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816 [792]

K. Henry. 8. The burning of William Swetyng, and Iames Brewster, Martyrs.

his coate al his lyfe. Which he dyd two yeares together vpon his left sleeue, tyll at length the person of Colchester required hym to helpe in the seruice of the Churche, and so pluckt the badge from his sleeue: 

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This was a badge that some people convicted of heresy were compelled to wear identifying them as penitents convicted of heresy; removing it was an offence in itself.

and there he remayned two yeares, beyng the holy water Clerke. From thence afterward departed, and trauailyng abroad, came to Rederith 
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This is actually Rotherhithe.

in the Dioces of Winchester, where he was holy water Clerke the space of a yeare: then went to Chelsith, where he was their neatheard, 
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I.e., a cowherd.

and kept the towne beastes. In the which towne vpon saint Annes day 
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I.e., 26 July. Sweeting and Brewster were both arrested when various Lollards, informed on them under questioning; see Andrew Hope, 'The lady and the bailiff: Lollardy among the gentry in Yorkist and Tudor England' in Lollardy and the gentry in the later Middle Ages, ed. Margaret Aston and Colin Richmond (Stroud, 1997), p. 265. Archbishop Ussher's notes of these interrogations, the originals of which no longer survive, are in Trinity College, Dublin, MS 775, fo. 124r.

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in the mornyng, as he went forth with his beastes to the field the good man was apprehended and brought before the Bishop, and his chamber searched for bookes. This was ann. 1511.

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MarginaliaCrimes obiected. The crimes whereupon he was examined were these.

MarginaliaThe Gospell of S. Mathewe. First, for hauyng muche conference with one William Man of Boxsted, in a booke which was called Mathewe. 

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I.e., they discussed the gospel of Matthew.

Item, that he had familiaritie, and frequēted much the company of Iames Brewster, who had bene before abiured.

MarginaliaAgaynst pilgrimage. Item, that when his wyfe would go on pilgrimage, he asked of her, what good she should receyue by her goyng on pilgrimage, addyng moreouer, that as he supposed, it was to no purpose, nor profite, but rather it were better for her to keepe at home, and to attende to her busines.

MarginaliaAgaynst transubstantiation. Item, that he had learned, and receyued of William Man, that the Sacrament of the Priestes altar was not the present very bodie, but bread in substaunce, receyued in memorial of Christ.

Item, that he had propounded, and affirmed the same doctrine to Iames Brewster.

MarginaliaAgainst Images. Item, because he had reprehended his wyfe for worshippyng thþee Images in the church, and for settyng vp candles before them.

And thus haue you all the causes and crimes layde agaynst this William Swetyng, wherfore he was condemned. Who then beyng asked what cause he had why he shoulde not be iudged for relapse, sayde he had nothyng els, but onely that he commytted hym selfe to the mercye of almighty God.

¶ Iames Brewster martyr.

MarginaliaIames Brewster of Colchester Martyr. WIth William Swetyng also the same tyme was examined and condemned Iames Brewster, of the parishe of saint Nicholas in Colchester. This Iames Brewster was a Carpenter, dwellyng ten yeres in the towne of Colchester, who beyng vnlettered, could neither read nor write, and was apprehended vpon the day of saint Iames, 

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I.e., 25 July.

in one Walkers house in saint Clementes Parish.

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About sixe yeares before, which was. ann. 1505. he had bene abiured by William Warham Archebishop of Canterbury, 

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Sweeting and Brewster had both abjured at Paul's Cross on 15 March 1505 (The Great Chronicle of London, ed. A. H. Thomas and I. D. Thornley [London, 1938], p. 331).

the see of London being then vacant. And after other penaunce done at Colchester, was enioyned to weare a fagot vpon his vpper garment during his lyfe. Whiche badge he dyd beare vpon his left shoulder neare the space of two yeares, tyl the Controller of the Earle of Oxford pluckt it away, because he was laboring in the workes of the Earle.

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MarginaliaCrimes obiected against Brewster The crimes wherupon he was examined, and whiche he confessed were these: 

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The original records have not survived, but Archbishop Ussher's notes, taken from them, partially corroborate Foxe's version (Trinity College, Dublin, MS 775, fo. 123v.

first that he had bene fiue tymes with William Swetyng in the fieldes kepyng beastes, hearyng hym reade many good things out of a certaine booke. At whiche readyng also were present at one tyme, Woodroffe, or Woodbynde, a Nette maker, with his wife: also a brother in lawe of William Swetyng: and an other tyme, Tho. Goodrede, who heard likewise the sayd Tho. Swetyng reade.

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Item, because he vsed the companye and couference of Henry Hert 

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This might be the same Henry Hart who was a leader of the 'Freewillers' in the 1550s. This point is discussed in Patrick Collinson, 'Nightschools, conventicles and churches: continuities and discontinuities in early Protestant ecclesiology' in The Beginnings of English Protestantism, ed. Peter Marshall and Alec Ryrie (Cambridge, 2002), p. 227, n.81.

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Carpenter, of Westminster, & wrought with hym in his science at Westminster.

Item for hauyng a certaine litle booke of Scripture in English, of an olde writyng, almost worne for age, whose name is not there expressed.

Item, because he hearyng vpon a tyme, one mayster Bardfield 

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John Bardfield was elected as one of the two bailiffs of Colchester (the highest municipal office in the city) in 1505. (See Andrew Hope, 'The lady and the bailiff: Lollardy among the gentry in Yorkist and Tudor England' in Lollardy and the gentry in the later Middle Ages, ed. Margaret Aston and Colin Richmond [Stroud, 1997], pp. 261-64).

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of Colchester thus say, þt he that wil not worship the Maozim 
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Maozim, or 'the god of fortresses' appears in Daniel 11:38. The term is being used here to designate an idol.

in heart and thought, shall dye in sight, he asked afterward of William Man, what that word Maozim should meane: MarginaliaMaozim in the xj. chapter of Daniell is an Idole, and signifieth as much as fortes or munitions. who told him that it signified as muche, as the masing God, to wyt, the sacrament of the altar.

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Item, that he had much conference with Henry Hert 

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This might be the same Henry Hart who was a leader of the 'Freewillers' in the 1550s. This point is discussed in Patrick Collinson, 'Nightschools, conventicles and churches: continuities and discontinuities in early Protestant ecclesiology' in The Beginnings of English Protestantism, ed. Peter Marshall and Alec Ryrie (Cambridge, 2002), p. 227, n.81.

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against oblations and Images, and that it was better bestowed money which was geuē to the poore, then that was offered in Pilgrimage.

Item, for that he had communication and conference with Roger Heliar and one Walker a Thicker of S. Clementes, concernyng diuers such matters of Pilgrimage, offeryng to Images, worshippyng of saints, and the sacra ment of the altar.

Item, when Thomas Goodrede, William Swetyng, and he in the fields keepyng beastes, were talking together of the Sacrament of the Lordes bodye, and like matters, this Iames Brewster shoulde thus say: Nowe the sonne of the lyuyng God helpe vs. Vnto whom William Sweting agayne shoulde answeare, Nowe almightye God so doo.

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MarginaliaA perilous heresie.
Ex Regist. Lond.

¶ The burnyng of Iames Brewster, and William Swetyng.

woodcut [View a larger version]

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William Sweeting (alias Clerke) was brought to London to be examined with George Laund, prior of St Osyth's near Colchester. He abjured and did penance in Colchester. In 1511 he came again to the attention of the authorities, was brought before the bishop and his belongings searched for heretical literature. He was eventually condemned. Brewster was a carpenter in the parish of St Nicholas in Colchester. He could neither read nor write but he had already come to the attention of the authorities previously, in 1505. When rearrested it emerged that Brewster had been listening to readings given by Sweeting in the fields and that he shared his doctrinal views. The two men were executed together. Andrew Hope has shown the long association of the two men and the ways in which they were able to instruct and convert their social superiors and employers, including Geoge Laund, the Forge family, and Lady Jane Young: a revealing demonstration of how Lollard opinions could move up the social scale. CUL copy and WREN copy: they are dressed in white.

And thus haue you the causes likewise and crymes laid agaynst Iames Brewster, vpon whiche he with William Swetyng was together examined and condemned.

Then beyng asked, as the Romishe maner is, whether he had any cause why he should not be adiudged for relapse, he trusting to finde fauour and grace in submyttyng hym selfe, said, that he submitted hym to the mercy of almighty God, and to the fauourable goodnes of hym his iudge. And likewise did William Swetyng submyt hym selfe, trusting belike that they should finde some fauour and reliefe in this humble subiectyng them selues vnto their goodnes.

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MarginaliaThe vnmercifull, and vnchristian dealing of the catholique Papistes. But note here the vnmercyfnl and vnchristian dealing of these Catholicque fathers, who vppon their submission were contented to geue out a solemne commission, the tenor whereof was to release and pardon them from the sentence of the excommunication, whereinto they had incurred: But immediately after vpon the same, the Bishop all this notwithstandyng, pronounced vpon them the sentence of death and condemnation. MarginaliaWilliam Swetyng, and Iames Brewster, burnt in Smythfield. Whereupon they were both deliuered to þe secular power, & both together brent in Smithfielde at one fire, the xviij. day of Octob. ann. 1511. 

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The signification of the excommunication of Sweeting and Brewster, and their transfer to the secular authorities for execution, is dated 14 September 1511 (TNA C/85/126/19).

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¶ Christopher Shoomaker martyr.

MarginaliaChristofer Shomaker burnt in Newbery Martyr. TO these blessed saintes before past, 

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Persecution in diocese of Lincoln

Of all the sections of Foxe's book, this account of the persecution of the Lollards in the Chilterns, may be the most valuable to students of late medieval English religion. One reason for its value is that is based on court books from the diocese of Lincoln that are now missing. However, there is some corroboration for Foxe's account of these persecutions. In the seventeenth century, Archbishop James Ussher copied twelve lines into one of his notebooks '"Ex libro Detectionum Confessionum et Abjurationum haeretic" coram Johanne Lincolnensi episcopo an. 1521 (In Bibliotheca Lambetha)' (Trinity College, Dublin, MS 775. fos. 128v-129r). Furthermore, the signification to Chancery survives of the excommunication of four heretics - named by Foxe - who were burned in Longland's persecution. Foxe did not invent the persecution and he is probably accurate in his description of the scope of the persecution and the people affected by it. But the extent to which he rewrote the beliefs of those accused of heresy, or omitted material he felt was damaging, will never be known.

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The second reason for the value of these records lies in the systematic manner in which Bishop John Longland investigated heresy in his diocese. The bishop began his inquiries by questioning those who had previously abjured and were thus vulnerable to being charged as relapsed heretics. Moreover, once they had abjured again, they were required to inform on other heretics, to demonstrate their sincerity. By this means, one heretic incriminated several others, each of whom incriminated others and ultimately Longland detected about 50 heretics. Four of these people were burned and the rest were obliged to do penance.

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Longland's persecution not only confirms that Lollardy was entrenched in the chilterns, it also demonstrates that in towns, such as Amersham, were almost completely controlled by them and that the local elites were disproportionately Lollard in sympathy. (For discussion of this see Derek Plumb, 'John Foxe and the Later Lollards of the Thames Valley' [Cambridge PhD, 1987], pp. 274-76 and Andrew Hope, 'Lollardy: the stone the builders rejected?' in Protestantism and the National Church in Sixteenth Century England, ed., Peter Lake and Maria Dowling (Beckenham, Kent, 1998], pp. 3-4 and 9-10). On occasion, the Lollard minorities were even able to intimidate the orthodox Catholics in the region. All of this was, of course, manna from heaven to Foxe, who used this material to show that there was a 'True Church' in England.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

we wyll also adioyne Christopher Shoemaker: of whom this I finde briefly in the Register of Iohn Longland: 
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If Smith was burned in in 1518, then he was prosecuted while Bishop William Atwater held the see of Lincoln. Foxe probably obtained his knowledge of this case from the testimony of John Say.

that the sayd Christopher Shoomaker, a parishoner of great Missenden, came to the house of one Iohn Say, and after other matters of talke, read to hym out of a litle booke, the woordes whiche Christe spake to his disciples. And thus commyng to his house about foure tymes, at euery tyme read some thing out of the same booke vnto hym: teaching hym not to be deceyued in the priestes celebration at Masse, and declaring that it was not the same very present body of Christ, as the priestes dyd phantasie: but in substaunce bread, bearyng the remembraunce of Christ. And taught hym moreouer, that Pilgrimage, worshippyng, and settyng vp candles to saintes were all vnprofitable. And thus the sayde

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Iohn
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