The Tudor Society

30 July 1540 – Executions of Reformers and Catholics

Burning of Robert Barnes, William Jerome and Thomas Garrard

On this day in history, Catholics Thomas Abell, Edward Powell and Richard Fetherston were hanged, drawn and quartered at Smithfield for refusing to acknowledge the royal supremacy. Thomas Abell had also been a staunch supporter of Queen Catherine of Aragon and had written a treatise against Henry VIII's plans to annul his marriage to Catherine.

Also, at Smithfield that day, religious reformers Robert Barnes, William Jerome and Thomas Garrard were burned at the stake for heresy. Reformers and Catholics being executed on the same day - I wonder what the common people made of that!

Edward Hall gives an account of that day:

"The thirtie daie of July, were drawen on herdelles out of the Tower to Smithfeld, Robert Barnes Doctor in Diuinitee, Thomas Garard, and Wyllyam Jerome Bachelers in Diuinitee, Powell, Fetherston and Abell. The firste three were drawen to the stake, there before set vp, and were burned: and the latter three drawen to the Galowes, likewise there set vp, and were hanged, hedded, and quartered. Here ye must note, that the first three, wer menne that professed the Gospell of Jesu Christ, and were Preachers thereof: But wherefore they were now thus cruelly executed, I knowe not, although I haue searched to knowe the truth. But this I finde in their attainder, for ye muste vnderstande, that after thei had Preached at sainct Mary Spittle, as before I haue declared, Barnes for learnyng his lesson no better was committed to the Skolehouse before prepared, whiche was the Tower, where he was kepte, and neuer called to examinacion, till his rod that he should bee beaten withall, was made, whiche was a sharp and greate Fire in Smithefelde: and for compaignie sake was sent to the Skolehouse with hym, the fornamed Garet, and Jerome, whiche dronke all of one cuppe. And as I saied before, thus muche I finde in their attaindor, that they were detestable and abhominable Heretickes, and that thei had taught many heresies, the nomber whereof was to greate in the atteindor to be recited, so that there is not one alleged, whiche I haue often wondered at, that their heresies wer so many, and not one there alleged, as special cause of their deathe. And in deede at their deathe, thei asked the Shirifes, wherfore thei were condempned, who answered, they could not tell: but if I maie saie the truthe, moste menne said it was for Preachyng, against the Doctryne of Stephen Gardiner Bishoppe of Wynchester, who chiefly procured this their death, God and he knoweth, but greate pitie it was, that suche learned menne should so bee cast awaie, without examinacion, neither knowyng what was laied to their charge, nor neuer called to answere.

The last three whiche were Powell, Fetherston, and Abell, were put to death for Treason, and in their attainder, is speciall mencion made of their offences, whiche was for the deniyng of the kynges supremacie, and afBrmyng that his Mariage with the Lady Katheryne was good: These with other were the treasons, that thei wer attainted of, and suffered death for."

John Foxe relates "The History of Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, Divines" in his Actes and Monuments which you can read at Google Books (p. 414 onwards) or at

Notes and Sources

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