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Gilbert Kirk (Kirke)

Mayor of Exeter (1531 -32); elected 29 September

After antipapal papers had been posted on the cathedral doors in Exeter in 1531, the mayor and his officers were not especially active in attempting to find the person responsible, but the bishop and higher clergy were determined to do so. 1570, p. 1180; 1576, p. 1010; 1583, p. 1037.

 
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John Hooker (Vowel)

(c. 1527 - 1601) [ODNB]

Antiquary, civic administrator; evangelical in religion; first chamberlain of Exeter 1555; in the service of Sir Peter Carew in Ireland 1568; MP Athenry in the Irish parliament 1569; MP Exeter 1571

John Hooker gathered and recounted the story of Thomas Benet. 1570, p. 1180-84; 1576, pp. 1009-12; 1583, pp. 1037-39.

 
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John Veysey (formerly Harman)

(c. 1464 - 1554) [ODNB]

BA Oxford; BCL by 1489; DCL by 1495; archdeacon of Chester 1499; chancellor of Exeter 1502; president of Magdalen College 1507, resigned the same year; dean of Exeter 1509; dean of the Chapel Royal 1514; dean of St George's chapel, Windsor 1515

Bishop of Exeter (1519 - 51), resigned

Thomas Wolsey, William Warham, Cuthbert Tunstall, John Fisher, Nicholas West, John Veysey, John Longland, John Clerk and Henry Standish took part in the examination of Thomas Bilney and Thomas Arthur in 1527-28. 1563, pp. 461-78; 1570, pp. 1134-46; 1576, pp. 971-81; 1583, pp. 998-1008.

After antipapal papers had been posted on the cathedral doors in Exeter, the mayor and his officers were not especially active in attempting to find the person responsible, but the bishop, John Veysey, and higher clergy were determined to do so. Veysey gave orders that the clergy were to preach daily against the heresy. 1570, p. 1180; 1576, p. 1010; 1583, p. 1037.

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Thomas Benet was arrested and was imprisoned in the bishop's prison, placed in the stocks and in irons. He was examined by John Veysey. 1570, p. 1182; 1576, p. 1011; 1583, p. 1038.

Veysey was one of the subscribers to the Bishops' Book. 1570, p. 1211; 1576, p. 1037; 1583, p. 1064.

 
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Thomas Benet (alias Dusgate)

(d. 1532) [ODNB; Fines]

Clergyman of Cambridge; fellow of Corpus Christi College (1523 - 25); visited Luther; burnt at Liverydole in Heavitree, near Exeter

At Cambridge, Thomas Benet was well acquainted with Thomas Bilney. He left Cambridge, married and taught school in Torrington and then Exeter. He wrote letters of comfort to William Strowde, imprisoned in Exeter on suspicion of heresy. 1570, p. 1180; 1576, p. 1010; 1583, p. 1037.

Benet set up papers on the cathedral door in Exeter proclaiming the pope to be antichrist. The author, yet unknown, was sought eagerly and was cursed from the pulpit with bell, book and candle. Benet, in the audience, betrayed himself by laughing. Benet was arrested and imprisoned. 1570, p. 1181; 1576, p. 1010; 1583, p. 1037.

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Benet was examined and readily confessed to posting the bills. The following day he was sent to the bishop, who had him placed in the bishop's prison in stocks and strong irons. 1570, p. 1182; 1576, p. 1011; 1583, p. 1037.

Canons, priests and monks all worked to get him to recant, but he refused and was condemned to be burnt. 1570, p. 1183; 1576, p. 1012; 1583, p. 1040.

 
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Thomas Bilney

(c. 1495 - 1531) [Fines; ODNB]

Proctor of Cambridge; evangelical reformer; martyr burnt at Norwich

While at Cambridge, Bilney converted to a reformed religion and convinced others there, including Thomas Arthur and Hugh Latimer. Bilney and Arthur left the university, going about teaching and preaching. Cardinal Wolsey had them imprisoned in 1527. 1563, pp. 461, 481; 1570, pp. 1134-35; 1576, p. 972; 1583, p. 998.

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John Lambert was converted at Cambridge by Thomas Bilney. 1563, pp. 482, 527; 1570, p. 1255; 1576, p. 1075; 1583, p. 1101.

Bilney was well acquainted with Thomas Benet. 1570, p. 1180; 1576, p. 1009; 1583, p. 1037.

Bilney preached repentance and had his books burned. 1570, p. 39; 1576, p. 32; 1583, p. 32.

Thomas Wolsey, William Warham, Cuthbert Tunstall, John Fisher, Nicholas West, John Veysey, John Longland, John Clerk and Henry Standish took part in the examination of Thomas Bilney and Thomas Arthur in 1527-28. 1563, pp. 461-78; 1570, pp. 1134-46; 1576, pp. 971-81; 1583, pp. 998-1008.

Thomas Bilney wrote five letters to Tunstall. 1563, pp. 465-73; 1570, pp. 1140-47; 1576, pp. 977-81; 1583, pp. 1003-08.

Thomas Bilney and John Brusyerd entered into a dialogue on images in Ipswich around the time of Bilney's examination. 1563, pp. 474-79; 1570, pp. 1138-40; 1576, pp. 975-76; 1583, pp. 1001-03.

Bilney initially refused to recant and asked to introduce witnesses; this request was refused by the bishop of London because it was too late in the proceedings. Bilney was given two nights to consult with his friends, and they persuaded him to abjure. 1563, p. 479; 1570, p. 1140; 1576, p. 977; 1583, p. 1003.

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Thomas Wolsey forced Thomas Arthur, Thomas Bilney, Geoffrey Lome and Thomas Garrard to abjure for speaking against the authority of the pope. 1570, p. 1129; 1576, p. 967; 1583, p. 994.

Bilney was sentenced to bear a faggot at Paul's Cross and to imprisonment at the pleasure of Cardinal Wolsey. 1563, p. 479; 1570, p. 1140; 1576, p. 977; 1583, p. 1003.

For two years Bilney repented of his abjuration. He moved to Norfolk and preached openly. He was arrested when he gave books to an anchoress he had converted in Norwich. Richard Nix obtained a writ for his burning. 1570, p. 1146; 1576, p. 981; 1583, p. 1008.

Lawrence Staple was charged in London in 1531 for, among other things, receiving four copies of Tyndale's New Testament from Bilney. 1570, p. 1187; 1576, p. 1015; 1583, p. 1043.

Edmund Peerson presented a list of charges against Richard Bayfield in 1531, especially concerning Bayfield's praise for Thomas Arthur and Thomas Bilney. 1570, p. 1191; 1576, p. 1020; 1583, p. 1048.

Bilney was arrested by the sheriff, Thomas Necton, his good friend. He was examined and condemned by Thomas Pelles. The night before his burning, his friends found him cheerful and enjoying his dinner. He put his finger into the candle flame several times to test the heat. He was burnt the next day at Lollards' Pit in Norwich. 1563, pp. 482-83; 1570, pp. 1150-51; 1576, pp. 984-85; 1583, p. 1012.

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Michael Lobley was charged in London in 1531 for, among other things, saying that Bilney was a good man. 1570, p. 1189; 1576, p. 1017; 1583, p. 1046.

 
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William Strowde

of Newnham, Devon. Imprisoned on suspicion of heresy c. 1530

William Strowde was imprisoned in the bishop's prison in Exeter. Although Thomas Benet had never met him, he sent letters of comfort and encouragement to him. 1570, p. 1180; 1576, p. 1010; 1583, p. 1037.

 
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Cambridge (Grantbridge)

[Cambrige; Grantbrige; Grantebryge]

OS grid ref: TL 465 585

County town of Cambridgeshire and university town

 
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Exeter
NGR: SX 920 925

A city and county of itself, locally in the hundred of Wanford, county of Devon, of which it is the chief town. 10 miles north-north-west from Exmouth, 44 miles north-east from Plymouth. The city comprises 17 parishes, two chapelries, and the extra-parochial precinct of the cathedral; all in the Archdeaconry and Diocese of Exeter, of which the town is the seat. 14 of the livings are discharged rectories; St John is a rectory not in charge; St David and St Sidwell are perpetual curacies.

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English information from Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of England (S. Lewis & Co: London, 1831)

Welsh information taken from Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales(Lewis & Co: London, 1840)

The reason for the use of these works of reference is that they present the jurisdictional and ecclesiastical position as it was before the major Victorian changes. The descriptions therefore approximate to those applying in the sixteenth century, after the major changes of 1535-42. Except for the physical locations, which have not changed, the reader should not therefore take these references as being accurate in the twenty-first century.

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Great Torrington

Devon

OS grid ref: SS 495 195

 
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Old Newnham

Plympton St Mary, Devon

OS grid ref: SX540566

1061 [1037]

K. Henry 8. The description of the persecution, and death of Tho. Benet Martyr.

The burning of Iohn Frith, and Andrewe Hewet.
woodcut [View a larger version]
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John Frith, a highly educated evangelical, had made a significant mark through his writings by the time of his death, aged thirty in 1533. He may already have known Tyndale before he went to the colloquy between Luther and Zwingli at Marburg in 1529 and (as a married man) he took up residence in Antwerp. It was there that he published in 1531 the work that reveals his powers of exegesis and that made him a marked man; his Disputacion of purgatorye. Frith was arrested in England that year, and Foxe tells the tale of how his knowledge of Homer gained his release from the stocks in Reading. But he was arrested and sent to the Tower before he could take ship back to Antwerp. Sentenced for heresies on the eucharist and purgatory, he recorded in prison the articles for which he died at Smithfield on 4 July 1533. It seems to have been a matter of accident, as recounted by Foxe, that Frith shared his fate with a still younger man, Andrew Hewet, a London apprentice of twenty-four who denied transubstantiation, saying he shared Frith's view of the sacrament of the altar. Foxe's illustrator represented a crowded scene in Smithfield, the people being reined back as the fire is prepared, while a friar is giving an admonitory address on the left. Others look on from the windows of shops or houses. This is the instructive moment before the pyre is lit, and the two martyrs pray inside the piled faggots. The woodcut has taken a hint from what Foxe says of Frith's suffering being prolonged by the wind 'which bare away the flame from him unto his fellow that was tied to his back', which prompted him to 'rejoice' for his co-sufferer, rather than think about himself. CUL copy: note that the hats and reins are in a very rich black.

smiling, desired the Lord to forgeue him. These hys words did not a litle mooue the people vnto anger, and not wyth-out good cause. Thus these two blessed Martyrs committed their soules into the handes of God.

The Historie of the persecution and death of Thomas Benet, burned in Exeter, collected and testified by Iohn Vowel, alias Hoker 
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Thomas Benet

This account of Thomas Dusgate provides a striking example of the important contribution individual informants made to Foxe's book. Dusgate (or Benet) had not been previously mentioned by any Protestant writer, including Bale. And, in fact, Foxe did not mention Dusgate in the Rerum or in the 1563 edition. Yet sometime between 1563 and 1570, two informants sent accounts to Foxe of this Henrician martyr. One of these informants was John Vowell (or Hooker), a celebrated antiquary and local historian. This account forms the basis for Foxe's entire account of Dusgate; it was never changed by the martyrologist. The other account of Dusgate was sent to Foxe by Ralph Morice, who had been Thomas Cromwell's principal secretary and became an important source for Foxe. (Morice's account of Dusgate survives among Foxe's papers as BL, Harley MS 419, fo.125r-v). Although Foxe did not make use of Morice's account, it contains important information about the martyr. Most notably, it was Morice who established that the Thomas Dusgate who attended Cambridge was the same person as Thomas Benet the martyr. (Upon resigning his fellowship at Corpus Christi College, Dusgate changed his name to Benet. This was a reference to his former college, which was also known as Benet's College, because its fellows were attached to the neighbouring church of St Benet. Hooker knew of Dusgate's Cambridge background, but he did not know that Benet's real name was Dusgate). Morice also relates that Dusgate, while still a fellow at Corpus, visited Martin Luther and that Dusgate resigned his fellowship because he was unwilling to take holy orders and remain celibate.

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Thomas S. Freeman

.

MarginaliaTho. Benet, of Exceter, Martyr.THys Thomas Benet 

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Thomas Dusgate changed his name to Thomas Benet upon leaving Cambridge (see the ODNB article on Thomas Dusgate).

was borne in Cambridge, and by order of degree of the Vniuersitie, there made mayster of Arte, and (as some thinke) was also a Priest 
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Dusgate certainly did not become a priest; Morice makes it clear that he left Cambridge to avoid taking holy orders (stating that Dusgate was 'very moche combered with the concupissence of the fleshe' and refused to enter holy orders, then obligatory for all fellows (BL, Harley MS 419, fo. 125r)). A Dusgate (no first name given) proceded MA at Cambridge in 1524 (Grace Book B. ii. 94).

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, a man doubtles very wel learned, and of a godly disposition, being of the acquaintaunce and familiaritie of Thomas Bilney, the famous and glorious Martyr of Christe 
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Bilney was active in Cambridge at this time and Dusgate's visit to Luther certainly indicates his evangelical sympathies.

. Thys man, the more he did grow and encrease in the knowledge of God and his holy word, the more he did mislike and abhorre the corrupte state of religion then vsed 
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Ralph Morice states that Dusgate left Cambridge because he was 'very moche combered with the concupissence of the fleshe' and refused to enter holy orders, then obligatory for all fellows (BL, Harley MS 419, fo. 125r).

, MarginaliaTho. Benet. comming from Cambridge to Deuōshyre.and therefore thinking his owne countrey 
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'Country' in the sixteenth century could mean county or region, as it does here.

to be no safe place for hym to remaine in, and being desirous to liue in more freedome of conscience, he did forsake the Vniuersitie, and went into Deuonshire, in the yeare of our Lord. 1524. and first dwelled in a market towne named Torriton, both towne and countrey being to him altogether vnknowen, as hee also was vnknowen to al men there. Where for þe better maintinaunce of himselfe and his wife, hee did practise to teache yong children, and kept a schole for the same purpose. But that Towne not seruing hys expectation, after hys aboade one yeare there, MarginaliaBenet came to Exeter.hee came to the citie of Exceter, and there hyring an house in a streate called the Bocher rowe, did exercise the teaching of children, and by that meanes sustayned his wife and familie. Hee was of a quiet behauiour, of a godly conuersation, and a very courteous nature, humble to all men, and offensiue to no body. Hys greatest delight was to be at all Sermones and preachings, whereof he was a diligēt and an attentiue hearer. The time which he had to spare from teaching, he gaue wholely to his priuate studie in the Scriptures, hauing no dealings nor cōferences wyth any body, sauing with suche as hee coulde learne and vnderstand to be fauourers of the Gospell, and zelous of Gods true religion: of suche he would be inquisitiue and most desirous to ioyne him selfe vnto them. MarginaliaW. Strowde prisoned in Exeter for Gods word.And therefore vnderstandinge that one William Strowde of Newnham, in the Countie of Deuonshire Esquier, was committed to the Bishops prison in Exeter, vpon suspition of heresie, although he were neuer before acquainted wt him, yet did he sende his letters of comfort and consolation vnto him. Wherein, to auoide all suspition which myghte be conceiued of him, he did disclose him self, and vtter what he was, and the causes of hys being in the Countrey, wry-tyng among other things these wordes: Vt ne scortator aut immundus essem, vxorem duxi, cum qua hisce sex annis, ab istorū Antichristianorum manibus in deuonia latitaui. That is to say, MarginaliaBenet why he maryed.because I woulde not be a whoremonger, or an vncleane person, therefore I maried a wife, with whom I haue hidden my selfe in Deuonshire, from the tyrannie of the Antichristians, MarginaliaAntichristians are those wh are against Christ. these 6. yeares.

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But as euery tree and Hearbe hath hys due time to bryng foorth his fruite, so did it appeare by thys man. For he daily seeing the glorye of God to be so blasphemed, idolatrous religion so embraced and maintained, & that most false vsurped power of the Bishop of Rome so extolled, was so greeued in conscience, and troubled in his spirite, that he could not be quiet till he did vtter his minde therein. Wherefore dealing priuately with certaine of his frendes, he did plainely open and disclose howe blasphemously and abhominably God was dishonoured, his worde contemned, and hys people whom he so dearely bought, were by blinde guides caried headlong to euerlasting damnation, and therefore hee coulde no longer endure, but muste needes and would vtter theyr abhominations, and for his owne parte, for the testimonie of his conscience, and for the defence of Gods true religion, would yeelde hymself moste patiently (as neare as God woulde geue him grace) to die and to shedde hys bloude therein, MarginaliaThe godly zeale of Tho. Benet. alleaging that his death shoulde be more profitable to the Churche of God, and for the edifying of his people, then his life shuld be. To whose perswasions when hys friendes had yeelded, they promysed to pray to God for hym, that hee myght be strong in the cause, and continue a faithfull souldiour to the ende. Which done, he gaue order for the bestowing of such bookes as he had, and very shortlye after, in the moneth of October, hee wrote his minde in certaine scrolles of Paper, whyche in secreate maner he set vp vpon the doores of the Cathedrall churche of the Citie, in which was wrytten: MarginaliaThe Pope is Antichrist.The Pope is Antichrist, and we ought to worshippe God onely, and no Saintes.

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These bils being found, there was no smal adoe, and no litle search made for the inquiry of the heretike that should set vp these bils: MarginaliaBenet setteth vp billes against the Pope. and the Maior & his officers were not so busie to make searches to find this heretike, but the bishop and all his doctors were as hote as coales, & enkindled as though they had bene strong wt a sort of waspes. Wherefore to kepe þe people in their former blindnes, order was taken that the doctors should in hast vp to the pulpit euery day, and confute this heresie. Neuerthelesse this Thom. Benet

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keping
XXx.j.
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