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.
Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641 part 20
In the reign of King James II they were again interrupted, for in a parliament held at Dublin in the year 1689, great numbers of the Protestant nobility, clergy, and gentry of Ireland, were attainted of high treason. The government of the kingdom was, at that time, invested in the earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted papist, and an inveterate enemy to the Protestants. By his orders they were again persecuted in various parts of the kingdom. The revenues of the city of Dublin were seized, and most of the churches converted into prisons. And had it not been for the resolution and uncommon bravery of the garrisons in the city of Londonderry, and the town of Inniskillin, there had not one place remained for refuge to the distressed Protestants in the whole kingdom; but all must have been given up to King James, and to the furious popish party that governed him.
The remarkable siege of Londonderry was opened on the eighteenth of April, 1689, by twenty thousand papists, the flower of the Irish army. The city was not properly circumstanced to sustain a siege, the defenders consisting of a body of raw undisciplined Protestants, who had fled thither for shelter, and half a regiment of Lord Mountjoy’s disciplined soldiers, with the principal part of the inhabitants, making it all only seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men.
The besieged hoped, at first, that their stores of corn and other necessaries, would be sufficient; but by the continuance of the siege their wants increased; and these became at last so heavy that for a considerable time before the siege was raised a pint of coarse barley, a small quantity of greens, a few spoonfuls of starch, with a very moderate proportion of horse flesh, were reckoned a week’s provision for a soldier. And they were, at length, reduced to such extremities that they ate dogs, cats, and mice.
Their miseries increasing with the siege, many, through mere hunger and want, pined and languished away, or fell dead in the streets. And it is remarkable, that when their long-expected succors arrived from England, they were upon the point of being reduced to this alternative, either to preserve their existence by eating each other, or attempting to fight their way through the Irish, which must have infallibly produced their destruction.
These succors were most happily brought by the ship Mountjoy of Derry, and the Phoenix of Colerain, at which time they had only nine lean horses left with a pint of meal to each man. By hunger, and the fatigues of war, their seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men were reduced to four thousand three hundred, one fourth part of whom were rendered unserviceable.
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