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.
Rev. Richard Yeoman
This devout aged person was curate to Dr. Taylor, at Hadley, and eminently qualified for his sacred function. Dr. Taylor left him the curacy at his departure, but no sooner had Mr. Newall gotten the benefice, than he removed Mr. Yeoman, and substituted a Romish priest. After this he wandered from place to place, exhorting all men to stand faithfully to God’s Word, earnestly to give themselves unto prayer, with patience to bear the cross now laid upon them for their trial, with boldness to confess the truth before their adversaries, and with an undoubted hope to wait for the crown and reward of eternal felicity. But when he perceived his adversaries lay wait for him, he went into Kent, and with a little packet of laces, pins, points, etc., he traveled from village to village, selling such things, and in this manner subsisted himself, his wife, and children.
At last Justice Moile, of Kent, took Mr. Yeoman, and set him in the stocks a day and a night; but, having no evident matter to charge him with, he let him go again. Coming secretly again to Hadley, he tarried with his poor wife, who kept him privately, in a chamber of the townhouse, commonly called the Guildhall, for more than a year. During this time the good old father abode in a chamber locked up all day, spending his time in devout prayer, reading the Scriptures, and in carding the wool which his wife spun. His wife also begged bread for herself and her children, by which precarious means they supported themselves. Thus the saints of God sustained hunger and misery, while the prophets of Baal lived in festivity, and were costly pampered at Jezebel’s table.
Information being at length given to Newall, that Yeoman was secreted by his wife, he came, attended by the constables, and broke into the room where the object of his search lay in bed with his wife. He reproached the poor woman for being a whore, and would have indecently pulled the clothes off, but Yeoman resisted both this act of violence and the attack upon his wife’s character, adding that he defied the pope and popery. He was then taken out, and set in stocks until the day.
In the cage also with him was an old man, named John Dale, who had sat there three or four days, exhorting the people during the time service was performed by Newall and his curate. His words were, “O miserable and blind guides, will ye ever be blind leaders of the blind? Will ye never amend? Will ye never see the truth of God’s Word? Will neither God’s threats nor promises enter into your hearts? Will the blood of the martyrs nothing mollify your stony stomachs? O obdurate, hard-hearted, perverse, and crooked generation! to whom nothing can do good.”
These words he spake in the fervency of spirit against the superstitious religion of Rome; wherefore Newall caused him forthwith to be attached and set in the stocks in a cage, where he was kept until Sir Henry Doile, a justice, came to Hadley.
When Yeoman was taken, the parson called earnestly upon Sir Henry Doile to send them both to prison. Sir Henry Doile as earnestly entreated the person to consider the age of the men and their mean condition; they were neither persons of note nor preachers; wherefore he proposed to let them be punished a day or two and to dismiss them, at least John Dale, who was no priest, and therefore, as he had so long sat in the cage, he thought it punishment enough for this time. When the parson heard this, he was exceedingly mad, and in a great rage called them pestilent heretics, unfit to live in the commonwealth of Christians.
Sir Henry, fearing to appear too merciful, Yeoman and Dale were pinioned, bound like thieves with their legs under the horses’ bellies, and carried to Bury jail, where they were laid in irons; and because they continually rebuked popery, they were carried into the lowest dungeon, where John Dale, through the jail-sickness and evil-keeping, died soon after: his body was thrown out, and buried in the fields. He was a man of sixty-six years of age, a weaver by occupation, well learned in the holy Scriptures, steadfast in his confession of the true doctrines of Christ as set forth in King Edward’s time; for which he joyfully suffered prison and chains, and from this worldly dungeon, he departed in Christ to eternal glory and the blessed paradise of everlasting felicity.
After Dale’s death, Yeoman was removed to Norwich prison, where, after strait and evil keeping, he was examined upon his faith and religion, and required to submit himself to his holy father the pope. “I defy him, (quoth he), and all his detestable abomination: I will in no wise have to do with him.” The chief articles that objected to him, were his marriage and the Mass sacrifice. Finding he continued steadfast in the truth, he was condemned, degraded, and not only burnt but most cruelly tormented in the fire. Thus he ended this poor and miserable life, and entered into that blessed bosom of Abraham, enjoying with Lazarus that rest that God has prepared for His elect.
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