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Lewes And Sussex Protestant Martyrs History : The Reformation : 7

Lewes Martyrs Blazing Crosses

There are seven long pages here altogether and they are best read in sequence. The information and images have been sourced from the web, books and my grey matter or my own camera. I have done my best to verify the contents, I hope that all of you that read the pages will learn something.    p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7

Some Interesting Quotations From The Confessions And Trials Of Several Of The Sussex Martyrs Are Here Given.

Deryk Carver, beer brewer of Brighthelmston, in the county of Sussex, where he hath dwelt by the space of eight or nine years, born in the village of Dilson by Stockom in the Land of Liege, forty years of age or thereabouts and now prisoner in Newgate. Where he hath remained and continued at the Council’s commandment, since Allhallows day last, past being examined concerning his faith and belief in the Sacrament of the Alter, saith that he hath, and doth believe, that the very substance of the body and blood of Christ is not in the said Sacrament, and that there is no other substance remaining in the said sacrament after the words spoken by the priest, but only the substance of bread and wine.

Being examined concerning the Mass in Latin now used in the Church of England, he believeth that there is no Sacrifice in the said Mass, and that there is in it, no salvation for a Christian man, except it should be said in the mother tongue, that he might understand it and concerning the ceremonies of the Church, he saith and believeth, that they be not profitable to a Christian man.

Being examined concerning auricular confession, he answereth, that he hath and doth believe, that it is necessary to go to a good priest for good council, but the absolution of the priest laying his hand upon any man’s head as is now used, is nothing profitable to a Christian man’s salvation. And further he saith, that he hath not been confessed, nor received the Sacrament of the Alter, since the coronation of the Queen that now is.

Concerning the faith and religion now taught, set forth, and believed in the Church of England, he answereth and believeth, that the faith and doctrine now taught, set forth and used, in the said Church of England, is not agreeable to God’s Word. And furthermore he saith, that Bishop Hooper, Cardmaker, Rogers and others of their opinion, which were of late burned, were good Christian men, and did preach the true doctrine of Christ, as he believeth and saith, that they did shed their blood in the same doctrine, which was by the power of God, as he saith and believeth.

And, further, being examined, he saith that since the Queen’s Coronation he hath had the Bible and Psalter in English, read in his house at Brighthelmston divers times, and likewise since his coming into Newgate, but the keeper hearing thereof did take them away and saith also, that bout a twelve month now past, he had the English procession said in his house, with other English prayers.

And further saith, that Thomas Iveson, John Launder, and William Vesie, being prisoners with him in Newgate, were taken with this examinate in his house at Brighthelmston, as they were hearing of the Gospel, then read in English, a little before Allhallows day last past, and brought into the court and being examined thereupon by the Council, were committed by them to prison in Newgate.

An interesting “Breeches” bible printed in 1576, and which belonged to a near descendant of the martyr, has been preserved and is in the care of the Commemoration Council. Part of Stephen Gratwick’s own story of his trial and condemnation is as follows. He appeared before the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester.

BISHOP OF WINCHESTER “What sayest thou to these words ‘take eat this is my body’ These are the words of Christ, Wilt thou deny them”

GRATWICK “My Lord, they are the words of Scripture, I affirm them, not deny them”

BISHOP OF ROCHESTER “Why then thou dost confess in the Sacrament of the Alter to be a real presence, the selfsame body that was born of the Virgin Mary, and is ascended up into heaven”

GRATWICK “My Lord, what do you now mean ? Do you not also mean a visible body ? for it cannot be but of necessity, if it be a real presence, and a material body, it must be a visible body also”

WINCHESTER “Nay, I say unto thee, it is a real presence, and a material body, and an invisible body too”

GRATWICK “My Lord, then it must be a fantastical body, for if it should be a material and invisible, as you affirm, then it must be a fantastical body, for it is apparent that Christ’s human body was visible and seen”

And with that, the Bishop of Winchester began to wax weary of his argument and removed his talk to Judas in eating the Sacrament, and said “He ate Him wholly as the apostles did”

And then I asked him, if he meant Christ’s flesh and blood, the which He speaketh of in John vi, and said “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life in me” To that the Bishop of Winchester answered and said “yea”


Then said I “Of necessity must Judas needs to be saved, because he did eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, as you have affirmed, and also all the ungodly that die without repentance, because they have eaten your Sacrament, which you say is the flesh and blood of Christ, therefore of necessity they shall receive the benefit thereof, that is eternal life, which is a great absurdity to grant”

“And then of necessity it must follow that all that eat not, and drink not of your Sacrament, shall finally perish and be damned, for Christ said ‘Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can have no life in you’ And you have afore said that your Sacrament is the same flesh and blood that Christ speaketh of. And here I prove that all children then, that die under age to receive the Sacrament, by your own argument must be damned, which is horrible blasphemy to speak. Now here I turn your own argument upon you, answer it if you can”

WINCHESTER “My Lord, do you not see what deceitful arguments he bringeth in here against us, mingled with sophistry, and keepeth himself in vantage, so that we can get no hold upon him? But I say unto thee, thou perverse heretic, I see now that thou are a perverse fellow, I had a better opinion of thee; but now I see we lose our time about thee. Yet I answer thee, St Paul doth open John vi plainly, if thou will see, for he saith ‘They eat Christ’s body and drink His blood unworthily, and that was the cause of their condemnation”

GRATWICK “My Lord, take heed that ye add not to the text, for he that addeth unto the text is accursed of God, and I am sure that here you hath brought more than Paul hath spoken, for he saith not, ‘because they have eaten His body and drunk His blood unworthily’, but St. Paul saith ‘Whosoever shall eat of this bread, and drink of the cup unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of Christ’ Note my Lord, he saith not as you hath affirmed, but clean contrary”

The account then goes on to describe the bitterness of the Bishops at their inability to deal with Gratwick’s arguments, and they resorted again to threats of excommunication and death. Gratwick was nothing moved whereupon the Bishop of Winchester said “Thou gloriest much in thy talk, and thinkest now the people are come about thee, that thou shalt encourage them with thy constant heretical opinion”

“For the last day, when thou wast before me on Sunday, in St. Mary Overy’s Church, there thou reprovedst my sermon, and hadst a thousand by thee at the least, to bid God strengthen thee, but now let me see him here, that dare open his mouth to bid God strengthen thee, he shall die the death that thou shalt die”

Gratwick’s reply was as follows “My Lord, seeing you will needs have my blood, let me say a little more for myself, upon Sunday last when I was before you, you preached this which was a truth, and agreeable to the doctrine of St. James, and said ‘If any man think himself a religious man, and in the meantime, seduce his tongue or his heart, the same man’s religion’ And so my Lord, you standing there in the pulpit, in the meantime seduced your tongue to slander us poor prisoners, being there present in iron bonds, burdening us with the sect of Arians, with the sect of Herodians, with the sect of Anabaptists, with the sect of Sacramentaries, and with the sect of Pelagians”

“And when we stood up to purge ourselves thereof, you said you would cut out our tongues, and cause us to be pulled out of the church by violence. But there you gave yourself a shrewd blow, for your tongue in the meantime slandered your neighbour. For I my Lord will give my life against all these heresies, the which you burdened us withal, even as I will give my life against that wherein I now stand before you”


The Martyr concludes his account of his trial. And when I was condemned, I desired God with a loud voice, that he would not lie my blood to their charge, if it were his good will, and then they refused my prayer and sent me away. Then I began to talk as I went, and they cried “Cut out his tongue, or stop his mouth” and so I was brought to the Marshalsea, and lapped in iron bonds. Therefore I pray unto God that they unto whom this present writing shall come, may take example by my death and soldier fare. So be it. Stephen Gratwick, condemned for God’s everlasting Truth.

Part of the First Examination of Richard Woodman, which took place before the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Christopherson, Dr. Story, Dr. Cooke and others, the 14th day of April, 1557.

STORY “What a heretic is this man, why hear ye him? Send him to prison to his fellows in the Marshalsea, and they shall be dispatched these twelve days”

When I heard this, I rejoiced greatly in my heart, desiring God, if it were his will, to keep him in that mind . . . So when they perceived that I feared not imprisonment, but rather rejoiced, then said the Bishop, “Me thinks he is not afraid of the prison”

WOODMAN “No, I praise the living God”

STORY “This is an heretic indeed, he hath the right terms of all heretics ‘the living God’ I pray you be there dead Gods, that you say the living God”

WOODMAN “Be ye angry with me, because I speak words which are written in the Bible”

STORY “Bible babble, Bible babble, what speakest thou of the Bible ? There is no such word written in all the Bible”

WOODMAN “Then I am much to blame, if it be not so written, Behold for the offences that you have done, you shall be carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, and there ye shall be seven generations. And when you be there, you shall see Gods of gold, of silver, of wood, and of stone, borne before you and behind you on men’s shoulders, to cast out a fear among the heathen”

“When ye shall see all these abominations, then say you in your heart, It is the living God that ought to be worshipped, Here I prove my saying true, both that there is a living God, and that there be dead Gods. Also David saith, in the Psalms ‘My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord` my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God,with divers other places I could recite. Wherefore I marvel that ye rebuke me for speaking the truth”

CHICHESTER “I do not deny but it is written, but such is the speech of all heretics”

STORY “My Lord, I will tell you how you shall know a heretic by his words because I have been more used to them than you have been, that is they will say, `the Lord’ and ‘we praise God’ and ‘the Living God’ by these words you shall know a heretic”

WOODMAN “All these words are written for our learning, and we are commanded of the prophets to use them daily, as this, ‘The Lord’s name be praised from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down of the same’ Also ‘As many as fear the Lord, say always, the Lord’s name be praised”

STORY “My Lord send him to prison, you shall do no good with him. This is an old heretic”

The closing words in Woodman’s last trial, which took place before the Bishop of Winchester were.

WINCHESTER “Thou are an heretic, and therefore thou shalt be excommunicated”

WOODMAN “I am no heretic, I take heaven and earth to witness, I defy all heretics and if you condemn me, you will be damned, if you repent not. But God give you grace to repent all, if it be his will”

And so he read forth the sentence in Latin, but what he saith, God knoweth, and not I. God be judge between them and me. When he had done I would have talked my mind to them, but they cried “Away, away with him” And so I was carried to the Marshalsea again, where I am, and shall be so long as it shall please God. And I praise God most heartily, that ever he hath elected and predestinated me to come to so high dignity as to bear rebuke for His name’s sake, his name be praised therefore for ever and ever. Amen.


The following confession of faith was drawn up by sixteen prisoners, confined at Newgate. They had been condemned to die and on the Sunday next the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, referring to them said that “They had as many opinions as there were persons”

Henry Adlington, a sawyer of East Grinstead, was one of those who signed the declaration. He with twelve others was burnt at Stratford, London, the other three for some unknown reason being reprieved.

“Unto our dearly beloved friends, and the holy congregation of Jesus Christ, even as many as love God, grace be with you and peace from God our Father, and From our Lord Jesus Christ. So be it”

“Be it manifest unto all by whom this our certificate shall be seen, that whereas upon Saturday, being the 13th day of June, at Fulham, before the Bishop of London, sixteen of us (whose names hereunder are subscribed) were condemned to die for the most pure and sincere truth of Christ’s verity, which most godly truth hath been from the beginning with the wicked adversaries thereof continually defaced, and is by the devil and his imps, even at this present likewise slandered, upon this occasion, dearly beloved brethren”

“We are moved, yea constrained, in the ears of all men to manifest our belief, and briefly the articles whereof we were condemned for the avoiding of false reports and slanderous tongues, which might happen by the most ungodly and uncharitable sermon preached at St. Paul’s Cross, the 14th of the said month, by Master Feckham, now Dean of the same Church, where he in that most worthy audience defamed us to be n sixteen sundry opinions, which were a thing most prejudicial to all Christian verity, and for a true testimonial thereof, this hereunder written shall answer our cause, and thereof we pray you that are of God to judge”

“We believe that we were baptized in the faith of Christ’s Church and incorporate unto him and made a member of His Church, in the which faith we continue. And although we erred for a certain time, yet the root of faith was preserved in us by the Holy Ghost, which hath reduced us into a full certainty of the same, and do persist, and will, by God’s assistance to the end”

There are but two Sacraments in Christ’s Church, that is the Sacrament of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. For in these are contained the faith of Christ’s Church, that is, the two testaments, the law and the Gospel. The effect of the law is repentance, and the effect of the Gospel remission of sins.

We believe that there is a visible Church, wherein the Word of God is preached, and the holy Sacraments truly ministered, visible to the wicked world, although it be not credited, and by the death of saints confirmed, as it was in the time of Elias the prophet, as well as now.

The see of Rome is the see of Anti-Christ, the congregation of the wicked, etc., whereof the Pope is head under the devil.

The Mass is not only a profanation of the Lord’s Supper, but also a most blasphemous idol.

God is neither spiritually nor corporally in the Sacrament of the Alter, and there remaineth no substance in the same, but only the substance of bread and wine.

For these the articles of our belief, we being condemned to die, do willingly offer our corruptible bodies to be dissolved in the fire, all with one voice consenting and assenting thereunto, and in no one point distaunt or disagreeing from any of our former articles.

Apparent also let it be and known, that being of the former articles before the Bishop examined the said day and time, we affirmed to believe all that he or they would approve by the Scriptures. But he said that he would not stand to prove it with heretics, but said they themselves were the holy Church, and that we ought to believe them, or else be cut off like withered branches.

The Seventeen Martyrs Names On A Banner : Cliffe High Street Lewes






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