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Rev. Julius Palmer.
This gentleman's life presents a singular instance of error and conversion. In the time of Edward, he was a rigid and obstinate papist, so adverse to godly and sincere preaching, that he was even despised by his own party; that this frame of mind should be changed, and he suffer persecution and death in queen Mary's reign, are among those events of omnipotence at which we wonder and admire.
Mr. Palmer was born at Coventry, where his father had been mayor. Being afterward removed to Oxford, he became, under Mr. Harley, of Magdalen college, an elegant Latin and Greek scholar. He was fond of useful disputation, possessed of a lively wit, and a strong memory. Indefatigable in private study, he rose at four in the morning, and by this practice qualified himself to become reader in logic in Magdalen college. The times of Edward, however, favouring the reformation, Mr. Palmer became frequently punished for his contempt of prayer and orderly behaviour, and was at length expelled the house.
He afterwards embraced the doctrines of the reformation, which occasioned his arrest and final condemnation. He was tried on the 15th of July, 1556, together with one Thomas Askin, a fellow-prisoner. Askin and one John Guin had been sentenced the day before, and Mr. Palmer, on the 15th, was brought up for final judgment.—Execution was ordered to follow the sentence, and at five o'clock in the same afternoon, at a place called the Sand-pits, these three martyrs were fastened to a stake. After devoutly praying together, they sung the 31st psalm. When the fire was kindled, and it had seized their bodies, without an appearance of enduring pain, they continued to cry, Lord Jesus, strengthen us! Lord Jesus receive our souls! till animation was suspended and human suffering was past. It is remarkable, that, when their heads had fallen together in a mass as it were by the force of the flames, and the spectators thought Palmer was lifeless, his tongue and lips again moved, and were heard to pronounce the name of Jesus, to whom be glory and honour forever!
About this time, three women were burnt in the island of Guernsey, under circumstances of aggravated cruelty, whose names were, Catherine Cauches, and her two daughters, Mrs. Perotine Massey, and Guillemine Gilbert.
The day of execution having arrived, three stakes were erected: the middle post was assigned to the mother, the eldest daughter on her right hand, and the younger on the left. They were strangled previous to burning, but the rope breaking before they were dead, the poor women fell into the fire. Perotine, at the time of her inhuman sentence, was largely pregnant, and now, falling on her side upon the flaming fagots, presented a singular spectacle of horror!—Torn open by the tremendous pangs she endured, she was delivered of a fine male child, who was rescued from its burning bed by the humanity of one W. House, who tenderly laid it on the grass. The infant was taken to the provost, and by him presented to the bailiff, when the inhuman monster decreed it to be re-cast into the fire, that it might perish with its heretical mother! Thus was this innocent baptised in its own blood, to make up the very climax of Romish barbarity; being born and dying at the same time a martyr; and realizing again the days of Herodian cruelty, with circumstances of bigoted malice unknown even to that execrable murderer.
Their execution took place, July 18, 1556. On the same day, were burnt at Grinstead, in Sussex, Thomas Dungate, John Foreman, and Mother Tree.
June 26, 1556, at Leicester, was executed Thomas Moor, a servant, aged 24 years, who was taken up for saying that his Saviour was in Paradise, and not in the popish paste or wafer.