July 30 – Catholics and Reformers executed in London

Posted By on July 30, 2022

On this day in Tudor history, 30th July 1540, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Catholics Thomas Abell, Edward Powell and Richard Fetherston were hanged, drawn and quartered, and Reformers Robert Barnes, William Jerome and Thomas Garrard were burned at the stake, all at Smithfield in London.

What a confusing day it must have been for the citizens of London! Catholics AND Reformers coming to awful ends.

Find out more about these men and why they were executed…

Picture of the carving mentioned: http://yeomanwarders.com/thomas-abell/ or my own photo below (copyright Claire Ridgway):

Further reading: John Foxe relates “The History of Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, Divines” in his Actes and Monuments – http://www.exclassics.com/foxe/foxe197.htm

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, 30th July 1540, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Catholics Thomas Abell, Edward Powell and Richard Fetherston were hanged, drawn and quartered at Smithfield for refusing to acknowledge the royal supremacy. Thomas Abell had also been a staunch supporter of Queen Catherine of Aragon and had written a treatise against Henry VIII’s plans to annul his marriage to Catherine.

Also, at Smithfield that day, religious reformers Robert Barnes, William Jerome and Thomas Garrard were burned at the stake for heresy.

Edward Hall gives an account of that day:
“The thirty day of July, were drawn on hurdles out of the Tower to Smithfeld, Robert Barnes Doctor in Divinity, Thomas Garard, and William Jerome Bachelors in Divinity, Powell, Fetherston and Abell. The first three were drawn to the stake, there before set up, and were burned: and the latter three drawn to the Galowes, likewise there set up, and were hanged, headed, and quartered.
Here ye must note, that the first three, were men that professed the Gospel of Jesu Christ, and were Preachers thereof: But wherefore they were now thus cruelly executed, I knowe not, although I have searched to knowe the truth. But this I find in their attainder, for ye must understand, that after they had Preached at Saintt Mary Spittle, as before I have declared, Barnes for learning his lesson no better was committed to the Schoolehouse before prepared, which was the Tower, where he was kept, and never called to examination, till his rod that he should be beaten withall, was made, which was a sharp and great Fire in Smithfield: and for company sake was sent to the Skolehouse with him, the forenamed Garrard, and Jerome, which drank all of one cup.
And as I said before, thus much I find in their attainder, that they were detestable and abominable Heretics, and that they had taught many heresies, the number whereof was too great in the attainder to be recited, so that there is not one alleged, which I have often wondered at, that their heresies were so many, and not one there alleged, as special cause of their death. And indeed at their death, they asked the Sheriffs, wherefore they were condemned, who answered, they could not tell: but if I may say the truth, most men said it was for Preaching, against the Doctrine of Stephen Gardiner Bishop of Winchester, who chiefly procured this their death, God and he knoweth, but great pity it was, that such learned men should so be cast away, without examination, neither knowing what was laid to their charge, nor never called to answer.
The last three, which were Powell, Fetherston, and Abell, were put to death for Treason, and in their attainder, is special mention made of their offences, which was for the denying of the king’s supremacy, and affirming that his Marriage with the Lady Katheryne was good: These with other were the treasons, that they were attainted of, and suffered death for.”

John Foxe relates “The History of Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, Divines” in his Actes and Monuments.

Reformers and Catholics being executed on the same day – I wonder what the common people made of that! Edward Hall sounded rather confused in his account, trying to figure out why Robert Barnes, William Jerome and Thomas Garrard were attainted and putting it down to Stephen Gardiner’s involvement.

The stone walls of the Beauchamp Tower at the Tower of London are covered with Tudor graffiti, i.e. carvings in the stone done by prisoners there. One was done by Thomas Abell and is a play on his name. It has the word Thomas and then a bell underneath it with an A on it.

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