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Examinations and martyrdom of Dr. Rowland Taylor, A.D. 1555 online

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book." Then the Lord Chancellor said, " Thou art a very
varlet." To that Dr. Taylor answered, " That is as ill as ' raca, '
or ' fool.' "* Then the Lord Chancellor said, " Thou art an
ignorant beetle-brow." To that Dr. Taylor answered, " I have
read over and over again the holy Scriptures, and St. Augus-
tine's works through ; St. Cyprian, Eusebius, Origen, Gregory
Nazianzen, with divers other books throughout: therefore, I
thank God, I am not utterly ignorant. Besides these, my lord,
I professed the civil laws, as your lordship did ; and I have read
over the canon law also." The Lord Chancellor said, " With
a corrupt judgment thou readest all things : touching my pro-
fession, it is divinity, in which I have written divers books."
Then said Dr. Taylor, " My lord, ye did write one book, ' De
Vera Obedientia :' I would you had been constant in that ; for
indeed you never did declare a good conscience that I heard of,
but in that one book." The Lord Chancellor said, " Tut, tut,
tut ; I wrote against Bucer, in priests' marriages : but such
books please not such wretches as thou art, which hast been
married many years." To that Dr. Taylor answered, " I am
married indeed, and I have nine children in holy matrimony,
I thank God: and this I am sure of, that your proceedings now
at this present in this realm against priests' marriages, is the
maintenance of the doctrine of devils, against natural law, civil
law, canon law, general councils, canons of the apostles, ancient
doctors, and God's laws."

Then the Lord Chancellor said, " Thou sayest that priests
may be married by God's law. How provest thou that ? "
Dr. Taylor answered, " By the plain words and sentences of
St. Paul, both to Timothy and to Titus, where he speaks most
evidently of the marriage of priests, deacons, and bishops. And

* Matt. v. 22.


St. Chrj r sostom, writing upon the Epistle to Timothy, saith,
' It is a heresy to say that a bishop may not be married.' " Then
said the Lord Chancellor, " Thou liest of Chrysostom. But
thou doest, as all thy companions do, belie ever without all
shame both the Scriptures and the doctors."

At length the Lord Chancellor said, " To make an end, wilt
thou not return again with us to the Catholic Church?" and
with that he rose. And Dr. Taylor said, " By God's grace, I
will never depart from Christ's Church."

Then Dr. Taylor required that he might have some of his
friends to come to him in prison : and the Lord Chancellor said,
" Thou shalt have judgment within this week :" and so he was
delivered again unto his keeper.

On the last day of January, 1555, Dr. Taylor and Master
Bradford, and Master Saunders, were for the last time called to
appear before the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishops of Nor-
wich, London, Salisbury, and Durham, and there were charged
again with heresy and schism, and a determinate answer was
required, whether they would submit themselves to the Roman
Bishop and abjure their errors ; or else they would, according to
their laws, proceed to their condemnation.

When Dr. Taylor and his fellows, Master Bradford and
Master Saunders, heard this, they answered stoutly and boldly
that they would not depart from the truth which they had
,— aached in King Edward's days, neither would they submit
themselves to the Romish Antichrist ; but they thanked God for
so great mercy, that he would call them to be worthy to suffer
for his word and truth.

When the bishops saw them so boldly, constantly, and
unmoveably fixed in the truth, they read the sentence of death
upon them, which when they had heard, they most joyfully gave
God thanks, and stoutly said unto the Bishops, " We doubt not
but God the righteous judge will require our blood at your
hands, and the proudest of you all shall repent this receiving
again of Antichrist, and your tyranny that ye now show against
the flock of Christ." So was Dr. Taylor condemned, committed
to the Clink, and the keepers charged straitly to keep him.

When the keeper brought him towards the prison, the people
flocked about to gaze upon him ; unto whom he said, " God be
praised, good people, I am come away from them undefined, and
will confirm the truth with my blood." So was he bestowed in
the Clink till it was toward night, and then he was removed to
the Compter by the Poultry.

In a letter written to a friend of his, after his last examination
and condemnation, the other causes, besides his marriage, for
which he was condemned, are thus set down : —


" My second cause why I was condemned a heretic is, that I
denied transubstantiation, by the which they do believe, and will
compel all others to believe, that immediately after the words
called ' the words of consecration,' there is no more bread and
wine in the sacrament, but the substance only of the body and
blood of Christ together with his Godhead : so that the same
being now Christ, both God and man, ought to be worshipped
w r ith godly honour, and to be offered to God, both for the quick
and the dead, as a sacrifice propitiatory and satisfactory for the
same. This matter was not long debated in words : but because
I denied the foresaid Papistical doctrines, yea, rather plainly,
most wicked idolatry, blasphemy, and heresy, I was judged a

" I did also affirm the Pope to be Antichrist, and Popery Anti-
christianity ; and I confessed the doctrine of the Bible to be a
sufficient doctrine, touching all and singular matters of Christian
religion and of salvation.

" I also alleged, that the oath against the supremacy of the
Bishop of Rome was a lawful oath, and so was the oath made by
us all touching the king's or queen's pre-eminence : for Chry-
sostom saith, that apostles, evangelists, and all men in every
realm, were ever, and ought to be ever, touching both body and
goods, in subjection to the kingly authority, who hath the sword
in his hand, as God's principal officer and governor in every
realm." *

When Dr. Taylor had lain in the said Compter in the Poultry
a seven-night or thereabouts prisoner, on the 4th of February
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, with others, came to the
said Compter to degrade him, bringing with them such orna-
ments as do appertain to their massing mummery. Now being
come, he called for Dr. Taylor to be brought unto him, the
Bishop being then in the chamber where the keeper of the
Compter and his wife lay. So Dr. Taylor was brought down
from the chamber above that, to the said Bonner. At his
coming, the Bishop said, " Master Doctor, I would you would
remember yourself, and turn to your mother holy Church ; so
may you do well enough, and I will sue for your pardon."
Whereunto Master Taylor answered, " I would you and your
fellows would turn to Christ. As for me I will not turn to
Antichrist." " Well," said the Bishop, " I am come to degrade
you : wherefore, put on these vestures." " No," said Dr.
Taylor, "I will not." "Wilt thou not?" said the Bishop;
" I shall make thee, ere I go." Quoth Dr. Taylor, " You shall

* The above extracts from Dr. Taylor's letters are taken from the " Letters of
the Martyrs," with a preface by Coverdale, pp. 130 — 134. Lond. 1837« The
letters are found also in Foxe.


not, by the grace of God." Then he charged him upon his
obedience to do it ; but he would not do it for him ; so he
willed another to put them on his back. And when Dr. Taylor
was thoroughly famished therewith, he set his hands by his
sides, walking up and down, and said, " How say you, my Lord,
am I not a goodly fool ? How say you, my masters, if I were
in Cheap,* should I not have boys enough to laugh at these
apish toys, and toying trumpery ?"

At the last, when the Bishop should have given Dr. Taylor
a stroke on the breast with his crosier staff, as part of the cere-
mony, his chaplain said, " My Lord, strike him not, for he will
sure strike again." " Yea," said Dr. Taylor, laughing at his
fear, " the cause is Christ's, and I were no good Christian, if I
would not fight in my Master's quarrel." So the Bishop laid
his curse upon him, but struck him not. Then Dr. Taylor
said, " Though you do curse me, yet God doth bless me. I
have the witness of my conscience, that ye have done me wrong
and violence; and yet I pray God, if it be his will, forgive you.
But from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and his detestable
enormities, good Lord, deliver us." And in" going up to his
chamber, he still said, " God deliver me from you, God deliver
me from you."

The night after he was degraded, by the gentleness of the
keepers, his wife, his son, and John Hull his servant, were per-
mitted to sup with him ; and at their coming-in before supper,
they kneeled down and prayed, saying the litany.

After supper, walking up and down, he gave God thanks for
his grace, who had so called him and given him strength to
abide by his holy word ; and turning to his son Thomas, he said,
" My dear son, Almighty God bless thee, and give thee his Holy
Spirit, to be a true servant of Christ, to learn his word, and
constantly to stand by his truth all thy life long. And my son,
see that thou fear God always. Flee from all sin, and wicked
living ; be virtuous, serve God with daily prayer, and apply to
thy book. In any wise see thou be obedient to thy mother, love
her, and serve her; be ruled by her now in thy youth, and
follow her good counsel in all things. Beware of wicked com-
pany, of young men that fear not God, but follow their wicked
lusts and vain appetites. Flee from whoredom, and hate all
filthy living, remembering that I thy father do die in the defence
of holy marriage. Another day, when God shall bless thee,
love and cherish the poor people, and count that thy chief
riches is to be rich in alms ; and when thy mother is waxed old,
forsake her not, but provide for her to thy power, and see that
she lack nothing. For so will God bless thee, and give thee
* Cheapside.


long life upon earth and prosperity : which I pray God to grant

Then turning to his wife, he said thus : " My dear wife, con-
tinue steadfast in the fear and love of God ; keep yourself
undefiled from their Popish idolatries and superstitions. I have
been unto you a faithful yoke-fellow, and so have you been
unto me, for the which I pray God to reward you, and doubt
you not, dear wife, but God will reward it."

Then giving her some advice as to her marrying again after
his death, he added, " I pray you, bring up my children in the
fear of God, and in learning, to the uttermost of your power,
and keep them from this Romish idolatry." When he had thus
said, they with weeping tears prayed together, and kissed one
the other ; and he gave to his wife a book of the Church-
service, set out by King Edward, which he, in the time of his
imprisonment, daily used. And unto his son Thomas he gave a
Latin book, containing the notable sayings of the old martyrs,
gathered out of the Ecclesiastical History [by Eusebius].

On the next morrow, being the 6th day of February, the
Sheriff of London, with his officers, came to the Compter by
two o'clock in the morning, and brought forth Dr. Taylor, and
without any light led him to the Woolsack, an inn without
Aldgate. Dr. Taylor's wife, suspecting that her husband should
that night be carried away, watched all night in St. Botolph's
Church-porch beside Aldgate, having with her two children, the
one named Elizabeth, thirteen years of age (whom being left
without father or mother, Dr. Taylor had brought up of alms
from three years old) ; the other named Mary, Dr. Taylor's own

Now, when the Sheriff and his company came against St.
Botolph's Church, Elizabeth cried, saying, " O my dear father !
Mother, mother, here is my father led away !" Then cried his
wife, " Rowland ! Rowland ! where art thou ?" — for it was a
very dark morning, that the one could not see the other. Dr.
Taylor answered, " Dear wife, I am here ;" and stayed. The
Sheriffs men would have led him forth, but the Sheriff* said,
" Stay a little, masters, I pray you ; and let him speak to his
wife ;" and so they stayed. Then came she to him, and he took
his daughter Mary in his arms ; and he, his wife, and Elizabeth
kneeled down, and said the Lord's Prayer. At which sight the
Sheriff wept apace, and so did divers others of the company.
After they had prayed, he rose up and kissed his wife, and shook
her by the hand, and said, " Farewell, my dear wife ; be of
good comfort, for I am quiet in my conscience. God shall stir

• This Sheriff was Master Chester.


up a father for my children." And then he kissed his daughter
Mary and said, " God bless thee, and make thee his servant :"
and kissing Elizabeth, he said, " God bless thee. I pray you
all stand strong and steadfast unto Christ and his word, and
keep you from idolatry." Then said his wife, " God be with
thee, dear Rowland. I will, with God's grace, meet thee at

And so was he led forth to the Woolsack, and his wife fol-
lowed him. As soon as they came to the Woolsack, he was put
into a chamber, wherein he was kept with four yeomen of the
guard and the Sheriff's men. Dr. Taylor, as soon as he was
come into the chamber, fell down on his knees, and gave himself
wholly to prayer. The Sheriff then seeing Dr. Taylor's wife
there, would in no case grant her to speak any more with her
husband ; but gently desired her to go to his house and take it
as her own, and promised her she should lack nothing, and sent
two officers to conduct her thither. Notwithstanding, she
desired to go to her mother's, whither the officers led her, and
charged her mother to keep her there till they came again.

Thus remained Dr. Taylor in the Woolsack, kept by the
Sheriff and his company, till eleven o'clock. At which time the
Sheriff of Essex was ready to receive him ; and so they set him
on horseback within the inn, the gates being shut. At the
coming out of the gates, John Hull, before spoken of, stood at
the rails with Thomas, Dr. Taylor's son. When Dr. Taylor
saw them, he called them, saying, " Come hither, my son
Thomas." And John Hull lifted the child up, and set him on
he horse before his father; and Dr. Taylor put off his hat, and
said to the people that stood there looking on him ; " Good
people, this is mine own son, begotten in lawful matrimony ; and
God be blessed for lawful matrimony." Then lifted he up his
eyes towards heaven, and prayed for his son, laid his hat
upon the child's head, and blessed him, and so delivered the
child to John Hull, whom he took by the hand, and said,
" Farewell, John Hull, the faithfullest servant that ever man
had." And so they rode forth, the Sheriff of Essex, with four
yeomen of the guard, and the Sheriff's men leading him.

When they were come almost to Brentwood, they caused to
be made for Dr. Taylor a close hood, with two holes for his
eyes to look out at, and a slit for his mouth to breathe at. This
they did, that no man should know him, nor he speak to any
man. Which practice they used also with others. Their own
consciences told them that they led innocent lambs to the
slaughter. Wherefore they feared, lest if the people should
have heard them speak, or have seen them, they might have
been much more strengthened by their godly exhortations, to


stand steadfast in God's word, and to fly the superstitions and
idolatries of the Papacy.

All the way Dr. Taylor was joyful and merry, as one that
accounted himself going to a most pleasant banquet or bridal.
He spake many notable things to the Sheriff and yeomen of the
guard that conducted him, and often moved them to weep,
through his much earnest calling upon them to repent, and to
amend their evil and wicked living. Oftentimes also he caused
them to wonder and rejoice, to see him so constant and steadfast,
void of all fear, joyful in heart, and glad to die. Of these
yeomen, three used Dr. Taylor friendly, but the fourth, whose
name was Homes, used him very unkindly and churlishly.

At Chelmsford the Sheriff of Suffolk met them to receive him,
and carry him forth into Suffolk. And being at supper, the
Sheriff of Essex very earnestly laboured him to return to the
Popish religion, thinking with fair words to persuade him, and
said, " Good master Doctor, we are right sorry for you, con-
sidering what the loss is of such a one as ye might be, if ye
would. God hath given you great learning and wisdom ; where-
fore ye have been in great favour and reputation in times past
with the council and highest of this realm. Besides this, ye are
a man of goodly personage, in your best strength, and by nature
like to live many years ; and without doubt, ye should in time
to come, be in as good reputation as ever ye were, or rather
better. For ye are well beloved of all men, as well for your
virtues as for your learning ; and methinketh it were great pity
you should cast away yourself willingly, and so come to such a
painful and shameful death. Ye should do much better to
revoke your opinions, and return to the Catholic Church of
Rome ; acknowledge the Pope's holiness to be the supreme
head of the Universal Church, and reconcile yourself to him.
Ye may do well yet, if ye will ; doubt ye not but ye shall find
favour at the Queen's hands. I and all these your friends will
be suitors for your pardon, which, no doubt, ye shall obtain.
This counsel I give ye, good master Doctor, of a good heart, and
good-will toward ye; and thereupon I drink to ye.'' In like
manner said all the yeomen of the guard, "Upon that condition,
master Doctor, we will all drink to you."

When they had all drunk to him, and the cup was come to
him, he stayed a little, as one studying what answer he might
give. At the last, thus he answered and said, " Master Sheriff,
and my masters all, I heartily thank you for your good will. I
have hearkened to your words and marked well your counsels.
And to be plain with you, I do perceive that I have been de-
ceived myself, and am like to deceive a great many of Hadley
of their expectation." With that word they all rejoiced. " Yea,


good master Doctor," said the Sheriff, " God's blessing on your
heart : hold you there still. It is the comfortablest word that
we have heard you speak yet. What I should ye cast away
yourself in vain ? Play a wise man's part, and I dare warrant
it, ye shall find favour." Thus they rejoiced very much at the
word, and were very merry. At the last, " Good Master
Doctor," said the Sheriff, " What meant ye by this, that ye say
ye think ye have been deceived yourself, and think ye shall de-
ceive many a one in Hadley ? " " Would ye know my meaning
plainly," said he ? " Yea," said the Sheriff, " good Master
Doctor, tell it us plainly."

Then said Doctor Taylor, " I will tell you how I have been
deceived ; and, as I think, I shall deceive a great many. I am,
as you see, a man that hath a very great carcass, which I
thought should have been buried in Hadley church-yard, if I
had died in my bed, as I well hoped I should have done. But
herein I see I was deceived ; and there are a great number of
worms in Hadley church-yard, which should have had jolly
feeding upon this carrion, which they have looked for many a
day. But now I know we be deceived, both I and they ; for
this carcass must be burnt to ashes : and so shall they lose their
bait and feeding, that they looked to have had of it ! "

When the Sheriff and his company heard him say so,' they
were amazed, and looked one on another, marvelling at the
man's constant mind, who thus, without all fear, made but a jest
at the cruel torment and death now at hand prepared for him.
Thus was their expectation wholly disappointed. And in this
appeareth what was his meditation in his chiefest wealth and
prosperity ; namely, that he should shortly die and feed worms
in his grave.

When they were come to Lavenham, the Sheriff of Suffolk, to
whom Dr. Taylor had been delivei-ed at Chelmsford, stayed there
two days ; and thither came to him a great number of gentlemen
and justices upon great horses, who all were appointed to aid the
Sheriff. These gentlemen laboured Dr. Taylor very sore, to
reduce him to the Romish religion, promising him his pardon,
" which," said they, " we have here for you." They promised
him great promotions, yea, a bishoprick if he would take it ; but
all their labour and flattering words were in vain. For he had
not built his house upon the sand, in peril of falling at every
puff of wind ; but upon the sure and immoveable rock, Christ.
Wherefore he abode constant and unmoveable unto the end.

After two days [on the 9th of February], the Sheriff and
his company led Dr. Taylor towards Hadley, and coming within
two miles of Hadley he desired to light off his horse : which
done, he leaped, and skipped once or twice, as men commonly


do in dancing. " Why, Master Doctor," said the Sheriff, " how-
do you now ? " He answered, " Well, God be praised, good
Master Sheriff, never better : for now I know I am almost at
home. I lack not past two stiles to go over, and I am even at
my Father's house. But, Master Sheriff," said he, " shall not
we go through Hadley ? " " Yes," said the Sheriff, " you shall
go through Hadley." Then said he, " O good Lord, I thank
thee : I shall yet once ere I die see my flock, whom thou,
Lord, knowest I have most heartily loved and truly taught.
Good Lord, bless them, and keep them steadfast in thy Word
and truth."

When they were now come to Hadley, and came riding over
the bridge, at the bridge-foot waited a poor man, with five small
children ; who, when he saw Dr. Taylor, he and his children fell
down upon their knees, and held up their hands, and cried with
a loud voice, and said, " O dear father and good shepherd, Dr.
Taylor : God help and succour thee, as thou hast many a time
succoured me and my poor children." Such witness had the
servant of God of his virtuous and charitable alms given in his
lifetime. For God would now the poor should testify of his
good deeds, to his singular comfort, to the example of others,
and confusion of his persecutors and tyrannous adversaries.
For the Sheriff and others that led him to death, were wonder-
fully astonished at this ; and the Sheriff sore rebuked the poor
man for so crying. The streets of Hadley were beset on both
sides the way, with men and women of the town and country,
who waited to see him. When they beheld him so led to death,
with weeping eyes and lamentable voices, they cried, saying one
to another, " Ah I good Lord, there goeth our good shepherd
from us, who so faithfully hath taught us, so fatherly hath cared
for us, and so godly hath governed us. O merciful God ! what
shall we poor scattered lambs do ? What shall come of this
most wicked world ? Good Lord, strengthen him and comfort
him : " with such other most lamentable and piteous voices.
Wherefore the people were sore rebuked by the Sheriff and the
catchpoles his men, that led him. And Dr. Taylor evermore
said to the people, " I have preached to you God's Word and
truth, and am come this day to seal it with my blood."

Coming against the alms-houses, which he well knew, he cast
to the poor people money, which remained of what good people
had given him in the time of his imprisonment ; and which he
had put in a glove ready for that purpose. And coming to the
last of the alms-houses, and not seeing the poor that there dwelt
ready at their doors, as the others were, he asked, " Is the blind
man and blind woman that dwelt here alive ? " It was answered,
" Yea; they are there within." Then he threw glove and all in
at the window, and so rode forth.


Thus this good father and provider for the poor, now took
his leave of those, for whom all his life he had a singular care
and study. For it was his custom, once in a fortnight at the
least, to call upon Sir Henry Doyle, and others the rich cloth-
makers, to go with him to the almshouses, and there to see how
the poor lived ; what they lacked in meat, drink, clothing,
bedding, or any other necessaries. The like did he also to other
poor men that had many children, or were sick. Then would
he exhort and comfort them ; and, where he found cause, rebuke
the unruly, and what they lacked, that gave he after his power ;
and what he was not able, he caused the rich and wealthy men
to minister unto them. Thus showed he himself in all things an
example to his flock, worthy to be followed.

At the last, coming to Aldham Common, the place where he
should suffer, and seeing a great multitude of people gathered
together, he asked, " What place is this, and what means it that
so much people are gathered hither ? " It was answered, " It


Online LibraryJohn FoxeExaminations and martyrdom of Dr. Rowland Taylor, A.D. 1555 → online text (page 2 of 3)