Over 300 Protestants were executed during the five year reign of Queen Mary (1553-1558) No wonder she was known as Bloody Mary. Details are recorded in Foxes book of Martyrs.
Being just outside the city walls this was considered a suitable spot for executions and 66 Protestants were burned at the stake here, mainly during Mary’s reign. They are known as the Marian Martyrs.
Their names are recorded on a panel at St James Church, Clerkenwell on the Memorial to the Protestant Martyrs. It is a black painted board with the names inscribed in gold. It was consecrated 1963. The martyrs were formerly commemorated in the Smithfield Martyrs Memorial Church, which was demolished in 1955.
Protestants in England and Wales were executed under anti-Protestant legislation that punished anyone judged guilty of heresy against the Roman Catholic faith. Although the standard penalty for those convicted of treason in England at the time was execution by being hanged, drawn and quartered, this legislation adopted the punishment of burning the condemned.
The Martyrs Monument was put up by the Protestant Alliance in March 1870. Note the railings giving the impression of fire. The Memorial names John Rogers, John Bradford and John Philpot.
Take the example of John Rogers the first Protestant Martyr. He went to Antwerp and met Tyndale and Coverdale and assisted in the translation of the Bible into English. He was verger at St Sepulchre Newgate around the corner and preached against Popery on Queen Mary’s accession.
After a warning he was imprisoned in Newgate and on 4th February 1555 after being refused a chance to speak to his wife “he was burnt to ashes, washing his hands in the flame as he was burning. A little before his burning, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted; but he utterly refused it. He was the first martyr of all the blessed company that suffered in Queen Mary’s time that gave the first adventure upon the fire. His wife and children, being eleven in number, ten able to go, and one sucking at her breast, met him by the way, as he went towards Smithfield. This sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him, but that he constantly and cheerfully took his death with wonderful patience, in the defence and quarrel of the Gospel of Christ.”
This extract is from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
SJG-B Feb 17