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. Mary's False Pregnancy32. Censorship Proclamation 33. Our Lady' Psalter 34. Martyrdom of Osmund, Bamford, Osborne and Chamberlain35. The Martyrdom of John Bradford 36. Bradford's Letters 37. William Minge 38. James Trevisam 39. The Martyrdom of John Bland 40. The Martyrdom of Frankesh, Middleton and Sheterden 41. Sheterden's Letters 42. Examinations of Hall, Wade and Polley 43. Martyrdom of Christopher Wade 44. Nicholas Hall45. Margery Polley46. Martyrdom of Carver and Launder 47. Martyrdom of Thomas Iveson 48. John Aleworth 49. Martyrdom of James Abbes 50. Martyrdom of Denley, Newman and Pacingham 51. Martyrdom of John Newman52. Richard Hooke 53. Martyrdom of William Coker, et al 54. Martyrdom of George Tankerfield, et al 55. Martyrdom and Letters of Robert Smith 56. Martyrdom of Harwood and Fust 57. Martyrdom of William Haile 58. George King, Thomas Leyes and John Wade 59. William Andrew 60. Martyrdom of Robert Samuel 61. Samuel's Letters 62. William Allen 63. Martyrdom of Thomas Cobb 64. Martyrdom of Catmer, Streater, Burwood, Brodbridge, Tutty 65. Martyrdom of Hayward and Goreway 66. Martyrdom and Letters of Robert Glover 67. Cornelius Bungey 68. John and William Glover 69. Martyrdom of Wolsey and Pigot 70. Life and Character of Nicholas Ridley 71. Ridley and Latimer's Conference 72. Ridley's Letters 73. Life of Hugh Latimer 74. Latimer's Letters 75. Ridley and Latimer Re-examined and Executed76. More Letters of Ridley 77. Life and Death of Stephen Gardiner 78. Martyrdom of Webb, Roper and Park 79. William Wiseman 80. James Gore 81. Examinations and Martyrdom of John Philpot 82. Philpot's Letters 83. Martyrdom of Thomas Whittle, Barlett Green, et al 84. Letters of Thomas Wittle 85. Life of Bartlett Green 86. Letters of Bartlett Green 87. Thomas Browne 88. John Tudson 89. John Went 90. Isobel Foster 91. Joan Lashford 92. Five Canterbury Martyrs 93. Life and Martyrdom of Cranmer 94. Letters of Cranmer 95. Martyrdom of Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield 96. Persecution in Salisbury Maundrell, Coberly and Spicer 97. William Tyms, et al 98. Letters of Tyms 99. The Norfolk Supplication 100. Martyrdom of John Harpole and Joan Beach 101. John Hullier 102. Hullier's Letters 103. Christopher Lister and five other martyrs 104. Hugh Lauerocke and John Apprice 105. Katherine Hut, Elizabeth Thacknell, et al 106. Thomas Drury and Thomas Croker 107. Thomas Spicer, John Deny and Edmund Poole 108. Persecution of Winson and Mendlesam 109. Gregory Crow 110. William Slech 111. Avington Read, et al 112. Wood and Miles 113. Adherall and Clement 114. A Merchant's Servant Executed at Leicester 115. Thirteen Burnt at Stratford-le-Bow116. Persecution in Lichfield 117. Hunt, Norrice, Parret 118. Martyrdom of Bernard, Lawson and Foster 119. Examinations of John Fortune120. John Careless 121. Letters of John Careless 122. Martyrdom of Julius Palmer 123. Agnes Wardall 124. Peter Moone and his wife 125. Guernsey Martyrdoms 126. Dungate, Foreman and Tree 127. Martyrdom of Thomas More128. Examination of John Jackson129. Examination of John Newman 130. Martyrdom of Joan Waste 131. Martyrdom of Edward Sharpe 132. Four Burnt at Mayfield at Sussex 133. John Horne and a woman 134. William Dangerfield 135. Northampton Shoemaker 136. Prisoners Starved at Canterbury 137. More Persecution at Lichfield
Critical Apparatus for this Page
View an Image of this PageCommentary on the GlossesCattley Pratt ReferencesCommentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
LeekSkinnerThomas Tomkins
Person and Place Index  *  Close

A resident of Shoreditch, Leek testified to Thomas Tomkins' godly life and character. 1570, p. 1710; 1576, p. 1459; 1583, p. 1535.

Person and Place Index  *  Close

A resident of Shoreditch, Skinner testified to Thomas Tomkins' godly life and character. 1570, p. 1710; 1576, p. 1459; 1583, p. 1533.

Person and Place Index  *  Close
Thomas Tomkins

(d. 1555)

Weaver and martyr

Thomas Tomkins' godly life and character are recounted. 1570, p. 1710; 1576, p. 1459; 1583, p. 1533.

Thomas Tomkins was mistreated (notably by having his beard forcibly shaven and his hand burned in a candle flame) while in Bonner's custody. 1563, pp. 1101-2 and 1733; 1570, pp. 1710-11; 1576, pp. 1459-60; 1583, pp. 1533-34.

Foxe mentions that Tomkins was examined by Bishop Bonner on 8 February 1555, and condemned on 9 February 1555. 1570, p. 1705; 1576, p. 1456; 1583, p. 1529.

He was examined on 8 February 1555 by Bishop Bonner. 1563, pp. 1102-3; 1570, p. 1711; 1576, pp. 1460-61; 1583, pp. 1534-35.

He was examined on 9 February 1555 by Bishop Bonner. 1563, p. 1103; 1570, pp. 1711-12; 1576, p. 1461; 1583, p. 1535.

He was condemned by Bishops Edmund Bonner, Gilbert Bourne and Henry Morgan on 9 February 1555. 1563, p. 1101; 1570, p. 1712; 1576, pp. 1461-62; 1583, p. 1535.

Tomkins was executed on 16 March 1555. 1563, p. 1103; 1570, p. 1712; 1576, p. 1462; 1583, p. 1535 [Foxe says 15 March in 1563, but corrects this in subsequent editions].

Grindal wrote to Ridley from his exile in Frankfort, to which letter Ridley replied. Ridley mentioned that he knew that Ferrar, Hooper, Rogers, Taylor of Hadleigh, Saunders and Tomkins had all been martyred, as had Cardmaker the day before he wrote this letter. 1570, pp. 1901-02, 1576, pp. 1628-30, 1583, pp. 1729-30.

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[NB: Although Foxe does not mention it, Tomkins was a member of a heretical conventicle which was detected in London in January 1545 (See Brigden, London , p. 388)].

[Not to be confused with the composer Thomas Tomkins.]

1557 [1533]

Queene Mary. The tragicall history of Iudge Hales. The history of Thomas Tomkins.

Marginalia Anno 1555. February. as though he were thirsty, and desirous to drink, whether the cause were true or fained, it is vnknowen: but this folowed, þt his man was yet scarse out of the chamber, when he with his penknife had woūded himselfe in diuers places of his body, and was purposed (no doubt) to haue destroyed himselfe, had not the goodnesse of the Lord geuen present helpe in tyme of oportunitie. Whereby it is euident for all men to vnderstand, how gods fauour was not absent from the man, although he thought hymselfe vtterly forsaken for his deniall, as by the sequele may wel apeare.

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MarginaliaGods mercifull prouidence in rescuing M. Hales. For as soone as he had sent his man out of his chamber (see what God would haue done) euen afore the chamber dore eftsoones the Butler met him: who being desired to fil the drinke, & taking the cup, the other returned agayne vnto his M. at the same very tyme when he was working his owne destructiō: wherby M. Hales at that time was stopt of his purpose, & preserued not without gods manifest good will & prouidence. When Winchester had knowledge of it, straightway he taketh occasion thereby to blaspheme the doctrine of the Gospell, which he openly in the starre chāber called the doctrine of desperation. MarginaliaWinchester might rather haue sayd how their cruell dealing worketh desperation. M. Hales being within a while after recouered of those woundes, & deliuered out of prison, getteth hymselfe home vnto hys house: where he, either for the greatnes of his sorow, or for lacke of good counsell, or for that he would auoyde the necessitie of hearing masse, hauing all things set in an order a good while before that, pertaining to his testament, MarginaliaIudge Hales drowned himselfe. casting himself into a shalow riuer, was drouned therein: which was about the beginning of the month of February, or in the month of Ianuary before, an. 1555.  

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Actually Hales drowned himself on 4 August 1554 (DNB).

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MarginaliaThe cause of Iudge Hales drowning considered. The vnhappy chance of this so worthy a Iudge, was surely the cause of great sorrowe and griefe vnto all good men, & it gaue occasion besides vnto certayne Diuines, to stand some thyng in doubt with themselues, whether hee were reprobate, or saued, or no: about which matter it is not for me to determine either this way or that: for he that is our Iudge, the same shalbe his Iudge: and he it is that will lay all things open when the time commeth. This in the meane time is certaine & sure, that the deed of the man in my mind ought in no wise to be allowed; which if he did wittingly, then do I discommend the mans reason. But if he did it in phrenesie & as beyng out of his wit, thē do I greatly pity his case.

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Yet notwithstanding, seeing gods iudgements bee secret, and we likewise in doubt vpon what entent hee dyd thus punish himselfe, neither againe is any man certaine, whether he did repent or no, before the last breth went out of his body, me seemeth their opinion is more indifferent herein, which do rather disallow the example of the dead, then dispayre of his saluation.

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Otherwyse, if we wyll adiudge all those to hell, that haue departed the world after this sort, how many examples haue wee in the first persecutions of the Churche, of those men and women, who beyng registred in the works of worthy writers, haue notwithstanding their praise and commendation.

MarginaliaExamples in the tyme of the first persecution. For what shall I thinke of those yong men, who being sought for to do sacrifice to heathen Idols, did cast downe themselues headlong, and brake their owne neckes, to auoyd such horrible pollution of themselues? What shall I say of those virgins of Antioch, who to the end they might not defile themselues with vncleannes, and with idolatry through the perswasiō of their mother, casting themselues headlong into a riuer together with their mother, did fordo themselues, although not in the same water, yet after the same maner of drouning, as this M. Hales did? What shall I say of other two sisters which for the self same quarell did violently throw themselues headlong into the sea, as Eusebius doth record? MarginaliaEuseb. Hist. Eccle. lib. 8. In whome though perchaunce there was no lesse confidence to beare out the pains which should be ministred of the wicked vnto them, yet that their good desire to kepe their faith and religion vnspotted, was commended and praised.

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MarginaliaNicephor. lib. 7. cap. 13. Brassila. Dyrrachina. Another like example of death is mentioned by Nicephorus, & that in an other virgin likewise, whose name is expressed in Hierome to be Brasssila Dyrachina, who to keepe her virginitie, fayned her selfe to be a witch, and so conuentyng with the yong man which went about to defloure her, pretended that she would geue hym an Hearbe which should preserue hym from all kynds of weapons: & so to prooue it in her selfe, layd the herbe vppon her owne throte, bidding him smite, wherby she was slayne, and so with the losse of her lyfe, her virginitie was saued.

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Hreunto may be ioyned the like death of Sophronia  

Cattley Pratt  *  Close
Cattley/Pratt, VI, 716, fn 3

Euseb. viii. 14. - ED.

a Matrone of Rome, who whē she was required of Maxentius the tyrant to be defiled, and saw her husband more slacke then hee ought to haue bene in sauyng her honesty, biddyng them that were sent for her, to tary a whyle tyll

she made her ready, went into her chamber, and wyth a weapon thrust her selfe through the brest and dyed. Now who is he that would reprehend the worthy acte of Achetes, which biting of his owne tong, did spit it out into the harlots face?

These examples I do not here inferre as going about either to excuse, or to mainteyne the hainous facte of M. Hales, which I would wish rather by silence might bee drouned in obliuion:  

Commentary  *  Close

This passage was added in the 1570 edition, probably in response to Nicholas Harpsfield's criticism of Foxe's account of Hales. In 1566, Nicholas Harpsfield, Foxe's most important contemporary critic, attacked Foxe's account. Harpsfield criticized Foxe for praising Hales as a martyr. In particular, Harpsfield criticized Foxe for maintaining that Hales might not be damned and for comparing Hales with early Christian martyrs who killed themselves rather than be forced to surrender their chastity and worship idols (DS, pp. 748-49).

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but yet notwithstāding as touching the person of the man, whatsoeuer his fact was, because we are not sure whether he at the last breath repented: Againe, because we do not know, nor are able to comprehēd the bottomles depth of the graces and mercies which are in Christ Iesu our sauiour, we will leaue therfore the final iudgement of him, to the determination of him who is only appointed iudge both of the quicke and the dead.

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¶ De Iacobo Halisio carmen.  
Commentary  *  Close

A version of this poem, probably written by Foxe himself (in the Rerum it is signed 'J. F.') first appeared in the Rerum (p. 265). In the 1563 edition, two lines were added to the poem, expressing the hope that Hales's soul might be cleansed andblessed through divine mercy. The last four lines of the poem were rewritten in the second edition, with a more pessimistic conclusion praying that, on the Day of Judgement, Hales's sins would not weigh too heavily against him.

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Si tua quanta fuit grauitas, prudentia, norma,
Iunctaq; syncera cum pitate fides:
Tam caro firma tibi fortisque Halise fuisset,
Sanctorum prima classe ferendus eras.
Instituit sedenim sua quis sic tempora vitæ
Sanctorum, vt nullis sint maculata malis.
Quum nihil ergo vides propria quin labe laboret,
Tu tua fac cures, cætera mitte Deo.

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¶ The history of Thomas Tomkins, hauyng first his hand burned, after was burned hymselfe by B. Boner, for the constant testimonie of Christes true profession.  
Commentary  *  Close
Thomas Tomkins

Tomkins may be said to have had greatness, as well as a lit candle, thrust upon him. He is virtually unique among the Marian martyrs in being more famous for what happened before his execution than for the execution itself. Descriptions of the burning of his hand circulated rapidly and widely among the protestants in exile. John Bale referred to it in a tract denouncing Bonner, written in 1554, although not published until Elizabeth's reign (Bale, A declaration of Edmonde Bonner's articles [London, 1561, STC 1289, fo. 108v), and Anna Hooper had heard about in Frankfurt by November 1554 (OL, I, p. 113).

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It is thus hardly surprising that the incident was written up in the Rerum (pp. 425-26) with only the briefest mention being made of Tomkins' actual execution. The account in the Rerum is based on an account, or accounts, almost certainly sent to Grindal.How accurate their information was is uncertain; in any case, the account, emphasizing Bonner's 'prodigious cruelty' and Tomkins' heroism along with a detailed comparison of Tomkins to the Roman hero Caius Mucius Scaevola, is long on rhetoric and short on verifiable detail.

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Nevertheless, this account was reprinted in the first edition of the Acts and Monuments. Foxe was able to add to this documents taken from Bonner's register: official accounts of Tomkins' examinations, the articles charged against him with the martyr's replies and two confessions of faith Tomkins made. In the course of printing the 1563 edition, Foxe also obtained a description, based on oral sources, of Bonner setting Tomkins to work on his estate at Fulham and of the bishop having Tomkins' beard forcibly shaved off, which was printed in an appendix to this edition.

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In the second edition, Foxe completely rewote the account of Tomkins' hand being burned which had been printed in the Rerum and in 1563. The new account was much more detailed. Foxe moved the account ofTomkins' forced labour for Bonner from the appendix. He also added another account of a compulsory beard-shaving and testimony of Tomkins' good character, all of which was obtained from fellow residents of Shoreditch.

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The account of Tomkins was unchanged in the second and third editions of the Acts and Monuments.


Commentary on the Glosses  *  Close

Tomkins' constancy is emphasised ('The notable constācie in a true Christian Souldiour'; 'Tomkins constāt in his fayth'; 'Tomkins constantly standeth to the truth of the Gospel'), and this point can be taken to apply to his robust adherence to true doctrine, and also his calm in the face of the occasionally violent caprices of Bonner, as when he was forced to make hay ('Tomkins maketh the Bishops hay'), when Bonner sought to remove his beard ('B. Boner wysheth Tomkins beard to be shauen, because he had pluckt of a peece of his beard before'), and the burning of his hand. Foxe also uses the glosses to draw a classical comparison with the treatment of Tomkins by Bonner, which perhaps carries connotations of tyranny and pagan practices which fits well with the lustful, bloodthirsty image of Bonner already established. ('B. Boner playeth K. Porsenna burning the hand of Scæuola'; 'Boner more cruell then Porsenna the Hetruscan'). An incorrect date (March 15) in 1563 is corrected to March 16 in 1570 and 1583

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MarginaliaMarch. 16. MarginaliaThe history of Thomas Tomkins Martyr.MEntion was made before of sixe prisoners, brought & examined before B. Boner, the 8. of February,whose names were Tomkins, Pigot, Knight, Haukes, Laurence, and Hunter. All which, though they receiued theyr condemnation together the next day after, yet because the tyme of their execution was then driuen of from February til the next month of March, I did therefore referre the story of them to this present moneth of March aforesayde, wherin now remayneth seuerally to entreat of the Martyrdome of these 6. persons, as the order and time of their suffrings seuerally do require. Of the which 6. aforenamed martyrs, the first was Tho. Tomkins burned in Smithfield, the 16. day of March, an. 1555.

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MarginaliaThe godly lyfe & disposition of Thomas Tomkins. This Thomas Tomkins a Weauer by his occupation, dwellyng in Shordich, and of the Dioces of London, was of such conuersation and disposition so godly, that if any woman had come vnto him with her web, as sometyme they did three or foure in a day, hee would alwayes begin with praier. Or if any other had come to talk of any matter, he would likewyse first begin with prayer. And if any had sought vnto hym to borrowe money, he would shew him such money as he had in his purse, and bid hym take it.

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And when they came to repay it agayne, so far of was he from seeking any vsury at their hand, or from straight exaction of his due, that he would bid them keepe it longer, while they were better able. And these were the conditions of Thomas Tomkins, testified yet to this present day by the most part of all his neighbors, and almost of all his Parish which knew him, as M. Skinner, M. Leeke, and other moe. Of whom moe then halfe a dosen at once came to me discrete and substantiall men, reporting þe same vnto me, recordyng moreouer as followeth: That Doct. Boner B. of London kept the sayd Tomkins with hym in prison halfe a yeare. Duryng which tyme the sayd Bishop was so rigorous vnto hym, that he beat hym bitterly about the face, whereby his face was swelled. Where vpon the Bish. caused hys beard to be shauen, and gaue the Barbour xij. d.

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MarginaliaTomkins maketh the Bishops hay. Touching whiche shauyng of Thomas Tomkyns beard,  

Commentary  *  Close

This paragraph was first printed in an appendix at the end of the 1563 edition. It is based on oral sources and was acquired by Foxe as the 1563 edition was being printed.

this is more to be added: Bishop Boner hauyng Tomkins with him prisoner at Fulham, in the month of Iuly, did set him with his other worke folkes, to make hay. And seing him to labour so well, the Bishop sittyng him downe, sayd: Wel, I like thee well, for thou labourest well: I trust thou wilt be a good Catholicke. My Lord, sayd he, Saint Paule sayth: He that doth not labour, is not worthy to eate. Boner said: Ah, s. Paul is a * Marginalia* And so should he be with you, if ye were a right Bishoppe. great man wt thee. And so after such other talke, the B. inferring moreouer, wished his beard of, saying, that so he would loke like a catholike. My L. said Tomkins, before my beard grew, I was, I trust a good christian, & so I trust to be my beard beyng on. But Boner in fine sent for the Barber, & caused his beard to be shauē of. The very cause was for that Boner had pluckt of a peece of his beard before.  
Commentary  *  Close

Bonner's insistence on shaving Tomkins' beard was obviously an attempt to humiliate and 'break' Tomkins. But it was also an obvious distinction between Tomkins the layman and Bonner the cleric. It is possible that Bonner's action may have been provoked by an anticlerical remark by Tomkins.

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