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History: The Martyrdom of Deryk Carver

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Carver Plaque

Protestant Brewer

What we know of Deryk Carver we know from the monumental work of the English Reformation, John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of Matters Most Special and memorable, etc., otherwise known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, first published in 1563. Of course, it begs the question, how accurate is Foxe's account of the arrest, trial, interrogation, confession, and death of Carver? Does he put words into the mouth of Carver - either a little or a lot?

It is reasonable to ask this question, because Carver's confession, that is his statement of his own beliefs and his criticism of the beliefs taught by the Papacy, the traditional Catholic faith, is a straight-down-the-line statement of the Protestant position.

Professor David Loades, the director of the project that has created the online edition of Foxe's book, says of Foxe's accounts of the Marian martyrs: "Some of the stories were undoubtedly embellished with such details as opportune bursts of sunshine, and the reactions of unnamed spectators. His informants must often have been tempted to tell him [Foxe] what they knew he wanted to hear, but there is sufficient contemporary and independent testimony to authenticate at least a proportion of the tales of heroism and self sacrifice which he recorded."


Deryk Carver was Flemish and at the time of his arrest had been a resident of Brighton for eight or nine years. He was from the prince-bishopric of Liege in Flanders, a stronghold of the Counter-Reformation, and was an exile in England, either voluntary or forced. He was a brewer and ran the Black Lion brewery and inn in the area of what today is Black Lion Street. (The black lion in question is the black lion of Flanders.) He probably grew hops on the Hempshares, the areas of open land of the old town where hemp for rope making was also grown. Carver was one of the wealthier members of his community; in Foxe's words, "a manne, whom the lord hadde blessed as well with temporall ryches, as with his spirituall treasures".

Carver was arrested in 1554, the year following Mary's accession to the throne. So he had come to England during the reign of Edward VI, who succeeded his father in 1547, presumably because he - that is, Carver - approved of the radical Protestant direction in which the young king and his advisers were taking England. Carver was a victim of Mary's determination to re-catholicise England. By the end of her reign more than 300 Protestants had been burned at the stake for refusing to recant their faith.

Carver was arrested in October 1554 by Sheriff Sir Edward Gage, whilst at prayer in his home with eleven other like-minded worshippers. However, only he and three others were committed to prison at Newgate in London: Deryk Carver, John Launder, Thomas Everson, and William Veisy. Perhaps the others quickly recanted. Carver, Launder and Everson were all eventually condemned to be burned to death; Veisy was reprieved.

All were arrested by and imprisoned by the secular authorities, but their inquisition was the responsibility of the religious authority, the Bishop of London, Edmund Bonner.

Although arrested in Brighton, they were burned at different locations across Sussex. Carver was burned at Lewes, Everson at Chichester, and Launder at Steyning.

The Confession of Deryk Carver (Diricke Caruer) before Bishop Bonner of London.

DIrick Caruer Berebrewer, of Brighthampsted, in the countye of Sussex, where hee hath dwelled by the space of eyghte, or nyne yeares, borne in the vyllage of Dilson by Stockome in the lande of Luke, fourty yeares of age, or there aboute, and nowe prysoner in Newgate, where he hath remayned and contynued at the Counsayles commaundemente, since Allhollowne day last paste, being examyned concernyng his Fayth and beliefe in the Sacrament of the Altar, sayeth: that he hathe and dothe beleue, that the verye substaunce of the body and bloud of Christ is not in the said Sacramente, and that there is no other substaunce remaynyng in the sayde Sacramente after the wordes spoken by the Priest, but only the substaunce of bread and wyne.

Item, beyng examined concernynge the Masse in Latin, nowe vsed in the Churche of Englande, he beleueth that there is no sacrifyce in the sayde Masse, and that there is in it no saluation for a Christian manne, excepte it shoulde bee sayde in the mother tonge, that he myght vnderstande it: and concernynge the ceremonyes of the Churche, he sayeth and beleueth, that they be not profitable to a christyan man.

Item, beyng examined concernyng Aurycular confession, he aunswereth: that he hath and doth beleue, that it is necessarye to goe to a good priest for good counsaile. but the absolution of the priest, laying his hande vpon any mannes head as is now vsed, is nothing profitable to a christian mannes saluation. And further he sayth, that he hath not bene confessed, nor receiued the sacrament of the altar, since the coronation of the Quene that now is.

Item, concernyng the fayth and religion, nowe taught, sette foorth, and beleued, in the Churche of Englande, he aunswereth and beleueth, that the faith and doctrine now taught set forth, and vsed, in the said churche of Englande, is not agreable to Goddes woorde. And furthermore he sayth, that Byshoppe Hooper, Cardmaker, Rogers, and other of theyr opinion, whiche were of late burned, were good christian men, and did preach the true doctrine of Christ, as he beleueth: and sayeth that they dyd shedde theyr bloude in the same Doctrine, which was by the power of God, as he sayeth and beleueth. And beyng further examyned, sayth, that since the Quenes Coronation, he hath hadde the Byble and Psalter in English, red in his house at Bryghthampsted dyuers tymes, and likewyse since his commynge into Newgate: but the keper hering thereof, dyd take them awaye: and sayeth also that about a twelue moneth nowe paste, he hadde the Englishe procession sayde in his house, wyth other English prayers. And further sayth, that Thomas Euersō, Iohn Laūder, and Williā Veisy, beyng prisoners with him in Newgate, were takē wt this Examinate in his house at Brighthampsted, as they were hearing of the gospel, then red in Englysh, a litle before Alhollowne daye laste paste, and brought to the Court: and beyng examined thereuppon, by the counsaile, were committed by them to prison in Newgate
(Source: page 1240 of the 1563 edition)

If you find the Tudor English of the confession too much to decipher, you can read a modernised version by clicking HERE


Link to online scholarly edition of:
John Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Introductory Essay by Prof. David Loades


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