John Hullier - Martyr (1556)


Next after these ensueth the martyrdom of John Hullier, minister, who, being first brought up in the school of Eton, was afterward scholar, and then conduct in the King's College, at Cambridge; who suffered under Dr. Thirleby, bishop of Ely, and his chancellor, for the sincere setting out of the light of God's gracious gospel revealed in these our days; in whose behalf this is to be lamented, that among so many fresh wits and stirring pens in that university, so little matter is left unto us touching the process of his judgment, and order of his suffering, who so innocently gave his life in such a cause among the midst of them. By certain letters which he himself left behind, it appeareth that he was zealous and earnest in that doctrine of truth, which every true Christian man ought to embrace. His martyrdom was about the second day of this present month of April.

John Hullier was brought up at Eton College; and after, according to the foundation of that house, for that he was ripe for the university, he was elected scholar in the King's College, where also, not tarrying full three years of probation before he was fellow of the college, he after a little season was one of the ten conducts in the King's College, which was 1539.

Then at length, in process of time, he came to be curate of Babraham, three miles from Cambridge, and so went afterward to Lynn; where he, having divers conflicts with the papists, was from thence carried to Ely, to Dr. Thirleby, then bishop there; who, after divers examinations, sent him to Cambridge castle, where he remained but a while. From thence he was conveyed to the town prison, commonly called the Tolbooth, lying there almost a quarter of a year, while at length he was cited to appear at Great St. Mary's on Palm Sunday eve, before divers doctors, both divines and lawyers, amongst whom was chiefest Dr. Shaxton; also Dr. Young, Dr. Segewick, Dr. Scot, Mitch, and others; where after examination had, for that he would not recant, he was first condemned, the sentence being read by Dr. Fuller.

Then consequently he was degraded after their popish manner, with scraping crown and hands. When they had degraded him, he said cheerfully, "This is the joyfullest day that ever I saw; and I thank you all, that ye have delivered and lightened me of all this paltry."

In the meantime, whilst it was doing, one standing by asked Hullier what book he had in his hand; who answered, "A Testament:" whereat this man in a rage took it and threw it violently from him. Then was he given over to the secular powers, Brasey being mayor, who, carrying him to prison again, took from him all his books, writings and papers.

On Maundy-Thursday coming to the stake, he exhorted the people to pray for him, and after holding his peace, and praying to himself, one spake to him, saying, "The Lord strengthen thee:" whereat a sergeant, named Brisley, stayed and bade him hold his tongue, or else he should repent it. Nevertheless, Hullier answered and said either thus or very like, (the effect was all one,) "Friend, I trust that as God hath hitherto begun, so also he will strengthen me, and finish his work upon me. I am bidden to a Maundy, whither I trust to go, and there to be shortly. God hath laid the foundation, as I by his aid will end it."

Then going to a stool, (prepared for him to sit on,) to have his hose plucked off, he desired the people to pray for him again, and also to bear witness that he died in the right faith, and that he would seal it with his blood; certifying them, that he died in a just cause, and for the testimony of the verity and truth, and that there was no other rock but Jesus Christ to build upon, under whose banner he fought, and whose soldier be was; and yet speaking, he turned himself about toward the east, and exhorted the people there likewise.

Now it chanced on a bank to stand three arch-papists, George Boyes, Henry Barley, and Gray, all three of Trinity College. This Boyes was one of the proctors of the university that year; to whom Master Gray spake, saying, "Hear ye not, Master Proctor, what blasphemy this fellow uttereth? Surely it is evil done to suffer him." At whose words, this Boyes spake with a loud voice: "Master Mayor! what mean ye? If ye suffer him thus to talk at liberty, I tell ye the council shall hear of it, and we take you not to be the queen's friend. He is a pernicious person, and may do more harm than you wot of." Whereat simple Hullier, as meek as a lamb, taking the matter very patiently, made no answer, but made him ready, uttering his prayer. Which done, he went meekly himself to the stake, and with chains being bound, was beset with reed and wood, standing in a pitch-barrel; and the fire being set to, not marking the wind, it blew the flame to his back. Then he feeling it, began earnestly to call upon God. Nevertheless, his friends, perceiving the fire to be ill-kindled, caused the sergeants to turn it, and fire it to that place where the wind might blow it to his face.

That done, there was a company of books which were cast into the fire; and by chance a communion-book fell between his hands, who received it joyfully, opened it, and read so long till the force of the flame and smoke caused him that he could see no more. And then he fell again to prayer, holding his hands up to heaven, and the book betwixt his arms next to his heart, thanking God for sending him it. And at that time, the day being a very fair day and a hot, yet the wind was somewhat up, and it caused the fire to be the fiercer; and when all the people thought he had been dead, he suddenly uttered these words, "Lord Jesus! receive my spirit;" dying very meekly.

The place where he was burned, is called Jesus Green, not far from Jesus College. Seagar gave him certain gunpowder, but little to the purpose; for he was dead before it took fire. All the people prayed for him, and many a tear was shed for him; which the papists seeing, cried, "he was not to be prayed for; and being but a damned man, it could profit him nothing." Nevertheless, they continued praying; whereat the papists fell into such a rage, that they menaced them with terrible threatenings to ward.

His flesh being consumed, his bones stood upright even as if they had been alive. Of the people, some took what they could get of him, as pieces of bones. One had his heart, the which was distributed so far as it would go; one took the scalp and looked for the tongue, but it was consumed except the very root.-- One rounded him in the ear, and desired him to be constant to the end; at which he spake nothing, but showed a joyful countenance, and so continued both constant and joyful to the end.

From Foxes Book of Martyrs.