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.
An Account of the Persecutions in Great Britain and Ireland, Prior to the Reign of Queen Mary I Part 9
Being before the bishop of London, Dr. Barnes was asked whether the saints prayed for us? To this he answered, that “he would leave that to God; but (said he) I will pray for you.”
On the thirteenth of July, 1541, these men were brought from the Tower to Smithfield, where they were all chained to one stake; and there suffered death with a constancy that nothing less than a firm faith in Jesus Christ could inspire.
One Thomas Sommers, an honest merchant, with three others, was thrown into prison, for reading some of Luther’s books, and they were condemned to carry those books to a fire in Cheapside; there they were to throw them in the flames; but Sommers threw him over, for which he was sent back to the Tower, where he was stoned to death.
Dreadful persecutions were at this time carried on at Lincoln, under Dr. Longland, the bishop of that diocese. At Buckingham, Thomas Bainard, and James Moreton, the one for reading the Lord’s Prayer in English, and the other for reading St. James’ Epistles in English, were both condemned and burnt alive.
Anthony Parsons, a priest, together with two others, was sent to Windsor, to be examined concerning heresy; and several articles were tendered to them to subscribe, which they refused. This was carried on by the bishop of Salisbury, who was the most violent persecutor of any in that age, except Bonner. When they were brought to the stake, Parsons asked for some drink, which is brought to him, he drank to his fellow sufferers, saying, “Be merry, my brethren, and lift up your hearts to God; for after this sharp breakfast I trust we shall have a good dinner in the Kingdom of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.” At these words Eastwood, one of the sufferers, lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, desiring the Lord above to receive his spirit. Parsons pulled the straw near to him, and then said to the spectators, “This is God’s armor, and now I am a Christian soldier prepared for battle: I look for no mercy but through the merits of Christ; He is my only Savior, in Him do I trust for salvation;” and soon after the fires were lighted, which burned their bodies, but could not hurt their precious and immortal souls. Their constancy triumphed over cruelty, and their sufferings will be held in everlasting remembrance.
Thus were Christ’s people betrayed in every way, and their lives bought and sold. For, in the said parliament, the king made this most blasphemous and cruel act, to be a law forever: that whatsoever they were that should read the Scriptures in the mother-tongue (which was then called “Wickliffe’s learning”), they should forfeit land, cattle, body, life, and goods, from their heirs forever, and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and most arrant traitors to the land.
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