No county surpasses Suffolk in fulness of incident in the summer of 1553. During the troubled time of the last illness of Edward VI., Mary was at Hunsdon, in Hertfordshire. The letters patent by which the death-stricken young monarch had passed her over for Lady Jane Grey were gathering signatures of assent, and the tremendous storm which marked that special crisis was raging in the lurid July night while she tarried in dangerous proximity to the craft and violence of Northumberland. She took alarm, however, and fled to Kenninghall, whence she sent letters to the Council claiming the crown on Sunday, July 9, three days after her brother’s death. Kenninghall had been Howard property, but the cloud over the Howard name had not passed away. Surrey had been executed in the last days of Henry VIII., and his father, the Duke of Norfolk, to whose attainder the royal assent had been given by commission on January 27, 1547, had only just been saved by the King’s death early on the following morning. He was still lying in the Tower, where he had languished for six years and more, and Kenninghall had been settled on Mary. It is in Norfolk, but to reach it from Hunsdon she must have passed through Suffolk, probably by the well-worn road across the heaths recently described. We may see her traversing this desolate district in the long days and short nights of “July’s pride”, and reaching her mansion, to receive almost at once the accession of a small knot of Norfolk knights, who for weal or for woe cast in their lot with that hereditary right which had received Parliamentary sanction in the will of her father. She must have left Kenninghall very shortly after the despatch of her letter, seeking a place of readier access to the coast, as well as of greater strength, and none could be more suitable than Framlingham, the strongest castle of the property under attainder. Her route again is matter of conjecture, but naturally she would have worked somewhat to the left. Probably the party avoided the little town of Diss and the frequented thoroughfare at Scole, crossed the Waveney between Billingford and Oakley, where there would be sympathy from Sir Robert Southwell’s tenants and retainers, and so made their way by Denham and Worlingworth to Framlingham. On their journey Northumberland’s sons, Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, and Robert, afterwards the well-known Earl of Leicester, came upon them, but in vain. The spirit of English fair play was not extinct in the pursuing party. The men declared for Mary and turned on their leaders, who only escaped by the speed of their horses. At Framlingham she remained till the brief fever of the Dudley-Grey enterprise had subsided, and that little town must have been in a mighty flutter with the constant arrivals and occasional departures of men of local or national importance.
Thither came the Earls of Oxford and Sussex, both men of influence in the county. John Bourchier, Earl of Bath, had managed to slip through the Midlands and put in an appearance. Lord Wentworth of Nettlestead, the eldest son of Lord Wharton, and Lord Mordaunt, Cornwallis of Brome, Drury of Hawstead, Sulyarde of Wetherden and Haughley, Freston (the grantee of Mendham Priory), Bedingfield, Jerningham, Shelton, WaIdegrave, and many another were there.
As to Northumberland, he and his were thoroughly hated. The remembrance of his father, Edmund Dudley, the oppressor in the reign of Henry VII., was not extinct, and the son laboured under the well-deserved suspicion of being at once a traitor and a tyrant. The influence of Henry Grey, created Duke of Suffolk in 1551, was nought. His title had been the result of his marriage with Lady Frances Brandon, the sole survivor of the children of Mary Tudor by Charles Brandon. Personally he was insignificant, and what local power he had seems to have been in the central portions of England.
The villagers acted as cordially for Mary as did the gentry. Some of the parish accounts which remain give the items of expenditure incurred for the protection of Mary during her residence at Framlingham, which did not last three weeks. At Cratfield, for instance, they paid 9s- 3d. to Robert Carter for “makyngof the garments for ye sougar” (soldier), 6d. for furbishing the town sword, 4d. for sheathing and kniving (blading) the town “daggard”, 8d. for heads for a sheaf of arrows, 4d. for fetching home from Kenninghall cloth for the soldier’s coat for sewing. There were two soldiers, William Ferror, whose shoes cost a shilling, and William Clampe, who seems to have been specially retained under the circumstances. A muster was held here by “my lord Collonell”, whoever he might have been, and the dinner on this occasion cost the parish three half-crowns, a halfpenny short. Edmund Anderson only charged the parish the “ridiculously small sum” of one penny for carrying the town bow to “Fremmyngam”. The Earl of Sussex was all-powerful in this village. Worlingworth, hard by Framlingham, has its record of contribution in kind:
Agd [agreed] these to be ye parcell of the expens layd out by the town for the soldyars wylst ye Queene Mary gras remayned at Framygam Castle, the Xth of October, a … o dni 1553:
Imprimis payd to Wylls Maship for 7 bushels of malt s d ridy grow’d 7 0 It. to ye same for 3 fyrkyn of drynke 2 3 Thomas Waltyng for a fyikyn of butter 1 0 It. to ye same for a fyrkyn of ayle 0 9 It. to ye same for a shovel lost at Framygam 1 2 It. to Robt. Ancok for 4 galons, of drynk 0 6 It. to Robt. Adams for mendyng of a mattok It. to Wylls Brown for a fyrkyn of drynk 0 9 It. to ye same for chese 0 4
Stowe observes that when the camp broke up at Framlingham victuals were of such plenty that a barrel of beer, with the cask, was sold for sixpence, and four great loaves for .a penny, and the above extract tends to confirm his statement.
While Framlingharn was thus in the position of “not knowing itself” from the influx of an army and of the mixed multitude which always accompanies it, an equally stirring scene was rousing the old abbey town of St. Edmund. It must have been with feelings of stern satisfaction that the many adherents of the abbey, including, doubtless, certain pensioned Benedictines, contemplated the downfall of the arch-conspirator. The critical day was most likely Tuesday, July 17. The brothers Dudley, deserted by their men, as already related, had returned to their father to witness a more fatal defection. Northumberland, with Parr, Marquis of Northampton, and Sir Thomas Wyatt, leaving his University friends to fare as they might, marched out of Cambridge on the previous day, and may be regarded as halting at Newmarket, his rendezvous for the night. Next day he would enter our county at Kentford, and reach Bury by Saxham. The hostelries of the Cock and the White Horse in those villages, perhaps under those self-same signs, may be regarded as having refreshed his thirsty soldiers. Risbygate Street witnessed their entrance into Bury. Then came the crash,. They declared that they would not bear arms against their lawful sovereign. Yet they did not disband, apparently looking to their commander for sustenance and changed orders. The houses of Risbygate Street were thronged with the townspeople, and Northumberland and his men, with a gloomy outlook before them, must have met many a scornful glance and heard many a muttered curse as they filed out of Bury, once more to pass Saxham, Kentford and Newmarket on their way to Cambridge, where, with a too late repentance, the baffled leader declared for Mary.
The response to the tramp of armed men in West Suffolk was the clatter of a small party of some thirty horse in East Suffolk, the escort of the Earl of Arundel and Lord Paget, the deputation from the Council to plead for forgiveness for their share in the conspiracy, alleging that they had acted by compulsion, “seeing hitherto no possibility to utter our determination without great destruction and bloodshed, both of ourselves and others”. They were graciously received at Framlingham. Even Ambrose and Robert Dudley were afterwards pardoned, and Wyatt, so soon to make another and a fatal venture.
With the departure of Mary for her residence, Newhall in Essex, our local share in this rebellion is ended. All seemed to go well. Courtenay, Earl of Devon, was to be King-consort, and England might yet again be merry England. But so it was not to be. The Spanish marriage was to come off. Legatine authority was to be granted to Cardinal Pole. Those who had signed the manifesto against Papal authority, Gardiner and Bonner, Heath and Skyp, soon were heretic-hunting and. hereticburning according to their several jurisdictions and powers, and it is our part to chronicle at any rate something of the miserable business as transacted in the narrow limits of Suffolk.
Bishop Rugg, who died in 1550, had been succeeded by the mild and scholarly Thomas Thirlby, last Abbot and first Bishop of Westminster. He was translated to Ely in 1554, and the see of Norwich was handed over to John Hopton, confessor to Queen Mary, the “Norwich Nobody” of Thomas Bryce’s rhyming “Register”. Bryce’s sobriquet was not happily chosen, Bishop Hopton unquestionably giving proof of strong idiosyncrasy. The “Register” does not commence till June, 1555, and thus does not contain the name of Rowland Taylor, LL.D., Rector of Hadleigh, who was burnt on Aldharn Common on February 8, the same day which witnessed the martyrdom of Bishop Hooper at Gloucester. He is so well known in the roll of Marian sufferers that here allusion need only be made to the blind old couple to whom his last alms was given. The two ancient inscriptions to his memory must be recorded, and first that on Aldharn Common:
D. TAYLER o IN DE FENDING o THAT WASGOOD
AT THIS PLAS LEFT
Then the brass plate in Hadleigh Church:
Gloria in altissimis Deo.
Of Rowland Taillor’s fame I shewe
An excellent devyne
And Doctor of the civill lawe
A preacher rare and fyne.
Kinge Henry and Kinge Edward’s dayes
Preacher and Parson here
That gave to God contynuall prayse
And kept his flocke in feare.
And for the truthe condempned to die
He was in fierye flame
Where he received pacyentlie
The torment of the same.
And strongely suffred to thende
Whiche made the standers by
Reioice in God to see their frende
And pastor so to Dye.
Oh, Taillor were this myghtie fame
Uprightly here inrolde
Thie deedes deserve that thie good name
Were siphered here in gold.
Obiit Aniio’dni. 1555
A third inscription of considerable literary merit, but too long for quotation, from the pen of the Rev. Dr. *Hay Drummond, then Rector of Hadleigh, was erected on the common in 1818.
Another martyr only alluded to in Bryce’s “Register”, is John Noyes of Laxfield. He is evidently, one of the “other” in the verse:
When William Allen at Walsingham
For trueth was tried in fiery flame;
When Roger Cooe, that good olde man,
Did lose his lyfe for Christe’s name; When these with other were put to death, We wishte for our Elizabeth.
As his story is less known, I extract it from Foxe’s “Acts and Monuments”:
In the month of September suffered the blessed Martyr, John Noyes, whose story here followeth.
First, Master Thomas Lovell being then chief constable of Hoxen Hundred in the County aforesaid, and one John Jacob and William Stannard then being under constables of the aforesaid Town of Laxfield, and Wolfran Dowsing and Nicolas Stannard of the same Town, being then accounted faithful and catholick Christians, though undoubtedly they proved most cruel hinderers of the true professors of Christ and His Gospel, with others, were commanded to be that present day before the Justices, Sir John Tyrrel, Master Kene, and Master Thurston, and Sir John Silliard” being high sherif99.
These sitting at Hoxne in the County of Suffolk aforesaid, and there the said Townsmen aforesaid having commandment of the said justices to inquire in their Town if there were any that would neglect to come to their service and mass, further to examine the cause why they would not come, and thereupon to bring the true certificate to the said justices within fourteen days then next ensuing; they then coming homeward, being fall of hatred against the truth, and desirous to get promotion, without any such commandment of the justices (as far as we can learn), took counsel one with another how to attach the said John Noyes without any more delay.
This divellish enterprise agreed upon, chiefly through the counsel of Master Thomas Lovell, Wolfren Dowsing, and Nicolas Stannard aforesaid, with expedition his house was beset, on both sides. This done, they found the said John Noyes on the backside of the said house going outward. And Nicholas Stannard called to the said John, and said, Whither goest thou? and he said, To my neighbours. And the said Nicholas Stannard said, Your Master hath deceived you; you must go with us now. But the said John Noyes answered, No, but take you heed your Master deceive you not. And so they took him and carried him to the justices the next day. After his appearance and sundry causes alleged, the Justices and the Sherif together cast him into Eye dungeon, and there he lay a certain time. And then was carried from thence to Norwich, and so came before the Bishop, where were ministered unto him these positions following:-
- Whether he believed that the ceremonies used in the church were good and godly, to stir up men’s minds to devotion.
- Item, whether he believed the Pope to be the supreme Head of the Church here in earth.
- Item, whether he believed the body of our Lord Jesus Christ to be in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, after the words of consecration.
Whereunto he answered, that he thought the natural body of Christ to be only in Heaven and not in the Sacrament.
For the which, sentence at last was read by the Bishop against him, in the presence of these there sitting the same time, D. Dunning, Chancellor, Sir W. Woodhouse, Sir Thomas Woodhouse, P. George Heyden, P. Spenser, W. Farrer, Aldermen of Norwich, P. Thurston, Winesden, with divers others. More of his examination than this came not to our hands.
In the meantime his brother-in-law, one Nicholas Fiske of Dennington, going to comfort him at such time as he remained prisoner in the Guildhall of Norwich, after Christian exhortation, asked him if he did not fear death when the Bishop gave judgment against him, considering the terror of the same. And the said John answered: he thanked God he feared death no more at that time than he or any other did, being at liberty. Then the said Nicholas required him to show the cause of his condemnation. Upon which request the said John Noyes writ with his own hand as followeth:
I said, quoth he, that I could not believe, that in the Sacrament of the Altar there is the natural body of Christ, that same body that was born of the Virgin Mary. But I said, that the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ is received of Christian people in the remembrance of Christ’s death, as a spiritual food, if it be ministered according to Christ’s institution.
But they said I could not tell what spiritual meant.
The Bishop said that the sacrament was God, and must be worshipped as God. So said the Chancellor also.
Then answered I, My Lord, I cannot so believe.
Then, quoth the Bishop, why? Then say thou dost believe. Notwithstanding these collusions could not prevail.
Now being condemned he was sent again from Norwich to Eye prison, and upon the 21st day of September, in the year aforesaid, about midnight, he was brought from Eye to Laxfield to be burned, and on the next day morning was brought to the stake, where was ready against his coming the foresaid justice, Master Thurston, one Mr. Waller then being under Sheriff, and Master Thomas Lovell being high constable, as is before expressed, the which commanded men to make ready all things meet for that sinful purpose. Now the fire in most places of the street was put out, saving a smoke was espied by the said Thomas Lovell proceeding from the top of a chimney, in which house the Sheriff and Grannow, his man, went, and brake open the door, and thereby got fire, and brought the same to the place of execution. When John Noyes came to the place where he should be burned, he kneeled down, and said the 50th Psalm [“Have mercy on me, O Lord”, etc., is Psalm 1. in the Vulgate] with other prayers, and then they making haste bound him to the stake, and being bound, the said Noyes said, Fear not them that can kill the body, but fear Him that can kill both body and soul, and cast it into everlasting fire.
When he saw his sister weeping and making moan for him, he bade her that she should not weep for him, but weep for her sins.
Then one Nicholas Cadman being Hastlar, a valiant champion in the Pope’s affairs, brought a fagot and set against him; and the said John Noyes took up the fagot and kissed it, and said: Blessed be the time that ever I was born to come to this.
Then he delivered his Psalter to the under Sheriff, desiring him to be good to his wife and children, and to deliver to her that same book, and the Sheriff promised him that he would, notwithstanding he never as yet performed his promise. Then the said John Noyes said to the people: They say they can make God of a piece of bread, believe them not.
Then said he, Good people, bear witness, that I do believe to be saved by the merits and passion of Jesus Christ, and not by mine own deeds; and so the fire was kindled, and burned about him. Then he said: Lord, have mercy upon me; Christ, have mercy upon me; Son of David, have mercy upon me.
And so he yielded up his life, and when his body was burned, they made a pit to bury the coals and ashes, and amongst the same they found one of his feet that was unburned, whole up to the ankle, with the hose on, and that they buried with the rest.
Now while he was a-burning, there stood one John Jarvis by, a man’s servant of the same Town, a plain fellow, which said: Good Lord, how the sinews of his arms shrink up. And there stood behind him one Grannow and Benet, being the Sheriffs men, and they said to their master, that John Jarvis said, What villein wretches are these. And their master bade lay hand on him, and they took him and pinioned him, and carried him before the justice that same day, and the justice did examine him of the words aforesaid; but he denied them, and answered that he said nothing but this: Good Lord, how the sinews of his arms shrink up. But for all this the Justice did bind his father, and his master, in £5 a piece, that he should be forthcoming at all times. And on the Wednesday next he was brought again before the Justices, P. Thurston and P. Kene, they sitting at Fressingfield in Hoxne Hundred, and there they did appoint and command, that the said John Jarvis should be set in the Stocks the next Market day, and whipped about the Market naked. But his master, one William Jarvis, did after crave friendship of the constables, and they did not set him in the Stocks till Sunday morning, and in the afternoon they did whip him about the Market with a dog whip, having three cords, and so they let him go.
Some do give out that John Jarvis was whipped for saying that Nicholas Cadman was Noyes’ Hastler, that is, such an one as maketh and hasteth the fire.
The sufferings of relatives, of parents and children, of wives and friends, during three years and a half (February, 1555, to the autumn of 1558) must have been very great. Two hundred and seventy-seven persons were burnt altogether, and thirty-six in Suffolk alone.
Shortly before Noyes’ date we find in Bryce:
When Abbes, which fained a recanting,
Did wofully wepe and deplore;
When he at Bery was done to death,
We wishte, … etc.
In February, 1555-56, two Ipswich women are mentioned; in March, 1558, Dale “disseast [deceased] in Bery gaile”; in July, Peckes, Cotton, Wright and Slade, were burnt at Bramford; in November, Alexander Geche and Elizabeth Launson at Ipswich, and the brothers Davy and Philip Humfrey at Bury. The verse which commemorates these three is the last but one of Bryce’s dirge. Naming Canterbury as the last scene of the “frying” of martyrs, he ends with:
But six days after these were put to death God sent vs our Elizabeth.
Three persons were also burnt in Beccles market-place.
A Roman Catholic friend of mine says that of all the cravens the world ever saw it is hard to find a worse case than that of the Marian nobles and gentry. Their religious zeal sufficed for action in these horrors; but never a square inch of land or an ounce of lead or bell-metal did they give up. Mary herself desired much in the way of restitution. The valuable site and lands of Bury Abbey, however, were in the Crown during the whole of her reign. Her adherents Bedingfeld and Freston held, the one Eye and Redlingfield, the other Mendham and Wickham Skeith. Jerningham, if he held St. Olave’s, at any rate paid for it. John Eyre, of unknown theological views, impartially dabbled in this kind of property under Mary and Elizabeth, consistently looking after his worldly possessions. The list of grantees contains several stock Suffolk names of the period.
One view which seems to prevail among our Roman friends, who see that the reign of Mary constitutes a fearful chasm which must in some way be bridged over before a reconciliation is possible, is that the burning of such men as Noyes was inexcusable, but that of ,the Rowland Taylor class excusable. Weavers and ploughmen knew no better, and ought to have been let alone. Doctors in the Faculties, Masters of Arts, clerks of all sorts, were wilful offenders and deserved what they got. But even if we grant Cardinal Pole and Bishop Hopton to have been faultless theologians, surely there was something in the views of their victims which could have been brought into shape with the help of human grammar and Divine patience, guided by the one Source of Wisdom.
We have just received an Encyclical, and are pleased that it is of an emollient character, but nothing can be realized by regarding English affairs from an Italian point of view. A frank acknowledgment of the error and sin of persecution would do good all round, and Rome is not the only offender to stand in a white sheet. For her to bear a penitential faggot would be a noble example, and might be the first step towards a general and Catholic reconciliation. Many such steps would have to be taken, for the journey is a long one. As yet Aldham. Common is visited by numbers who gaze with deep feeling on Rowland Taylor’s stone, while in the Hundred in which Noyes suffered the adherents of Rome might be counted an a man’s fingers.
- In This Sir John Sulyard was a stiff Roman Catholic, and his recusancy under Elizabeth would not have been so severely noticed as it was if he had not made himself so obnoxious by assisting at the death of the Protestants in this reign