The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Story of William Swinderby

The Story of William Swinderby.[1]

A.D.1389.
W. Swinderby first examined.
In the year of our Lord 1389, William Swinderby, priest, within the diocese of Lincoln, being accused and detected as to certain opinions, was presented before John, bishop of Lincoln, and examined first upon certain articles in the church, of Lincoln, after the form and order of the pope's law, according to their usual rite observed; his denouncersDenouncers of W. Swinderby, three friars. were these: friar Frisby, an observant ; friar Hincely, an Augustine; and Thomas Blaxton, a Dominican. The articles wherewith they charged him, although in form of words, as they put them up, they might seem something strange here to be recited; yet, the intent that all men may see the spiteful malice of these spider-friars, in sucking all things to poison, and in forging that which is not true, as in process (Christ willing) hereafter shall better appear by his answers, I thought good to notify the same.

Articles untruly collected against Swinderby.That men may ask their debts by charity, but in no manner for debt imprison any man; and that he so imprisoning is accursed.

That if parishioners do know their curate to be a lecher, incontinent, and an evil man, they ought to withdraw from him their tithes, or else they be fautors of his sins.

That tithes be purely alms, and that in case curates be evil men, the same may lawfully be conferred on other men.

That for an evil curate to curse his subject for withholding tithes, is nothing else, but to take with extortion wickedly and unduly from him his money.

That no prelate may curse a man, except he know beforehand that he is cursed of God.

That every priest may absolve any sinner being contrite; and is bound, notwithstanding the inhibition of the bishop, to preach the Gospel to the people.

That a priest taking any annual pension upon covenant, is, in so doing, a simoniac, and accursed.

That any priest being in deadly sin, if he give himself to consecrate the body of the Lord, committeth idolatry rather than doth consecrate.

That no priest entereth into any house, but to evil entreat the wife, the daughter, or the maid; and therefore he admonished the good man of the house to take heed what priest he doth let into his house.

Another conclusion falsely to him objected; That a child is not truly baptized, if the priest that baptizeth, or the godfather or godmother, be in deadly sin.

Item, That no man living against the law of God is a priest, however he were ordained priest by any bishop.

These articles or conclusions untruly collected, were as cruelly exhibited against him by the friars in the bishop of Lincoln's court. Swinderby compelled by the friars to abjure articles which he never taught.Although he had never preached, taught, or at any time defended them, as appeareth more in the process following, yet the friars with their witnesses standing forth against him, declared him to be convicted; bringing also dry wood with them to the town to burn him, and would not leave him before they had made him promise and swear, through fear of death, never to hold them, teach them, or preach them privily or openly, under pain of relapse; and that he should go to certain churches to revoke the aforesaid conclusions, which be never affirmed: as first in the church of Lincoln; then in St. Margaret's church in Leicester; also in St. Martin's church in Leicester, and in our Lady's churches at Newark, and in other parish-churches also, namely, those of Melton-Mowbray, Helhoughton, Hareborough, and Lentborough: which penance being enjoined him, he did obediently accomplish, with this form of revocation, which they bound him to, in these words.

  1. Ex Registro Episc. Hereford