Chapter 16: Persecutions in England During the Reign of Queen Mary (4/48)

In the afternoon of Sunday, October 15, 1554, as he was reading in his church to exhort his people, the bishop of London interrupted him, by sending an officer for him.

His treason and sedition the bishop’s charity was content to let slip until another time, but a heretic he meant to prove him, and all those, he said, who taught and believed that the administration of the Sacraments, and all orders of the Church, are the most pure, which come the nearest to the order of the primitive Church.

After much talk concerning this matter, the bishop desired him to write what he believed of transubstantiation. Lawrence Saunders did so, saying, “My Lord, you seek my blood, and you shall have it: I pray God that you may be so baptized in it that you may ever after loathe blood-sucking, and become a better man.” Upon being closely charged with contumacy, the severe replies of Mr. Saunders to the bishop, (who had before, to get the favor of Henry VIII written and set forth in print, a book of true obedience, wherein he had openly declared Queen Mary to be a bastard) so irritated him that he exclaimed, “Carry away this frenzied fool to prison.”After this good and faithful martyr had been kept in prison one year and a quarter, the bishops at length called him, as they did his fellow-prisoners, openly to be examined before the queen’s council.

His examination being ended, the officers led him out of the place, and stayed until the rest of his fellow-prisoners were likewise examined, that they might lead them all together to prison.

After his excommunication and delivery over to the secular power, he was brought by the sheriff of London to the Compter, a prison in his own parish of Bread-street, at which he rejoiced greatly, both because he found there a fellow-prisoner, Mr. Cardmaker, with whom he had much Christian and comfortable discourse; and because out of prison, as before in his pulpit, he might have an opportunity of preaching to his parishioners. On the fourth of February, Bonner, bishop of London, came to the prison to degrade him; the day following, in the morning the sheriff of London delivered him to certain of the queen’s guard, who were appointed to carry him to the city of Coventry, there to be burnt.

When they had arrived at Coventry, a poor shoemaker, who used to serve him with shoes, came to him, and said, “O my good master, God strengthen and comfort you.” “Good shoemaker,” Mr. Saunders replied, “I desire thee to pray for me, for I am the most unfit man for this high office, that ever was appointed to it; but my gracious God and dear Father is able to make me strong enough.” The next day, being the eighth of February, 1555, he was led to the place of execution, in the park, without the city. He went in an old gown and a shirt, barefooted, and oftentimes fell flat on the ground, and prayed. When he was come to nigh the place, the officer, appointed to see the execution done, said to Mr. Saunders that he was one of them who marred the queen’s realm, but if he would recant, there was pardon for him. “Not I,” replied the holy martyr, “but such as you have injured the realm. The blessed Gospel of Christ is what I hold; that do I believe, that have I taught, and that will I never revoke!” Mr. Saunders then slowly moved towards the fire, sank to the earth and prayed; he then rose up, embraced the stake, and frequently said, “Welcome, thou cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life!” Fire was then put to the fagots, and, he was overwhelmed by the dreadful flames, and sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.

The History, Imprisonment, and Examination of Mr. John Hooper, Bishop of Worcester and Gloucester

John Hooper, student and graduate in the University of Oxford, was stirred with such fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the Scriptures that he was compelled to move from thence, and was retained in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel, as his steward, until Sir Thomas had intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no case did favor, though he exceedingly favored his person and condition and wished to be his friend. Mr. Hooper now prudently left Sir Thomas’ house and arrived at Paris, but in a short time returned to England, and was retained by Mr. Sentlow, until the time that he was again molested and sought for, when he passed through France to the higher parts of Germany; where, commencing acquaintance with learned men, he was by them free and lovingly entertained, both at Basel, and especially at Zurich, by Mr. Bullinger, who was his singular friend; here also he married his wife, who was a Burgonian, and applied very studiously to the Hebrew tongue.

At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the six articles, and to give us King Edward to reign over this realm, with some peace and rest unto the Church, amongst many other English exiles, who then repaired homeward, Mr. Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought not to absent himself, but seeing such a time and occasion, offered to help forward the Lord’s work, to the uttermost of his ability.

When Mr. Hooper had taken his farewell of Mr. Bullinger, and his friends in Zurich, he repaired again to England in the reign of King Edward VI, and coming to London, used continually to preach, most times twice, or at least once a day.

In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin, and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and the corrupt abuses of the Church. The people in great flocks and companies daily came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus’ harp, insomuch, that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would be so full that none could enter farther than the doors thereof. In his doctrine he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the Scriptures perfect, in pains indefatigable, in his life exemplary.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 16

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