- Susan Wabuda
Glover, Robert (d. 1555), protestant martyr, came of gentry stock in Warwickshire. He was one of three brothers, each of whom was attracted to protestant views under Henry VIII. The youngest brother, William, was probably the author of an adulatory letter to Anne Boleyn. John (the eldest) was the most remarkable, according to John Foxe, with whom he was acquainted in the 1540s. Having been 'called by the light of the Holy Spirit to the knowledge of the gospel', John became haunted by the fear that he had sinned against the Holy Ghost, and despaired of his salvation. Denying himself all manner of bodily comforts 'by the space of five years', John's mortification gave him a celestial mien, as if he were 'like one placed in heaven already, and dead in this world' (Acts and Monuments, 7.384–6, 390–93).
Robert Glover, meanwhile, was educated first at Eton College, and was then elected to King's College, Cambridge, in 1533. He proceeded BA in 1538, and MA in 1541, and he held a fellowship until 1543. His Cambridge connections and interest in reform may have brought him to Latimer's attention, and thus led to his marriage (by 1545) to Mary (d. c.1568), whose surname is unknown, but whose mother was one of Latimer's six sisters. Orphaned young, Mary was fostered by her uncle, whose household she ran. Robert and Mary settled at Baxterley in Warwickshire (near John and his wife, Agnes, at Mancetter). Latimer stayed with the Glovers so frequently that it was said that he formed the greater part of her dowry. Of their four children, the eldest son was named Hugh.
Marriage to Latimer's favourite niece was not without its dangers. Latimer was in eclipse, having been levered out of the bishopric of Worcester in 1539 following the passage of the Act of Six Articles. When he ran the danger of being burnt during the sacramentarian crisis of 1546, the Glovers' residence was searched. But Edward VI's accession the following year brought greater security. Latimer was among the leading preachers at the young king's court in 1549 and 1550. Robert's position at the heart of a network of reformers in the west country was enhanced, and his circle included John Careless, a Coventry weaver. A constellation of prominent preachers who enjoyed the Glovers' support orbited between London and Coventry and elsewhere, including Augustine Bernher, John Bradford, Laurence Nowell, John Olde, and Laurence Saunders. A Christmas sermon delivered by Latimer at Baxterley survives.
The ferocity with which the Marian regime moved to suppress the Glovers is a testament to their prominence in the protestant movement. Latimer was arrested at Baxterley in September 1553. In 1555 the Glovers became targets in their turn. Bishop Ralph Baynes sent a commission to the mayor and officers of Coventry to arrest John and his brothers. Warned, John and William fled, but according to Foxe, Robert was lying ill in bed 'sick of a long disease' (Acts and Monuments, 7.386) when the searchers rushed in. Examined by Baynes, Robert denied that the mass was a sacrament. In an interrupted letter to Mary, Robert wrote that he refused 'to pull my own neck out of the collar' (ibid., 7.390), and he shared Latimer's conviction that to surrender one's life was an honour not accorded to even the highest angels.
Robert Glover was burnt in the same fire with Cornelius Bungey, a capper, at Coventry on 19 September 1555. Latimer went to the flames in the next month. They were comforted at the stake by Bernher. John's sorrow that Robert was arrested in his stead was intense, and when renewed searches were initiated for him late in Mary's reign, he took refuge in the woods, caught an ague, and died. His wife, Agnes, was arrested and forced to abjure. When William Glover died at Wem in Shropshire, Baynes refused to permit his body to be buried in consecrated ground, and according to Foxe, he was interred in a 'broom-field'. Likewise, Mary informed Foxe of plans to disinter John's body and cast it 'into the highway' (Acts and Monuments, 7.400–01).
Letters survive from Robert Glover to his wife, to the mayor and brethren of Coventry, and to Bernher. In addition to Foxe's account of the Glovers, ballads written by Mary's second husband, Richard Bott, are also important sources for Robert Glover's martyrdom.
- The acts and monuments of John Foxe, ed. S. R. Cattley, 8 vols. (1837–41), vol. 7, pp. 384–402
- two ballads by R. Bott, BL, Stowe MS 958, fols. 2v–3r, 8r–17r
- S. Wabuda, ‘Shunamites and nurses of the English Reformation: the activities of Mary Glover, niece of Hugh Latimer’, Women in the church on the eve of the dissolution, ed. W. J. Sheil and D. Wood, SCH, 27 (1990), 335–44
- John Careless to Mary Glover, BL, Add. MS 19400, fols. 69r–70r
- Robert Glover to Augustine Bernher, BL, Add. MS 19400, fols. 80r–81r
- Sermons and remains of Hugh Latimer, ed. G. E. Corrie, Parker Society, 20 (1845), 84–96