1555

16th. October Thursday
The Court Leet Jury had quarrels to deal with. The wife of Robert Kershawe gives “a piece of her mind” to John Spenser, and tells him that he is no honest man, but “a recetter of theves,” which John repeats to the jury, who remit the punishment of the woman to the steward of the manor. 16th October. (Earwaker’s Records.)(7)

1555
John Bradford, a native of Manchester, suffered martyrdom in the cause of Protestantism at Smithfield, London. He is supposed to have been born about 1510, and to have been one of the earliest pupils at the Manchester Grammar School. He was secretary to Sir John Harrington, the treasurer of the King’s Camps and Buildings, and after his conversion to the reformed faith, made restitution for some real or fancied wrong he had then committed. In 1548 he entered Catherine Hall, Cambridge, and became M.A. In 1551 he was one of the chaplains of Edward VI., and in the following year visited and preached in his native county. On the accession of Mary he saved a Roman priest from the fury of a London mob. “Ah, Bradford,” said one “thou savest one that will help to burn thee.” On 15th August, 1553, he was arrested on a charge of sedition, and after lingering in prison was brought to Smithfield. where he was burnt at the stake. John Leaf, a tallow chandler’s apprentice, was burned at the same time. Great influence was exercised by the publication of a volume, entitled Letters of Maister John Bradford, a Faythfull Minister and a syngular pyllar of Christe’s Church; by whose greate trauiles and diligence in preaching and planting the syncerity of the Gospel, by whose most godly and innocent lyfe, and by whose long and payneful im­prisonments for the maintenance of the truth, the Kyngdome of God was not a little advanced; who also at last most valiantly and cheerfully gaue his blood for the same. The 4 day of July. In the year of our Lord 1555. One of the ministers who held disputatious with Bradford in prison was Warden Colliar; another was Pendleton, “who,” says Hollinworth, was, in King Henries dayes, a Papist; in King Edward’s days hee recanted in Manchester being one of the preachers there, mainteined out of the revenues of the then dissolved colledge), and became an earnest assertor and preacher of the Gospell : in Queene Maries dayes, meeting with Mr. Saunders in the country (about Coventry it’s like, where Mr. Saunders lived, and Dr. Pendleton went that very way to London), and discoursing of the persecutions then arising, Saunders complaining that though his spirit was ready to suffer, his flesh was weake, and loth to tast of that bitter cup. Pendleton being a fat bigg man, ouer-selfe-confidently sayd, I will see the vtmost dropp of this grease of mine molten away, and the last gobbet of this flesh consumed to asshes, before I will forsake God and his truth.’ But the issue prooued otherwise when they came to London. Saunders bouldly preached Christ, opposed antichrist, and sealed his doctrine with his bloud at Coventry. ‘Pendleton,’ sayth Mr. Fox, ‘changed his tippet, preached popery, and, being learned, was a greate disputer for it above ; and was sent, or of his owne accorde came downe to Manchester and other places to recant his recantation, and to preach vp popery, which occasioned Mr. Bradford to admonish his Christian friends and countrymen to beware of him.’ This Mr. Bradford came downe, in King Edward’s dayes, into the countrey, preached the word of God (as Dr. Pendleton then allso did, in Manchester; and also at Eccles, Prestwich, Midleton, Radcliffe, Assheton vnderlyme, Stopport, Mottrime, Wimsley, Boulton, Bury, Wigan, Liverpoole) and the City of Westchester. And God gave good successe to the ministry of the word; and both raysed vp to himselfe, and preserved a faithful people in Lancashire, especially in and about Manchester and Bolton, some names of whom wee find in Mr. Fox, his Acts and Monuments. Their minister, I conceive, was Father Travers, in King Edward’s dayes the minister of Blakeley, and outed in Queene Maries dayes, and Sir Thomas Hall, who lived near unto, and much counselled Mr. Bradford’s mother. It is commonly and credibly reported that one Ryder, of Smedley, was imprisoned for, that hee, in King Edward’s dayes, was one that pulled a popish priest out of the pulpit, that a preacher might goe vp. It is reported and believed that John Bradford, preaching in Manchester in King Edward’s dayes, tould the people, as it were, by a prophetical spirit, that because they did not readily embrace the Word of God, the Masse should bee sayd againe in that church, and the play of ‘Robin Hood’ acted there, which accordingly came to passe in Queene Manes reigne.
The imprisonment of the sayd Mr. Bradford, the conferences hee had, the examination of him, and his being burned for the reformed religion at London (though it was at first intended hee should have bin burned at Manchester) and how Woodroffe, the Sheriffe of London, struck Roger Bexwick, his brother-in-law, then living in Manchester, as hee was speaking with Mr. Bradford, and the hand of God vpon the sayd Woodroffe, and many other things are fully related by Mr. Fox, to whom I referre the reader.”

Bradford’s Writings have been collected by the Parker Society, with a bio­graphical notice by Aubrey Townsend (Cambridge, 1848-53, 2 vols.); Fuller’s Worthies; Froude’s History of England; Espinasse’s Lancashire Worthies should also be consulted.

There are several portraits of John Bradford, some of them dissimilar in character—one from a picture in the Chetham Library, Manchester, engraved by J. Jenkins, which has no resemblance to the other three;  another from a painting in Pembroke College, Cambridge; a third prefixed to his writIngs, as published by the Religious Tract Society; and a fourth from a painting in possession of Mr. Blythe, painted by C. Jansen and engraved by Thos. Trotter. There is a portrait of him in the Heroologia, which is called by Evans the original print, and engraved by S. Pass.(7)