Thematic Divisions in Book 11
1. The Martyrdom of Rogers 2. The Martyrdom of Saunders 3. Saunders' Letters 4. Hooper's Martyrdom 5. Hooper's Letters 6. Rowland Taylor's Martyrdom 7. Becket's Image and other events 8. Miles Coverdale and the Denmark Letters 9. Bonner and Reconciliation 10. Judge Hales 11. The Martyrdom of Thomas Tomkins 12. The Martyrdom of William Hunter 13. The Martyrdom of Higbed and Causton 14. The Martyrdom of Pigot, Knight and Laurence 15. Robert Farrar's Martyrdom 16. The Martyrdom of Rawlins/Rowland White17. The Restoration of Abbey Lands and other events in Spring 155518. The Providential Death of the Parson of Arundel 19. The Martyrdom of John Awcocke 20. The Martyrdom of George Marsh 21. The Letters of George Marsh 22. The Martyrdom of William Flower 23. The Martyrdom of Cardmaker and Warne 24. Letters of Warne and Cardmaker 25. The Martyrdom of Ardley and Simpson 26. John Tooly 27. The Examination of Robert Bromley [nb This is part of the Tooly affair]28. The Martyrdom of Thomas Haukes 29. Letters of Haukes 30. The Martyrdom of Thomas Watts 31. Censorship Proclamation 32. Our Lady' Psalter 33. Martyrdom of Osmund, Bamford, Osborne and Chamberlain34. The Martyrdom of John Bradford 35. Bradford's Letters 36. William Minge 37. James Trevisam 38. The Martyrdom of John Bland 39. The Martyrdom of Frankesh, Middleton and Sheterden 40. Sheterden's Letters 41. Examinations of Hall, Wade and Polley 42. Martyrdom of Christopher Wade 43. Nicholas Hall44. Margery Polley45. Martyrdom of Carver and Launder 46. Martyrdom of Thomas Iveson 47. John Aleworth 48. Martyrdom of James Abbes 49. Martyrdom of Denley, Newman and Pacingham 50. Richard Hooke 51. Martyrdom of William Coker, et al 52. Martyrdom of George Tankerfield, et al 53. Martyrdom and Letters of Robert Smith 54. Martyrdom of Harwood and Fust 55. Martyrdom of William Haile 56. George King, Thomas Leyes and John Wade 57. William Andrew 58. Martyrdom of Robert Samuel 59. Samuel's Letters 60. William Allen 61. Martyrdom of Roger Coo 62. Martyrdom of Thomas Cobb 63. Martyrdom of Catmer, Streater, Burwood, Brodbridge, Tutty 64. Martyrdom of Hayward and Goreway 65. Martyrdom and Letters of Robert Glover 66. Cornelius Bungey 67. John and William Glover 68. Martyrdom of Wolsey and Pigot 69. Life and Character of Nicholas Ridley 70. Ridley's Letters 71. Life of Hugh Latimer 72. Latimer's Letters 73. Ridley and Latimer Re-examined and Executed74. More Letters of Ridley 75. Life and Death of Stephen Gardiner 76. Martyrdom of Webb, Roper and Park 77. William Wiseman 78. James Gore 79. Examinations and Martyrdom of John Philpot 80. Philpot's Letters 81. Martyrdom of Thomas Whittle, Barlett Green, et al 82. Letters of Thomas Wittle 83. Life of Bartlett Green 84. Letters of Bartlett Green 85. Thomas Browne 86. John Tudson 87. John Went 88. Isobel Foster 89. Joan Lashford 90. Five Canterbury Martyrs 91. Life and Martyrdom of Cranmer 92. Letters of Cranmer 93. Martyrdom of Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield 94. Persecution in Salisbury Maundrell, Coberly and Spicer 95. William Tyms, et al 96. Letters of Tyms 97. The Norfolk Supplication 98. Martyrdom of John Harpole and Joan Beach 99. John Hullier 100. Hullier's Letters 101. Christopher Lister and five other martyrs 102. Hugh Lauerocke and John Apprice 103. Katherine Hut, Elizabeth Thacknell, et al 104. Thomas Drury and Thomas Croker 105. Thomas Spicer, John Deny and Edmund Poole 106. Persecution of Winson and Mendlesam 107. Gregory Crow 108. William Slech 109. Avington Read, et al 110. Wood and Miles 111. Adherall and Clement 112. A Merchant's Servant Executed at Leicester 113. Thirteen Burnt at Stratford-le-Bow114. Persecution in Lichfield 115. Hunt, Norrice, Parret 116. Martyrdom of Bernard, Lawson and Foster 117. Examinations of John Fortune118. John Careless 119. Letters of John Careless 120. Martyrdom of Julius Palmer 121. Agnes Wardall 122. Peter Moone and his wife 123. Guernsey Martyrdoms 124. Dungate, Foreman and Tree 125. Martyrdom of Thomas More126. Martyrdom of John Newman127. Examination of John Jackson128. Examination of John Newman 129. Martyrdom of Joan Waste 130. Martyrdom of Edward Sharpe 131. Four Burnt at Mayfield at Sussex 132. John Horne and a woman 133. William Dangerfield 134. Northampton Shoemaker 135. Prisoners Starved at Canterbury 136. More Persecution at Lichfield
Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the GlossesCommentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
1517 [1491]

Q. Mary. The story of William Flower striking a Priest at westminster, Martyr.

Marginalia1555. March.I for you. I beseeche the holy Ghost haue you in his keeping alway. Amen.

By your frend Iames Bradshaw.

¶ A prayer of George Marsh, whiche he vsed dayly to say.

MarginaliaA prayer of G. Marsh, Martyr.OH Lorde Iesu Christ, whiche art the only phisition of wounded consciences, we miserable sinners trusting in thy gratious goodnes, do briefly open to thee the euyll tree of our hart, with all the rootes, boughes, leaues, and fruites, and with all the crookes, knottes and knoures, 

Commentary  *  Close

I.e., a knot or tangle (OED).

all whiche thou knowest: for thou throughly perceiuest as well the inwarde lustes, doubtinges, and denying thy prouidence, as these grosse outward sinnes which we commit inwardly deadly. Wherefore we beseeche thee, according to the litle measure of our infirmitie, although we be farre vnable and vnapt to pray, that thou wouldest mercyfully circumcise our stony hartes, and for these old hartes, create newe within vs, and replenish vs with a new spirite, and water vs and moysten vs with the ioyce of heauēly grace, and welles of spirituall waters, whereby the inward venome and noysome  
Commentary  *  Close


ioyce of the flesh may be dryed vp, and custome of the olde man chaunged, and our hart alwayes bringing foorth thornes and bryers to be burned with fire, from hence forth may beare spiritual fruits in righteousnes and holynes vnto lyfe euerlasting. Amen.

[Back to Top]

Beloued, among other exercises, I doo dayly on my knees vse this confession of sinnes, willing and exhorting you to do the same, and daily to acknowledge vnfainedly to God your vnbeliefe, vnthankfulnes, & disobedience against him. This shal ye do if ye wil diligently consider, and looke your selues first in the pure glasse of Gods Commaundementes, and there see our outward filthynes and vncleannes, and so learne to vanquishe the same, that is to wyt, to fall in harty displeasure against sinne, and therby be prouoked to long after Christe. Marginalia1. Cor. 10. Math. 20.For we truely are sinners: but he is iust, and the Iustifier of all them that beleue on hym. We are poore, but he is riche in mercy toward al them that cal vpon hym. If we hunger and thirst for righteousnes, let vs resorte vnto his table, for he is a moste liberall feast maker. He wyll set before vs his owne holy body, whiche was geuen for vs to be our meate, and his precious bloud whiche was shed for vs and for many for the remission of sinnes, to be our drinke. He biddeth, willeth, and calleth for geastes, which hunger and thirst. Come (saith he MarginaliaMath. 11.) all ye that labour and are laden, and I wyl refreshe you, coole and ease you, and you shal finde rest vnto your soules.

[Back to Top]
The life and historie of William Flower, who for striking of a priest, was apprehended, first hauing his hand cut of, and after martyred for his constant standing to the truth 
Commentary  *  Close
The Martyrdom of William Flower

There is only a brief note on Flower in the Rerum (p. 431). This note merely states that William Flower, alias Branch, struck a priest at Westminster while he was celebrating mass. A month later on 24 April 1555, Flower had his hand cut and was then burned at the stake.

In the 1563 edition, Foxe had all of the materials on Flower's martyrdom which he would ever print. Most of this material came from Bishop Bonner's official records, but Foxe also printed an account of an interview the Marian martyr Robert Smith had with Flower. And in the appendix to the 1563 edition, Foxe printed an account of Flower's execution and a final prayer which he undoubtedlyobtained from an eyewitness while the first edition was being printed. Apart from moving the description of Flower's execution from the appendix into the main narrative of his martyrdom, Foxe made no substantial changes to his account of Flower in his second edition nor in any subsequent editions.

[Back to Top]


Commentary on the Glosses  *  Close
William Flower

Flower's mind does not seem to have been entirely balanced, and Foxe's notes seek to steer the reader away from this conclusion to the belief that he was a genuine, if somewhat confused martyr (with a penchant for physically attacking priests). Thus, the gloss which describes him leaving his monastic house says he 'turned his religion', but as the next gloss records that he went on to be a mass priest, one must doubt the assertion; the gloss plants the suggestion that Flower underwent a conversion to the truth when no solid evidence exists for when that occurred: the gloss supplies a generic necessity in a case where empirical proof is lacking. Several of the glosses show that Foxe was keen to play down the violent aspects of the story: Flower's regret at the violence is highlighted and distinguished from regret about his religious principles ('W. Flower repenteth his acte in striking'; 'W. Flower constant in his fayth'), while another gloss asks the reader to bear in mind that Flower later revised his opinion about the violence (with the implication that his regret increased) ('Note that the sayd W. Flower afterward in his next appearaunce, corrected & reformed this aunswere'). Foxe's difficulties with Flower can perhaps be seen most clearly at the gloss 'Extraordinary zeales are no generall rules to be followed': the text it is next to is Flower's slightly confused assertion that God sometimes acts through individuals (which would seem to be a justification for his violent actions) followed by the assertion that he had been willing to suffer before striking the priest; Foxe's gloss notes that extraordinary zeals should not be followed as general rules, which would seem to be a warning to his readers not to do likewise. As such, this gloss marks the limits of the imitation of the martyrs which Foxe makes so much of elsewhere. Indeed, it would seem that Flower's status as a martyr is all that stops the reader seeing him as an unbalanced ruffian with an iconoclastic bent. As often happens, Foxe greets a popish text with some adversarial glosses ('In the latter dayes certayne shall depart frō the fayth, forbidding mariage and eating of meates'; '1. Tim. 4'). Despite his somewhat unconventional route to the stake, the marginal glosses accord Flower the usual honour of emphasising his constancy ('W. Flower refuseth to reuoke his fayth and doctrine'; 'W. Flower standeth to his doctrine'; 'W. Flowers constancie'; 'Cōstancy' [1563]).

[Back to Top]
MarginaliaW Flower Martyr.WIlliā Flower, otherwise named Branch, first concernyng his trade of life & bringing vp, he was borne at Snowhill in þe Coūty of Cābridge, where he wēt to schole certaine yeares, & thē came to þe Abbey of Ely: where after he had remained a while, MarginaliaW. Flower first a Monke, then a priest in the house of Ely.he was a professed Mōke, according to the order & rule of the same house, wherin he remained, vsing and bearing the habite of a monke, and obseruing the rules and orders of the same house vntyll he came to. xxi. yeres of age, or therabout: and before he came to that age, & being a professed mōke, he was made a priest also in the same house, and there did celebrate & sing masse a good space together. MarginaliaW. Flower at the suppression of Abbayes, turned his religion.After that by reason of a visitatiō, and certaine Iniunctions geuen in the same time by the authority of king Henry the eight. he forsooke the same house, and casting from hym the said monkes habite and Religion aforesaid, tooke vpon him and vsed the habite of a secular priest, and returned to Snowhyll, where he was borne, and there MarginaliaW. Flower a Masse Priest.he did celebrate and sing Masse, and taught children their Primer and Accidence, about halfe a yeare together.

[Back to Top]

Then he went from thence to Ludgate in Suffolke, and there serued as a secular priest about a quarter of a yere: and from thence he then went to Stonyland, where he taried and serued as a secular priest also, vntyll the commyng out of the sixe Articles: and then he departed from thence, and wen. into Gloucester shiere, where after he had made his aboade in the countrey a while, at length in Tewkesbury according to gods holy ordinaunce, MarginaliaW. Flower marieth a wife.he maried a wife, with whom he euer after faithfully and honestly continued: and after his mariage, he taried in Tewkesbury about two yeares together: and then frō thence he wēt vnto Brosley, where he taried three quarters of a yere, and practised Phi-

[Back to Top]

sicke and Surgery, and from thence remoued to Northampton shiere, where vnder a Gentleman he taught children their Primers, and to write and reade, a good space. And so departing from those parties, he came to London, and there remained for a certaine space. After that being desirous to see his countrey, he returned to Snowhyl where he was borne: from thence to Branckstrey in Essex, then to Coxal, where he taught children a space: MarginaliaW. Flower commeth to Lambeth.and so came to Lambeth beside London, where he hyred a house, and placed his wife, where he and his wife dyd euer since dwel together tyl this tyme: howbeit for the most part he was alwayes abroade, and verye seldome at home, except once or twise in a moneth, to visite and see his wife: where he being at home vppon Easter day about x. and. xi. a clocke in the fore noone of the same daye came ouer the water from Lambeth into Saint Margaretes Church at Westminster, MarginaliaW. Flower striketh a Popish Priest at the aultar, in Westminster.where he finding and seeing a priest called Iohn Cheltam ministring and geuing the sacrament of the aultar to the people, and therewith being greatly offended in his conscience with the Priest for the same his doing (for that he iudged hym not to be a Catholike Minister) neither his act to be Catholike and laudable, according to Gods word, dyd strike and wounde hym vpon the head and also vppon the arme and hand with his woodknife, the Priest hauing the same tyme in hiys hande a Chalice, with certaine consecrated hostes therin, which were sprinkeled with the bloud of the said priest.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaW. Flower repenteth his act in striking.In the whiche so doing, as in deede he dyd not well, or Euangelically, 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe is quite concerned to register his disapproval of Flower's assault on Cheltham.

so afterward being examined before B. Boner, dyd no lesse confesse his not wel doing in the same, submitting therfore hym selfe willyngly to punishment when it should come. MarginaliaW. Flower constant in his faythHowbeit touching his beliefe in the sacrament, and the popish ministration, he neither would nor did submit hym selfe.

[Back to Top]

Wherupon the foresaid Will. Flower, being first apprehended & MarginaliaW. Flower layd in the Gatehouse at Westminster.layd in the Gate house at Westminster (where he had geuen two groates the same day a litle before to the prisoners, saying, he would shortly after come to them) with as many yrons as he could beare: afterward MarginaliaW. Flower brought before B. Boner.was cōuented before Boner his Ordinary, Aprill. 19. an. 1555. where the bishop after he had sworne hym vpon a booke (according to his ordinary maner) ministred articles & interrogatories to hym. But before I speake of the articles, first we haue here to set forth what cōmunication passed betwixt hym & Rob. Smyth being then also there prisoner with hym in Newgate, concernyng his fact done at Westminster: the tenor & effect of which communication here foloweth.

[Back to Top]
A communication or debating betweene R. Smyth prisoner in Newgate, and W. Flower, concerning his striking of the priest at Westminster. 
Commentary  *  Close

Flower's assault posed problems for English protestants. Smith was clearly anxious to establish Flower's orthodoxy to his own satisfaction. Having done so, he then wrote an account of his interview with Flower presumably to reassure fellow protestants of Flower's orthodoxy (and perhaps sanity). Foxe printed the interview for the same reasons.

[Back to Top]
Robert Smyth.

MarginaliaThe talke betwene Robert Smyth and W. Flower.FRend, for as much as I do vnderstand that you do professe the Gospell, and also haue so done a long season, I am bolde to come vnto you, and in the way of communication to demaunde and learne a truth at your owne mouth, of certayne thynges by you committed, to the astonishyng not onely of me but of diuers other that also professe the veritie.

[Back to Top]

Flower. I prayse God for his great goodnes, in shewing me the light of his holy woorde: and I geue you hartye thankes for your visitation: intendyng by Gods grace to declare all the truth that ye shal demaund lawfully of me, in all thinges.

Smith. Then I desire you to shewe me the truth of your deede, committed on Iohn Cheltam priest, in the Church, as neare as you can, that I may heare of your owne mouth howe it was.

Flo. I came from my house at Lambeth, ouer the water, and entring into saint Margaretes Church (so called) MarginaliaThe zeale of W. Flower in seing the Lordes honour defaced.and there seeing the people fallyng downe before a most shamefull and detestable Idoll, 

Commentary  *  Close

I.e., the Host elevated by the priest.

beyng moued with extreme zeale for my God, whom I sawe before my face dishonoured, I drewe forth my Hanger,  
Commentary  *  Close

A dagger (OED).

and strake the priest which ministred the same vnto them: wherupon I was immediately apprehended: and this is most true, as the act is manifest.

[Back to Top]

Smith. Did ye not know the person that ye strake, or wer ye not zelous vpon hym for any euyl wyl, or hatred betwene you at any tyme?

Flo. No verily: I neuer to my knowledge sawe the person before that present, neither ought hym or any man alyue euyl wyl, or malice: for if he had not had it, an other should, if I had any tyme come where the like occasion had bene ministred, if God had permitted me to do it.

Smith. Do ye thinke that thyng to be wel done, and after the rule of the Gospel.

Flo. I do confesse all flesh to be subiect to the power of al

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.
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.
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield