The Tudor Society

The Martyrdom of Robert Samuel, Preacher, suffering for the true defence of Christ’s Gospel

The burning of Robert Samuel

"The Martyrdom of Robert Samuel, Preacher, suffering for the true defence of Christ's Gospel" is the title of the chapter of martyrologist John Foxe's account of the imprisonment and death of Robert Samuel, former minister of East Bergholt Church in Suffolk, who was burned at the stake on 31st August 1555. Samuel was one of the Ipswich Martyrs, one of nine people who were executed between 1515 and 1558 for their Lollard or Protestant beliefs.

While he was imprisoned in Norwich Castle, Samuel was tortured by being kept "chained bolt upright to a greate post, in such sort, that standing only on tiptoe, he was faine to stay up the whole paise or waight of his bodye thereby". Martyrologist John Foxe goes on to describe how he was starved, only being allowed "2. or 3. mouthfuls of bread, and 3. sponefuls of water" a day. They only gave him that much so that he would survive to his execution date.

A few days before his burning, Samuel fell unconscious and had a dream or vision in which an angel appeared to him and said "Samuel, Samuel! be of good cheer, and take a good heart unto thee, for after this day shalt thou never be either hungry or thirsty." He didn't suffer from hunger or thirst again and went to his execution feeling comforted by Christ. According to Foxe, witnesses to his burning told of how "his body in burning did shine as bright and white as new tried silver".

You can read Foxe's full account at, scroll down to "The Martyrdome of Rob. Samuel, Preacher, suffering for the true defence of Christes Gospell." and then click "next" at the bottom to read the next page. You can also read letters written by Robert Samuel there. You can also download John Foxe's "An universal history of Christian martyrdom..." on Google books, where you can read about Robert Samuel's dream, or "The Vision of Three Ladders", from page 775 onwards - see Google Books.

A monument to the Ipswich Martyrs can be found in Christchurch Park, Ipswich. It bears the name of Robert Samuel, along with N. Peke, Kerby (Christian name unknown), Agnes Potten, Joan Trunchfield, John Tudson, William Pikes, Alexander Gooch and Alice Driver.

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