An Account of the Cruel Handling and Burning of Nicholas Burton, an English Merchant, in Spain
An Account of the Cruel Handling and Burning of Nicholas Burton, an English Merchant, in Spain
The fifth day of November, about the year of our Lord 1560, Mr. Nicholas Burton, citizen sometime of London, and merchant, dwelling in the parish of Little St. Bartholomew, peaceably and quietly, following his traffic in the trade of merchandise, and being in the city of Cadiz, in the party of Andalusia, in Spain, there came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they term them, a familiar of the fathers of Inquisition; who asking for the said Nicholas Burton, feigned that he had a letter to deliver into his own hands; by which means he spake with him immediately. And having no letter to deliver to him, then the said promoter, or familiar, at the motion of the devil his master, whose messenger he was, invented another lie, and said he would take lading for London in such ships as the said Nicholas Burton had freighted to lade, if he would let any; which was partly to know where he loaded his goods, that they might attach them, and chiefly to protract the time until the sergeant of the Inquisition might come and apprehend the body of the said Nicholas Burton; which they did incontinently.
He then well perceiving that they were not able to burden or charge him that he had written, spoken, or done any thing there in that country against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm, boldly asked them what they had to lay to his charge that they did so arrest him, and bade them to declare the cause, and he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but commanded him with threatening words to hold his peace, and not speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town of Cadiz where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves.
All which time he so instructed the poor prisoners in the Word of God, according to the good talent which God had given him in that behalf, and also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in that short space he had well reclaimed several of those superstitiuous and ignorant Spaniards to embrace the Word of God, and to reject their popish traditions.
Which being known unto the officers of the Inquisition, they conveyed him laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into a more cruel and straiter prison called Triana, where the said fathers of the Inquisition proceeded against him secretly according to their accustomable cruel tyranny, that never after he could be suffered to write or speak to any of his nation: so that to this day it is unknown who was his accuser.
Afterward, the twentieth of December, they brought the said Nicholas Burton, with a great number of other prisoners, for professing the true Christian religion, into the city of Seville, to a place where the said inquisitors sat in judgment which they called auto, with a canvas coat, whereupon in divers parts was painted the figure of a huge devil, tormenting a soul in a flame of fire, and on his head a copping tank of the same work.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon it, that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people, and so he was set with another Englishman of Southampton, and divers other condemned men for religion, as well Frenchmen as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the said Inquisition, where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced against them.
And immediately after the said sentences given, they were carried from there to the place of execution without the city, where they most cruelly burned them, for whose constant faith, God is praised.
This Nicholas Burton by the way, and in the flames of fire, had so cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness, that the tormentors and enemies which stood by, said, that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses of feeling were past him.
It happened that after the arrest of Nicholas Burton aforesaid, immediately all the goods and merchandise which he brought with him into Spain by the way of traffic, were (according to their common usage) seized, and taken into the sequester; among which they also rolled up much that appertained to another English merchant, wherewith he was credited as factor. Whereof as soon as news was brought to the merchant as well of the imprisonment of his factor, as of the arrest made upon his goods, he sent his attorney into Spain, with authority from him to make claim to his goods, and to demand them; whose name was John Fronton, citizen of Bristol.
When his attorney was landed at Seville, and had shown all his letters and writings to the holy house, requiring them that such goods might be delivered into his possession, answer was made to him that he must sue by bill, and retain an advocate (but all was doubtless to delay him,) and they forsooth of courtesy assigned him one to frame his supplication for him, and other such bills of petition, as he had to exhibit into their holy court, demanding for each bill eight reals, albeit they stood him in no more stead than if he had put up none at all. And for the space of three or four months this fellow missed not twice a day attending every morning and afternoon at the inquisitors' palace, suing unto them upon his knees for his despatch, but especially to the bishop of Tarracon, who was at that very time chief of the Inquisition at Seville, that he of his absolute authority would command restitution to be made thereof; but the booty was so good and great that it was very hard to come by it again.
At length, after he had spent four whole months in suits and requests, and also to no purpose, he received this answer from them, that he must show better evidence, and bring more sufficient certificates out of England for proof of this matter, than those which he had already presented to the court. Whereupon the party forthwith posted to London, and with all speed returned to Seville again with more ample and large letters testimonial, and certificates, according to their requests, and exhibited them to the court.
Notwithstanding, the inquisitors still shifted him off, excusing themselves by lack of leisure, and for that they were occupied in more weighty affairs, and with such answers put him off, four months after.
At last, when the party had well nigh spent all his money, and therefore sued the more earnestly for his despatch, they referred the matter wholly to the bishop, of whom, when he repaired unto him, he made answer, 'That for himself, he knew what he had to do, howbeit he was but one man, and the determination appertained to the other commissioners as well as unto him;' and thus by posting and passing it from one to another, the party could obtain no end of his suit. Yet for his importunity's sake, they were resolved to despatch him: it was on this sort: one of the inquisitors, called Gasco, a man very well experienced in these practices, willed the party to resort unto him after dinner.
The fellow being glad to hear this news, and supposing that his goods should be restored unto him, and that he was called in for that purpose to talk with the other that was in prison to confer with him about their accounts, rather through a little misunderstanding, hearing the inquisitors cast out a word, that it should be needful for him to talk with the prisoner, and being thereupon more than half persuaded, that at length they meant good faith, did so, and repaired thither about the evening. Immediately upon his coming, the jailer was forthwith charged with him, to shut him up close in such a prison where they appointed him.
The party, hoping at the first that he had been called for about some other matter, and seeing himself, contrary to his expectation, cast into a dark dungeon, perceived at length that the world went with him far otherwise than he supposed it would have done.
But within two or three days after, he was brought into the court, where he began to demand his goods: and because it was a device that well served their turn without any more circumstance, they bid him say his Ave Maria: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus Amen.
The same was written word by word as he spake it, and without any more talk of claiming his goods, because it was needless, they commanded him to prison again, and entered an action against him as a heretic, forasmuch as he did not say his Ave Maria after the Romish fashion, but ended it very suspiciously, for he should have added moreover; Sancta Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus: by abbreviating whereof, it was evident enough (said they) that he did not allow the mediation of saints.
Thus they picked a quarrel to detain him in prison a longer season, and afterward brought him forth upon their stage disguised after their manner; where sentence was given, that he should lose all the goods which he sued for, though they were not his own, and besides this, suffer a year's imprisonment.
Mark Brughes, an Englishman, master of an English ship called the Minion, was burned in a city in Portugal.
William Hoker, a young man about the age of sixteen years, being an Englishman, was stoned to death by certain young men in the city of Seville, for the same righteous cause.