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1415 [1415]

K. Henry. 8. Richard Mekins, Spenser, Ramsey, and Hewet, Martyrs.

their verdicte. At the which daye they indited sundrye persons, which shortlye after were apprehended and brought to warde, who after a while remaining there, were by the kyng & his Counsaile discharged at the starre chamber, without any further punishment.

Not long after this, Sir W. Roche being Maior, Boner with other Commissioners, sat at the Guilde halle aforesayde, before whom there were a certayne number of Citizens warned to appeare, and after the Commission read, the sayd parties were called to the booke, and when. v. or. vj. were sworne, one of the said persons being called to the booke, Boner semed to mislike, and sayd: Stay a whyle, my Maisters (quoth he) I would you should consider this matter well that we haue in hand, which concerneth the glorye of God, the honour of the king, and the wealth of the realme, and if there be any here among you, that doth not consider the same, it were better that he were hence then here. Then commoned the Commissioners with Boner about that man, so that at length hee was called to the booke and sworne, not all together with his good will.

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Whē the. ij. Iuries were sworne, Boner taketh vpon him to geue the charge vnto the Iuries, & beganne with a tale of Anacarsis, by which example, he admonished the Iuries to spare no persons, of what degree so euer they were. MarginaliaRich. Mekins presented by Boner.And at the ende of his charge hee brought foorth to the barre a boy, whose name was Mekins, declaring how greuously he had offended by speaking of certayne woordes agaynst the state, and of the death of D. Barnes: and produced into the sayde court two witnesses, which were there sworne in the face of the court. So a day was assigned, vpon which the Iuries aforesayd should geue vp their verdicte: at which day both the Commissioners, and the sayde Iuries met at Guilde hall aforesayd. Then the Clarke of the peace called on the Iuries by their names, and when their appearance was token, Boner bad thē put in their presentmentes. MarginaliaW. Robyns Iurer.Thē sayd the foreman, whose name was W. Robins of that Iury. My Lorde (with a low curtesie) we haue foūd nothing. At which wordes he fared as one in an agonie, and sayd: Nothing? haue ye found nothing? What nothing? By the fayth I owe to God (quoth he) to the foreman, I would trust you vpon your obligation: but by your oth I wyll trust you nothing. Then sayd some of the commissioners: My Lord, geue them a longer daye. No (quoth he) in London they euer finde nothing. I praye you, what say you to Mekins? My Lord, quoth þe foreman, we can say nothing to him, for we finde the witnesses to disagree. One affirmeth that he should say the sacrament was nothing but a ceremonie, and the other nothing but a signification. Why, quoth Boner, did he not say, that Barnes died holy? Then pausing a while, he bad call the other Iury. Put in your verdicte, quod he. My Lord sayd one, we haue found nothing. Iesus quoth he, is not this a straunge case?

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MarginaliaRafe Foxley Iurer.Then spake one of the same Iury, whose name was Raph Foxley, & sayd: My Lord, when you gaue vs charge, we desired to haue þe Persons & Curates of euery parish to geue vs instrucions, and it was denied vs. Then stoode vp the Recorder MarginaliaThys Recorder was Syr Rog. Chomley.and sayd, it was true in deede that he had spoken, and therwithall sayd, thys last yeare were charged two Iuries, which did many thinges naughtely and foolishly, and did, as much as in them lay, to make an vprore among the kinges people, and therefore it was thought not meete, that they should geue information to you. Nay, nay, quoth Boner, this was the cause: If þe Person or Curate should geue information according to hys knowledge, then what wil they say? MarginaliaAgaynst Popishe priestes of London.I must tel my confession to a knaue priest, and hee shall go by and by and open it. What, sayd my Lord Maior, there is no mā (I trow) that will saye so. Yes by my trouth, quoth Boner, knaue priest, knaue priest. Then sayd the Lord Maior, somewhat smiling, there be some of them slipper fellowes, and as men finde them, so wyll they oft tymes report. Boner not well contented with those woordes, sayd to the Iurye: My Maisters, what saye you to Mekins? They aunswered, the witnesses do not agree, therfore we do not alow them. MarginaliaBoner calleth vpō the cōdemnation of Mekins.Why quoth Boner, thys court hath alowed thē. Then said one of the Iury to the Recorder: Is it sufficient for our discharge, if this court do alow them? Yea sayd the Recorder, it is sufficient, and sayd: Go you aside together a whyle, and bryng in your verdicte. After the Iury had talked together a litle while, they returned to the barre again with their inditement, which at Boners handes was frendly receiued: so both they and the other Iurye were discharged, and byden take their ease. Thus ended the court for that day. Shortly after they sat for lyfe and death. MarginaliaMekins brought to the barre.Mekins being brought to the barre, & the inditement read, Boner said to him: Mekins cōfesse the truth, and submitte thy selfe vnto the kinges lawe, that thy death may be an example to all other.

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This 

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From here, the remainder of the account of Mekins is lifted almost verbatim from that in Hall and Grafton, The vnion of the two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancastre & Yorke, part II, fo. 244r. Foxe, however, omits a phrase claiming that Mekins' fear was such that 'he had not cared of whom he had named'.

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Rich. Mekyns being a childe which passed not the age of xv. yeares (as Hall reporteth) MarginaliaEx. Edou. Hallo.as he had heard some other folkes talke, so chaunced he to speake agaynst the Sacrament of the altar. Which comming to Boners eares, he neuer left him (as afore doth plainly appeare) before he had brought hym to the fire. During þe time of his imprisonmēt, neither his poore father nor mother for feare durst ayde hym with any reliefe: wherby he there indured in great misery. At what time 
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Mekins was burned on 30 July 1541.

hee was brought vnto the stake, hee was taught to speake much good of the Byshop of London, and of the great charitie he shewed hym, and to defie and detest all heretickes and heresies, but specially Doct. Barnes, vnto whom hee imputed the learnyng of that heresie whiche was cause of his death. MarginaliaAnd how could he take that learning of D. Barnes, when D. Barnes was neuer of that opinion?The poore ladde would for sauegard of his life, haue gladly sayd that þe xij. Apostles had taught it him: such was his childishe innocencie and feare. But for this dede many spake and sayd it was great shame for the Byshop, whose parte and dutie it had bene rather to haue laboured to saue hys lyfe, then to procure that terrible execution, seyng that he was such an ignoraūt soule that hee knew not what the affirmyng of heresie was.

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¶ Richard Spenser, Ramsey, and one Hewet, suffered at Salisbury. 
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Foxe's source for this episode is unknown. However, Foxe's mentor John Bale had heard independently of the case, mentioning it briefly in his The Epistle exhortatorye of an Englyshe Christiane (STC 1291: Antwerp, 1544), fo. 13v and in his Scriptorum illustrium maioris Brytanniae ... Catalogus (Basel, 1557), vol. I p. 666. In Bale's account, Spenser was a player in interludes; the companion who died with him was named John Ramsey; and the execution took place in 1542. In 1570 and subsequent editions Foxe amalgamated this information with his own. He changed 1563's generic claim that Spenser was 'getting his liuing with þe sweate of hys browes and labours of hys handes' to the more specific statement that he 'became a player in interludes', and he added Ramsey to the list of those executed, although for some reason omitting his first name. He did not adopt Bale's dating, merely claiming with characteristic imprecision that the deaths took place 'about the same tyme' as Mekins' case (ie., 1541). The real confusion arose from the second figure mentioned in 1563, Andrew Hewyt. This appears to be a confusion with the Andrew Hewet burned in 1533, but Foxe, instead of correcting the name to Ramsey, instead declared from 1570 onwards that there were three individuals executed - although both his and Bale's sources agree that there were two. Cf. 1570, p. 1376, et seq.

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MarginaliaSpenser, Ramsey, & Hewes, Martyrs.ABout the same tyme also a certeine Priest was burned at Salisbury, who leauyng his Papistry, had maryed a wife, and became a player in interludes, with one Ramsey and Hewet, which iij. were all condemned and burned: Agaynst whom, and specially agaynst Spenser, was layde matter concernyng the Sacrament of the altar. He suffered at Salisbury.

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Althoughe this Inquisition aboue mentioned was ment properly and specially concernyng the vj. Articles 

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This statement is mere guesswork by Foxe, who had no direct evidence linking the list which follows to the 1541 London commission. The list itself no longer survives, and all we know of its provenance is the marginal statement that it is 'ex. regist. Lond.', that is, from the London diocesan records. Foxe is also drawing here on a discussion in Hall and Grafton, The vnion of the two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancastre & Yorke, part II, fo. 234r-v, describing a large-scale anti-heresy drive in London following the passage of the Act of Six Articles (and so, by implication, dating it to 1539). Grafton, who was the author of this part of the chronicle, and who according to Foxe (1570, p. 1377) was himself one of those arrested, claimed that this purge lasted for two weeks and some five hundred people were detained, only to be released without charge when Lord Chancellor Audley interceded with the king (a claim which Foxe took up: 1570, pp. 1380-1). Two other sources help us to date this episode more precisely (and confirm that there was, indeed, only one such purge). In a letter written early in 1541, the young Zwinglian Richard Hilles confirmed that before the general pardon of 15 July 1540, 'a number of people from everywhere in England were imprisoned' for heresy, and that this purge was halted by a plea to the king - although Hilles credited the preacher Edward Crome, rather than Audley, with this. Epistolae Tigurinae de rebus potissimum ad ecclesiae Anglicanae reformationem (Cambridge, 1848), p. 138 (Hastings Robinson (ed.), Original Letters relative to the English Reformation (Cambridge, 1846), p. 208). Most convincingly, a packet of twenty indictments dated 17 July 1540, and endorsed by the then Lord Mayor of London, lists eighteen of the individuals named by Foxe, giving the same details of their offences. National Archives, SP 1/243 fos. 61-80 (LP Addenda 1463).The arrests Foxe describes here can therefore confidently be dated to the first half of July 1540, that is, in the wake of Cromwell's arrest and condemnation, but before his execution. On this, see Ryrie, Gospel and Henry VIII, pp. 17, 40-1, 224-5; Susan Brigden, London and the Reformation (Oxford, 1989), p. 320 n. 127. However, some other arrests are appended to the latter part of this list, most but not necessarily all of which date from the early 1540s.The list remained substantially the same in 1570, 1576 and 1583, but in 1583 was presented much less clearly than in the earlier editions, and - perhaps partly as a result - the assignment of individuals to parishes was confused in several cases.

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, MarginaliaEx Regist. Lond.yet so it fell out, that in short space doubtes began to ryse and to be moued by the Queste, whether they might enquire as well of all other opinions, articles and cases of Lollardy, or for speakyng agaynst holy bread, holy water, or for fauoryng the cause of Barnes, MarginaliaFryer Warde.of Frier Warde, MarginaliaSyr Tho. Rose.Syr Tho. Rose. &c. Wherupon great perturbation folowed in all Parishes almost through London in the yeare aforesayd, whiche was. 1541. as here ensueth in a brief Summary Table to be seene.

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¶ A brief Table of the troubles at London, in the vj. Articles tyme.

Persons presented.Their causes.
Iohn Dixe.
MarginaliaS. Albons parishe in London.THis Dixe was noted neuer
to be confessed in Lent, nor
to receaue at Easter, and to be a
Sacramentary.
Richard Chepeman.
Chepeman for eatyng fleshe in
Lent, and for workyng on holy
dayes, and not commyng to the
Churche.

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