Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
1420 [1420]

K. Henry. 8. Iohn Porter, Martyr. Thomas Sommers prisoned.

chamber the next day after all soules, there to aūswere if they were called: but neither was there any person called, neither did there any appeare.

¶ The story of Iohn Porter cruelly Martyred for readyng the Bible in Paules. 
Commentary  *  Close

Foxe's sources for this narrative are unclear, although it appears he had more than one. A much briefer account of Porter was given in 1563. The statement here that Porter is 'in the number of these aforenamed' suggests that this case, too, draws on London diocesan records which are now lost. However, Foxe also had some information from a kinsman of Porter's, also named Porter, living without Newgate in 1570: this is possibly Porter's brother, also John Porter, who attempted to secure his brother's release in 1542 (Trinity College, Cambridge, MS R3.33 fo. 134r). This kinsman may or may not also be the source for Foxe's account of Porter's torment and death, which he claims was 'signified unto us by credible information'. He could have gathered dark conspiracy theories about Porter's death, if not this level of gruesome detail, from Bale, Yet a course at the romyshe foxe, fos. 41r-v, 66r.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaA story of I. Porter, Marytr.IN the number of these afore named, commeth the remembraunce of Iohn Porter, who in the same yeare 1541. 

Commentary  *  Close

1542.

for readyng the Bible in Paules Church, was cruellye handled, & that vnto death, as ye shall heare. MarginaliaRead afore pag. 1362.It was declared in this historie aboue, pag. 1362. how Edm. Boner bishop of London (in the dayes of the L. Cromwell) beyng then Ambassadour at Paris, was a great doer in settyng forward the Printyng of the Bible in the great volume: MarginaliaThe Bible commaunded by the kyng to bee set vp in churches.
Read afore pag. 1248.
promising moreouer, that hee would for his part haue vj. of those Bibles set vp in the Churche of S. Paul in London. Whiche also at hys commyng home, hee no lesse performed, accordyng to the kynges proclamation set forth for the same, wherof read before, pag. 1248.

[Back to Top]

The Bibles thus standyng in Paules by the commaundement of the kyng, and the appoyntemēt of Boner the Byshop, many well disposed people vsed much to resorte to the hearyng thereof, especially when they could get any that had an audible voyce to read vnto them, misdoubtyng therein no daunger toward them: and no more there was, so long as the dayes of Cromwell lasted. Marginalia1541.
I. Porter a great reader in the Bible at Paules.
After hee was gone, it happened amongest diuers and sondry godly disposed persons, whiche frequented there the readyng of the foresayd Bible, that one Iohn Porter vsed somtimes to be occupyed in that godly exercise, to the edifiyng as well of hym selfe, as of other. This Porter was a freshe young man, and of a bygge stature. Who by diligēt readyng of þe Scripture, and by hearyng of such Sermons as then were preached by them that were þe setters forth of Gods truth, became very experte. The Bible then beyng set vp by Boners commaundement vppon diuers pillers in Paules Church, fixed vnto the same with chaines for all men to read in them that woulde, great multitudes would resorte thether to heare this Porter, because hee coulde read well and had an audible voyce. MarginaliaBoner and hys Chapleines greued with the Bibles which he before caused to be set vp him self.Boner and hys Chappleines beyng greued withall (and the worlde beginning then to frowne vppon the Gospellers) sent for the sayd Porter, and rebuked hym very sharpely for hys readyng. But Porter aunswered hym that he trusted he had done nothyng contrary to the law.

[Back to Top]

Boner then layd vnto his charge, that hee had made expositions vppon the texte, and gathered great multitudes about him to make tumultes. He aunswered: he trusted that should not be proued by hym. MarginaliaI. Porter sent to Newgate by Boner.But in fine, Boner sent him to Newgate, where he was miserably fettred in yrons both legges and armes, with a coller of yron about hys necke fastened to the wall in the dungeō, beyng there so cruellye handled, that hee was cōpelled to send for a kinsman of his, whose name is also Porter, a man yet alyue and can testifie that this is true, & dwelleth yet without Newgate. Who seing hys kinsman in this miserable case, intreated Iewet, then keper of Newgate, that hee might be released out of those cruell yrons, and so through frendshyp and money, had him vp among other prisoners, whiche lay there for felony & murder: where Porter being amōgst them, hearing and seyng their wickednes and blasphemye, exhorted them to amendment of life, and gaue vnto them such instructiōs as he had learned of the Scriptures: MarginaliaThe cruell hādling of I. Porter in Newgate.for which his so doyng hee was complained on and so caried downe, and layd in the lower dungeon of all, oppressed with boltes and yrons, where within vj. or viij. dayes after, he was found dead.

[Back to Top]

It is signified vnto vs by credible information, that the same night before hee was founde dead, they that dwelt neare to the same place of the prison where Porter lay, did heare hym pituously to grone and make a MarginaliaThe death and Martyrdome of Ioh. Porter.lamētable noyse, where some suppose that hee was put in ceraine strait yrons, whiche bee there in the house, called The deuill on the necke, beyng after an horrible sorte deuised, streinyng and wrenchyng the necke of a man with his legges together, in such sorte, as the more hee sturreth in it, the strayter it presseth hym, so that within 3. or 4. houres, it breaketh and crussheth a mans backe and body in peeces. In which deuilishe torment, whether Iohn Porter was slayne or no, it is not certaine. But how soeuer it was, this is knowne, that he was found dead (as is aforesayd) in the dungeon, with such gronyng and pituous noyse heard the night before in the sayd dungeon, as is declared.

[Back to Top]
¶ A note of one Thomas Sommers prisoned for the Gospell. 
Commentary  *  Close

There is no indication of Foxe's sources for this narrative, although it is possible that its placement here - out of chronological order, as Foxe states - is due to its being found in the same London diocesan records which furnished so much additional detail in the previous few pages.

MarginaliaThe penance of Thomas Sommers Marchaunt.AMongest these Londoners thus troubled by the Clergie, we will adde also (although a little out of place) 

Commentary  *  Close

Sommers' recantation was on 29 November 1530. British Library, Harleian MS 540, fo. 7v.

an other note of a Marchant called Tho. Sommers, who died in the Tower of London for confessing of the Gospell. Which Thomas being a very honest Marchant and wealthy, was sent for by the Lorde Cardinall and cōmitted to the Tower, for that he had Luthers bookes (as they termed them) and after great sute made for him to the sayd Cardinall, his iudgment was that he should ryde from the Tower into Cheapeside carying a new booke in his hande, and behanged with bookes rounde about him, with three or iiij. other Marchauntes after the same order: whiche was done. And whē M. Sōmers shoulde be set on a colliers nagge as the rest of hys felowe prisoners were, a frende of his called M. Coplād brought him a very good gelding, fayre dressed with bridle and sadle, and when the Byshops Officers came to dresse him with bookes, as they had trimmed þe other, and woulde haue made holes in hys garment to haue thrust þe strynges of þe bookes therin, nay sayd Sommers, I haue alwayes loued to goe hansomly in my apparell, & takyng the bookes and openyng thē, he bound them together by the stringes and cast them about his necke (the leaues beyng all open) like a coller, & beyng on horse backe, MarginaliaM. Luthers bookes burnt in Chepeside.rode foremost thorow the streetes till they came aboue the Standard in Cheapeside, where a great fire was made to burne their bokes in, and a Pillery set vp there for 4. persons, in token that they had deserued it.

[Back to Top]

In the meane tyme, by the way as they should come, it was appoynted, that one should go before them with a basen. At the noyse whereof, M. Sommers horse beyng a loftye geldyng and fierce, was in such a rage, that he whiche ronge the basen beyng afeard of hym selfe, was fayne to go alone a great space before that any horsemā did folow after. At length when they came to the fire, euery of thē hauyng a booke in his hand, they were commaūded to cast their bookes into the fire. MarginaliaThe Papistes burne the new Testament.But when M. Sōmers saw that his new Testament should be burned, he threwe it ouer the fire: which was seene by some of Gods enemyes, and brought to him agayn, commaundyng hym to cast it into the fire: which hee would not do, but cast it thorow the fire. Which thyng was done iij. times. But at last a stander by tooke it vp, and saued it from burning. But not long after, MarginaliaTho. Sommers dyed in the Tower.the said M. Sommers was cast agayne into the Tower by the Cardinall, thorow the crueltie of þe Bishops, and their adherentes, who soone after dyed in the sayd prison for the testimonie of his fayth.

[Back to Top]

What trouble and vexation happened amongest the godly brethren in London, for the vj. Articles, hetherto we haue discoursed. Albeit neyther haue I comprehended all, which were molested through all the Parishes of London: neyther agayne dyd thys rigorous Inquisition so cease within the precinctes of thys Citie onely, but also extended further to Salisbury, Northfolke, Lincolne, and through all other Shyres and quarters of the Realme: so that where as any po-

[Back to Top]
pishe
RRR.ij.
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield