Frith, John

, a learned preacher and martyr, was the son of an inn-keeper at Sevenoaks, in Kent, wher he was born (or as Fuller says, at Westerham, in the same county). He was educated at | King’scollege, Cambridge, where he proceeded B. A. but afterwards went to Oxford, was admitted ad eundem, and upon account of his extraordinary learning, was chosen one of the junior canons of cardinal Wolsey’s new college, now Christ church. About 1525 he was instructed in the principles of the reformation, according to the Lutheran system, by the celebrated Tyndale. These he openly professed, and with some other young men of the same persuasion and boldness, was imprisoned by the commissary of the university. The hardships of this imprisonment proved fatal to some of his companions, but he obtained his release, and about 1528 went abroad, where he remained about two years, and became more seriously coufirmed in his new opinions. On his return, he was narrowly watched by the lord chancellor, sir Thomas More, whose resentment was said to have been occasioned by a treatise which Fryth wrote against him. Simon Fish, of Gray’s-inn, had written his “Supplication of the Beggars,” against the begging friars, and against indulgences, &c. (See art. Fish ) This work was highly acceptable to Henry VIII. as favouring his quarrel with the pope. The lord chancellor, however, who was a more consistent catholic than his majesty, answered it, and Fryth answered More, denying the doctrine of purgatory. His opinions on the sacrament were also highly obnoxious, and after a strict search, he was betrayed into the hands of the civil power by a treacherous friend, and sent prisoner to the Tower. He was several times examined by the lord chancellor, who uniformly treated him with contempt and cruelty, but refusing to recant, he was ordered to be burnt, which sentence was executed in Smithfield, July 4, 1533, in the prime of his life. He had a very remarkable opportunity, some time before, of making his escape, the servants who were to convey him to the archbishop’s palace at Croydon, offering to let him go. But this he refused, with more zeal than prudence. He was, according to all accounts, a scholar of great eminence, and well acquainted with the learned languages.

His works are these: “Treatise of Purgatory; Antithesis between Christ and the Pope; Letters unto the faithful followers of Christ’s Gospel, written in the Tower, 1532; Mirror, or Glass to know thyself, written in the Tower, 1532; Mirror or Looking-glass, wherein you may behold the Sacrament of Baptism; 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, &c.” all which treatises were reprinted at London, 1573, in folio, with the works of Tyndale and Barnes. He also wrote some translations. 1


Fox’s Acts and Monuments. Burnet’s Reformation. Clark’s Eccl. History. Fuller’s Abel Redivivus. Tanner’s Bibliotheca.