John Gardiner was the laborious minister of Maiden in Essex, but deprived of his ministry, and most cruelly treated. His sufferings would have moved the compassion of any man, excepting Aylmer, bishop of London. The bishop committed him to Newgate for matters scandalously laid to his charge seven years before, of which he had even been cleared by a regular course of law. He requested his lordship, that he might be bailed; and if he was found guilty, that he might have punishment without mercy. The account of his barbarous usage is given in a supplication which Mr. Gardiner sent to the bishop, dated September 7, 1586 ; in which he expressed himself as follows
"To the Right Reverend Father of God the Lord Bishop of London.
My duty in humble-wise remembered, my lord. I am cast into Newgate by your lordship, for a matter which about seven years past, was slanderously raised against me. I was by course of law cleared, and the Lord God who searcheth the hearts, before whom you and I shall shortly appear, doth know, and him I call to witness, that I was and am falsely accused. I have been extremely sick in prison. I thank God, I am amended, but am yet so ill, that the physicians say my infection from the prison will be very dangerous. I have a poor wife and five children, who are in a lamentable case. I had six at the beginning of my imprisonment; but by reason of my sickness in prison, and my wife being constrained to attend upon me, one of my children, for want of somebody to oversee them, was drowned in a tub of wort, being two years and a half old. If you lordship have no compassion on me, yet take pity upon the widow and fatherless,( for in that state are now my wife and poor infants) whose tears are before the Lord. I crave only to be bailed; and if I am found guilty of any breach of law, let me have extremity without any favour. Your lordship's to command in Christ.
It does not appear how long Mr. Gardiner remained in prison, nor what other punishment he endured. He was a member of the presbyterian church erected at Wandsworth in Surrey; and he united with his brethren in subscribing the"Book of Discipline."