Frith or Fryth John

Frith Or Fryth John, an English reformer and martyr, was born at Seven Oaks, in Kent, where his father kept an inn, and was educated at King's College, Cambridge, where he so greatly distinguished himself that, when Wolsey formed his new college at Oxford, he was appointed one of its first members. About 1525 he became acquainted with Tyndale, and by him was won over to the principles of the Reformation. With others, he found it necessary to, retire to the Continent in 1528. On his return to England in 1530 he was put into the stocks at Reading as a vagabond, but was taken out of them by the school-master of the town, to whom he made his case known in so elegant Latin as to prove himself a scholar. From Reading he went to London, and there engaged in controversy with Sir Thomas More, publishing a trast on Purgatory against Sir Thomas. His zealled to his apprehension. While in the Tower he was examined, by the king's command; before archbishop Cranmer; Brandon, duke of Suffolk; Boleyn, earl of Wiltshire; Stokesley, bishop of London; Gardner, bishop of Winchester, and the chancellor Audley. The prisoner maintained that the dogma of transubstantiation was not de fide; at the same time, he did not condemn those who held the doctrine of a corporeal presence; he only reprobated the prevalent notions respecting propitiatory masses and the worshipping of the sacramental elements. He denied also the doctrine of purgatory. At length he was brought before an episcopal commission at St. Paul's, where many efforts were made to induce him to recant, but in vain. At last the bishop of London pronounced sentence upon him as an obstinate heretic, and he was delivered to the secular power. A writ was issued for his execution, and he was burnt at Smithfield on the 4th of July, 1533, "maintaining his fortitude to the last, and charitably extending his forgiveness to a bigoted popish priest, who endeavored to persuade the people that they ought no more to pray for him than for a dog." Frith was an excellent scholar. He wrote Treatise of Purgatory: Antithesis between Christ and the Pope: Mirror, or Glass to know thyself, written in the Tower, 1532: Articles (for which he died) written in Newgate Prison, June 23, 1533: Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogues concerning Heresies: Answer to John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, etc., all of which treatises were reprinted at London (1573, fol.), with the works of Tyndale and Barnes. They may be found also in Russell, Works of the Reformers, volume 3 (Lond. 1828; 3 volumes, 8vo). See Hook, Eccl Biog. 5:235; Burnet, Hist. of the English Reformation, 1:263-277.

 
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