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The Arrest at the Saracen's Head

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John Rough was a Scotchman who, when quite young, was so unfortunate as to lose his parents, and to be deprived of his inheritance by unscrupulous relatives. Being thus cast on the would, he entered the monastery of the Black friars, at Stirling, and became a monk. Here he lived until he was thirty years old, when the earl of Arran (afterward duke of Hamilton), then regent of Scotland, taking a liking to him, applied to the archbishop of St. Anderew's to free Rough form the order of monks, so that he might serve as his chaplain.

The archbishop readily granted the request of the regent, so Rough was allowed to depart from the monastery, and became a chaplain. At the end of the first year the earl sent him to preach in the country of Ayr, where he remained about four years, and performed the duties of his office carefully and well.

The cardinal of Scotland dying, Rough was sent for to serve at St. Andrew's, for which he was paid a salary of twenty pounds (one hundred dollars) a year. After being thus employed for some time, he began to have doubts about some of the ceremonies he was obliged to take part in, and when Edward VI came to the throne, and freedom of worship was granted, he left St. Andrew's and went to Carlisle. As soon as he had arrived there he applied to the duke of Somerset, then protector, by whom he was appointed preacher, to serve in Carlisle, Berwick, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Soon after this Rough married a Scottish lady, and the archbishop of York appointed him pastor of a church near the town of Hull, where he remained till the death of king Edward.

When Mary came to the throne, and persecution began, John Rough fled with his wife to Holland, and took up his residence at a place called Norden. Here they supported themselves by making and selling caps and stockings, till at last, needing yarn for his trade, John sailed for England, and arrived at London.

Soon after Rough's arrival at London, he was told that there was a secret meeting of people of the reformed religion in a certain part of the city, upon which he joined them, and was chosen their minister; but the little congregation seldom dared to gather together, and then only with the greatest caution.

One day it happened that a good opportunity to hold a service without creating suspicion seemed to offer itself. An entertainment, or play, was advertised to take place at a large inn called the Saracern's Head, and as it was certain that crowds would come to see the players, the little band of worshippers thought they could assemble in a private room without being noticed. Here they accordingly met and began to hold their service.

All would have gone well, had it not happened that a spy, named Roger Serjeant, obtained admission under the pretence of being a convert. He succeeded in quietly withdrawing from the meeting, and hurried away to inform the bishop. Armed men were at once sent with orders to arrest and drag to prison the entire company. John Rough, the minister, and Cuthbert Simson, deacon, were considered the chief offenders; so they were taken at once before the queen's council to answer the charge of heresy. After a long examination, during which Rough boldly maintained his opinions, he was sent prisoner to Newgate, but Simson was, for the time, dismissed.

Soon after, bishop Bonner ordered Rough to be brought before him at his place in London, to answer as to his religious faith. After his examination he was sent back to Newgate prison, where he remained a month. He was then brought to the consistory court at St. Paul's, before Bonner, bishop of London; the bishop of St. David's; Fecknam, abbot of Westminster, and others, to undergo a final examination.

After many arguments had been used in vain by the court to persuade the prisoner to recant, Bonner charged him with marrying, after having received priestly orders; and with refusing to use the Latin service in the church. Rough answered that they had no authority to forbid his marriage, and as to the Latin service they wanted him to use, he utterly detested it, and would never take part in it. On hearing this defiant answer the bishop proceeded to the ceremony of degradation; after which he read the sentence of condemnation, and Rough being delivered to the sheriff, was taken back to Newgate there to remain till the time appointed for his execution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2002 by Kevin W. Michael.
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