Edited by William Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . . Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time, it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”
Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
The Life and Conduct of Dr. Rowland Taylor of Hadley part 4 of 4
All the way Dr. Taylor was joyful and merry, as one that counted 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.
When Dr. Taylor had arrived at Aldham Common, the place where he should suffer, seeing a great multitude of people, he asked, “What place is this, and what meaneth it that so much people are gathered hither?” It was answered, “It is Aldham Common, the place where you must suffer; and the people have come to look upon you.” Then he said, “Thanked be God, I am even at home”; and he alighted from his horse and with both hands rent the hood from his head.
His head had been notched and clipped like as a man would clip a fool’s; which cost the good bishop Bonner had bestowed upon him. But when the people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long white beard, they burst out with weeping tears, and cried, saying: “God save thee, good Dr. Taylor! Jesus Christ strengthen thee, and help thee! the Holy Ghost comfort thee!” with such other like good wishes.
When he had prayed, he went to the stake and kissed it, and set himself into a pitch barrel, which they had put for him to stand in, and stood with his back upright against the stake, with his hands folded together, and his eyes towards heaven, and continually prayed.
They then bound him with the chains, and having set up the fagots, one Warwick cruelly cast a fagot at him, which struck him on his head, and cut his face, sot hat the blood ran down. Then said Dr. Taylor, “O friend, I have harm enough; what needed that?”
Sir John Shelton standing by, as Dr. Taylor was speaking, and saying the Psalm Miserere in English, struck him on the lips: “You knave,” he said, “speak Latin: I will make thee.” At last they kindled the fire; and Dr. Taylor holding up both his hands, calling upon God, and said, “Merciful Father of heaven! for Jesus Christ, my Savior’s sake, receive my soul into Thy hands!” So he stood still without either crying or moving, with his hands folded together, until Soyce, with a halberd struck him on the head until his brains fell out, and the corpse fell down into the fire.
Thus rendered up this man of God has blessed soul into the hands of his merciful Father, and to his most dear Savior Jesus Christ, whom he most entirely loved, faithfully and earnestly preached, obediently followed in living, and constantly glorified in death.
“I say to my wife, and to my children, The Lord gave you unto me, and the Lord hath taken me from you, and you from me: blessed be the name of the Lord! I believe that they are blessed which die in the Lord. God careth for sparrows, and for the hairs of our heads. I have ever found Him more faithful and favorable, than is any father or husband. Trust ye therefore in Him by the means of our dear Savior Christ’s merits: believe, love, fear, and obey Him: pray to Him, for He hath promised to help. Count me not dead, for I shall certainly live, and never die. I go before, and you shall follow after, to our long home.”
On the morrow 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 her two children, the one named Elizabeth, of 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 daughter.
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 his wife cried, “Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?”–for it was a very dark morning, that the one could not well see the other. Dr. Taylor answered, “Dear wife, I am here”; and stayed. The sheriff’s 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 up a father for my children.”
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