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1279 [1278]

K. Henr. 8. Appendix. The story of Iohn Browne of Asheforde, Martyr.

he woulde confesse nothyng, fearyng lest he should after bee murthered of them for slaunderyng their order. But when the Iudges promised him that he should haue no harme: and shoulde come no more in the Friers hands, hee declared to them the whole matter in order, and beyng brought before the others, he aduouched þe same. But they, albeit they were conuicted, and in maner taken with the deede, yet refused they their iudges, & bragged of their priuileges: but it was altogether in vayne for they were condemned in open iudgement, MarginaliaThe Friers condemned to prison and to punishment. that they should be caried agayne to Orleaunce, and committed to prison, and afterwardes brought openly to the Cathedrall Church, & so to the place of punishment where malefactours are executed, and there should make open confession of theyr wickednes.

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But euen at the same tyme chaunced a persecution agaynst the Lutherans, which was the cause that this sentence, albeit it was to gentle for so great an offence, was not put in execution. For, because the name of the Lutherans was most odious, they feared lest the punishment of these men should not haue bene so much thought to be due for theyr offēce, as done in reproch of the order: MarginaliaThe Fryers escaped, and the Lutherans punished. & many thought that whatsoeuer should be done to them, it would be to the Lutherans a pleasant spectacle, and cause them much to reioyce. This order of the Franciscanes was estemed of the common people very holy: so that what tyme they were caried out of Paris, certayne women moued with pity, followed thē vnto the gate of the vniuersity with many teares and sighes. After they came to Orleance, and were bestowed in seuerall prisons, they began to boast agayne of their liberties and priuiledges, and at length after long imprisonmentt, they were discharged and set at liberty without any further punishment. Had not these persecutions before mētioned letted the matter, the king had determined, as it was certainly reported to plucke downe theyr house, and make it euen wyth the ground. Ex Io. Sleid. lib. 9.

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MarginaliaPersecution for the Gospell before M. Luthers tyme. But to leaue the memory of this Idolatrous generation, not worthy any further to be named, let vs occupy the tyme with some better matter, in remembryng the story of a good and a constant Martyr of the lord before ouerpast, which sufferd in Kent for the word of God before Luthers tyme, about the second yeare of this kyngs raygne, as here in story followeth.

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Iohn Brown a blessed Martyr of Christ Iesus 
Commentary  *  Close
John Browne

Foxe had already printed a description, drawn from the registers of Archbishop William Warham of Canterbury, of the proccedings against John Browne for heresy (1570, pp. 1453-55). Foxe obtained this account, as he notes, from people who told him what John Browne's daughter told them her mother had told her. Foxe printed this account at the end of his account of the reign of Henry VIII, almost certainly because the account reached him while the 1570 edition was being printed. In the 1583 edition, Foxe moved this account to its proper chronological position in the volume, although through someone's negligence, this account was also reprinted, in its old position, at the end of Henry VIII's reign and as a result, this account was printed twice in the 1583 edition, and in all subsequent editions (Foxe added a shorter version of Alice Browne's narrative, without, however, removing the longer version. This probably happened because Foxe decided to move the account of John Browne to its proper chronological place and decided to shorten it in the process. But for some reason, he neglected to remove the long version and also, more understandably, overlooked the account derived from Warham's register. As a result, there are three separate accounts of John Browne scattered across the pages of the 1583 edition (1583, pp. 805, 1276-77 and 1292-3) and all subsequent unabridged editions).

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Thomas S. Freeman

burned at Ashford by Archbishop Warrham, and Doct. Fisher bishop of Rochester, about the 2. yeare of K. Henry the 8. An. 1511.
Persecuters. Martyr. The cause.

Wil. Warhā
Archb. of
Fisher bi-
shop of Ro-
A chauntry

More Gen-
More hys

Chilten of
Wye, Baily
Beare of
Two ser-
uantes of
Wil. War-

Ioh. Broune
of Ashford.
At Ashford.
An. 1511.

MarginaliaThe story of Ioh. Brown Martyr. THe first occasion of the
Commentary  *  Close

This section on John Browne first appeared in the 1583 edition.It is an abridged version of an account that had first appeared in 1570 (p. 1480). Thelonger account was reprinted in the 1583 edition (1583, pp. 1292-3), along with thisshorter account. Thus the 1583 edition had longer and shorter versions of this narrative printed almost 500 pages apart. The reason for this confusion is compli-cated. In the 1570 edition, Foxe had first printed a description of the proceedings against John Browne, drawn from Archbishop Warham's register (1570, pp. 1453-1455). Further on in the same edition, Foxe also printed the longer account of thisnarrative (1570, p. 1480). This narrative was derived not from official records, butas Foxe notes, was related to him by Browne's daughter Alice. Both of theseaccounts, the one from the register and the one from Alice Browne, were inserted into Foxe's book as it was being printed, consequently neither account appears in1511, when Browne's trial and execution actually took place. They were reprinted,in the same chronologically inaccurate locations in Foxe's text, in the next two editions (1576, pp. 1239-41 and 1255; 1583, pp. 1276-7 and 1292-3). However, Foxe then added this shorter version of Alice Browne's narrative, without, however, removing the longer version. This probably happened because Foxe decided to move the account of John Browne to its proper chronological place and decided to shorten it in the process. But for some reason, he neglected to remove the long version and also, more understanably, overlooked the account derived from Warham's register. As a result, there are three separate accounts of John Browne scattered across the pages of the 1583 edition (1583, pp. 805, 1276-77 and 1292-3) and all subsequentunabridged editions.

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of this I. Broun
the blessed seruaunt of God,
was by a certain priest: who
passyng downe to Graues
ende in the common Barge
(where the said I. Broune
was amongest diuers other
passingers mo) and disday-
ning that he so saucely shold
sit so nere vnto hym in the
barge (who belike semed not
much to passe vpon þe priest)
began to swell in stomack a-
gaynst him. At length bur-
styng forth in hys priestlye
voyce and disdainfull coun-
tenance, he asked him in MarginaliaTalke betwene Iohn Browne & a proud priest, in Graues end Barge. this
maner: Doest thou knowe
(sayd he) who I am? thou
sittest to nere me and sittest
on my clothes. No Sir (sayd
the other) I know not what
you are. I tell thee (quoth
he) I am a priest. What sir,
are you a person, or vicar, or
some ladies chaplayne? No
(quoth he agayne) I am a
soule priest: I sing for a soule. 
Commentary  *  Close

The priest is saying that he is a chantry priest whose sole duty is to pray for a soul to reduce his or her time in purgatory. Browne does not believe in purgatory and ridicules the priest.

Do you so Sir (quoth the o-

ther?) that is wel done. I pray you sir (said he) where find you the soule when you go to masse? I cannot tell thee (said the priest.) I pray you, where do you leaue it sir when the masse is done? I cannot tel thee, sayd the priest. Neither cā you tel where you finde it when you go to masse, nor where you leaue it whē the masse is done: how cā you thē saue the soule, sayd he? Goe thy wayes sayd the Priest, I perceiue thou art an heretike, and I wyll be euen with thee.

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MarginaliaWalter More, W. More Chilten & Beare persecuters. So at the landyng, the priest takyng with hym Walter More and W. More two Gentlemen and brethren, rode straightwayes to the Archbishop, who then was Wil. Warham. Wherupon the sayd Iohn Brown, within thre dayes after, was sent for by the archbishop. His bringers vp wer Chilten of Wye baily arraunt, and one Beare of Wilseborough, with two of the bishops seruauntes. MarginaliaIoh. Browne sodeinly taken & caryed away. Who with certayne other being appointed for the same, came sodenly into hys house vppon hym, the same day when his wife was churched, as he was bringyng in a messe of porrige to the bourd seruyng hys gestes: and so laying handes vpon hym, set hym vpon hys owne horse, and bindyng his feete vnder the horses belly, caried him away to Canterbury, neyther he, nor his wyfe, nor any of his friendes knowyng whether he went, nor whether he should, & there continuyng þe space of xl. dayes, frō Lowsonday, 

Commentary  *  Close

Low Sunday is the Sunday following Easter Sunday.

Commentary  *  Close

Low Sunday is the first Sunday following Easter. In 1511, this was 27 April.

til Friday before Whitsonday, through the cruel handling of þe sayd Archb. & the B. of Rochest. D. Fisher, MarginaliaHis bare feete set vpon the hoate coales to make hym denye the truth. he was so pituously entreated, þt hys bare feet were set vpon þe hote burning coles, to make hym reny his fayth: 
Commentary  *  Close

If Browne was indeed totured in this manner, it was grossly illegal.But it should be remembered that this story passed from Browne's wife to theirdaughter to Foxe and none of these parties had any interest in minimizing Browne'ssufferings.

which notwithstanding he would not do, but paciently abiding the payne, continued in the Lordes quarell vnremoueable. 
Commentary  *  Close

If Browne was tortured, it was illegal. But it should be remembered that this story was transmitted to Foxe at third hand (at best), and the story lost nothing in the telling.

At length after all this cruelty susteined, his wyfe yet not knowing where he was become, on Friday before Whitsonday he was sent to Ashford where he dwelt the next day there to be burned.

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MarginaliaBrowne brought to Ashford to be burned. In the meane tyme, as he was brought to the towne ouer night, there to be set in the stockes, it happened as God would, that a yong mayd of hys house commyng by and seyng her maister, ran home and told her mistres.

MarginaliaBrowne set in the stockes at Ashford Then she commyng to him, and findyng him in þe stocks appointed to be burned the next morow, sate by hym all the night long. To whom then he declared the whole storye or rather tragedy how he was handled, and how his feet were burned to the bones, that he could not set them vpon the ground, by the two bishops aforesayd (he thanked God therfore) and al to make me (sayd he) to deny my lord, which I wil neuer do, for if I should deny him said he in this world he would deny me hereafter. And therfore I pray thee (said he) good Elizabeth, continue as thou hast begon, and bring vp thy children vertuously in the feare of God.

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And so the next day, which was on Whitson euen, this godly Martyr was burned, where he standing at the stake sayd this prayer holding vp hys handes, as followeth.

The prayer of Browne at his death. o Lord I yelde me to thy gra

MarginaliaThe prayer of Iohn Browne at his death. O Lord I yelde me to thy grace,

Graunt me mercy for my trespace,

Let neuer the fiend my soule chace.

Lord I wyll bow, and thou shalt beat:

Let neuer my soule come in hell heat.

Into thy handes I commend my spirite: thou hast redemed me, O Lorde of truth.

And so this blessed Martir ended his lyfe in peace, anno. 1511.

MarginaliaWitnesse to this story. This story the sayde Elizabeth Browne his wyfe dyd oft tymes repeate to Alice her daughter, who dwellyng yet in the parish of S. Pulchers, testified the narration hereof vnto me and certayne other, vpon whose credible information I haue recorded the same. 

Commentary  *  Close

It is clear from this note that other Londoners brought Alice Browne's sory of what her mother had told her to Foxe's attention. Foxe is revealing his source for the film to rebut potential critics who might claim that he invented it.

Furthermore, here is to be noted that the sayd Iohn Browne bare a fagot 7. yeares before this in the MarginaliaRich Browne escaped burning by the comming in of Queene Elizabeth. dayes of kyng Henry the 7. 

Commentary  *  Close

At his trial in 1511, John Browne stated that he had previously abjured twelve years previously (Kent Heresy Proceedings, 1511-12, ed. Norman Tanner. Kent Records 26 (Maidstone, 1997), p. 48).

Commentary  *  Close

If correct, this would mean Browne had abjured in 1504. But it iscertainly incorrect. At his trial, Browne stated that 'he was abjured bifore my lordMorton, cardinal and archebisshop of Canterbury…xii teares past' (Kent HeresyProceedings, 1511-12, ed. Norman Tanner, Kent Records 26 [Maidstone, 1997],p. 48). This would place his abjuration around 1499. Archbishop Morton died in1500.

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whose sonne also named Rich. Browne, for the lyke cause of religion, was imprisoned at Canterbury lykewyse in the latter tyme of Quene Mary, & shoulde heue bene burned with two mo besides hymselfe, the nexte day after the death of Queene Mary, but that by the proclaimyng of Quene Elizabeth they escaped.

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Amongst other iniunctions and letters of king Henry 8 written and set forth for reformation of religion. he wrote one letter to Edmund Boner for abolishing of images, pilgrimages, shrines, and other monumēts of Idolatry. Which letter beyng before expressed pag. 1229, 

Commentary  *  Close

See 1570, p. 1385; 1576, pp. 1181-2 and 1583, p. 1210.

we should also haue annexed to the same the letter or Mandate of Boner directed in latin to Rich. Cloney his Somner apperteyning to the due execution therof. Which letter because we haue omitted before, the defect therof I thought here in this vacant space to supply. The letter written to Cloney in latin, thus beginneth.

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Boners letter to Cloney Keeper of the Colehouse, 
Commentary  *  Close

Foxe is being sarcastic in calling Cluney the keeper of Bishop Bonner's coal-house. Cluney was actually Bonner's summoner. The bishop occasionally kept prisoners suspected of heresy detained in his coal house to have them ready to hand for examination.

for the abolishing of Images.

EDmundus permissione Diuina Lond. Episc. Dilecto nobis in Christo Richardo Cloney literato, MarginaliaThis Cloney coulde neither vnderstand the Latin nor yet scarse read Englishe, & yet here he is called literatus. Apparitori nostro generali salut. grat. & benedictionem. Cum nos 13. die mensis instantis Octob. circa noctem, literas sereuissimi. &c.

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