John Noyes Arrested at the Door of His House
This man being of the reformed faith was spied upon by some of his neighbors, who sought to bring him to punishment.
After they had found out that Noyes and a few others met secretly to worship, they got a warrant, and three of then, named Thomas Lovel, Wolfren Dowsing, and Nicholas Stannard, waylaid him at the door of his house. As Noyes, suspecting nothing, was walking on, Nicholas Stannard blocked the way, saying "Whither goest thou?"
Surprised and startled by this sudden demand, and by the threatening aspect of the three men, Noyes answered, "To see some of my neighbors."
"No," said Stannard, "you deceive yourself; you are going with us now."
Recovering his composure, Noyes replied, "Take heed yourselves that you be not deceived at the last by the devil, you master."
Then the three men took Noyes and carried him before the magistrate. After accusation had been made against him, he was put in a dungeon at Eye, and kept for some time. Noyes was then taken out and brought before the bishop at Norwich, who asked him whether he believed the ceremonies used in the Romish church were good and useful to stir up men's minds to devotion; and whether he believed the pope to be supreme head of the church here on earth
Noyes replied, very boldly, that he denied the pope's supremacy, and the usefulness of ceremonies. After considerable argument, in which the prisoner firmly defended his faith, sentence was pronounced against him by the bishop. There were present also at this time, Dr. Dunning, Sir W. Woodhouse, Sir Thomas Woodhouse, and several other gentlemen. Noyes was then sent to prison in the Guildhall at Norwich.
Hearing of Noyes' trouble, Nicholas Fisk, of Dinnington, his brother-in-law, went to comfort him. After they had talked together for a while, Fisk asked Noyes whether he had not been terror-stricken when the bishop gave judgment against him and he heard the dreadful death he was to die. "No," answered Noyes, "I thank God I feared death not more at that time than any man would who was at liberty."
Soon after, Noyes was taken back to his native village, Laxefield, to be burned. On the morning of September 22, 1557, he was brought out to the place where the stake was set up. Justice Thurston; Waller, the under-sheriff; and Thomas Lovel, high constable, with an armed guard, were there waiting for him, as well as a great crowd of the townspeople.
Now the fires in almost all the houses thereabouts had been put out, so that no one might furnish the fire to light the fagots; it being a common practice at these executions of the martyrs to use a blazing torch from the hearth of the nearest hose. But Thomas Lovel, the constable, spied smoke coming out of the chimney-top of one house, the door being locked and the people away. Then he told his men to break open the door, which they did, and thus got fire and brought it to the place where the stake was set up.
When John Noyes came to the place, he kneeled down and prayed; then they, making haste, bound him to the stake. When bound, the martyr looked up to heaven and said, "Fear not them that can kill the body." Then seeing his sister weeping and lamenting for him, he told her to be comforted and to dry her tears. Then one of the sheriff's men, named Nicholas Cadman brought the first fagot and set it against him.
After this, all being ready, Noyes reached out and gave a book of prayers which he carried in his hand, to the under-sheriff. This book he begged the sheriff to take to his wife as a token of remembrance, after he, her husband, had perished in the fire. The undersheriff gave his word to Noyes that he would do this, but never kept his promise.
Then fire was put to the fagots, and the martyr yielded up his life amid
the flames. When his body was burned, they dug a pit to bury the coals and ashes in, and
amongst them they found one of his feet unburned, whole up to the ankle, and that they
buried with the rest.
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