. February 8, 1587, Mary, queen of Scotland, and dowager of France, was beheaded at Fotheringhey castle in Northamptonshire, after an imprisonment of eighteen years. As her constancy in the catholic religion, was the chief cause of her death, whatever might otherwise be pretended; so is she usually reckoned amongst those who suffered for religion.


Thomas'pilchard was born at Battel, in Sussex, and educated in Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes, where he was made priest and sent upon the mission, anno 1583. Here he was, for some time, an unwearied labourer in the vineyard of his Lord, till falling into the hands of the persecutors, he was committed to prison, and banished in 1585 ; but returning upon the mission, he was again apprehended, tried, and condemned for being a priest, ordained beyond the seas by authority of the See Apostolic, and for exercising his functions in England, and for reconciling the Queen's subjects.

Ho was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Dorcester, March 21.


Edmund Sykes was born at Leeds, in Yorkshire, and educated in the English college, then residing in Rhemes, where I find him, by the Douay journals, to have been made priest, the 21st of February, 1581,

•From the Douay Journal and Catalogues, and the MS. History of Dr. Champney.

t From tlic same journals, catalogues, and manuscripts.

and sent upon Ihe mission, the 5th of June, the same year. After having laboured with fruit, for several years in the vineyard, he was apprehended, some time in or before the year 1585, and was one of those priests, that were sent into banishment that year. He quickly returned again into England: and, after some time, was taken again. Of this second imprisonment, thus writes Dr. Champney, in the manuscript annals of queen Elizabeth, preserved in Douay college. 'Edmund Sykes, born of honest parents, in the town of Leeds, priest of the college of Douay, after some years, fruitfully employed in the vineyards of the Lord, being apprehended, was thrust into a most straight and very troublesome prison; in which, by the experience of sufferings, he acquired the virtue of patience, and learned to die. For he endured most grievous conflicts, not only from the world and the flesh, but also, from the prince of darkness himself. For the other catholics, who were kept prisoners, in the same jail, though not in the same room, heard in his room, a noise, as it were of one that was disputing and contending with him, whom he rebuked and rejected, with contempt: and when afterwards, they asked him what was the matter, he told them, That the devil had been there, to trouble and molest him, and to tempt and urge him to renounce his religion. Afterwards, being brought to the bar, and arraigned for high treason, for being made priest, and returning into England, and there remaining contrary to the statute. He acknowledged the matter of fact, "of being made priest, &c.," but absolutely denied there was any guilt or treason in the case. He had sentence to die, according to which, he was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, at York, March 23. I have before me a manuscript catalogue of martyrs, which refers his death to the following year.


Robert Sutton was bora at Burton, upon Trent, and brought up in the university of Oxford, where he made a great progress in learning; but withal, was strongly entangled, to use the expression of the Douay journal, in the snares of the heretics and of the world; till by an extraordinary mercy of God, being frequently called upon, by the letters of his friends from Douay, he took a generous resolution, together with his brother Abraham, who was in the same case, to disengage himself from all these bonds; and leaving his station in the protestant church, to go over to Douay, where he and his brother were admitted, March the 24th, 1576-7. Here, they applied themselves to the study of divinity, and were both made priests, and sent together upon the English mission the 19th of March, 1577-8, before the college was removed to Rhemes. Mr. Robert Sutton's labours seem to have been chiefly employed in his

* From the same journals, manuscript annals, and other Memoirs of the College. own country of Staffordshire. And he has the character, in the manuscript annals, of having been a man full of zeal and piety, who laboured for many years, with great success, in bringing back the lost sheep to the fold of Christ. Both he and his brother Abraham, were of the number of those priests who fell into the hands of the persecutors, and were banished in 1585. They both returned to their apostolic labours; and after some time, Mr. Robert Sutton being again apprehended, was committed to Stafford jail; and, being brought upon his trial, was condemned by the statute of the 27th of Elizabeth, for being a priest, and remaining in this reajm. He had sentence to die, as in cases of high treason, and suffered accordingly, at Stafford; preserving, says Molanus, a sound soul in a mangled body, and overcoming the cruelty of the executioners by Christian patience. He suffered, according to the manuscript annals, and other authors, some time in March: though the larger Douay catalogue, says the 27th of July. I have at present before me, a letter written from England, by Mr. John Cleaton, an eye-witness, concerning a person possessed by a furious devil, who was wonderfully delivered by the relics of Mr. Robert Sutton.

Abraham Sutton, his brother, lived till the reign of king James I., and was one of those priests, who, being prisoner in the beginning of that reign, were sent into perpetual banishment, in 1605.


Stephen Rousham was born in Oxfordshire, and brought up in the university of Oxford, where he was for some time, a minister in the church of St. Mary's. Being converted to the catholic faith, he went abroad, and was made priest in the English college, then residing at Rhemes, and from thence was sent upon the mission, anno 1582. He was but indifferently learned, says the manuscript history, and of a weak and sickly constitution of body; but his soul was robust, vigorous and constant. He fell into the hands of the persecutors, the same year, and was sent a prisoner to the Tower by secretary Walsingham, on the 19th of May; and not long after, thrust down into that dungeon, which is called Little Ease, and it very well deserves the name. In this wretched hole, this servant of God was kept eighteen whole months and thirteen days. His sufferings, during his imprisonment, were great; but God was not wanting, in his comforts and heavenly visits to this holy soul, that was suffering for his cause. It is particularly recorded of him, in the manuscript annals, that, on the very day and hour,when Mr. Ford, Mr. Shert, and Mr. Johnson, his familiar acquaintance, (whom he hoped to have accompanied,)

* From the journals of Douay college, the diary of things transacted in the Tower, from 1580 to 15R",, the analogues of Martyro.and Dr. (Jhampncy's manuscript anuala of queen Elizabeth.

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