Edmund Tyrrel and Rose Allen
The Arrest, Trial, and Execution of William Munt; Alice, his Wife; Rose Allen, and Others
These three persons lived near the town of Colchester, not far from London. they had become converted to the reformed faith, and therefore thought it wrong to attend the services held in the Romish church of the town. they were frequently warned of the danger of thus defying the queen's command, but conscience, and the sense of duty were stronger than their fears, and they continued to worship in secret places, and in their own way, with a few men and women of like faith.
This conduct gave so much offence to Sir Thomas Tye, and some others who lived in the town, that they sent the following information to Lord Darcey, a nobleman of influence at court:
"May it please your honorable lordship to be informed, that whilst your lordship remained here in the country, the people stayed in good order, to our great comfort; but since your lordship's departure there has been disorder in some places, namely, in the parish of Muchbently, by reason of three seditious persons, William Munt, and his wife, and Rose, her daughter, who have not only in their own persons made manifest their disobedience, in not coming to the church, nor yet observing other good orders, but also most maliciously and seditiously have seduced many others from coming to the church. In consideration whereof, may it please your honor )for the love of God, and for the tender zeal your good lordship berth to justice, and the common peace and quietness of the king and queen's majesty's loving subjects), to grant a warrant for the arrest of the said William Munt, his wife, and Rose her daughter, that they, the ringleaders, being attached, and brought before your good lordship, the rest will fear to offend."
After applying for the warrant, Tye and the rest set to work to get all the evidence they could against the accused persons, so as to make their conviction doubly sure. Some of them even pretended to become friendly to the reformed faith, in order to find out the secret places where these poor people assembled for praying and reading the Scriptures. After some time thus spent in spying upon their movements, Tye sent off the following letter to bishop Bonner:
Tye's Letter to Bishop Bonner
"Right Honorable Lord: Accordingly to my bounden
duty done in most humble wise, this letter will inform you lordship of the state of
religion in our part of the country. In Muchbently, where your lordship is patron of the
church, since William Munt, and Alice, his wife, with Rose Allen, her daughter, came, they
do not only absent themselves from the church and service of God, but do daily tempt many
others away from the same, who before did outwardly show signs and tokens of obedience.
They assemble together upon the Sabbath day, in the time of divine service, sometimes in
one house, sometimes in another, and there keep their private conventicles and schools of
heresy. Seditious talks ad news are rife both in town and country, in as free and open a
manner as though no honorable lords and commissioners had been sent for reformation
thereof. There is also one John Love, of Colchester heath (a perverse place). This man was
twice indicted for heresy, and fled with his wife and household, and his goods seized
within the town of Colchester, to the king and queen's use. Nevertheless, the said John is
come home again, and nothing said or done to him. Whereupon the heretics are wonderfully
encouraged, to the great discomfort of good and Catholic people, which daily pray to God
for the profit, unity, and restoration of his church again: which thing, shall come the
sooner to pass thorough the travail and pains of such honorable lords and reverend fathers
as your lordship is, unto whom I wish long life and continuance, with increase of much
"Your humble servant,
From Colchester, December 18th, 1556 "Thomas Tye"
In consequence of complaints and charges, such a hue and cry was raised against William Munt and his family, that they were compelled for a time to flee from the place. After remaining away for several months the town became quiet, and they returned to their house. They had been there only a few days, however, when, at two o'clock in the morning, one Edmund Tyrrel, assisted by the bailiff and two constables, and a great number of other attendants, came to the door, which they beat upon with their staves. After arousing the family from their beds, Tyrrel told Munt and his wife that he had come to take them to Colchester jail.
This sudden alarm unnerved Mrs. Munt, who was not in good health. Feeling faint, she asked Tyrrel, who guarded the door, to let her daughter, Rose, go out to fetch her some water, before starting on the road to prison.
Tyrrel permitted Rose to go out with her pitcher to the well, but took and opportunity, as she passed him, to say, "Persuade your father and mother, girl, to bear themselves more like good Christians and less like heretics--then they may soon go free."
"Sir," Rose replied to Tyrrel, "they have a better instructor than I am,--One who, I hope, will not suffer them to err."
"Why," sail Tyrrel, "art thou still in that mind, thou naughty hussy? marry, it is time indeed to lock up such heretics as thou!" Then turning to his company, he cried, "Sirs, this gossip will burn: what do you think of her?" "Why truly, sir," said one, "prove her, and you shall see what she will do when the time comes."
The cruel Tyrrell then took the candle from the girl, for it was yet dark, and holding her wrist in a firm grasp, put the lighted candle under her hand, burning it across the back, till the skin cracked. This barbarous act he accompanied with oaths and abuse, saying continually, "Cry, wench! Let me hear you cry!" But with wonderful courage Rose refrained from uttering a sound, until at last, Tyrrel thrust her violently from him and the poor girl escaped into the house more dead than alive.
Tyrrel then went into the house, and seized William Munt, his wife, and Rose Allen, her daughter, and took them all to Colchester castle, together with John Johnson, whom they stopped on their way, also charged with heresy.
The same morning they also arrested six others, namely, William Bongeor, Thomas Benhote, William Purchase, Agnes Silverside, Helen Ewring, and Elizabeth Folk; but not wanting to put them all together in Colchester castle, they sent thee to Motehill. After they had been confined a few days, they were all brought before several justices of the peace, priests, and officers, among whom were Kingston, the commissary, and Boswell, the bishop of London's secretary, with many others, to be examined in regard to their faith.
The first person called was William Bongeor, who being examined concerning his religion declared himself of the reformed faith. Thomas Benhote was the next, and he also denied the authority of the pope. William Purchase answered likewise. Agnes Silverside said she did not approve of the popish consecration, nor any of the pageantry and superstitions of the church of Rome. Helen Ewring also renounced all the unscriptural doctrines and practices of the church of Rome. The others answered with equal firmness, refusing to change their belief in any particular, although threatened with all the terrors of the law. Finding them immovable, sentence was pronounced and the ten prisoners were given in charge of the sheriff to be held until the day of their execution.
Bishop Bonner, as soon as he had received an account of the trial, sent down a warrant for the burning of the ten convicted persons; fixing August 2, 1557, as the day for the execution.
As the prisoners were confined in different places, it was arranged by the officers that some of them should be executed in the mooring, and the others in the afternoon. Accordingly William Bongeor, William Purchase, Thomas Benote, Agnes Silverside, Helen Ewring, and Elizabeth Folke, were brought early in the morning to the place where they were to die.
The place where the stakes were set up was a level plot of ground, just outside the town of Colchester. The six poor prisoners, as soon as they had come there, kneeled down, and made their prayers, but not as long as they would, for the officers would not let them. Then they arose, made themselves ready for the fire. And Elizabeth Folk, when she had taken off her gown, would have given it to her mother, who cam and kissed her at the stake, and told her to be strong in the Lord, but the sheriff's men would not let her receive it. As Elizabeth stood at the stake, one of the officers in nailing the chain about her, missed the staple, and struck her with the hammer on the shoulder. But she only turned her head, lifted up her eyes, and gave herself to praying again.
When all the six were nailed to their stakes, and the fire blazed up about them, the people who stood looking on, to the number of thousands, cried out, "Lord strengthen thee! Lord comfort thee!" and such-like words, as were touching to hear.
In the afternoon they brought into the castle-yard, to the place appointed for their burning, William Munt, John Johnson, Alice Munt, and Rose Allen. After the martyrs had made their prayers, and were tied to the stakes, they gave themselves to the flames with such courage, that the people who say them wondered.
This page and its design are copyright
© 2002 by Kevin W. Michael.
All rights reserved.