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date: 28 January 2022

Foxe, Johnfree


Foxe, Johnfree

  • Thomas S. Freeman

John Foxe (1516/1717–1587)

by unknown artist, 1587

Foxe, John (1516/17–1587), martyrologist, was born at Boston, Lincolnshire. His father, who may have been related to Henry Foxe, an affluent merchant who became mayor of the town in 1551, died while John Foxe was very young. John's mother subsequently married Richard Melton, a prosperous yeoman of the nearby village of Coningsby. John Hawarden, a fellow of Brasenose College, became rector of Coningsby in 1533, and about 1534 John Foxe entered Brasenose College, where his room-mate was Alexander Nowell, the future dean of St Paul's. The natural assumption that Hawarden paved the way for Foxe's entry into Oxford is confirmed by the fact that Foxe, three decades later, dedicated a work to Hawarden, and in it thanked him for making his university career possible.

Magdalen College

Although Foxe took his bachelor's degree on 17 July 1537 it is not clear how long he remained at Brasenose. He may have studied for a time at Magdalen College School, and he certainly became a probationer fellow at Magdalen College in July 1538. He was elected a full fellow in July 1539. In 1539–40 Foxe was one of the college lecturers in logic and in July 1543 he proceeded master of arts. While at Oxford, Foxe became a committed evangelical. Among Foxe's papers is the draft of a letter he wrote to Owen Oglethorpe, the president of Magdalen, defending himself against unnamed detractors who accused Foxe of not attending mass or any church services. Foxe claimed that his actions were being monitored by some of the masters who suspected him of belonging to a 'certain new religion' (novae cuiusdam religionis) because of his zealous study of scriptures. Foxe added that there were other young men in the college who shared his beliefs, particularly Robert Crowley and Thomas Cooper, and that they were being persecuted by the same enemies (BL, Lansdowne MS 388, fols. 53r–58r). Though he may have exaggerated for rhetorical effect, it is clear that Foxe belonged to an evangelical minority at Magdalen, and one under pressure from the conservative majority. This pressure was taking its toll on Foxe—in a letter of 1545 he called Magdalen a prison—and it undoubtedly contributed to Foxe's decision to leave Magdalen.

The primary reason for this decision, however, was a college statute requiring every fellow to take priest's orders within one year of completing his obligatory regency (a one-year period of public lecturing in the university) as a master of arts. In Foxe's case, this meant that he had to enter holy orders by Michaelmas 1545. He was unwilling to do this; in a letter to one friend he explained that he could not remain at Magdalen 'unless I castrate myself and leap into the priestly caste' (nisi in sacerdotale genus memet castrari ac praecipitare velim). To another friend he declared flatly that 'I do not intend to be circumcised this year' (neque libet mihi hoc anno circumcidi; BL, Lansdowne MS 388, fols. 80v, 117r). Foxe resigned his fellowship in 1545.

Although this was a disappointing end to a promising academic career, the years at Magdalen were not without benefits or achievements. In autumn 1544 Foxe wrote his first surviving literary work, Titus et Gesippus, a Latin comedy based on one of Boccaccio's tales. More importantly, Foxe had become part of a network of Oxford evangelicals. Other protestants who were Foxe's contemporaries at Magdalen (Robert Crowley, Henry Bull, and Laurence Humphrey in particular) were later among his closest friends. Now, suddenly without a livelihood, Foxe turned to his evangelical connections for help.

The lean years, 1546–1548

Although Foxe sowed a plentiful crop of pleading letters he initially reaped a meagre harvest: a small gift of money, a lot of advice, and an invitation to stay with the great Hugh Latimer. Eventually Foxe secured a position as tutor in the household of Sir William Lucy, one of Latimer's friends, at Charlecote, Warwickshire. There he married Agnes Randall on 3 February 1547. Shortly afterwards, for reasons that remain unclear, Foxe left the Lucy household.

The next period of Foxe's life is obscure, illuminated only by the brief and occasionally confusing memoir of him written by his son Simeon Foxe in 1611 and first published in the 1641 edition of Acts and Monuments. According to Simeon, John Foxe stayed with his wife's family in Coventry and then returned home to Coningsby.

Simeon Foxe claimed that John's relations with his stepfather, who apparently remained Catholic, were strained and, perhaps as a result, Foxe moved to London in the summer or autumn of 1547. Simeon relates a dramatic and oft-repeated story of his father sitting destitute in St Paul's when a stranger came up to him, gave him some money, and told him that he would be employed within a few days. Within three days an offer came from the duchess of Richmond inviting Foxe to be tutor to the children of her brother, the earl of Surrey, who had been executed in January 1547. The few available facts undermine this colourful tale. Some time in 1547 Foxe's translation of a sermon of Martin Luther (ESTC 16983) was published; in the dedication of this work Foxe declared that he lived in Stepney. This must have been before Foxe became tutor to Surrey's children and indicates that he lived in London for some time before he was employed by the duchess. The leisure for translation also suggests that Foxe was not desperate; in fact, Luther's sermon was one of three translations Foxe made for the evangelical printer Hugh Singleton in 1547–8. Foxe dedicated the third of these works, a translation of Urbannus Regius, An Instruction of the Christian Faith (ESTC 120847), to Richard Melton. This dedication, in which Foxe thanks Melton for his kindnesses, may indicate that Foxe's break with his stepfather was exaggerated by Simeon. It is even possible that Foxe received some financial support from his family during the first months of his stay in London. At the same time Foxe may have been introduced to Singleton by evangelical friends and someone must have recommended him to the duchess of Richmond; Foxe was not bereft of useful friends.

An Edwardian reformer, 1548–1553

Foxe's pupils were Surrey's three eldest children—Thomas, later the fourth duke of Norfolk; Jane, afterwards countess of Westmorland; and Henry, afterwards earl of Northampton—and later Charles Howard, the future commander of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada. At first Foxe dwelt at Mountjoy House, the duchess of Richmond's London residence. Later he and his pupils resided at the duchess's manor at Reigate. The post of tutor not only provided Foxe with the first financial security he had known since leaving Oxford, but it also led to his forging a strong bond with Thomas Howard that was later invaluable.

Moreover, the duchess's patronage further facilitated Foxe's entry into the ranks of England's protestant élite. He was ordained deacon by Nicholas Ridley on 24 June 1550, staying in the duchess of Suffolk's house before the ceremony. He met John Hooper and became friends with William Turner and John Rogers; he also attracted the support of William Cecil. Most importantly, in spring or summer 1548 Foxe met John Bale at Mountjoy House. This was more than the beginning of a beautiful friendship; during Edward VI's reign Bale loaned Foxe valuable manuscripts and certainly encouraged, very probably guided, Foxe in the composition of his first martyrology.

This project came to fruition only later, and meanwhile Foxe waded into the turbulent waters of religious controversy. In 1548 he brought out a tract, De non plectendis morte adulteris consultatio (ESTC 11235), arguing that adultery should not be a capital crime. This was a controversial stand, and in 1549 the veteran reformer George Joye published a vehement and effective rebuttal of Foxe's work: A Contrary to a Certain Mans Consultation (ESTC 14822). While Foxe had argued against imposing the death penalty on adulterers, he had also recommended that clerical sanctions, including excommunication, should be imposed on them. One of Joye's counter-arguments was that excommunication had fallen into desuetude. Foxe's next published work, his De censura sive excommunicatione ecclesiastica rectoque eius usu (ESTC 11233), called for its revival.

Foxe's De censura (1551) went further, calling for the revival of a system of ecclesiastical discipline and for a new code of canon law. It can only be understood as an attempt to encourage, and possibly influence, the commission for reforming the ecclesiastical laws, which finally met in October 1551. It is significant that Foxe claimed that he had discussed De censura with Ridley and that the bishop had spurred him on and authorized the work, and, even more noteworthy, that the work was dedicated to Cranmer, the sponsor and director of the proposed revision of canon law. In 1553 the canon-law revision foundered on the rocks of parliamentary opposition, but in later years Foxe tried to salvage Cranmer's great project.

During his stay in Reigate tutoring members of the Howard clan Foxe rounded out his evangelical credentials by suppressing the cult attendant upon a shrine of the Virgin Mary at Ouldsworth, which had been credited with miraculous healing powers. This round of congenial activities—teaching, writing, and iconoclasm—came to an end with Mary's accession in July 1553. The third duke of Norfolk was released from the Tower and regained custody of his grandchildren. The heir to the dukedom was placed in Stephen Gardiner's household. Although his employment was terminated, Foxe stayed in London. At the end of January 1554 Foxe wrote pessimistically to a friend, Peter Deleen, a minister of the Dutch Strangers' Church in London, about the future and his reluctance to leave England. Yet some time in the late winter or early spring of 1554 he set sail from Ipswich with his pregnant wife. After a stormy passage the Foxes arrived in Nieuwpoort.


The couple stayed for a few days at Nieuwpoort, then journeyed on to Antwerp. After a detour to Rotterdam, to visit Erasmus's birthplace, Foxe pressed on to Frankfurt and then to Strasbourg, which he reached in July 1554. There, from the press of Wendelin Rihelius, he printed Commentarii rerum in ecclesia gestarum. The dedication to the work (in a fruitless attempt to secure patronage, it was made to Duke Christopher of Württemberg) was dated 31 August 1554. Commentarii is a history of the true church—largely, though not entirely, in England—and the persecutions it suffered from Wyclif to Reginald Pecock and Savonarola. Although only an octavo of 212 leaves, Commentarii was a forerunner of Acts and Monuments; indeed, much of the former work would be incorporated into the latter. It was also the result of research that had been directed and inspired by John Bale, who must have lent Foxe his unique copy of Fasciculi zizaniorum, one of the major sources for Commentarii.

In the autumn of 1554 Foxe returned to Frankfurt where he resided with Anthony Gilby, later the puritan sage of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The English exiles in Frankfurt had split into two factions: one, headed by John Knox, used a liturgy based on a revised version of the 1552 prayer book, while a second, headed by Thomas Lever, followed the 1552 prayer book without revision. Attempts at compromise failed, and in late March 1555 the second faction, now led by Richard Cox, persuaded the Frankfurt authorities to expel Knox from the city and to enforce the use of the unrevised prayer book by the English congregation. Foxe had himself supported Knox, and believed he was unjustly treated. When printing a letter from Ridley in Acts and Monuments Foxe deleted passages in which the bishop criticized Knox's activities at Frankfurt. Moreover, sixteen years later Foxe initiated his own plan to revise the Book of Common Prayer.

On 27 August 1555 Whittingham, Foxe, and nearly twenty other former members of Knox's faction wrote to the English congregation, declaring their intention of departing. Their request for arbitration accomplished nothing, and by 22 September 1555 Foxe had arrived in Basel. On that day his infant daughter Christina was baptized there, with Thomas Bentham, the future bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, as her godfather. In Basel, Foxe was reunited with Bale and resided with him in a former convent which the English exiles rented from the city.

Foxe went to work for the Basel printers. During seven months in 1557–8 Foxe and his assistants received £15 from Hieronymus Froben for preparing a new Latin edition of Chrysostom's works. Most of Foxe's work was done, however, for Johann Oporinus as a proofreader. This was not lucrative, and Foxe, with a growing family to support, supplemented his income with small sums from fellow exiles, including Grindal and James Haddon. He also wrote to Thomas Howard, now duke of Norfolk, appealing for an allowance. (Characteristically, in the same letter, Foxe also exhorted the duke to stand steadfastly with the true religion and admonished him not to neglect his study of scripture.)

Yet although his work in the great Basel print-shops brought him little money, it had advantages for Foxe. For one thing, it placed Foxe at the centre of networks of protestant scholarship. This range of contacts was extended by Bale, who introduced Foxe to Conrad Gesner and also to Alexander Ales (Alesius), who later supplied Foxe with information about the Henrician reformation. Also moving in Bale's circle was Heinrich Pantaleon, a protestant physician, whose own martyrology later became intertwined with Foxe's. Bale was indeed remarkably generous to Foxe, not only lavishing praise on him in his own great work, Scriptorum illustrium maioris Brytanniae … catalogus, but even giving him credit for work based on Bale's own research.

The continental protestant scholar with much the greatest influence on Foxe's work was Matthias Flacius, whose seminal Catalogus testium veritatis was published by Oporinus in 1556; undoubtedly Foxe helped to assist in its publication. This work posited a true church consisting of isolated groups of faithful Christians through the ages, united only by the Holy Spirit and having neither institutions nor personnel in common; it powerfully influenced Foxe's ecclesiology and provided him with a rich source of information incorporated into Acts and Monuments. Extracts from another historical work, edited anonymously by Flacius, Joannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi historia et monimenta, later appeared in Foxe's second Latin martyrology; much larger extracts from the work were reprinted in Acts and Monuments.

Foxe's employment in the print-shops also facilitated publication of his own works. Oporinus printed Foxe's Christus triumphans, an allegorical drama in Latin verse of the history of the church, in March 1556. It attracted some contemporary attention, being performed at Cambridge, and probably Oxford, in the 1560s and translated into French in 1562 and into English in 1579. Its major interest, however, lies in its providing the first evidence of what became a major preoccupation of its author, one certainly nurtured and stimulated by his friendship with Bale: a profound interest in the history of the church as an ongoing fulfilment of prophecies contained in Revelation.

Two minor works by Foxe were printed by Oporinus in March 1557. The first, Locorum communium tituli, was a structured commonplace book, designed to systematize study and develop the memory, and as such was a project Foxe revived later in his career. The second work, Ad inclytos ac praepotentes Angliae proceres … supplicatio, was a Latin appeal to the English nobility to end the persecution of protestants in England. Predictably the work had no effect on events in England, but it drew both commendations and the gift of a gold coin from Thomas Lever, now the minister of the English congregation at Aarau. In a letter to Lever, written in the winter of 1557–8, Foxe made the first of the complaints of ill health which became a regular feature of his letters in later life.

Foxe's poor health may have been aggravated, if not caused, by overwork. In addition to his work for Oporinus and Froben, and the writing of numerous relatively minor works, Foxe was busy with two major projects. One was a translation into Latin of Thomas Cranmer's attack on Gardiner, An Answer … unto a Crafty Cavillation (ESTC 5991). This task had been pressed upon Foxe by Pietro Martire Vermigli (known as Peter Martyr), and Foxe had already complained to Peter Martyr of the difficulties involved, in April 1555. By summer 1556 Foxe had a draft of the translation ready, but Cranmer's controversial eucharistic theology made it impossible to find a printer for it in Germany or Switzerland. Even though Christopher Froschauer, the eminent Zürich printer, had agreed to print Foxe's translation by March 1558, the book was never published.

Foxe's second Latin martyrology

The other project eventually came to fruition as Foxe's second Latin martyrology, but it was originally designed as part of an even more ambitious undertaking. The idea was formed, probably by Edmund Grindal, who seems to have informally headed the project, for two parallel editions of a (martyrum historia) (the phrase is Grindal's), one in English, the other in Latin. The Latin edition was entrusted to Foxe, while a team of exiles gathered data and prepared the English language edition. From the outset, however, despite Grindal's insistence that the two martyrologies be as similar as possible, Foxe seems to have envisioned a work different from the one Grindal had in mind, covering not only the Marian persecution, but also (and here Bale's influence can be discerned) Lollards and pre-Marian reformers.

Grindal had hoped to have both editions ready for publication soon after the summer of 1556, but this proved a wildly over-optimistic estimate. Foxe, who devoted himself increasingly to the Latin martyrology as the Cranmer translation foundered, nevertheless did not finish it until the late summer of 1559 and then only by abridging drastically its intended scope. The English martyrology was never completed at all. The work of Grindal's team was not, however, fruitless. They amassed a considerable collection of documents which were passed on to Foxe and were printed in his second martyrology.

Meanwhile, on 8 September 1558, Foxe's daughter Dorcas was baptized. Soon afterwards, on 17 November, Queen Mary died. When the news reached the continent Grindal wrote to Foxe to recommend that he delay publishing his martyrology until 'we are able to obtain more accurate and more detailed information from England' (BL, Harley MS 417, fol. 102rv). Foxe, however, ignored Grindal's advice and pressed on with his project, interrupting his labours to compose a tract, Germaniae ad Angliam gratulatio, printed by Oporinus in January 1559. In this Germany congratulates England on the restoration of the gospel and Foxe thanks the Germans for their hospitality to the English, before concluding with an epilogue addressed to the duke of Norfolk. The latter responded with a letter in early March warmly extending his patronage and expressing his eagerness to see his former tutor.

Norfolk had to wait for over half a year for his reunion. Foxe remained in Basel working on his martyrology, though he was anxious to return home. He restricted his work (with the important exceptions of Jan Hus and Jerome Prague) to English men and women who died for the gospel. Nevertheless, as the full title of his Rerum in ecclesia gestarum … commentarii makes clear, with its reference to a Europe-wide persecution ( (per Europam persecutionem)), Foxe planned a further volume or volumes on the sufferings of the godly on the continent, and never ceased to see the English Reformation in its larger European context.

Rerum … commentarii, which was printed in Basel in August 1559 by Oporinus and his fellow printer Nicholas Brylinger, was a folio of about 750 pages, divided into six books. The first book was largely a reprint of Foxe's 1554 martyrology with some additions. The second book covered the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, from the death of Richard Hunne in 1515 to the execution of the duke of Somerset in 1552. Foxe's two basic sources for this book were first Bale's Catalogus and then Edward Hall's chronicle. He supplemented these sources with Alesius's Of the Auctoritie of the Word of God, Bale's edition of John Lambert's treatise, and Bale's Examinations of Anne Askew, all reprinted (in Latin) in Rerum. Foxe also relied on accounts sent to him by eyewitnesses; among these were the vivid description of Somerset's execution and, in a triumph of precisely directed enquiry, the extraordinarily accurate account of William Gardiner's martyrdom. With Edward VI's reign Foxe came into his own, but for events before the reign he was almost totally dependent on Bale's research, writings, and contacts.

The final four books of Rerum were devoted to the Marian persecution. Book 3, which covered the first eighteen months of Mary's reign and ended with the martyrdoms of John Rogers and John Hooper, was almost entirely a collage of print or manuscript treatises, including the letters of Jane Grey, Stephen Gardiner's examination of Sir James Hales, and two works by Hooper never subsequently reprinted: an appeal to the English nobility and a treatise on the eucharist. Where he had previously built on Bale's foundations, Foxe now relied on material gathered by Grindal and Bullinger.

The final three books, covering the period up to Cranmer's death in March 1556, are also based on the research of Grindal and his team, and probably represent what Grindal's planned martyrology would have looked like had it been written. They consist almost entirely of the writings of the martyrs themselves, generally their letters and their accounts of their examinations. Martyrs for whom such materials did not exist were simply listed unless informants supplied accounts of their sufferings. The final four pages of Rerum merely list the martyrs of the final two and a half years of Mary's reign, along with the dates and locales of their executions; by now Oporinus wanted the work finished in time for the Frankfurt book fair, while Foxe wanted to return home. Rerum appeared, with a warm dedication to the duke of Norfolk, in September 1559.

Although it was rushed and truncated, Rerum was also Foxe's first great literary success. Jean Crespin expressed interest in printing a French translation of Rerum; ultimately he simply paid Foxe the compliment of plagiarizing it liberally (Foxe responded in kind). Oporinus bestowed an equally backhanded compliment on his former employee by pestering him for the second part of the martyrology (eventually provided by Heinrich Pantaleon), while the great Bullinger wrote congratulating Foxe on the work.

Foxe had left England in 1554 penniless and relatively unknown. He returned home in October 1559 not much richer, but with a substantial reputation. He also returned with a goal: the completion, on his own terms, of the martyrology that he had started. Like Aaron's serpent, this project swallowed all the other concerns in Foxe's life, in a task that preoccupied him for the next decade.

The first edition of Acts and Monuments

Foxe wasted no time in starting work on his new martyrology. On 10 November 1559 he published one of the last letters Nicholas Ridley wrote, as A Friendly Farewell which Master Doctor Ridley did Write (ESTC 21051), and in an epilogue announced that this was just a sample from the larger work he was preparing on the martyrs. The Friendly Farewell was printed by John Day. There is no indication that Foxe knew Day before Elizabeth's reign; this was the first of Foxe's books that Day published. It is striking that within a month of his return, Foxe had enlisted Day's support for his great project.

Day issued another of Foxe's works, this one published anonymously, in September 1560. A Solemne Contestation of Divers Popes is a first-person oration, placed in the mouth of the papal Antichrist, describing how he rose to power over the princes of Christendom and how he abused this power. It is composed entirely of quotations from papal bulls, books of canon laws, and historical works, giving it an appearance of authenticity. (Although the quotations were accurate, they were often brutally twisted out of context.) This tract, which was reprinted in Acts and Monuments, demonstrated that the scope of Foxe's research already extended beyond England and before Wyclif.

In the meantime Foxe had been staying at the duke of Norfolk's mansion in Aldgate. On 25 January 1560 he was ordained priest by Grindal. There is evidence that in the summer of 1560 Foxe was offered the deanery of Christ Church, Oxford; if so, he must have declined it. Instead he left London in autumn 1560 and went to Norwich, where he lived with his friend John Parkhurst, now bishop of Norwich. He preached in the diocese, and also conducted archival and oral research there, whose fruits appeared in the first edition of Acts and Monuments. Foxe returned to London by August 1562 where he once more lived in Norfolk's Aldgate mansion while commuting to Day's print shop, where he supervised the printing of his martyrology.

On 20 March 1563 the first edition of Acts and Monuments (immediately and universally referred to as Foxe's 'Book of martyrs') was published by John Day. A massive folio volume, containing about 1800 pages, it is about three times the length of Rerum. Part of the reason for its length was its increased chronological and geographic scope. The bulk of the work covers church history from Wyclif until the accession of Elizabeth but an introductory section provides an overview of church history, particularly papal history, from the year 1000. And while English history predominates, considerable attention is given to continental history.

The second reason for the size of the work was the range of sources on which it was based. Foxe drew even more extensively from already favoured authors like Bale and Flacius, while also extracting large sections from books he used for the first time, for instance Johannes Cochlaeus's history of the Hussite wars and various martyrological works by Jean Crespin. Foxe also expanded his already formidable reprintings of the writings of the Marian martyrs, while his use of oral testimony and eyewitness accounts increased geometrically. But the great difference between this book and Foxe's previous martyrologies was its reprinting of archival material. Here, for the first time, Foxe advanced on the methodology of Bale. Foxe's most important archival sources were the London episcopal registers, which he quarried systematically, working backwards as far as the 1520s—that Foxe was forced to publish before he had completed his research was due to Day's pressure on him to publish the work quickly. He also drew on ecclesiastical records from the diocese of Norwich, while friends sent him extracts from the episcopal registers for Coventry and Lichfield. Limited as this documentary base was, in comparison to later editions of Acts and Monuments, in 1563 its range was unprecedented in English historical writing.

Despite its massive size, Acts and Monuments must have been a financial success, for Day and Foxe very quickly decided to produce a second edition. (In Henry Bull's Certain most Godly … Letters of such True Saintes and Martyrs (ESTC 5886), published a year later by John Day, a marginal note on page 46 promises that more information would be forthcoming on a particular subject 'in the next edition of the boke of martyrs'.) Of course, part of Foxe's readiness to undertake a second edition was his desire to correct the flaws in the first. The translations had been done by others, sometimes unsatisfactorily, and for lack of revision the text sometimes contradicted the message that Foxe was trying to convey. Nevertheless, Day would not have agreed to print a second edition if he had not been encouraged by the sales of the first.


Another indication that the first edition of Acts and Monuments had succeeded was Foxe's appointment to the prebend of Shipton in Salisbury Cathedral. Valued at just under £40 a year, it was the only ecclesiastical living that Foxe held for any significant period and it provided most of his income for the rest of his life. The appointment's timing is interesting. Peter Vannes, the previous incumbent, died some time between 28 March and 30 April 1563. Foxe was presented to the living on 22 May. It looks very much as though Foxe was granted the first suitably remunerative benefice that became available after Acts and Monuments was published in the second half of March.

Foxe's handling of the responsibilities attached to his position reflected his ideas on the proper role of the clergy. He took no interest in his duties as a canon of Salisbury Cathedral, and in fact never visited it. At least once he was pronounced contumacious for his non-attendance, and he was also cited for refusing to donate a tithe of his income towards repairing the cathedral. On the other hand, he was entitled to appoint the vicar of Shipton under Wychwood and his choice was William Masters, a former Marian exile, who was unusually well educated for the position. On one occasion Foxe even gave Masters permission to cut and sell the timber of the vicarage, an offer so generous that Masters demurred at taking advantage of it, and one showing that while Foxe would not contribute towards the upkeep of Salisbury Cathedral he would pay lavishly to keep a godly and qualified, indeed overqualified, preacher in his parish.

Minor works and major controversies, 1563–1566

Plague broke out in London in summer 1563 and Foxe remained in the city to minister to the afflicted. He also composed A Brief Exhortation … in this Heavy Tyme at Gods Visitation in London (ESTC 11230) which was not only intended to comfort the dying and bereaved but also contained a forceful plea to London's civic élite for money to aid the sufferers. The plague may also have visited Foxe's household. Bishop Parkhurst wrote a letter to Foxe in January 1564, offering condolences for an unspecified bereavement; possibly one of Foxe's daughters had died.

In November 1563 Foxe lost a mentor when John Bale died. Bale's influence on Foxe's martyrologies had been profound. Both of the Latin ones had been based to varying degrees on research by Bale, who also wrote sections of the first edition of Acts and Monuments. He had inspired Foxe, encouraged him, and placed the fruits of his research at Foxe's disposal. Above all, it was essentially Bale's interpretation of history as a fulfilment of the prophecies in Revelation that Foxe adopted and made the keystone for his own thought. That even Foxe's earliest historical works had ranged back into the middle ages, and that Foxe wove the Lollards and other medieval heretics into the tapestry of protestant history was largely due to Bale.

Yet Bale's death may also have been somewhat liberating for his junior colleague. Bale was a forceful personality and towards the end he may have been stifling Foxe's development as much as stimulating it. It is noteworthy that both Bale and Foxe had previously announced that Foxe would edit a complete edition of Wyclif's works, an immense project which clearly reflected Bale's interests. Nothing now came of this project, and in future Foxe took on projects that dealt with concerns, notably pastoral concerns, that were far removed from Bale's interests.

Foxe's partner in a number of these projects was Henry Bull, whose Certain most Godly … Letters of such True Saintes and Martyrs was published in 1564. (The work was edited anonymously and has previously been attributed to Miles Coverdale, who wrote an introduction to it. Susan Wabuda, however, has conclusively demonstrated that Bull edited Letters of the Martyrs.) Bull's research apparently began independently of Foxe's but by 1562 or 1563 the two men were exchanging information. But while Bull made use of material gathered by Foxe (or gathered by Grindal and others for Foxe), Foxe made even greater use of the material Bull had gathered; eventually much of Letters of the Martyrs was incorporated in Acts and Monuments. Yet when Foxe reprinted Bull's text, he generally followed without changing the considerable emendations Bull made to the original letters. Once again, a substantial section of Acts and Monuments was not written by Foxe, but was the work of another author.

Foxe wrote only two minor works, apart from his response to the plague, in the period immediately following the publication of the first edition of Acts and Monuments. The first of these was a translation into Latin of Grindal's sermon on the death of the emperor Ferdinand. The other was Syllagisticon (ESTC 11249), a collection of theological arguments on the eucharist formulated as syllogisms. It was preceded by a long exhortatory letter to Catholics, in which Foxe urged them to read the work and see for themselves the logical and theological absurdity of the doctrine of transubstantiation.

Most of Foxe's energy was consumed with research for the second edition of Acts and Monuments, but he also found himself drawn into the controversy over vestments. Foxe's desire to purge the English church of what he considered to be ‘popish’ abuses had been apparent when he supported Knox at Frankfurt and it had not abated since. Foxe's name appeared on a list presented to Lord Robert Dudley between 1561 and 1564 of twenty-eight 'godly preachers which have utterly forsaken Antichrist and all his Romish rags' (Magd. Cam., Pepys Library, Papers of state, 2.701). On 20 March 1565 he was one of twenty clergymen who appealed to the ecclesiastical commissioners to be allowed to follow their consciences on wearing vestments. But when Archbishop Parker none the less moved to enforce compliance, his efforts centred on London, and since Foxe did not hold a benefice in the city, his defiance went unpunished.

Indeed, Foxe may have gained an unofficial position as a minister from the controversy. In spring 1566 Robert Crowley (a friend of Foxe from their days at Magdalen College) was placed under arrest and suspended from his livings for his outspoken opposition to Parker's vestiarian policies. Crowley remained suspended for some time and there is much evidence that Foxe acted as an unofficial surrogate for him in the London parish of St Giles Cripplegate during this period. It is noteworthy both that Foxe moved into the parish towards the end of the decade, and that John Field, who assisted Foxe in researching the second edition of Acts and Monuments, became curate of St Giles about the same time.

Preparing the second edition of Acts and Monuments

Internal evidence reveals that Foxe had begun writing the second edition of Acts and Monuments no later than 1566. The section on which Foxe was working in that year dealt with the history of the Ottoman empire, a topic he had not discussed in any of his previous martyrologies. Its composition at this time indicates that Foxe planned to make the second edition radically different from its predecessors. Other circumstances occurring at about the same time compelled Foxe to make further alterations in the contents of the new editions.

In January 1566 a quarto volume of six dialogues, totalling about 1000 pages, was published at Antwerp under the descriptive title Dialogi sex, contra summi pontificatus, monasticae vitae, sanctorum, sacrarum imaginum oppugnatores, et pseudomartyres. Although published under the name of the Catholic exile Alan Cope, it was written by Nicholas Harpsfield, archdeacon of Canterbury in the previous reign. Most of the work is an attack on the Magdeburg centuriators, and to a lesser extent on John Jewel and Johann Sleidan. But the sixth and longest dialogue, totalling about 250 pages, is an attack on Foxe's martyrology. Catholic scholars, notably Thomas Harding and Thomas Stapleton, had attacked Foxe's first edition but, though occasionally effective, these had consisted of isolated passages in works devoted to other topics. Harpsfield's was the first sustained and systematic assault on Foxe's work and, indeed, the only one written during the martyrologist's lifetime.

Dealing with Harpsfield's criticisms was a painful but instructive experience for Foxe. Where these were demonstrably accurate, Foxe quietly removed the offending passages from the second edition. Where the criticisms could be rebutted, he mounted a vigorous counter-attack, seeking to crush his opponent under piles of documents. Thus Harpsfield's two (quarto) page attack on Foxe's account of the Lollard ‘martyr’ Sir John Oldcastle was answered by a thirty-four (folio) page reply which reprinted a number of parliamentary statutes. In short, Foxe reacted to Harpsfield's challenge like the commander of a besieged city, abandoning what could not be defended and fortifying what could. Harpsfield drove Foxe to more intensive and extensive research and made his martyrology a more impressive, although not necessarily more accurate, work of scholarship.

Work on the second edition of Acts and Monuments progressed. Meanwhile Agnes Foxe gave birth, on 2 February 1568, to a second son, who was named Simeon. The child was born in the duke of Norfolk's London house, where the Foxe family still resided, but soon afterwards the family moved to a house in Grub Street, in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, where Foxe spent the rest of his life. One reason for the move may have been Foxe's increasing activity in the parish of St Giles. The new residence also had the advantage of being closer to Day's print shop. But the move probably stemmed from the catastrophe that befell the duke of Norfolk.

In summer 1569 Foxe wrote a remarkably frank letter to Norfolk reporting that rumours of the duke's plans to marry the queen of Scots were flying around London, and bluntly warning him 'that in case you take this way to marry with this Lady in our Queens days, it will in the end turne you to noe great good' (BL, Harley MS 416, fol. 154r). This excellent advice was not heeded. Norfolk was sent to the Tower on 8 October 1569, and ultimately, on 16 January 1572, in the wake of the Ridolfi plot, he was condemned to death. On the day after Norfolk's conviction, the duke's gaoler reported that his prisoner 'longethe muche for Mr Foxe his old scholemaister, to whome he muche desyres to performe that faithe which he first grounded him in' (TNA: PRO, SP 12/85/13). Throughout the spring Foxe, together with his former room-mate Alexander Nowell, now dean of St Paul's, ministered to the spiritual needs of the condemned man. On 2 June 1572, when Norfolk was executed, Foxe and Nowell were with him on the scaffold. In his final instructions to his heirs Norfolk directed that Foxe be paid £20 a year; Simeon Foxe declared that the payments were faithfully made to his father.

The second edition of Acts and Monuments

In the meantime the second edition of Foxe's Acts and Monuments was printed, in two volumes, in 1570. Although it incorporated much of the first edition, it was rewritten so thoroughly as to constitute a separate and distinct work. For one thing the scope was considerably extended; it now began with the apostolic era, and the first volume covered the history of the pre-Reformation church. Although English history still predominated, a real effort was made to cover events in Europe. The new edition was also transformed by the breadth of the research on which it was based. Foxe printed more extracts out of standard protestant histories like the Magdeburg Centuries (Historia ecclesiae Christi), Flacius's Catalogus testium veritatis, and Sleidan's Commentaries. Where it could not be avoided, Foxe similarly exploited the works of such Catholic historians as Pope Pius II and Johannes Cochlaeus. In addition to these great plinths of text, Foxe embellished his work with reprints of scores of pamphlets, tracts, and sermons. Moreover, most of the letters of the martyrs gathered by Bull, supplemented with others gathered by Foxe, were printed in this edition.

Yet Foxe's second edition also far surpassed any previous English historical work in the range of medieval chronicles and histories on which it was based. Foxe had the immense good fortune to be able to consult the vast collection of historical manuscripts gathered by Archbishop Matthew Parker. Although the primate and the martyrologist had their differences, which later became manifest, Parker saw an opportunity to use Foxe's Acts and Monuments to demonstrate his own interpretation of history in which an apostolic English church was corrupted by the papacy, in a process that began with Augustine of Canterbury's mission and became more virulent as foreign bishops like Lanfranc and Anselm were foisted on the English church after 1066. This in turn led to the establishment in the English church of such popish ‘abuses’ as transubstantiation, clerical celibacy, and auricular confession.

Parker used Foxe's Acts and Monuments as a means of conveying this message, and the research that supported it, to a wider audience than it would normally reach. In particular, Parker's most substantial achievement to date, Testimonie of Antiquitie (ESTC 159), was reprinted in Foxe's martyrology. In return, Parker placed his collection at the martyrologist's disposal and Foxe took full advantage of the opportunity. His single most important source for medieval history was Matthew Paris's Chronica majora, which he obtained from the archbishop, as he also did the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Gervase of Canterbury's chronicle. The archbishop also supplied Anglo-Saxon law-codes and ecclesiastical documents. Through Parker, moreover, Foxe came into contact with a group of antiquarian scholars working loosely under the archbishop's aegis. He became friends with William Lambarde (whose Archianomia was also reprinted in Acts and Monuments), and while his relations with John Stow were markedly poorer, at Parker's behest the two shared resources, notably the great chronicle of London. Parker even seems to have put some of his researchers to work refuting specific charges made by Catholic critics of Foxe's first edition; for example, there is evidence that Parker's manuscripts were combed for proof that King John was poisoned by a monk, a claim made by Foxe and indignantly (and correctly) denied by Stapleton.

There was also a geometric expansion of the archival sources consulted for the 1570 edition. Foxe had finished his work on the London diocesan records and he proceeded to exploit the diocesan registers for Canterbury with equal thoroughness. He worked extensively on ecclesiastical records from the dioceses of Hereford, Lincoln, and Rochester, as well as adding to the material he had already drawn from the records of Coventry and Lichfield. Copies of isolated extracts from the episcopal records of Bath and Wells, Chichester, Durham, and York were also sent to Foxe. He also made systematic use for the first time of the Royal Archives, particularly the Tower records.

But perhaps the most significant development in Foxe's use of sources was his greater reliance on oral evidence. Some of this was gathered by Foxe himself, who pumped even casual acquaintances for information. William Maldon, who was one of these sources, left a vivid account of Foxe at work:

I with another chanced to goe in the company of mr Foxe, the gatherer together of these grete boke, and he desired us to tell hym if wee knewe of any man that had suffered persecution for the gospell of Jesus Christ, to the end that he myght add it unto the boke of marters. Then said I that I knewe one that was whipped in king Henryes time for it, of his father. Then he enquired of me his name. Then I bewrayed and said it was I myself … Then I promysed him to wryght it.

BL, Harley MS 590, fol. 77r

But after the publication of the first edition, personal testimonies poured in on Foxe without solicitation as people sought to exonerate themselves and accuse or eulogize others.

While this new material was being absorbed into the second edition, a great deal of material from the first edition was not reprinted. (Contrary to common belief, a considerable amount of very significant material in the early editions of Foxe's book was not carried over either to the later editions or to the Victorian editions which were largely based on the 1583 edition.) One obvious reason for these cuts was to make space for new material. Another, resulting from the attacks by Harpsfield and other Catholics on the first edition, was Foxe's determination to airbrush any polemical blemishes, particularly of protestants holding schismatic or heretical beliefs, out of his history.

Authorship of Acts and Monuments

Despite these cuts Day's printing operation buckled under the task of publishing the second edition. The most serious problem was that Day underestimated the size of the new edition, which ultimately ran to about 2300 pages, and consequently ran out of paper. Day had to paste together smaller sheets of paper to finish the volume. (It was because of this problem that Foxe's ambitious plans for an appendix on the continental protestant martyrs was never printed.) All of this underscores Day's commitment to the publication of Acts and Monuments and Foxe's extraordinary good fortune in finding a printer ready to support his mammoth project. Day made considerable sacrifices to publish Acts and Monuments. In particular it was he who underwrote woodcut illustrations for Acts and Monuments; the edition of 1563 contained over fifty, the edition of 1570 three times that number. Admittedly Day received concessions from William Cecil which facilitated his task: permission to exceed the legal quotas for hiring foreign workmen and lucrative monopolies for printing primers and the metrical psalms. Yet Day risked a great deal in printing Acts and Monuments and if he made money and increased his prestige in doing so (Day's epitaph would boast that he was the printer of Acts and Monuments), he more than earned it. Without Day Acts and Monuments would have been a much smaller book, with considerably fewer illustrations or none at all.

Acts and Monuments was essentially a collaborative undertaking. It was built on material collected by Bale, Grindal, Bull, and Parker, as well as on Foxe's own researches, in which, too, the martyrologist had the assistance of copyists as well as of the many people who did fieldwork for him, poring over local records or interviewing their neighbours. In fact the word ‘author’ needs to be used with some care in discussing Foxe and Acts and Monuments. If by author one means the person who actually wrote the words of a particular text, then Foxe was not the author of much of Acts and Monuments, whole sections of which were written by others. But as the person who shaped the text and controlled its messages, Foxe is the undisputed author of Acts and Monuments.

Even a brief comparison of the first and second editions shows how completely and systematically their shared passages were rewritten. Similarly, anyone comparing the original version of a text printed in Acts and Monuments with Foxe's version is likely to notice Foxe's complete readiness to alter even the tiniest details of the former. There are factual inconsistencies in Acts and Monuments, with much repetition, chronological inaccuracy, and faulty organization, but the themes of the work are presented without a scintilla of doubt, hesitation, or ambiguity; the text says exactly what Foxe wishes it to say and nothing else. This is particularly true of the 1570 edition, which was rigorously proof-read and impeccably cross-referenced. Even more remarkably, isolated errors were corrected by hand in the individual copies after printing but before they left the print shop. No effort was spared to ensure that all error, doctrinal and typographical, was excised from this edition.


Even when every allowance is made for the considerable assistance that Foxe received in writing and printing Acts and Monuments, the energy he invested in this Herculean task is astonishing. In fact, his health seems to have been undermined by the effort. Foxe had started to complain of ill health during his exile, and the strain of a decade spent striving to complete his magnum opus only aggravated his condition. In the dedication of the 1570 edition, Foxe claims that he has spent his health on his martyrology. Foxe's son Simeon, a physician, claimed that as a result of his father's mind being 'over-strained' by the composition of his martyrology, he 'fell into that withered leannesse of body in which many afterward saw him, never again returning to that pleasing and cheerfull countenance which he had before' (Acts and Monuments, 1641, vol. 2, sig. B2r).

In compensation, Acts and Monuments made Foxe England's first literary celebrity. The clearest evidence of this is the letters written to him from complete strangers, which are extant among his papers, asking his advice on theological and pastoral issues. The renown Foxe won as a martyrologist fuelled, and was fuelled by, his reputation as an extraordinarily popular and influential London minister. A condemned prisoner wrote to Foxe, asking him and Nowell to raise money on his behalf so that he could bribe a courtier to obtain a royal pardon, and declaring that he has turned to them for help because 'I know … your influence to work powerfully among all the ministers of London' (BL, Harley MS 416, fol. 165r).

Much of Foxe's reputation in London was based on his alms-giving. Simeon Foxe declared that 'there was nothing that so much won to Master Fox the love of people as the pity he usually shewed to all sorts of men in distresse' and added that wealthy individuals entrusted Foxe with large sums of money to be spent on charitable causes (Acts and Monuments, 1641, vol. 2, sigs. B3v, B6v). Possessed of a potent charisma derived from his personality and writings rather than his office, Foxe was the forerunner of such godly divines as Richard Greenham and William Bradshaw, whose influence and authority likewise far outstripped their ecclesiastical rank. His consequent freedom from institutional constraints made Foxe an alarming prospect for the church authorities, and when he looked like adding to his independent authority they slapped him down.

In 1570 Foxe further burnished his reputation with a sermon preached at Paul's Cross on Good Friday. The Paul's Cross sermon on the holiest day in the Christian calendar would have been a major event in any year but it held special significance in 1570 because Pius V's bull excommunicating and deposing Elizabeth had been promulgated only a month before. Foxe's Sermon of Christ Crucified contrasted Catholicism with true religion, but like both his previous Syllogisticon and many of his later works, a major purpose of this sermon was to convert Catholics to the gospel. The sermon proved very popular, being published in English in six editions during Foxe's lifetime and translated into Latin in 1571.

Reformatio legum ecclesiasticarum

It is significant that Foxe's first major project after the publication of the second edition of Acts and Monuments was editing the code of ecclesiastical law drawn up by Archbishop Cranmer in 1552. Foxe's interest in canon law reform went back twenty years to his De censura, and his publication of Cranmer's law code was an attempt to implement the new code of canon law which he had championed decades before. Yet the title Foxe gave to his edition of Cranmer's law code, Reformatio legum ecclesiasticarum, hints that Foxe's plans went further than reviving Cranmer's work. The introduction to Reformatio explicitly calls for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer and in fact the publication of Reformatio was part of a complicated scheme involving Thomas Norton to have parliament decree the removal of 'popish remnants' from the liturgy. The plan failed, however, and neither the canon-law code nor the revision of the prayer book were enacted.

Foxe's efforts to revise the prayer book cannot have been appreciated by Archbishop Parker, but the primate was perhaps mollified by Foxe's composition of a laudatory preface to an edition of the gospels printed in Anglo-Saxon characters, which was published under Parker's auspices in 1571 as The Gospels of the Fower Evangelistes (ESTC 2961).

Foxe resurrected another old project in 1572, expanding and restructuring Locorum communium tituli and publishing it as Pandectae locorum communium (ESTC 11239). Unlike its predecessor, this work enjoyed enough popularity to be reprinted once, in 1585, although it cannot be said to have had any lasting impact. Both Locorum communium tituli and Pandectae locorum communium were, as Foxe makes clear in his detailed introduction to the latter, designed as manuals to enable the reader to develop and improve his memory through systematic study. These books further demonstrate what is readily apparent in Acts and Monuments and Syllogisticon: Foxe's abiding interest in the twin arts of rhetoric and logic.

In autumn 1572 Foxe received his final preferment. Almost certainly through the efforts of James Pilkington, a fellow exile at Basel and now bishop of Durham, Foxe was presented to a prebend in Durham Cathedral. He was installed by proxy on 14 October 1572, but resigned the stall a year later. Foxe appears to have fallen victim to an effort by the Durham chapter to purge non-residents from their ranks; Thomas Lever, now archdeacon of Coventry, resigned a prebend there at exactly the same time.

Practical divinity and spiritual healing

Foxe had promised in the second edition of Acts and Monuments that he would edit a collection of the works of William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes; this duly appeared in January 1573. This book neatly combines two concerns that preoccupied Foxe for the remainder of his life. One of these concerns might be labelled apologetic: it was the desire to produce logical and theological arguments, buttressed by historical examples, which would induce Catholics and Jews to abandon their 'superstitions' and embrace the gospel. In the introduction to his edition of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes, Foxe expresses the hope that those who 'be not yet wonne to the worde of trueth, setting aside all partialitie and preiudice of opinion, woulde with indifferent iudgementes, bestow some reading and hearyng likewise of these [three authors]' (The Whole Workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, 2 vols., 1572–3, sig. A3v).

In his introduction Foxe also claims that the edition offered spiritual guidance to readers of all ages, advising young readers to study Frith, middle-aged readers Tyndale, and older readers Barnes (Whole Workes, sig. A2v). Behind his publication of the writings of reformers and martyrs lay his desire to supply models from the past for godly readers in the present; to supply practical divinity, as it were, by historical precedent. This pastoral concern underlies a remarkable series of translations edited by Foxe and colleagues, notably Henry Bull.

The first, and most important, of these was a translation of Luther's commentary on Galatians into English—A Commentarie … upon the Epistle to the Galathians (London, 1575; ESTC 16965). Foxe's involvement is established by the introduction, extolling Luther as a comforter of troubled consciences, which closely paraphrases statements Foxe had made in Acts and Monuments and also comments he had made twenty-five years before in a translation of one of Luther's sermons. Luther's commentary met a need; there were six editions in Elizabeth's reign, and its popularity and iconic status only increased in the seventeenth century.

Henry Bull died in 1577, leaving among his papers a translation of Luther's commentary on the psalms of ascent (A Commentarie upon the Fifteene Psalmes, 1577; ESTC 16975). Foxe encouraged its publication and provided an introduction, again extolling Luther as a great spiritual physician. Spiritual comfort, too, is stressed in Bull's edition of John Hooper's commentary on four psalms—Certeine Comfortable Expositions (1580; ESTC 13743). The introduction to this work, recommending it to 'the sorrowing soule, which gronest for releife' (sig. ❡4r), was written by ‘A.F.’, probably Foxe's wife, Agnes. John Foxe also contributed a commendatory preface to a translation by William Gace of some of Luther's sermons, published in 1578, as he did in the same year for William Hilton's translation of Urbannus Regius, The Sermon which Christ Made on his Way to Emaus (ESTC 20650). All these works were intended to serve a pastoral purpose, and show Foxe as an organizer, if not the organizer, of a series of works by earlier reformers, most notably Luther, designed to comfort afflicted consciences. Just as the young Foxe's translations of sermons or treatises by Luther, Oecolampadius, and Regius were meant for the edification of his friends, so the older, successful Foxe devoted his time and energy, and invested his prestige, in providing translations intended to give spiritual comfort to those in need.

If this activity was a continuation of interests that the martyrologist had held for decades, it was also an extension of Foxe's activities as a spiritual physician in London. Simeon wrote of his father:

There repaired to him, both Citizens and strangers, Noblemen, and Common-people of all degrees, and almost all for the same cause, to seek some salve for a wounded conscience. At length, some who were likewise sick in body, would needs be carried to him, but this to stop rumors, he would not suffer to be used. For because they were brought thither, they were by some reported to be cured.

Acts and Monuments, 1641, vol. 2, sig. B2r

Yet if Foxe refused to attempt to cure ordinary diseases, he was active in healing those who were believed to suffer from that most extraordinary affliction, demonic possession.

Foxe's most notable success in this field was with his dispossession of a lawyer named Robert Briggs, who had fallen into despair of his sinfulness and the impossibility of his attaining salvation. Briggs repeatedly attempted suicide and then, in April 1574, fell into mysterious seizures during which he would hold conversations with Satan and also with angels. It is evident from repeated references which Briggs made to Foxe in these colloquies that the martyrologist had been counselling the lawyer, and on 24 April Foxe visited Briggs in the Temple during one of his seizures. He led a group of bystanders in prayer, commanding the devil to depart in the name of Jesus, and Briggs immediately regained his senses. A few days later Briggs suffered another seizure, accompanied by the loss of his sight, but was restored to full health when the bystanders prayed, using a prayer which Foxe had presciently left behind for just such an emergency. Briggs's seizures ceased after 1 May and he was considered cured. The case created a sensation; four manuscript accounts of it survive, and there were other manuscript accounts which are now lost. These accounts of Foxe's success influenced the dispossessions of John Darrell and other early modern English exorcists.

A few months later, in July 1574, demons were allegedly cast out of two London girls named Agnes Briggs (no relation to Robert) and Rachel Pinder. This case also created a sensation and a pamphlet, A Verie Wonderfull Straunge Miracle, was published within a few weeks of the dispossession. Although he had not conducted the actual dispossession, Foxe had been involved in the treatment of the two girls. With Foxe's reputation swelled by two ‘miraculous’ cures, Archbishop Parker intervened. The primate claimed to be concerned by the prospect of fraud and disorder; he was probably at least equally motivated by fears of a vast increase in the prestige and charisma of as independent and potentially troublesome a figure as Foxe. Parker had the two purported demoniacs interrogated, and imprisoned the mother of one of them, while copies of A Verie Wonderfull Straunge Miracle were called in. On 15 August 1574 the girls did penance at Paul's Cross, publicly confessing that their possessions and cures had been fraudulent. But Parker was after bigger game. A book, The Disclosing of a Late Counterfeyted Possession (ESTC 3738), was published under the archbishop's auspices shortly afterwards. Foxe was not named in its preface, which rebuked those who deluded the people 'for the maintenaunce of their owne estimation' (Disclosing, sig. A2r). But he was clearly and explicitly named in the text of the work, so this constituted a stinging rebuke. Parker went so far as to deny the authenticity of all demonic possessions, denouncing as sorcerers those who claimed to expel demons.

The exposure of Briggs and Pinder as frauds, coupled with Parker's blanket condemnation of all possessions as frauds, ended Foxe's dramatic expulsions of evil spirits from demoniacs, but his extensive ministry among the spiritually afflicted continued. Foxe's organization of the translations of Lutheran works and his casting out of demons may seem to be unrelated activities but they were actually two facets of Foxe's work as a spiritual physician.

The third edition of Acts and Monuments

In 1576 John Day's son Richard returned from Cambridge, where he had been a divinity student, and began working for his father. It seems to have been Richard Day who was in charge of printing the third edition of Acts and Monuments; perhaps this was intended to be a baptism of fire for him. In the event, the decision to publish a new edition seems to have been made suddenly, with little advance planning by either John Day or Foxe. Hence the prevalence of basic typographical errors and a clear absence of any proof-reading, let alone the meticulous corrections of the previous edition. The rush to publish may have limited the amount of money Day could raise to print the edition; the edition, its colophon dated 27 June 1576, was printed in smaller type and on poorer quality paper than its predecessors. And Foxe, atypically, does not seem to have done extensive research for it. Nevertheless, Foxe did make his contribution to this edition, which did not merely reprint that of 1570. Although there was no substantial deletion from the earlier text, information from oral sources was added to the sections dealing with Mary's reign and the beginning of Elizabeth's. Some of the additional material, notably John Hale's admonitory oration to Elizabeth, printed for the first time in this edition, was undoubtedly intended to spur Elizabeth and those in authority to thorough reformation of the church. The edition of 1576 is the high water mark of Foxe's radicalism, and subsequent events cooled his ardour for ecclesiastical reform.

Samuel Foxe and Magdalen College

Samuel Foxe (1560–1630), who was born in the bishop's palace at Norwich on 31 December 1560, had been tutored in the duke of Norfolk's house. In October 1572, when he was almost twelve years old, Samuel entered the Merchant Taylors' School in London. Two years later he entered Magdalen, his father's old college. John Foxe wrote to his old friend Laurence Humphrey, the president of the college, asking him to take Samuel under his wing. Humphrey obliged and Samuel was elected a demy. Humphrey continued to take a close interest in Samuel's progress; at one point the president was personally coaching Samuel in Greek. Yet Humphrey's mentorship had its drawbacks; opposition to the president from more radical members of the college was mounting. The close association between Samuel Foxe and Humphrey made the martyrologist's son a target for the president's opponents.

A sign of trouble came in spring 1577, when John Foxe wrote to Humphrey, asking that his son's tutor, one of the most outspoken radicals in the college, be replaced with another tutor. In December 1577 Samuel Foxe left suddenly for France without obtaining a leave of absence. John Foxe persuaded his son to return and his intervention secured Samuel's readmission to the college without the imposition of any disciplinary measure. In 1579 the college elected Samuel a probationer fellow and he became a full fellow the next year. But in 1581 Samuel was expelled from his fellowship. His father, in a letter to a bishop, denounced those responsible for Samuel's expulsion as 'those factious puritans' and 'thrice pure puritans'. Claiming that Samuel was expelled not for any fault of his own but simply because he was Humphrey's supporter, John Foxe warned his correspondent that the faction that expelled Samuel threatened all bishops and indeed the very stability of the church (BL, Harley MS 416, fols. 152r–153r).

This letter indicates how deep a chasm Samuel's troubles at Magdalen had opened between Foxe and the radicals. In part this was a generational conflict between men like Foxe and Humphrey, who had once been in the vanguard of reform, and their more extreme successors. In Foxe's case, this conflict was sharpened by his anger at the treatment of his son. The result was a muting, even a cessation, of John Foxe's calls for the further reformation of the church. An indication of how sharply Foxe's views had altered came in a letter that he wrote to Archbishop Whitgift in 1584. Thirteen years earlier Foxe had fought for revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but now, though he could not bring himself to approve fully of Whitgift's programme of mandatory subscription to the prayer book, he saw it as an understandable reaction to young and factious agitators.

John Foxe's frenetic lobbying, which included appeals to Cecil and Grindal, ultimately saw Samuel restored to his fellowship by royal command. The latter, however, still felt uncomfortable at Magdalen where the tensions between Humphrey and his opponents were far from resolved, and in December 1582 he obtained a year's leave of absence to study overseas. He left England in spring 1583, and after obtaining a number of extensions to his leave, he stayed abroad, travelling and studying in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, until he returned to England in June 1586.

Heretics, Catholics, and Jews, 1575–1583

If one of Foxe's preoccupations was responding to the pastoral needs and afflicted consciences of the godly, another was trying to convert those who had not embraced the gospel. This second preoccupation dominated the works written in the final decade or so of his life. In April 1575 a conventicle of Flemish Anabaptists was arrested in London. Some of them recanted and others were banished from the realm, but others remained in prison under sentence of death. Possibly at the request of the Dutch Strangers' Church, Foxe intervened energetically on behalf of the condemned men. He wrote to the queen, Lord Burghley, the privy council, and one of the commissioners who had condemned them, urging that their sentences be commuted. Foxe also wrote to the Anabaptists, pleading with them to abandon their detestable opinions, and adding a long discourse on the humanity of Christ (which these Anabaptists had denied) to his letter. Despite his efforts, two Anabaptists were burnt at Smithfield on 22 July 1575; Foxe and his former protégé John Field were present.

In the letters he wrote on behalf of the Anabaptists, Foxe's deep abhorrence of the death penalty for heresy shines through. But this sentiment should not be confused with toleration. Foxe despised the Anabaptists' doctrines and was determined to eradicate such heresies from England. He approved of the banishment of the Anabaptists and urged exile, imprisonment, flogging, or branding as alternatives to execution. Most importantly, his fundamental argument for sparing the lives of the Anabaptists was his conviction that, if they were given enough time, they could be persuaded to recant their errors. Along with Foxe's determination to eliminate false religion went a profound conviction that it should, and could, be eliminated by persuasion rather than by force.

In 1563 Hieronymo Osorio da Fonseca, the bishop of Sylva, Portugal, had written a widely admired book urging Elizabeth to embrace Catholicism. Walter Haddon, a celebrated Latinist, responded in 1563, and Osorio replied in 1567. Haddon's second response was interrupted by his death in 1572. At Burghley's behest Foxe took up Haddon's pen and completed the work, in the end writing five-sixths of it. In doing so, Foxe followed his own agenda. In contrast to Haddon's point-by-point rebuttal of Osorio, Foxe dealt only with selected issues, but discussed them at enormous length. Thus a six-folio declaration by Osorio that Luther's teachings had led people to despair of their salvation was answered by a forty-one-folio discourse by Foxe on justification. Foxe's book was consequently less a rebuttal of Osorio than a treatise on theological issues in which he was particularly interested.

On 1 April 1577 Foxe preached a sermon at the baptism of a convert from Judaism at All Hallows, Bread Street. An expanded version of this sermon was printed in Latin in 1578 as De oliva evangelica (ESTC 11236). In his previous Sermon of Christ Crucified Foxe had contrasted the Catholic church with the true church. Now he not only made the same contrast between Judaism and the gospel, he also equated Judaism with Catholicism. Both were dominated by a priestly caste, both persecuted the followers of Christ, and both had replaced faith with a slavish addiction to law and ceremony. Just as Foxe had appealed to Catholics to accept the gospel, so he now appealed to Jews to do the same. It was typical of Foxe that he ended De oliva evangelica with an appeal to Christians to remove idols and superstitions (like the mass, purgatory, and clerical celibacy) from the church; these, he claimed, prevented the Jews from converting to Christianity.

In 1580 Foxe continued his attack on Catholicism, albeit anonymously, with his Papas confutatas (ESTC 11240). The work is divided into two parts, the first directed against the papal Antichrist, the second a treatise on the doctrinal errors of the Catholic church. Both parts were substantially compilations from earlier writings. Three years later he published his last work of anti-Catholic propaganda, De Christo gratis justificante (ESTC 11234). Ostensibly a further reply to Osorio, it was probably also a response to Edmund Campion's Decem rationes, as well as being directed to Foxe's favourite religious constituency, that of Christians afflicted in conscience. Revealingly, and remarkably, Foxe gave a copy of this treatise to Edmund Plowden, the eminent recusant lawyer. Throughout his dealings with Anabaptists, Jews, and Catholics, Foxe retained a remarkably positivist belief that they would be impressed by his arguments and a remarkably optimistic conviction that they were ripe for conversion.

The fourth edition of Acts and Monuments

In October 1583 the fourth edition of Acts and Monuments was printed. Unlike the previous edition, this one had been planned well before publication. As word circulated about the new edition Laurence Humphrey passed on to Foxe suggestions he had received for improving it. These included the use of better paper and more legible type, more extensive references, and the inclusion of all the material deleted from the previous editions (BL, Harley MS 416, fols. 203r–205r). Foxe and Day followed some of these suggestions. The new edition, which ran to about 2100 pages, was indeed printed on better paper and in larger type. Some of the material excised from earlier editions was restored but a great deal of it was not, and material was deleted. Offsetting this Foxe brought in more archival material, drawn from further research in the Tower records and in the registers of the privy council, and additional oral testimony. A highly personal addition, and one which adumbrated Foxe's next major project, was a digression in the narrative, 'The mysticall numbers in the Apocalyps opened', in which Foxe applied the chronology of events in Revelation to human history (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, 1583, 101).

Yet despite its enhanced size, improved physical appearance, and careful preparation, this edition was hurriedly printed. One document added to the text was dated 25 July 1583, only months before the edition was published. The reason for the haste was Day's failing health; for both personal and financial reasons he was anxious to see the edition completed. Day succeeded in this (he died on 23 July 1584), but at a certain cost to the edition. The proof-reading and correction processes were non-existent while the cross-references, which had hitherto been updated in each succeeding edition, were not revised, with the result that the notes in the fourth edition referred readers to the relevant pages in the third edition.

The fourth edition was the last edition of Acts and Monuments to appear in Foxe's lifetime. Five further unabridged editions of the work appeared in the next 101 years. Each contained significant additions of material (largely accounts of Catholic or prelatical ‘atrocities’ and introductory materials) reflecting the different agendas of its editors. Acts and Monuments remained a living and evolving text long after Foxe was dead.

Foxe's final years, 1583–1587

In June 1586 Samuel Foxe finally returned from abroad, and sought to secure the ‘lawyer's place’ among the fellows at Magdalen College. Despite Lord Burghley's support, he was unsuccessful, although he obtained the lesser ‘physician's place’. Meanwhile John Foxe took steps to secure his son's future. His brother-in-law Thomas Randall, who had leased Foxe's prebendal lands and tithes, died in 1585. John Foxe manoeuvred to have these leases settled on Samuel, so that the income from the prebend would remain with the Foxe family even after John's death. There was a difficulty in that Bishop John Piers of Salisbury, having already obtained the right to nominate Foxe's successor from the queen, had promised the prebend to his domestic chaplain (who was also his son-in-law). Foxe appealed to Whitgift for help and consequently Piers renounced his interest in the prebend. The leases were bestowed on Samuel Foxe and they remained in the hands of his descendants until 1761.

Despite his position at Magdalen College, Samuel stayed in London assisting his father with his last great project, a massive Latin commentary on Revelation. John Foxe died, at his house in Grub Street in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, while the work was in progress, on 18 April 1587, and Samuel published the incomplete book later that year and dedicated it to Whitgift. The Eicasmi, seu, Meditationes in sacram Apocalypsim (ESTC 11237) ran to 396 quarto pages even though it extended only to the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. It owes its length to its function as a systematic and historically detailed exegesis of Revelation along lines pioneered by John Bale, who maintained that the events described in this last book of the Bible as preceding the second coming of Christ were prophecies of events in human history, most of which could be identified as having already taken place. The framework of Foxe's commentary on Revelation rested on the foundations of Acts and Monuments. Thus Foxe's commentary on Revelation 8: 7 is followed by a six-page description of the first ten persecutions of the church, which is essentially a précis of the first section of Acts and Monuments. And, in a splendid example of the wheel's coming full circle, in order to support his novel identification of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague as the two witnesses described in Revelation, Foxe reprinted nearly forty pages from Acts and Monuments which, in turn, were reprinted from Flacius's work on Hus. To Foxe the Eicasmi was not only a guide to understanding the events in Revelation, it was a guide to understanding the events in Acts and Monuments as well.

John Foxe was buried in St Giles Cripplegate on 20 April 1587, with a memorial recording that he had died aged seventy. His widow, Agnes, continued to live in their house on Grub Street and a letter addressed to her there, from her son Samuel and dating from 1592 or 1593, survives among the Foxe family papers. She was almost certainly the Mother Foxe buried at St Giles Cripplegate on 22 April 1605.

Samuel Foxe and his father's papers

Samuel Foxe prospered after his father's death. In 1587 he entered the service of Sir Thomas Heneage, the queen's vice-chamberlain, and became his steward. It was thanks to Heneage's patronage that Samuel became MP for Midhurst in 1589 and for Knaresborough in 1593, and that he accumulated a substantial estate. On 15 August 1589 he married Anne Leveson (d. 1630), a kinswoman of Sir Thomas, and in a letter of 1628 was able to boast that he had spent £1000 in providing marriage portions for his two daughters, and that his estate was unencumbered by debt. He settled at Warlies, near Waltham Abbey, Essex, and died there in January 1630. In his will he made provision for a younger son, Robert, but the bulk of his property was bequeathed to his widow and eventually passed to his elder son, Thomas.

Samuel's greatest bequest, however, was made, indirectly, to posterity. On John Foxe's death Samuel came into possession of his father's library and his papers. Samuel was shrewd enough to see their value and dispersed them with care. At least some, perhaps all, of John Foxe's printed books were either sold or given to Archbishop Whitgift, who also acquired a number of manuscript works which had belonged to the martyrologist. An important collection of John Foxe's manuscripts, source materials for Acts and Monuments, and Bull's Letters of the Martyrs was given to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, some time between 1584 and 1597; whether this gift was made by John Foxe or Samuel Foxe is unknown. Other manuscripts were sold by Samuel to Lord William Howard of Naworth. In 1614, in celebration of Thomas Foxe's graduating MA at Magdalen, Samuel Foxe gave fourteen manuscript works formerly owned by his father to the college that had once expelled him. Samuel retained and conserved the greatest part of his father's papers, however, including all of his father's extant correspondence. These manuscripts remained in the hands of Samuel Foxe's descendants until the historian John Strype acquired them from Sir Thomas Willis, Samuel Foxe's great-grandson. Strype sold most of these manuscripts to Edward Harley, earl of Oxford; the remainder passed into the Lansdowne collection. Both sets of these manuscripts are now in the British Library.

Foxe's historical reputation

In his lifetime John Foxe was one of the most prominent members of the Elizabethan church. His translation of Luther's commentary on Galatians and his commentary on Revelation were both highly influential and popular for over a century after his death. He was a significant figure in the development of practical divinity and spiritual healing in England. Nevertheless all these achievements were overshadowed by Acts and Monuments, and Foxe's reputation after his death was completely intertwined with that of his great work. The romantic picture of people from all sections of English society devoutly studying Acts and Monuments in their parish church needs to be modified in the light of the limits of both early modern book production and early modern literacy. No sixteenth-century book could hope to be read by more than a minority of the population, and the diffusion of Foxe's work into the parish churches did not get seriously under way until the seventeenth century, reaching its height in the immediate aftermath of the civil war, just when his reputation was on the verge of a precipitous decline. Nevertheless through the first half of the seventeenth century Acts and Monuments was not merely a remarkably popular book but was one of immense, almost unquestioned, authority. It was also a work of direct relevance to its readers on a range of theological, apologetic, homiletic, and even political issues of central concern.

By the end of the seventeenth century, however, there was only one way in which Acts and Monuments could be of interest to large numbers of readers: as a compendium of atrocities, real and imagined, committed by Catholics against protestants and as a knife to twist in the wound of sectarian hatred. The last early modern unabridged edition of the work was printed in 1684 at the height of the exclusion crisis. In the future, however, editors did not even bother to reprint the entire work, but preferred to cut away the sections of it that did not suit their purposes, retaining only sensational episodes of torture and death, which, when taken together with equally sensational illustrations, gave Foxe's work a lurid quality which was certainly far from the author's intention. Fresh examples of such episodes, such as the Irish massacre of 1641, were added to these editions. The process of abridging Foxe's book and of adding material to it had begun almost immediately after his death. But between 1684 and 1832 the only editions of Foxe published were, through both abridgement and enlargement, works that bore little relation to the original and were merely topical anti-Catholic screeds. The Victorian unabridged editions of the work, first published in 1832, were similarly motivated by the desire both to stem increasing toleration of Catholicism and to bolster the evangelicals against the rising tide of high-church Anglicanism.

Foxe's reputation suffered greatly as a result of this partisan appropriation of his martyrology. On the one hand, fierce attacks, inspired by religious motivations, were launched in the first half of the nineteenth century against the accuracy of Acts and Monuments by Bishop John Milner, William Cobbett, William Eusebius Andrews, and, most importantly, Samuel R. Maitland. At the same time, the production of the new unabridged editions of Foxe, as well as the defence of the credibility of these editions and of Foxe himself, was undertaken by people of impeccable evangelical credentials but limited scholarship and ability. Maitland, who spearheaded the criticism of these new editions, which rapidly blossomed into a full-scale assault on Foxe's veracity and his abilities as a historian, was a learned and often perceptive critic, and his criticisms, while inspired by a deep aversion to low-churchmanship in all its forms, were not infrequently well founded. So complete was Maitland's victory over Foxe's nineteenth-century champions that, in the words of a Victorian Catholic writer, 'no one with any literary pretensions has since ventured to quote Foxe as an authority' (Trenow, 12).

The tide eventually turned in 1940 with the publication of J. F. Mozley's biography of Foxe. While overly sympathetic to his subject, Mozley nevertheless persuasively challenged many aspects of the dominant, excessively negative, evaluation of Foxe's work and initiated a rehabilitation of Foxe as a historian which has continued to this day. In 1963 William Haller produced a very influential study of the reception and impact of Acts and Monuments which, while poorly researched and surprisingly ill-informed about Foxe's text, did succeed in establishing the seminal influence of Foxe's work in early modern England.

Current scholarship has formed a more complex and nuanced estimate of the accuracy of Acts and Monuments than is afforded either by the hypercriticism of Maitland or the overestimation of Mozley. Foxe's great work is too large and the product of too many contributors to allow any unequivocal generalization on the subject. It would be rash to forget that Foxe not only was himself an assiduous researcher into oral and documentary sources, but he was in addition able to draw on the work of other scholars and on networks of informants. But it would also be imprudent to overlook that Foxe was an accomplished rhetorician with powerful motives for shaping and editing his material. It was rare, though not unknown, for him to invent material. But he edited, amended, and even rewrote his sources with alacrity. Perhaps he may be most profitably seen in the same light as a barrister pleading a case for a client he knows to be innocent and whom he is determined to save. Like the hypothetical barrister, Foxe had to deal with the evidence of what actually happened, evidence that he was rarely in a position to forge. But he would not present facts damaging to his client, and he had the skills that enabled him to arrange the evidence so as to make it conform to what he wanted it to say. Like the barrister, Foxe presents crucial evidence and tells one side of a story which must be heard. But he should never be read uncritically, and his partisan objectives should always be kept in mind.

The importance of Acts and Monuments is currently uncontested. It is at once both the most important narrative source for the English Reformation and a work that helped to shape its later development. Nevertheless serious study of this mighty work is still in its infancy. Foxe's manuscript collections have gone largely unexplored; indeed, their true extent was established only in the 1990s. And the immense size of the various editions, together with the variations between them, along with the readiness of modern scholars to rely on accessible but grossly deficient Victorian editions, have meant that a great deal of Foxe's martyrology remains practically unknown. At the beginning of the third millennium—a juncture Foxe would have been surprised to see humanity reach—it can at least be said that historians have become aware of the problems involved in understanding his methods, purposes, and achievements, as well as of the labour likely to be needed to solve them.


  • Foxe's correspondence, BL, Harley MSS 416–417
  • Simeon Foxe's memoir of his father and Foxe's letters from his days at Magdalen College, BL, Lansdowne MS 388
  • personal papers of John Foxe, BL, Harley MSS 418–426, 590, 716, 783
  • personal papers of John Foxe and his family, BL, Lansdowne MSS 335, 353, 389, 679, 819, 1045
  • S. Foxe, biographical memoir of John Foxe, in J. Foxe, Acts and monuments, 2 (1641)
  • J. Foxe, Christ Jesus triumphant, trans. R. Day (1607) [ESTC 11232; the dedication to this edition, and only this edition, contains valuable biographical detail on John Foxe]
  • J. G. Nichols, ed., Narratives of the days of the Reformation, CS, old ser., 77 (1859)
  • W. Nicholson, ed., The remains of Edmund Grindal, Parker Society, 9 (1843)
  • J. F. Mozley, John Foxe and his book (1940)
  • D. Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (1997)
  • D. Loades, ed., John Foxe: an historical perspective (1999)
  • G. Bray, ed., Tudor church reform: the Henrician canons of 1535 and the Reformatio legum ecclesiasticarum, Church of England Record Society, 8 (2000)
  • Two Latin comedies by John Foxe the martyrologist: Titus et Gesippus and Christus triumphans, ed. J. H. Smith (Ithaca, NY, 1973)
  • S. Wabuda, ‘Henry Bull, Miles Coverdale, and the making of Foxe's Book of martyrs’, Martyrs and martyrologies, ed. D. Wood, SCH, 30 (1993), 245–58
  • T. Freeman, ‘“The Good Ministrye of Godlye and Vertuouse Women”: the Elizabethan martyrologists and the female supporters of the Marian martyrs’, Journal of British Studies, 39 (2000), 8–33
  • T. Freeman, ‘John Bale's book of martyrs?: the account of King John in Acts and monuments’, Reformation, 3 (1998), 175–223
  • P. Collinson, ‘Truth and legend: the veracity of John Foxe's book of martyrs’, Elizabethan essays (1994), 151–77
  • T. Freeman, ‘Texts, lies and microfilm: reading and misreading Foxe's “Book of martyrs”’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 30 (1999), 23–46
  • J. Facey, ‘John Foxe and the defence of the English church’, Protestantism and the national church in sixteenth century England, ed. P. Lake and M. Dowling (1987), 162–92
  • B. Gregory, Salvation at stake: Christian martyrdom in early modern Europe (1999)
  • R. Bauckham, Tudor apocalypse (1978)
  • K. Frith, The apocalyptic tradition in Reformation Britain (1979)
  • P. Christianson, Reformers and Babylon: English apocalyptic visions from the Reformation to the eve of the civil war (Toronto, 1978)
  • T. Betteridge, Tudor histories of the English Reformations, 1530–83 (1999)
  • W. Haller, Foxe's book of martyrs and the elect nation (1963)
  • R. Helgerson, Forms of nationhood: the Elizabethan writing of England (Chicago, 1992)
  • J. R. Knott, Discourses of martyrdom in English literature, 1563–1694 (1993)
  • H. White, Tudor books of saints and martyrs (Madison, WI, 1967)
  • T. S. Freeman, ‘“The Reformation of the Church in this Parliament”: Thomas Norton, John Foxe and the parliament of 1571’, Parliamentary History, 16 (1997), 131–47
  • T. S. Freeman, ‘The importance of dying earnestly: the metamorphosis of the account of James Bainham in Foxe's Book of Martyrs’, The church retrospective, ed. R. N. Swanson, SCH, 33 (1997), 267–88
  • T. Freeman, ‘“The Reik of Maister Patrick Hammyltoun”: John Foxe, John Winram and the martyrs of the Scottish Reformation’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 27 (1996), 23–46
  • T. Freeman and M. Borges, ‘“A grave and heinous incident against our holy Catholic faith”: two accounts of William Gardiner's desecration of the Portuguese royal chapel in 1552’, Historical Research, 69 (1996), 1–17
  • T. Freeman, ‘Notes on a source for John Foxe's account of the Marian persecution in Kent and Sussex’, Historical Research, 67 (1994), 203–11
  • T. Freeman, ‘“A solemne contestation of divers popes”: a work by John Foxe?’, English Language Notes, 31 (1993–4), 35–42
  • C. Davies and J. Facey, ‘A Reformation dilemma: John Foxe and the problem of discipline’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 39 (1988), 37–65
  • M. Murphy, ‘John Foxe, martyrologist and “editor” of Old English’, English Studies, 49 (1968), 515–23
  • J. G. Rechtien, ‘John Foxe's Comprehensive collection of commonplaces: a renaissance memory system for students and theologians’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 9 (1978), 83–9
  • P. S. Dunkin, ‘Foxe's Acts and monuments, 1570, and single-page imposition’, Library, 5th ser., 2 (1947), 159–70
  • V. Norskov Olsen, John Foxe and the Elizabethan church (Berkeley, CA, 1973)
  • W. W. Wooden, John Foxe (Boston, 1983)
  • W. Winters, Biographical notes on John Foxe the martyrologist (1876)
  • C. M. Dent, Protestant reformers in Elizabethan Oxford (1983)
  • J. Woolfson, ‘The Paduan sojourns of Samuel and Simeon Foxe’, Quaderni dell' Universitá di Padova, 30 (1997), 111–24
  • D. Trenow, The credibility of John Foxe, the ‘martyrologist’ (1868)
  • GL, MS 6419/1, fol. 95r
  • parish register, Waltham Abbey [Samuel Foxe, burial]


  • BL, Add. MS 19400
  • BL, corresp. and papers, Harley MSS, Lansdowne MSS
  • Emmanuel College, Cambridge, MSS 260–262
  • BL, Harley MSS 416–426, 590, 783
  • BL, Lansdowne MSS 335, 353, 388, 389, 819, 1045
  • Inner Temple, London, Petyt MSS


  • oils, 1587, NPG [see illus.]
  • S. de Passe, line engraving, pubd 1620 (after unknown artist), BM, NPG
  • G. Glover, line engraving, BM, NPG; repro. in J. Foxe, Acts and monuments (1641)
  • W. and M. van de Passe, line engraving, BM, NPG; repro. in H. Holland, Herōologia (1620)

Wealth at Death

well off; Samuel Foxe: will, BL, Lansdowne MS 819, fol. 32r

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