Imatges de pàgina

impression on the minds of the hearers, in favour of the old religion. Bnt that the very death of so many saint-like, innocent men, (whose lives were unimpeachable,) and of several young gentlemen, which they endured with so much joy, strongly pleaded for the cause for which they died.


• Mr. Thomas Holford, (whom Stow calleth Acton,) was born in Cheshire, but in what place 1 know not; "the bishop of Chalcedon's catalogue says, it was at Aston," his father being a minister. I knew him in Herefordshire, where he was schoolmaster to Sir James Scudamore, of Holm Lacy, that now is, and his two brethren, Mr. Harry and John. After my first coming over into England, going unto Hereford city, where I was born, to see my parents, I did send for him, and so dealt with him, gratia Dei cooperante, "with the help of God's grace," that before I knew any thing of it, he was gone to Rhemes, "to the English college then residing there," where he received holy orders, and was returned again within the space of two years.

'Meeting with him again some four years after, 1 acquainted him where 1 lay myself; where, to his welcome, at his first coming, the house was searched upon All Souls day, when Mr. Bavin was making a sermon. The pursuivants were Newall and Woresley; but we all three escaped. After that, he fell into a second danger, in the time of the search for Babington and his company, (of which tragedy, Sir Francis Walsingham was the chief actor and contriver, as I gathered by Mr. "Babington himself, who was with me the night before he was apprehended): for after he " Mr. Holford," had escaped two or three watches, he came to me; and the next day the house where I remained, was searched, but we both escaped by a secret place, which was made at the foot of the stairs, where he lay, going into a hay-barn. Which troubles being passed, Mr. Holford, the next year after, went into his own country, which was Cheshire, hoping to gain some of his friends there unto the catholic church : but there he was apprehended, and imprisoned in the castle of West Chester, and from thence, was sent, with two pursuivants (as I take it,) to London, who lodging in Holborn, at the sign of the bell, or the Exchequer (1 do not well remember whether,) the good man rising about five in the morning, pulled on a yellow stocking upon one or his legs, and had his white hose on the other, and walked up and down the chamber. One of his keepers looked up, (for they had drank hard the night before, and watched late,) and seeing him there, fell to sleep again. Which he perceiving, went down into the hall. The tapster met him, and asked him, What lack you, gentleman? but the tapster being gone, Mr. Holford went out, and so down Holborn to the conduit, where a catholic gentleman meeting him, (but not knowing him), thought he was a madman. Then he turned into the little lane into Gray's-inn-fields, where

* From a manuscript Relation, by the Reverend Mr. Davis.

he pulled off his stocking and boot hose. What ways he went afterwards, I know not, but betwixt ten and eleven of the clock at night, he came to me, where I lay, about eight mites from London. He had eaten nothing of all that day , his feet were galled with gravel stones, and his legs all scratched with briars and thorns (for he dared not to keep the highway,) so that the blood followed in some places. The gentleman and mistress of the house caused a bath, with sweet herbs, to be made, and their two daughters washed and bathed his legs and feet; after which, he went to bed.

• After this escape, he avoided London for a time, but the next year, 1588, he went to London to buy him a suit of apparel. At which time, going to Mr. Swithin Well's house, near St. Andrews's church in Holborn, to serve God, (i.e., to say mass) Hodgkius the pursuivant, espying him as he came forth, dogged him into his tailor's house, and there apprehended him.

'He was executed on the 28th of August, at ClerkenwelL' So far Mr. Davis.


Mr. James Claxtox, or Clarkson, was born in Yorkshire, studied in Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes, and was there made priest; and from thence, was sent upon the English mission, anno 1582. He was apprehended and committed to prison some time in or before the year 1585, for he was one of those priests that were sent into banishment in that year. But he returned again to his missionary labours; and falling again into the hands of the persecutors, was tried and condemned, upon the statute of the 27th of Elizabeth, for being a priest, and remaining in this realm. He had sentence to die, as in cases of high treason, and was executed between Branford and Hounslow, on the 28th of August, 1588.

'Thomas Felton was bom, says my manuscript, about the year of our Lord, 1567, at Bermondsey-abbey. in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, within a mile of Southwark, London, in Surry. He was son to John Felton, gentleman, who suffered at London, in the year 1570, for setting up the bull of Pius V., concerning the excommunication of queen Elizabeth. Being yet a young youth, he was taken by the old lady Lovett, to be her page; but not staying there long, he was sent over to the English college, at Rhemes, to be brought up in piety and learning. In both which he profited so much, that shortly after he became a clergyman, receiving tonsure by the hands of the cardinal de Guise, then archbishop of Rhemes; which was in the year 1583. After that he had continued a while longer in the college of Rhemes, he had a desire to enter into the order of the Minims; and was admitted thereinto by the commendations of Dr. Allen, then president of the

* From the Douay records, and from a manuscript in my hands, by Mrs. Salisbury, sister to Mr. Felton.


English college. But his body not serving well for the strictness of that life, he was enforced, within a while, to return into his native country, and resolving to return again beyond the seas, it happened that he was stayed at the seaside by the officers; and, after examination, sent up to London, and committed to the Compter, in the Poultry. In which place, he remained prisoner some two years. In this time, an aunt of his, one Mrs. Blount, out of love to Thomas, laboured much, by the means of some friends she had at court, to procure his liberty, which was at length effected. After his releasement, thinking to pass over into France, as formerly he intended, he was, the second time intercepted, and committed to Bridewell; from whence, after some time of durance, he was released by the procurement of the lady Lovett, his mistress in time past, then prisoner in the Fleet for her religion. Being a second time released, he again adventured to get beyond the seas, to the college of Rhemes: but was again, the third time stayed, and apprehended at the port: and, there, withal, committed again to Bridewell, from whence he had been delivered but a little before.

'In this, his imprisonment, he was very cruelly treated: for, first he was put into Little Ease, where he remained three days and three nights, not being able to stand, or lie, or sit, and fed only with bread and water, as both the keeper's wife, and Thomas himself, afterwards told Frances Felton, (then a maid, but afterwards married to one Mr. Salisbury,) his own sister. After this, he was put into the mill to grind, and was fed no otherwise, all the while he laboured in it, than he had been before in Little Ease, viz. with bread and water only. Then he was hanged up by the hands, to the end to draw from him, by way of confession, what priests he knew beyond the seas, or in England: which punishment was so grievous, that, therewith, the blood sprung forth at his fingers' ends. At another time, upon a Sunday, he was violently taken by certain officers, and carried betwixt two, fast bound in a chair, into the chapel at Bridewell, to their service. He having his hands at first at liberty, stopped his ears with his fingers, that he might not hear what the minister said : then, they bound down his hands also, to the chair; but being set down to the ground, bound in the manner aforesaid, he stamped with his feet, and made that noise with his mouth, shouting and hollowing, and crying oftentimes, Jesus, Jesus, that nothing which the minister said could be heard by any then present at the service. His sister, Frances Felton, afore-mentioned, who, at that time, came to the prison to visit him, was present at the church at this passage, not being then a catholic.

'After this, he was called to the bar, at the sessions of Newgate; the Spanish fleet making towards England, having then newly been defeated, he was questioned, whether he would have taken the queen's part, or the pope's and Spaniards', if those forces had landed? He answered, he would have taken part with God and his country. Then the judge asked him, whether he did acknowledge the queen to be the supreme head of the church of England? Whereupon, he made answer, That he had read divers chronicles, but never read that God ordained a woman should be supreme head of the church. For this speech of his, the judge condemned him. The next day, being Wednesday, the 28th of August, he was hanged near Branford, in Middlesex, with a priest, at the same time condemned with him, whose name was Mr. James Claxton or Clarkson. They were carried together, from Bridewell, on horseback, about four of the clock in the afternoon, and presently hanged, after their arrival at the place of execution. He suffered, about the age of twenty, or twenty-one. His friends had got a pardon for him, after his condemnation, which was brought to him immediately before he was to go to the place of execution; which, notwithstanding, he refused to accept of, choosing rather to die for God, than to live any longer in this world.' So far the manuscript relation of Mrs. Salisbury. Others say, that he was condemned for being reconciled to the catholic church. What his sister mentions, of his not accepting the pardon, I suppose must be understood by reason of some condition with which this pardon was clogged, which he could not, in conscience, accept of.


He was born in London, and going abroad, was, for some time, student in the college of Rhemes, and from thence, in 1582, was, with several others, sent to Rome, where he finished his studies, and was made priest, and so went upon the English mission. Here, he was soon after apprehended and cast into prison, and then sent into banishment: but he returned again, to the work of his Lord, and fell a second time, into the hands of the persecutors, by whom he was marked out for the slaughter, amongt the many others that were butchered in this year of blood. The bishop of Tarrasona, who calls Mr. Leigh a learned priests, relates, p. 607, that he, being present, with many others, when a catholic gentleman was examined upon his religion, by Elmer, the protestant bishop of London; and the lay gentleman excused himself from entering into argument with his lordship: upon which, the prelate began to triumph, as if the gentleman could say nothing for his religion. Mr. Leigh thought himself obliged modestly to offer not only to satisfy the queries which the bishop had proposed, but, in all other points of religion, to give an answer to whatever his lordship should think fit to object. The bishop, instead of accepting the proffer, called him a popish dog, and a traitor, and delivered him up to the secular court for his mouth to be stopped with a halter, as it was, not long after; though this way of arguing and determining controversies, appeared not a little shocking even to the protestants themselves, who were witnesses of it.

Mr. Leigh was condemned, as we have already seen from Mr. Stow's chronicle, on the 26th of Angust, 1588, for no other crime, but for having been made priest beyond the seas, and remaining in this realm

* From the bishop of Chalcedon's catalogue, from Dr. Champney's manuscript history, and from Bishop Vepez, 1. 5, chap. 1.

contrary to the statute. For this, he had sentence to die, as in cases of high treason, and was accordingly executed at Tyburn, August the 30th.

With Mr. Leigh were executed five others, viz: Edward Shelly, gentleman, of the family of the Shelleys, of Sussex, Richard Martin, Richard Flower, and John Roch, laymen, and Margaret Ward, gentlewoman; some for being reconciled to the church, others for abetting and relieving priests.- And as for Mrs. Ward, as we have seen from Mr. Stow, her crime was the conveying a cord to a priest in Bridewell, by moans of which he made his escape. But of her we shall say more by and by.

Dr. Champney, in his manuscript history, relates after Ribadaneira, 1. 4, De Schism, and bishop Yepez, 1. 5, chap. 1, that when these confessors of Christ were drawn through the streets of London, to Tyburn, a gentlewoman of fashion, animated with a zeal and fortitude above her sex, crying out with a loud voice, exhorted them to be constant in their faith; and then forcing her way through the crowd, and kneeling down, asked their benediction. Upon which she was immediately apprehended and committed to prison, as also was another catholic, who, at the place of execution, hearing one of the confessors earnestly requesting all catholics, if any were there present, to pray for him, because he stood in much need of their prayers, and not thinking it enough to pray sincerely in his heart, as others did, knelt down before all the multitude and prayed aloud for him, to the great encouragement of the confessor, and great mortification of the persecutors.


Mrs. Margaret Ward was born at Congleton, in Cheshire, of a gentleman's family, and was in the service of a lady of distinction, when Mr. Matson, a secular priest, was confined in Bridewell for his religion. The story of this gentleman is thus related by the bishop of Tarrasona, I. 2. c. 5.

Richard Watson was a priest of the seminary of Rhemes, a virtuous and zealous missioner, who had laboured much in the Lord's vineyard; but being apprehended, and confined to Bridewell, was, at length, by force of torments, and the insupportable labours, and other miseries of the place, prevailed upon, through human frailty, to go once to the protestant church; upon which he was set at liberty. But such was the remorse he felt in his soul after this sin, that, instead of bettering his condition, by being thus enlarged, he found his case far worse, and the present torments of his mind much more insupportable than those

* From Dr. Champm-v's manuscript, and the bishop of Tarrasona, in lib history of tlie persecution, 1. 5, chap. 2.

« AnteriorContinua »