Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

31 August 1555 AD. Rev. Robert Samuel Burned at Stake--Church of England

31 August 1555 A.D.  Robert Samuel loved God, his congregation and his wife.  He was burned at the stake for his faith.

Edward VI had died. Queen Mary 1 ascended to the English throne.  She, married to the Spanish Prince-now-turned-King of England, was all about “restoring Catholicism as the state religion” and was giving “the courts of the Roman Catholic Church the power to burn heretics” (488). 

Things would go south fast.  This was 4.0 Anglicanism, that is, a return to 1.0 Anglicanism.  In other words, is was Papal and Roman, an un-doing of what her half-brother Edward had invoked in his 3.0 version.  This was a major set-back.

There had been 35 years of Protestant principles and forces that had been reshaping the English contours of faith in high places, notably, with Mr. (Canterbury) Cranmer and many others.  This had been developing since 1520.

Mr. (Rev.) Robert Samuel was, however, a Protestant Anglican minister in the 3.0 stream.  The English Reformation had increasingly seen Reformed men not just in garden-variety pulpits with rank-and-file believers, but in high places at Cambridge and Oxford and in high places of government.

However, the Papal Roman bishops were unleashed under the new Queen. They resisted strenuously with Royal support. Under Queen Mary, they “removed them [Protestant Anglicans] from their parishes” and they “were forbidden to preach.”

100s left England for the Continent.  Others went underground, like Mr. (Rev. Dr.) Matthew Parker (later Mr. Canterbury). Others were arrested, tried and burned at the sake (about 288 of them).

Mr. (Rev.) Robert Samuel was one such minister.  For one thing, in time, he was ordered to leave his wife.  The Protestants had allowed marriage amongst other things.  Even Mr. (Canterbury) Cranmer had a wife from Germany for crying out loud; ever-the-pliable one, he conveniently tucked her away in Germany, but he was married.

For Mr. (Rev.) Samuel, he did not leave his wife and he did not stash her away. He believed that violated God’s law.  He continued his Biblical ministry to his parishioners in secret.

The ante-was-upped when Mary ordered “all married clergymen to leave their wives and return” to celibacy.  It was a pro-active, nationwide order in conformity with “strict canon law.”  And Mary had that proverbial Tudor-tenacity.  “By God and the Holy Mass, they’ll conform” was the idea.

The bishops were directed to enforce this in 10,000 churches throughout England.  If anything, Queen Mary was consistent with the canon law.

But never mind the irregularities of Pope Clement VII’s “two wives” or Cardinal Wolsey’s “non-canonical” relationship-slash-marriage with two children, but we digress.

Mr. (Rev.) Robert Samuel was arrested and imprisoned. He never to saw his wife again.

The love-filled, grace-filled, charitable, God-filled, Bible-filled, justified and sanctified bishop ordered that “he [Mr. Samuel] be tortured with the cruelest techniques of the times” (489).  Although it sounds like something perfect by the Spaniards in the Spanish inquisition, the English had mastered the principles too.

Mr. (Rev.) Robert Samuel was tied to a post. He was forced to support his bodily weight on his toes.  He was deprived of food and drink. He was insulted, of course.

But, things would get worse.

On August 31, 1555, he was put to the stake of fire and burned to death.  Anathema to the damned bastard!  That damned Protestant!  Damned Evanglical! Away with him!  Burn, baby, burn!  (Yes, “Protestant” and “Evangelical” were the terms of derisions and identity and were used in the popular parlance)

Lest we forget!

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