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to me it is not so. It is the happiest day, and greatest joy, that ever befel me ; so that I may say with the prophet, hæc dies quam fecit Dominus, &c. This is the day which God hath made; a day wherein I may truly rejoice in my soul : for I am brought hither, a condemned man, to execution : for no other cause or reason alledged against me, than that I am a Roman catholic priest, and a monk of the order of St. Bennet.. And this I freely confessed myself. This confession and cause only bringeth me hither to execution. I give God thanks, that he has honoured me with the dignity of a priest, and I glory that I am a monk of this holy order, which first converted this kingdom from being heathens and infidels, to Christianity, and the knowledge of God; St. Augustin, being their leader, sent by St. Gregory the great, pope of Rome, with forty other monks.
• Here the sheriff interrupted him, and bid him tell none of his old stories and tales, and ordered the hangman to do his office, who immediately tied up the holy man to the gallows. What he spoke afterwards, was to express himself, how freely he forgave all who were accessory to his death ; and to pray for the king, queen, prince and royal progeny; and for a happy peace for the nation and the true knowledge of God; desiring all catholics to pray for him. Then he knelt on the side of the cart, (for being tied up he could not kneel down,) and made his prayer to himself; which being ended, lifting his eyes to heaven, and giving the appointed sign, he received absolution," from one of his brethren in the crowd, probably the same from whom we have copied the greatest part of this narration.” Then giving some money to the hangman, and pulling his cap down over his eyes, he waited in silent prayer, for the cart being drawn away about a quarter of an hour; for the carter, whose office it was, having a horror of concurring to the death of so holy and innocent a man, withdrew himself into the thick of the throng, and would not drive the cart away ; but another was found to do the job, and the man of God was suffered to hang till he expired. His dead body was cut down, bowelled, and quartered; but his head and quarters were not set up, as usual, on the gates and bridge, but buried in the old churchyard in Moorfields; and this by petition of the common-council of London to the parliament, hoping, as it is supposed, by this means sooner to obliterate his memory, and the impression which his comportment had made upon the people. ' His clothes and shirt, dyed with his blood, were redeemed of the hangman for 41. by father Robert And, a Benedictine. He suffered June 30, 1646, ætatis 53, relig. 33, missionis 26.
One of his fellow-prisoners expressed his esteem for him, by the following lines :
He was of princely race, of British blood,
One of the Douay manuscripts adds the following remarkable circumstance to the narration of his martyrdom, viz: that in the way whilst he was drawn from Southwark to Tyburn, it happened, that a collier met them on Cornhill, driving six strong horses with a load of coals ; who being obliged to stop, and make way for the hurdle and crowd that attended it, fumed and raged at the holy man, complaining aloud, that he should be stopped in his way for that traitor, as he called him: but mark what follows ; the hurdle was scarce passed, when one of the collier's horses, without any previous sign of hurt or illness, falls down dead in the street, and obliges his master to make a much longer stay, than that which so much offended him before. The same manuscript also takes notice, that the jailor was so much taken with the comportment of the man of God, that he accompanied him to the place of execution, and always spoke of him with the highest esteem.
EDWARD BAMBER, ALIAS, REDING, PRIEST.*
EDWARD BAMBER, commonly known upon the mission by the name of Reding, was son of Mr. Richard Bamber, and born at the place called the Moor, the ancient mansion-house of the family, lying not far from Paulton, in that part of Lancashire, called the Fylde. Having made a good progress in his grammar studies at home, he was sent abroad into Spain, to the English college at Valladolid, where he learnt his philosophy and divinity, and was ordained priest. But in what year this happened, says Mr. Knaresborough, or when he was sent upon the mission, my short memoirs do not tell us ; and they leave us as much in the dark, as to many other passages and particulars relating to the life and labours of this good priest, as well as to the history of his trial, of which we have a very imperfect account. But then, short as they are, they are very expressive of his zeal and indefatigable labours in gaining souls to God; his unwearied diligence in instructing the catholies committed to his charge ; disputing with protestants; and going about to do good every where, in times and places of the greatest danger, with a courage and firmness of mind, much spoken of and admired at thai time, and mentioned by one of his contemporary labourers and fellowprisoners, “in a short manuscript relation," as something that was wonderfully surprising, and, as he expresses it, above the power and strength of man.
• When, how, or where he was apprehended, I have not found, but only this, that he had lain three whole years a close prisoner in Lancaster castle before he was brought to the bar.' “ But now the judges going out of their several circuits, which for some time before they could not do by reason of the civil wars, and coming to Lancaster, Mr. Bamber and two other priests his companions were brought upon their trial.” Here, · his conduct was discreet and cautious, so as to
* From Mr. Knaresborough's manuscript collections.
give the judge no unnecessary provocation; but at the same time his comportment was remarkably courageous and brave, in a degree that was astonishing to the whole court; where he stood with such an air of fortitude and resolution of suffering in defence of truth, as might not have ill become even one of the most forward and zealous contessors of the Cyprianic age. Two fallen catholics, Malden and Osbaldeston, appeared against him as witnesses : these wretehes made oath that they had seen him administer baptism, and perform the ceremonies of marriage: and upon these slender proofs of his priesthood, the jury, by the judge's direction, found him guilty of the indictment, who thereupon had sentence in the usual form, to be hanged, cut down alive, &c., as in cases of high treason. All which Mr. Bamber heard with a composed countenance, and without manifesting the least sign of trouble or concern.
• It was on the 7th of August, when he and his two fellow priests and confessors were drawn on sledges to the place of execution, and at the same time a poor wretch, one Croft, condemned for felony, was brought to die with them. Mr. Bamber applied his discourse in a most affectionate manner to this poor man; beseeching him to take compassion on his soul, and provide for its eternal welfare, by true repentance of his sins, and embracing the true religion ; telling him for his encouragement, that it was never too late to make his peace with God, who showed mercy to the penitent thief at the hour of death ; and he will also pardon thee, said he, if, like him, thou wilt be converted to him, and truly repent of thy sins. Take courage, my dear friend, and boldly declare thyself a catholic, and withal confess some of thy more public sins, and be truly contrite and sorry for all ; and I, a priest and minister of Jesus Christ, will instantly, in his name and by his authority, absolve thee. The officers of justice, and the ministers, began here to storm and threaten, but Mr. Bamber stood his ground and carried his point. The prisoner fairly declaring his fixed resolution of dying in the faith and communion of the catholic church ; and having confessed aloud some of his public and scandalous crimes, and begged pardon for them, and at the same time signifying his sincere repentance for his sins in general, Mr. Bamber, according to promise, publicly absolved him, in the sight and hearing of the crowd, and to the intolerable mortification and confusion of the protestant ministers. But they were resolved, it seems, he should do no more mischief; and therefore bid him walk up the ladder, and prepare for death. The confessor obeyed their orders, having first taken leave of some friends, and sent a small token to some others, enjoining the messenger to tell them, from him, not to grieve at his death, for, says he, I hope to pray for them in heaven. Here mounting up some steps he halted, and taking a handful of money he threw it among the people, saying with a smiling countenance, that God loved a cheerful giver. Then, after some time spent in private devotions, he turned towards his fellow confessors, exhorting them to constancy and perseverance, having his eyes more particularly upon Mr. Whitaker, who by his looks appeared not a little ierrified at the approaches of death, which gave occasion to the protestants to be very busy in tempting him with the hopes of life, if he VOL. II.
would promise to conform to their religion. Mr. Bamber was speaking to him in the most tender and feeling manner, to be upon his guard, and beware of the enemy in that critical hour, on which the welfare of his soul was to depend for an eternity ;-when the sheriff called out hastily to the executioner to despatch him; and so he was that moment turned off the ladder, and permitted to hang a very short time, when the rope was cut, the confessor being yet alive; and thus was he butchered in a most cruel and savage manner, as my author, a priest and confessor, then actually a prisoner at Lancaster, has avowed in the relation abovementioned, which he drew up upon the subject of the death of these three priests. Mr. Bamber suffered at Lancaster, August 7, 1646.'
An ode or sonnet composed on his death, and that of his companions, speaks of him :
STANZA 27 and 28.
And choked him with a cord;
No mercy they afford.
And butcher him full soon;
And laugh when all was done.
JOHN WOODCOCK, ALIAS, FARINGDON, PRIEST. O.S. P.
JOHN WOODCOCK, called in religion, father Martin, of St. Felix, was born in Clayton, near Preston, in Lancashire, in the year 1603. His father was a protestant, his mother a catholic, who found means of sending her son over to the English college of St. Omer's to be there trained up by the fathers of the Society, in piety and learning. Here he studied his humanity ; and from hence he was sent to the English college of Rome, to learn his philosophy and divinity. But before he had gone through the usual course of his studies in that college, he conceived a strong desire of embracing a more strict and penitential kind of life. In order to this, he first applied himself to the Capuchins, but not succeeding with them, he made his application to the English Franciscans of Douay, by whom he was received, being clothed by R. F. Paul Heath, in 1631, and after his year's noviceship, making his profession in the hands of R. F. Francis Bell, who, as we have already seen, both gave a glorious testimony to their faith at Tyburn, anno 1643. Within a year or two after his profession, he was presented to the sacred order of priesthood; and some time after made preacher and confessor. He lived also for some time at Arras with Mr. Sheldon, in quality of his chaplain and confessarius, till he was called away by his superiors, in order to be sent upon the English mission.
In England, he discharged the part of a zealous and laborious mis. sionary, notwithstanding his frequent infirmities, till being desirous of ending his days in his convent, he obtained leave of his superiors 10
* From Certamen Seraphicum, p. 159, &c.
return thither: where he lived a most exemplary life, suffering much, from his almost continual illness, with remakable patience, till F. Paul Heath, having lately suffered at Tyburn, and the English friars at Douay having a solemn thanksgiving service on that occasion, where a French capuchin preached a most moving sermon upon the happiness of suffering in so good a cause ; F. Martin was so animated with a desire of meeting with the same crown, that he desisted not importuning his superiors, till he procured leave to return again upon the mission. He landed at Newcastle upon Tyne, and from thence, made the best of his way to Lancashire, his native country ; where he was apprehended the very first night after his arrival, and the next day, committed by a neighbouring justice of peace, to the connty jail of Lancaster castle, in which he was kept two whole years, suffering much from the incommodities of the place, and daily aspiring after his happy dissolution.
His trial came on in the beginning of August, 1646, when being brought to the bar, with his two companions, “Mr. Reding and Mr. Whitaker,” he confessed himself a priest, and a friar of the order of St. Francis ; his zeal during the time of his imprisonment, having furnished proofs enough of his being so, if he had had a mind to conceal it. Upon this confession, he was condemned to die, as in cases of high-treason. It is hardly to be expressed with what joy he received the sentence, breaking out into acts of thanksgiving, such as praise be to God! God be thanked, &c. He passed the last night of his mortal life in prison, in meditation and mental prayer; and on the next day, being the 7th of August, 1646, he was drawn, together with the two gentlemen abovenamed, both priests of the secular clergy, to the place of execution ; the catholics being much comforted and edified, and the protestants astonished and confounded, to see that cheerfulness and courage with which these servants of God went to meet that barbarous and ignominious death to which they were condemned.
At the place of execution, F. Woodcock being ordered up the ladder, after some short time spent in his private devotions, offered to speak to the people of the cause of his death, and the truth of the catholic faith ; but he was quickly interrupted by the sheriff, and Aung off the ladder by the executioner. Some say the rope broke immediately, so that being perfectly sensible, he was ordered up the ladder again, to be hanged a second time. But however this may be, it seems he was scarce half hanged at last, but barbarously cut down and butchered alive. He suffered at Lancaster, in the forty-fourth year of his age, the fifteenth of his religious profession, and the thirteenth of his priesthood. His head is kept in a cloister of the English Francisans at Douay.
N. B.-F. Woodcock, in some catalogues, is known by the name of Thompson.
THOMAS WHITAKER, PRIEST. • He was son of Thomas and Helen Whitaker, born at Burnley, in Lancashire, a small market town, in Blackburn hundred, where he, the
* From Mr. Knaresborough's manuscript Collections.