John Tewkesbury (1531)

John Tewkesbury was a London merchant who in 1512 had come into the possession of a manuscript copy of the Bible. He also bought Tyndale's New Testament. He was a clever and eloquent man and a man of influence in London. He was one of the most knowledgeable of the Scriptures of all the evangelicals.

In 1529 he was arrested and put up before a tribunal of bishops. This shows the importance of his case. The bishops felt that emancipation of the laity was even more dangerous that the heresy of some priests. Tewkesbury's eloquence surprised the bishops and so, realising that he could argue through Scripture, they sent him to be tortured on the rack in the Tower of London. He was accused of reading Tyndale's 'Wicked Mammon' and under torture promised to renounce the book. He returned home almost a cripple. The words he spoke habitually were 'Christ Alone'.

Tewkesbury was arrested again and taken to the house of Sir Thomas More in Chelsea. Here he was tortured to get a recantation. Having failed in this the Bishop of London, Stokesley, tried him and sentenced him to be burned.

The following is taken from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The next person that suffered was John Tewkesbury. This was a plain, simple man, who had been guilty of no other offence against what was called the holy Mother Church, than that of reading Tyndale's translation of the New Testament. At first he was weak enough to adjure, but afterward repented, and acknowledged the truth. For this he was brought before the bishop of London, who condemned him as an obstinate heretic. He suffered greatly during the time of his imprisonment so that when they brought him out to execution, he was almost dead. He was conducted to the stake in Smithfield, where he was burned, declaring his utter abhorrence of popery, and professing a firm belief that his cause was just in the sight of God.

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