« ZurückWeiter »
having been accused of treason by his apprentice, John Davy, and the former strenuously denying his guilt, a day was appointed for them to decide the point at issue by single combat at Smithfield. The armourer, there is no doubt, was an innocent man. Unfortunately, however, for him, on the morning of the duel his friends, to use the words of Grafton, plied him with so much “malmsey and aquavite," that he fell an easy prey to his accuser. The "false servant," however, did not long evade the hands of justice. “Being convicted of felony," says Holinshed, “ in a court of assize, he was judged to be hanged, and so he was at Tyburn." Among the Cottonian MSS., in the British Museum, are preserved the original warrants authorising the combat, from which it appears that, previous to the encounter, the combatants were instructed in the use of arms by persons nominated and paid by the Crown. The last single combat which need be mentioned, as having taken place at Smithfield, was the celebrated one fought in 1467 between the Bastard of Burgundy, brother of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and Anthony, Lord Scales, brother-in-law to King Edward the Fourth. The Bastard, it seems, having challenged Lord Scales "to fight with him both on horseback and foot,” King Edward not only gave his consent to the encounter, but expressed his intention of being present. Accordingly, on the appointed day, the ladies of the court, escorted by the principal nobil
ity of the realm, took their places in the magnificent galleries appropriated for them, shortly after which the rival knights made their appearance in the lists. The duel was continued during three successive days. On the first day they fought on foot with spears, and “parting with equal honour.” The next day they encountered each other on horseback. “ The Lord Scales's horse," writes Stow, “having on his chafron a long spear pike of steel, as the two champions coped together the same horse thrust his pike into the nostrils of the Bastard's horse, so that for very pain he mounted so high that he fell on the one side with his master, and the Lord Scales rode about him with his sword drawn, till the king commanded the marshal to help up the Bastard." The Bastard, having regained his legs, entreated permission to renew the combat, but the king peremptorily refused his consent. The final encounter, however, was merely deferred till the following morning, when, surrounded as before by all the beauty and chivalry of the land, the rival knights again made their appearance in the lists, armed on this occasion with pole-axes, and contending on foot. The fight was continued valiantly on both sides, till Lord Scales, having succeeded in thrusting the point of his pole-axe into an aperture in the Bastard's helmet, and thus nearly forced him on his knees, the king, to prevent fatal consequences, threw down his warder and compelled them to separate. In vain
the Bastard entreated to be allowed to renew the combat. It was the opinion of the two referees the constable and the earl marshal that in such case Lord Scales, by the law of arms, was entitled to be placed in the same advantageous position which he had obtained when the king threw down his warder, and accordingly, under these circumstances, the Bastard consented to withdraw his demand, and King Edward declared the combat to be at an end.
Many remarkable executions have taken place in ancient times at the Elms in Smithfield, so called, according to Stow, “that there grew there many elm-trees.” Among these we may mention the horrible end of one John Roose, who was boiled to death in a caldron in 1530, for having administered poison to seventeen persons belonging to the household of the Bishop of Rochester, two of whom died. Eleven years afterward, a young woman, of the name of Mary Davie, suffered the same terrible fate for a similar crime.
At Smithfield many holy persons suffered martyrdom in the flames. Here died at the stake the first female martyr in England, Joan Boughton, a lady of some consideration in the reign of Henry the Seventh, and at the time of her death more than eighty years of age. So highly was she esteemed for her many virtues, that after her martyrdom her ashes were carefully collected during the night, and preserved as relics for pious and
affectionate remembrance. She left behind her a daughter, the Lady Young, who suffered with equal constancy the same cruel death for the sake of the religion which she conscientiously believed to be the truth.
A still more interesting person who suffered martyrdom at Smithfield, was the amiable and high-minded Anne Askew. To such frightful tortures had she been previously subjected on the rack, in order to extort from her a recantation of her errors, that when she was led forth from the Tower to perish in the flames, opposite St. Bartholomew's Church, her limbs were so mangled and disjointed that it required the assistance of two sergeants to support her. She remained firm, however, and undaunted, to the last. Strype informs us that one who visited her in the Tower a few hours before her execution was so struck with the sweet serenity of her countenance, that he compared it to the face of St. Stephen, “as it had been that of an angel.” At the last moment immediately before the torch was applied to the fagots - a paper was handed to her, containing the royal pardon on condition of her signing a recantation of her errors. She not only, however, refused to have the document read to her, but even to look at it ; "whereupon," writes Ballard, “the lord mayor commanded it to be put in the fire, and cried with a loud voice, · Fiat justitia,' and fire being put to the fagots, she surrendered up
her pious soul to God in the midst of the flames." This painful tragedy took place in the presence of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Bedford, the lord chancellor, and others, on the night of the 16th of July, 1546; three other persons — a priest, a tailor, and one of the Lascelles family, a gentleman of the king's household — suffering at the same time and with the same undaunted courage. Having nobly and obstinately refused to purchase life at the expense of their consciences, the reeds were set on fire, and in a moment they were encompassed by the flames. “ It was in the month of June," writes Southey, “and at that moment a few drops of rain fell, and a thunderclap was heard, which those in the crowd, who sympathised with the martyrs, felt as if it were God's own voice accepting their sacrifice, and receiving their spirits into his everlasting rest."
The first person who perished in the flames during the succeeding reign of Queen Mary was the Rev. John Rogers, a prebendary of St. Paul's. This eminent person had formerly been chaplain to the English merchants at Antwerp, and while residing in that city had been a fellow labourer with Tindal and Coverdale in the great work of translating the Bible. Having married a German lady, by whom he had a large family, he was enabled, by means of his wife's connections, to reside in peace and safety in Germany. Deeming it his duty, however, to repair to England, and there