Story, John (DNB00)
STORY, JOHN (1510?–1571), Roman catholic martyr, born about 1510, was the son of Nicholas Story and Joan, his wife, and may have been a member of the family of that name settled in Northumberland and Durham (cf. Surtees, Durham, i. 233; other branches were settled in London, cf. Visit. London, Harl. Soc.) He became a lay brother of the Greyfriars, and was educated at Oxford at Henxey or Hincksey Hall, whence he graduated B.C.L. on 8 May 1531. When in 1535 Henry VIII's commissioners established a civil law lecture at Oxford, Story, as ‘a most noted civilian and canonist of his time,’ was appointed to the post. In 1537 he was elected principal of Broadgates Hall, afterwards Pembroke College, but resigned the post in 1539. On 29 July 1538 he graduated D.C.L. (Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 164), and in the following year he was admitted an advocate of Doctors' Commons. In 1544 he is said to have ‘performed excellent service at the siege of Bologne in Picardie in the administration of the civil law under the lord marshal there;’ but he must be distinguished from the John Story, a knight of the order of St. John (Letters and Papers, vols. xi–xiv. passim), and also from the ‘Captain Story’ who was killed at Bologne in 1546 (State Papers, xi. 4). As a reward for his services he received a fresh patent for his office at Oxford, and, dating from this time, he is reckoned as the first regius professor of civil law at the university (cf. Le Neve, iii. 511).
Story is one of the instances selected by Nicholas Sanders (De Origine ac Progressu Schismatis, ed. 1877, p. 200) to illustrate the persecution of Roman catholics under Edward VI. He recanted his romanist opinions in the first few months of the reign, and on 19 Nov. 1548 the council ordered the continuance of his salary as reader in civil law at Oxford and the payment of his arrears (Acts P.C. ed. Dasent, ii. 229). He sat for Hindon, Wiltshire, in the parliament which met in November 1547. During its second session, in November 1548, he created a sensation by his vigorous opposition to the act of uniformity, and by exclaiming, ‘Woe unto the land whose king is a child!’ For this conduct the house ordered his imprisonment on 21 Nov. and drew up articles of accusation against him. Story remained in the Tower until 2 March 1548–9, when, having made his submission, the house ordered his release. This is the first recorded instance of the House of Commons punishing one of its own members (Hallam, i. 271). Story now retired to Louvain, where he remained until Mary's accession, spending a large portion of his time, it is said, in prayer and meditation with the Carthusians of that town. On 21 Feb. 1549–50 he made over to Sir William Herbert (afterwards first Earl of Pembroke) [q. v.] a lease of the prebend of Tottenhall in St. Paul's Cathedral (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–81). In 1552 he was excepted from Edward VI's pardon.
Story returned to England about August 1553, and his patent as regius professor was renewed. He resigned it, however, before the end of the year to William Aubrey [q. v.], to become chancellor of the dioceses of London and Oxford and dean of arches. As chancellor to Bonner, Story became a bitter persecutor of the protestants; he was the most active of all the queen's agents in bringing heretics to trial and the stake, and Foxe, who gives many instances of his cruelty, pronounces him even worse than Bonner (Actes and Mon. ed. Townsend, passim, esp. viii. 743–5). In 1555 Story was appointed queen's proctor for the trial of Cranmer (Strype, Cranmer, pp. 534–5 et seqq.), and in February 1556–7 he was placed on a commission to discover a ‘severer way of dealing with heretics’ (Burnet, ed. Pocock, ii. 556). Nevertheless in parliament (where he represented East Grinstead 25 Sept. 1553; Bramber, March 1553–4; and Ludgershall, 6 Oct. 1555) he opposed, on 20 Nov. 1555, the admission of papal licenses into England; the commons reported this offence to the queen, but Story, on expressing regret, was pardoned in consideration of his zeal for religion (Commons' Journals, i. 44–5).
On Elizabeth's accession, however, Story took the oath renouncing all foreign jurisdictions, and was not for the time molested. He was returned to parliament for Downton, Wiltshire, on 17 Jan. 1558–9, but soon fell once more under the displeasure of the House of Commons. On 23 March it was reported to the house that he had appeared before the lords as counsel for Richard White (d. 1584) [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, though a bill depriving the bishop had already passed the commons. Story again acknowledged his fault, and escaped with a reprimand from the speaker. In the same session he made a speech glorying in what he had done in Mary's reign, and regretting only that they had ‘laboured only about the young and little twigs, whereas they should have struck at the root’ (Strype, Annals, I. i. 115). On 20 May 1560 he was sent to the Fleet prison (ib. p. 220), but seems to have been again at liberty soon afterwards. In April 1563 he was arrested in his barrister's robes in the west of England and imprisoned in the Marshalsea (Parkhurst to Bullinger, 31 May, Zurich Letters); before the end of the month a commission was issued for his trial (Cal. Simancas Papers, i. 322–3). Story, however, escaped in May to the house of Bishop De Quadra, the Spanish ambassador, whose chaplain sheltered him and enabled him to make his way to Flanders (ib. pp. 323–5). For this proceeding De Quadra was taken to task by the privy council, but denied all knowledge of the affair.
In Flanders Story resumed his activity in persecuting protestants, and it is said to have been largely due to his instigation that the inquisition was established at Antwerp in 1565. He received a pension from Philip II and gained the confidence of the Duke of Alva. When Alva, in order to check the spread of heresy in the Netherlands, determined to exclude all English books, he gave Story a commission to search ships coming into Flemish ports. This commission supplied the English government with a means of kidnapping him. In July 1570 one William Parker obtained the help of three young merchants, Roger Ramsden, Martin Bragge, and Simon Jukes, in carrying out this plan. They hired a vessel commanded by Cornelius de Eycke and sailed into Bergen-op-Zoom. The three merchants then went to Antwerp and brought down Story to overhaul the vessel; while he was examining the cargo Parker shut down the hatches and weighed anchor with Story on board (State Papers, Dom. lxxviii. 51). He was landed at Yarmouth on 11 Aug. and conveyed to the house of Thomas Watts, archdeacon of Middlesex. Thence he was transferred (on 4 Sept.) to Beauchamp's Tower, where an inscription he carved on the wall is still legible. He managed to write several letters to Guerau de Spes, the Spanish ambassador, who sent them on to Philip II, and Alva twice made formal demands for his release on the ground that he was a Spanish subject. Story was indicted in Westminster Hall on 26 May 1571 with Christopher and Francis Norton and Christopher Neville. He was accused of having incited Alva to invade England, and of having been privy to the northern rebellion of 1569. (He must, however, be distinguished from another John Story, ‘a servant of Richard Norton [q. v.]’, who was in Antwerp in 1572, and was afterwards apparently a captain in the Spanish service: see Cal. State Papers, Dom. Addenda, 1566–1579, pp. 349, 379; ib. For. 1575–7, No. 470). He refused to plead, maintaining that he was a Spanish subject. He was condemned for treason on the following day, and executed with horrible cruelty at Tyburn on 1 June. Story was at once numbered among the saints at Rome, and his life and death became one of the regular themes in the English College there (Anthony Munday, English Romaine Lyfe, 1590, p. 25). This sentiment was recognised by his formal beatification by papal decree dated 29 Dec. 1886 (printed in Tablet, 15 Jan. 1887, p. 81).
Wood attributes to Story four pieces: ‘An Oration against Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury’ (1556), ‘Discourse with John Philpot the Martyr,’ ‘Answer to Examinations during his Imprisonment,’ and ‘Speech at his Execution.’ These are printed in Foxe, but no separately published copies have been traced.
Story's wife, whom he married before 1548, was named Joan. She survived him and lived at Louvain, where she enjoyed a pension from Philip II (Cal. Simancas Papers, ii. 327). A daughter Ellen married one Weston, who in 1570 was imprisoned in the Fleet as a recusant. A son John became a priest at Douai (Douai Diaries, pp. 120, 123, 126). By his will, which he made in 1552 (printed in Strype, Annals, II. ii. 450–2), Story left his daughter Ellen 660 florins, which she was to forfeit on marriage, and 120 florins to any religious order she might enter. His executor was Antonio Bonvisi [q. v.], whom Story calls his ‘second father.’[Cornet's Admonition to Dr. John Story, n.d.; Confession of Dr. John Story, 1571; Declaration of the Life and Death of Dr. John Story, 1571; Welcome Home of Dr. John Story, 1571; News of Dr. John Story, 1571; Cal. of State Papers, Domestic and Addenda, Foreign, Venetian, and Simancas Ser. passim; Commons' Journals, vol. i.; Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 80; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent; Off. Return of Members of Parl.; Diego de Yepes, Historia Particular de la Persecucion de Inglaterra, Madrid, 1599, pp. 291–6; Bridgewater's (Aquipontanus) Concertatio Eccl. Catholicæ in Anglia, 1594, pp. 43–4; A Temperate Watchword by N.D. (Robert Parsons), 1599, p. 31; Circignano's Eccl. Anglicanæ Trophæa, pl. 30; Sanders, De Visibili Monarchia, 1570, p. 700, and De Origine ac Progressu Schismatis, ed. 1877, pp. 200 &c.; Camden's Annales, sub annis 1569 and 1571; Stow's Annals; Foxe's Actes and Mon. ed. Townsend; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 386–90; Digges's Compleat Ambassador, p. 105; Dodd's Church History; Tanner's Bibliotheca; Strype's Cranmer, Ecclesiastical Memorials, and Annals of the Reformation, passim; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Gough's Index to Parker Society Publications; Wright's Elizabeth, i. 373, 374, 378; Stowe's Modern British Martyrology, i. 129; Maitland's Essays on the Reformation; Stanton's Menology, pp. 249–50; R. W. Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, vols. iii–iv.; Hepworth-Dixon's Tower of London, 4th edit. i. 282–3; Lingard and Froude's Hist. of England; Fos- ter's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Macleane's Hist. of Pembroke Coll. (Oxford Hist. Soc.) 1897.]