The Bury Petitions, 1578, 1582
To the right honorable and our verye good Lorde, Sir William Cecill knight Lorde Burleigh and L[ord]: highe Treasurer of Englande.
In moste humble wise sheweth unto your honor your daiely orators, Thinhabitantes of the parishe of St Jeames in Bury St Edmunde in the countie of Suffolk], that whereas our preacher John Handson hath ben lately called into question before your honor and others, touchinge his doctrine and conversation amongst us. And for as moch as we declare that he wanteth not his speciall enemyes, which maye untruelye suggest your Honor ageinst him, We have therefore thought yt our duties his cause thus dependinge to report and signifie to your honor that for all his tyme of beinge with us he hath lyved withoute juste cause of reprehention soo far as we have ben able to judge, And we be most assured howsoever hetherto he hath sustained the injuries of his saide enemyes, he hath neverthelesse patiently with out revenge overcome every one of them and also his cause heard to their great shame, with credytt returned to his wonted functyon, wherein he hath ymperted unto us from tyme to tyme not only that which agreeth with all duties of a true and faithfull subject but also which tendeth to our eternall comforttes in Christ Jesu, the discontinuance whereof now that we sustaine, we can but betake our praiers to our good God for redresse thereof, and eftsones with some dischardge of our duties doe geve true information to your Lordeshipp of our preacher who for singuler love he beareth unto us will for no practyce of the enemy or offer of further preferment willingly depart: which bindeth us in lyke affeccion ageine to labor his conrynuaunce in which we most humbly craveing your lawefull favour in the behalf of goddes cause towardes our saide preacher doe daiely praie also for your good Lordshippes preservacion and with the remembraunce of our best duties take our leave, dated at Bury St Edmunde this xvth of August. Your humble and daiely Orators
Thomas Badby Thomas Peyton Justices
thomas bryght John beacham Churche wardons
John man Ambrose bryden Jhon basinewighte Roberde byebe Questmen
Jhon Coole andrew Skynner Thomas lumken
waiter brooke Edward ubancke rychard more thomas davy Robart Becham John Lawrence Thomas welles Edwarde Turner Wylm broge Simonde mason Fransys Frog Thomas Undrell Nycholas myllward John Humfrye
Roger haulstede John Niclason thelder Thomas genne Wyllym Resolld henry kent Raffe briden John Sargent wyllyame Johnsone william Spaldinge Roberd onnge Jhon gente John parker Johne moer phillipe poolle John Bedill Thomas Ellis Robt Craylle Jamys bushe John Niclason younger
Robert Cage Robarte Jellow Wyllyam Jellow Simonde hubberde Robart hadland Thomas more Thomas browne William persevall willm wallys Wyllyam Johnson Jhon bowman thomas bryght Andrew hargrave Rechearde myllwarde william munplayne Jeames Baxter Symond langham James cole
[PRO SP 12/155/5, 6 August 1582]
To the righte honourable the lordes and others of hir majesties moste honnorable privie Councell
In moste lamentable and humble maner, complaine unto your honors, the poore Inhabitantes of the towne of Burie St Edmonds in the countie of Suffolk] Besechinge your Lordshippes to take pitie uppon our miserable and wretched estate, whereunto presentlie we are plunged, and in the same likelie forever to sticke faste, yf by your moste gratious and honorable meanes we be not delivered. Your honors are not ignorant that our towne hathe been of longe instructed in the gospel of Salvation by manye, but in theis latter yeeres moste plentifullie and painefullie taught by two godlie learned and faithfull ministers Mr handson and Mr Gayton, the furste wherof hath beene about Tenne yeeres a preacher amongst us, the other about five yeeres. By whose diligent meanes, ourselves, wives, children and servants have been sincerely taughte, not onlie the true worship and service of god, but all Christian obedience to hir majesties and civil! government together with what charitable affection we should maineteigne peace and all dedes of love one with another, by which their painefull laboures, yt is comme to pass, God by his spirit so blessing the same, that not onelie we have attained to some measure of knowledge and conscience to practise in parte our understandinge, but also a love and inward afection to contynue our increase and going forward in either even to the ende, knowing that unless we runne out, we get no price and soe much the more cheerefullie have we been stirred and drawen hereunto, for that the lives and conversations of our saide preachers have beene soe blameles and unspotted
from all appearance of evill, that thoughe sundrie enemyes have attempted their discredit, yet as the sunne cleered from the blackest cloude appeareth much brighter than before, soe hath the innocence of the said preachers always hitherto by the mercie of god and your lordship's honourable favors, not loste but gained credit, by these false accusers, yet nevertheless neither their approved integritie nor wonderfull pacience, which for all their injuries receaved, have not once opened their mouthes to revenge, leaving the judgment of their enemies to the lord God, could anie waie prevaile to stoppe the passages of some men's malice but they have so contynuallie afflicted them by untrue accusations, that as men not able to support soe intolerable burdens, Mr Gayton by their dealinge a quarter past departed away from us, whom they have threatened being absent to pursue, Mr Handson nowe at laste weried with their violent and contynuall practizes, hath alsoe yeilded uppe his place, to the greate daunger and unspeakable grief of us the inhabitants of the towne and alsoe to all well affected to the truthe and to hir majestic in the whole countrey aboute whiche receyved by their confessions singular commoditie by their mynistrie. Soe that in a shorte space we that of late were moste blessed with the ymmortall seede of the worde of God, are made a gasing stocke to all others by the viewe of cursed barrennesse, and soe are like to contynue yf your Lordshippes, as the Lordes Lieutenants uppon earthe, fmde not some redresse for the same. The coninge to conveighe this mischies of mischiefs unto us is noe doubte verie deepe and secret, for they are wise in their generacion, and see to their greate grief that God himself, hir Majestic and your honors doe mainteigne the cause of the gospell and punishe everie one that opposeth himselfe againste the ministerie of yt in anie open or knowen action. And therefore are they enforced to retire themselfs to a more close handlinge of their wicked and ungodlie purposes, for not long sithens, they plotted a moste subtile and dangerous devise utterly and forever to have beaten the Word and the preachers of yt out of our towne, which was by withdrawinge their contribution; and the same verie likelie to have taken effecte, yf God by somme good meanes had not moved your honnorable affections by your most godlie letters directed to our Justices, and their painefull travailes in that execucion, by waie of prevention to interupte and stoppe the course of their malice. But now, seinge themselves to be comaunded from soe highe authoritie, they have for the most parte yeilded, not havinge any coulor of defence. Yet their malice resteth not, for when they fall shorte in anie one pointe of their wicked devises (as hitherto thanckes be to God they have in all) they give not over as men discouraged and amased, but put themselves presentlie into some newe (and that commonlie a more fearefull expedicion) as nowe of late either by falsyfienge the matters or maners of our preachers sermons, or by pervertinge the sence and true meaninge of the same, usinge the notes taken by children at their sermons, not conceyvinge the purpose of the Speaker, to bringe them and their true meaninge, with their godlie laboures into question and contempte, never makinge conscience of swearinge or forswearinge yf by the same they maie be in anie hope to attaine their wicked purpose, wherof we have had of late tyme to to lamentable experience. For remedie of all which our common miseries, as alsoe for better triall of our true harts to God, hir Majestic and your Honours, even tremblinge to abuse your wisdomes and pacience with grosse or conterfaict untruthe, our humble suite is, that yt would please your good Lordshippes to assigne the hearinge and reportinge of our severall griefes to such personnes as yt shall please your Honors to appointe, uppon the review
wherof, yf yt shall appeare that we have troubled your Honours with untrue or unnecessarie matters, we desire to be made examples of soe great boldnes, and yf theis adversaries to the gospell and peace of our towne maie be better deciphered and knowen we doubt not but your Honors will make them more willinge to doe good, or at leaste lesse able or bold to hurte. And thus comending our humble suite unto your good Lordshippes, we committ you all to the singuler protection of the almightie. And soe doe verie humblie take our leave. From Burie the vith of Auguste, 1582.