The Tudor Society

27 March – Reading the Bible in church could get you into trouble

In today's "on this day in Tudor history" video, I share the story of William Hunter, a nineteen-year-old apprentice whose trouble started when he was caught reading the Bible to himself in church.

William ended up being burned at the stake for heresy on 26th or 27th March 1555 in his hometown of Brentwood Essex.

Here's a 19th century picture of Brentwood School and the Martyr's Elm, which was planted where Hunter was burned.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1489 - The Treaty of Medina del Campo was signed between England and Spain. One part of it was the arrangement of the marriage between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine (or Catalina) of Aragon. It was signed by Spain on this day and ratified in 1490 by Henry VII.
  • 1563 – Death of Richard Pallady, member of Parliament and member of the household of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector.
  • 1599 – Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, left London for Ireland as Lieutenant General.
  • 1604 – Funeral of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, at St Nicholas Chapel, Croydon Minster.
  • 1620 – Death of Edward Lister, Physician-in-Ordinary to Elizabeth I and James I, in Aldermanbury in London. He was buried at St Mary's Church in Aldermanbury.
  • 1625 – Death of James I at Theobalds, Hertfordshire. He was laid to rest in the Henry VII Chapel, Westminster Abbey on 5th May. John Donne gave the funeral sermon. James had been suffering with ill health for a few months, having kidney problems and attacks of arthritis and gout, followed by tertian ague and a stroke. It seems that he died during a severe attack of dysentery. He was succeeded by his son, Charles I.

There are 3 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    A very sad account of such a brave young man. RIP young man, William Hunter.

    Do you know that there was a case in the area around Silverdale in Lancashire that a group of people were arrested for reading the Bible. This was in the seventeenth century under what was a Protestant King, James I, because they were an early gathering of people later called Quakers in Yealand. The local vicar had allowed them to gather in his Church while their meeting house was being built. The local beak went and reported the gathering, some soldiers were sent to arrest them, they burst into the Church and shot them, although they didn’t resist. Twelve people were killed and twenty or thirty people injured quite badly. The burial ground around the meeting house is where they are buried. These were not enlightened times. These tales of martyrdom are very harrowing, whether Catholic or Evangelicals. May they all rest in peace. Amen.

    1. C - Post Author

      It’s horrible what was done in the name of religion. Poor, poor people.

      1. R


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27 March – Reading the Bible in church could get you into trouble