Archive for category Martyr George Marsh

On this day 12th March 1554

On this day in 1554, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a farmer and preacher by the name of George Marsh. At that time Marsh was a Curate in the Church of England and had been to Cambridge and had run a school and ministered in both London and Lincoln. Upon learning the Church of England had swayed over to popular culture and had committed the apostate act of bowing the knee to Roman Catholicism, Marsh left his ministry and returned to his home town to preach in Bolton, Deane, Bury, and Eccles. A warrant was issued by the Earl of Derby for preaching without a licence, and after hearing about this Marsh wondered around the area of Deane Church, and the following morning he received a letter from a friend who advised that he should in no wise flee, but abide and “boldly confess the faith of Jesus Christ.”

In those days, the authorities gave the reformers the option of either leaving the country and going to Germany or Geneva. At that time the reformation was in full bloom in those countries. After reading the letter Marsh chose to stay and handed himself in to the local sheriff, master Barton.

It was a very costly decision. Marsh stood a small trial at Smithills Hall, and was sent to Latham, Lancaster, and eventually to Chester where he was burned at the stake on April 24, 1555.

May we never forget.


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Relics of Deane Church and Peel Chapel found!

Recently I had the honour of finding two historic relics connected to the ancient Parish Church of Deane. These wooden artefacts are mysterious and contain distinct wood carvings and contain the dates 1632 and 1760.

But what could they be? Well, as the picture shows they appear to be designed as frames to display items. This implies the intention behind these designs may well have been to hold objects of historic or cultural significance. Another possibility is that they were designed to hold family portraits and wood from two buildings that have survived the passage of time.

When these relics were brought to my attention, I recognised the reference to Deane Church. I immediately contacted Lee Higson (CVM, Lay minister C of E) and local Church historian Eric Morgan. Upon viewing the second relic I recognised a link. The reference to Peel Chapel implied these relics were artefacts preserved from internal structures and a building that has long disappeared. Peel Chapel was built in 1760 and demolished in 1874, and was a daughter Church of Deane.

The artefacts read:

Relic of Deane Church 1632

Relic of Peel Chapel 1760

The word relic is an interesting one and can have multiple meanings. The most common usage refers to venerated items of a saint. The church of Rome for example has many examples of relics allegedly connected to passages of Scripture or the lives of saints. In that context they are generally regarded as First, Second or Third Class Relics. Another usage is Contact Relics. However, I do not believe these items have anything to do with these classes or distinctions.

I believe these artefacts are what is known as Cultural Relics. This means the items are part of something that has long disappeared. They are basically keep sakes, recycled from historic structures of Deane Church and Peel Chapel.

These finds are thrilling and a special moment for any historian or history fanatic. For me, finding these relics was an extra special delight since Deane Church is the ancient place of worship once attended by George Marsh (1515-1555). As a Curate, Marsh ministered in this very Church, and is also the subject of a historical biographical documentary I released in 2014. Although there is no evidence the relics relate to Marsh, a 17th century Puritan link is possible.

Bolton and Deane was known historically as the Geneva of Lancashire and the tradition that 17th century Puritans would often get together and read the letters of George Marsh is widely established. These meetings are said to have taken place around the Noon Hill, Rivington Moor area. It should be noted that 1632 (the date on the relic) was the date when Charles 1 issued a charter for the colony of Maryland and 1620-1640 is the official timeframe for the Puritan Migration to New England. Maybe the first of the two relics are connected to structures or pews once used by Puritans in Deane Church?

These relics have now been returned back to the C of E. But what these relics are is a matter for research and discussion. How they will contribute to the history of Deane Church and Peel Chapel remains to be seen.

What can be certain is that finds like these can inspire hope that there is a future within the Church of England.

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WILLIAM SALESBURY The Man from Llansannan, now on YouTube

Hello all, I trust you are well. Here is some good news: my long awaited documentary on 16th century Welsh Bible translator William Salesbury is now available from free viewing on YouTube.

To introduce the narrative, William Salesbury was a Welsh man who lived in the 16th century and sought for many years to publish a New Testament in his own language. At that time the Welsh language was being ignored, but Salesbury cared greatly for his own people and wanted to preserve the Welsh language and give the Welsh speaking people a Bible that they could call their own. In order to see his quest fulfilled, he himself underwent much travelling and suffering.

William Salesbury is a hero of Wales and a historically mysterious character and today many have never even heard of him. Yet his legacy has continued on for over 400 years. With this in mind, it should be no surprise to learn that the documentary has taken me many years to complete and I have chosen release it this year, because 2020 is the 500th anniversary of his birth.

Today, (April 17) is also the day Luther went before the diet of Worms. History is not unfamiliar with suffering. So let us remember, even though suffering continues and the world appears to be uprooted and in a mess, let us know that Christ is King and Sovereign. The Bible says that Jesus Christ upholds “all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1: 3)

So focus your attention on the Word of your souls health and take some time out from ‘COVID-19’ and uplift your souls and read, read, read the New Testament.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forevermore.


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George Marsh 500th anniversary sermon now on YouTube

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George Marsh, Martyr 500th anniversary 2015

Marsh 500th anniversary sermon flyer

Marsh 500th anniversary sermon flyer

This year 2015 is the anniversary of the births of Scottish reformer John Knox, 17th century Puritan Richard Baxter and of the Protestant Reformed martyr, George Marsh.

Marsh was born in Deane, Bolton in 1515. He was a farmer by trade and married at the age of 25 and upon the death of his wife around 1548-49, he attended Cambridge during the English reformation and became Curate to Lawrence Saunders. He was hunted down during the reign of Mary Tudor and he handed himself in at Smithills hall, Bolton. He stood trial at Lathom House, and was imprisoned at Lancaster Castle and taken to Chester where he would stand trial at the Cathedral and where he was condemned a heretic and burned alive at the stake in Spittle Boughton on April 24th 1555.

As part of this, I think it is vital to the Christian Church that we always remember our own history and that we keep alive the memory of those who suffered for the testimony to the Word of God.

During the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-1558), at least 300 Protestant Christians were executed for their refusal to submit to the doctrines and demands of the Roman Catholic Church. They held the Bible in their hands and could not deny what is written in favour of the doctrines of men.

Today there are many political spin doctors within large Churches who seek to remember the reformation but move on from it. But the truth be told, we can’t. We see the likes of Rick Warren trying to persuade people to unite with Rome and look to what unites us rather than what divides us. But when its all said and done, the divide is made: The Roman Catholic Church has made the division and their views of Protestants are far more extreme than any fundamentalist Protestant could ever be.

In 1995 Pope John 11 apologised for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in burnings at the stake, yet in reality it was not his place to apologise in the 20th century for something that happened in the 16th century. Each man is responsible for his own actions, not for the deeds of others.

My aim is not to create more division between Protestants and Catholics, because as far as I am concerned, the divide is made. Anyone who believes what is written in the Bible cannot have unified fellowship with any Churches who forthright deny the Truth. We can talk together, debate together, reason together, and learn to live without harming anyone, but we cannot unite as one in Faith. On that we must stand strong.

The reformers of the 16th century knew this and they would not conform to false teaching no matter what the cost. George Marsh was one of them and he lost everything for the cause of the Gospel, even his own life.

My appeal to all Churches throughout the world who hold to the Reformed tradition, would you please consider remembering the life of the martyr and indeed all the martyrs at this vital time in our history. It is important to stress that this 500th anniversary will never occur again, so it is the responsibility of the Christian Church to remember our brethren in Christ.

Deane Church, Bolton. Marsh's local Church.  © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

Deane Church, Bolton. Marsh’s local Church.
© 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

If you have access to a pulpit and your a Deacon, or Dean, Curate, Priest, Elder or Pastor and are willing to tell this story at your local Church, you can find the story of George Marsh in the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. If you do not have a copy, you can find it online or you can find sources at Deane Church’s website or if you wish, you can watch a documentary I produced on Marsh which is available free on YouTube

I will also be giving a sermon on the life of George Marsh on Sunday 19th April 2015 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Manchester. All welcome.

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George Marsh, Martyr 500th anniversary appeal 2015

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“Martyr George Marsh” Revelation TV premier

Martyr George Marsh poster-003Special thanks to Tim Vince and the folks at Revelation TV and the Lancashire County Council Corporate Communications Team (Lancaster Castle) the first ever documentary on “Martyr George Marsh” will be given a Network premier this month. George Marsh’s story is recorded for us in the “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” and the documentary is scheduled for a midnight showing on the evening of Monday 9th, that is technically Tuesday 10th June, and again at 12: 30 am on Saturday 14th June 2014.

  • Details are as follows;
  • Tuesday 10th June 2014 at 12 am.
  • Saturday 14th June at 12: 30 pm.

Thanks everybody. Praise the Lord!


Click to access sc-jun-2014.pdf

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Commemoration George Marsh, Martyr. Burned at the stake, 24/4/1555


Chester Cathedral   © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Chester Cathedral
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

On this day many years ago on 24th April 1555, George Marsh, Martyr was burned at the stake in West Chester for his testimony and faithfulness to the Word of God. This weekend, (Saturday 26th April) Protestants in Chester will gather in the afternoon for a public commemoration to Marsh outside the Town Hall and will walk to the site of his execution.

He was the only Protestant to be Martyred in the North of England and it was on this day so many years ago when this powerful, yet horrific event occurred.

In memory to him and to all the faithful Martyrs of Christ, I add this little tribute with my slightly more modern spelling of the original narrative, of which John Foxe had this to say;

“When the time and day appointed came that he should suffer: the Sheriffs of the City (whose names were Amry & Couper) with their officers and a great number of poor simple Barbers, with rusty Bills & Pole axe’s, went to the Northgate & there took out the said George Marsh, who came with them most humbly & meekly, with a lock upon his feet. And as he came upon the way towards the place of execution, some folks offered him money, & looked that he should have gone with a little purse in his hand (as the manner of felons was, accustomed in that City in times past, at their going to execution) to the end to gather money to give unto a Priest to say masses for them after their death, whereby they might (as they thought) be saved: but Marsh said he would not be troubled with meddling with money, but willed some good man to take the money, if the people were disposed to give any, and to give it unto the prisoners or poor people.

Chester Northgate   © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Chester Northgate
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

So he went all the way unto his death, with his book in his hand, looking upon the same, and many of the people said: this man goes not unto his death as a thief, or as one that deserves to die.

Now when he came to the place of execution without the City, near unto Spittle boughton, one Cawdrey, being then deputy of Chester, showed Marsh a writing under a great seal, saying that it was a pardon for him if he would recant. Where at Marsh answered, that he would gladly accept the same (and said farther, that he loved the Queen) but for as much as it tended to pluck him from God, he could not receive it upon that condition.

After that, he began to speak to the people showing the cause of his death, and would have exhorted them to stick unto Christ. Whereupon one of the Sheriffs said: George Marsh, we must have no sermonizing now. To whom he said, “Master, I cry you mercy” and so kneeling down made his Prayers, and then put of his clothes unto his shirt, and then was he chained unto the post, having a number of sticks under him, and a thing made like a firkin, with pitch and tar in the same over his head: and by reason that the fire was unskillfully made, and that the wind did drive the flame to and fro, he suffered great extremity in his death, which not withstanding he abode very patiently.

Wherein this in him is to be noted, that when as he had been a long time tormented in the fire without moving, having his flesh so broiled and puffed up that they which stood before him could not see the chain wherewith he was fastened, and therefore supposed no less but he had been dead, not withstanding suddenly he spread abroad his arms, saying “father of heaven have mercy upon me, and so yielded his spirit into the hands of the Lord.

Upon this, many of the people said that he was a Martyr, and died marvelously patiently and godly. Which thing caused the Bishop shortly after to make a Sermon in the Cathedral Church, and therein affirmed, that the said Marsh was an heretic, burnt like an heretic, and was a firebrand in hell.

In recompense of this his good and charitable Sermon, within short time after, the just judgement of GOD appeared upon the said Bishop: recompensing him in such wise, that not long after he turned up his heels and died.

George Marsh Memorial at Chester © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

George Marsh Memorial at Chester © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Upon what cause his death was, I have not here precisely to pronounce, because the rumour and voice of the people is not always to be followed. Not withstanding such a report went in all men’s mouths, that he was burned of an harlot. Whereupon whether he died or no, I am not certain, neither dare lean too much upon public speech. Albeit this is certain, that when he was after ward searched being dead, by some of his secret friends & certain Aldermen for stopping the rumour of the people, this maidenly Priest and Bishop was found not to be free from certain appearance, which declared but small virginity in him, and that the rumour was not raised up altogether upon naught, among the people. But of this I will stay, & proceed no farther, not because more can not be said, but because I will not be so uncharitable in defacing these men, as they are cruel in condemning Gods servants to death.”

John Foxe. Acts and Monuments (1576)

George Marsh. 1515-1555. In Memoriam.



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George Marsh, Martyr: On this day ’12th of March’

Smithills Hall   © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Smithills Hall
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

George Marsh, the Protestant Marty was burned alive at the stake in West Chester on April 24th 1555.

His story is told in ‘Acts and Monuments’ known as ‘The Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’ by John Foxe.

He was born in 1515 in Deane, Bolton and lived his early life upon a farm and married around 1540 at the age of 25. He and his wife had several children and upon her death around 1548-49, Marsh secured his children with their grandparents (a common practice in those days) and left Lancashire and went to Cambridge. There he studied the Bible and Reformed doctrine and soon became a Curate to Laurence Saunders. He is also said to have become employed by King Edward V1.

In 1553 King Edward V1 died and Mary 1 came to the throne. She imposed Roman Catholicism upon England and many Protestants were burned alive at the stake during her reign. Marsh planned to leave England for Germany and he returned to Lancashire.

Between January – February 1554 Marsh preached at the Parishes of Eccles, Bury, Bolton and Deane.

Smithills Hall © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Smithills Hall
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

On 12th Marsh 1554, Master Barton of Smithills hall sent his servants to find George Marsh by order of the Earl of Derby. They search for him around Deane and Bolton. The following day, Marsh surrendered willingly at Smithills Hall and he was sent to Lathom House, near Ormskirk, where he stood trial accused of heresy before the 3rd Earl of Derby. Marsh was imprisoned at Lathom and was later sent to Lancaster Castle where he was imprisoned for around 8 months.

Around November/December 1554 he was taken to Chester with the Bishop of Chester Dr George Cotes and there he stood trial a number of times and was imprisoned at the Northgate. He was condemned a heretic and to be burned alive at the stake on 24th April 1555.

Marsh never recanted his faith in Jesus Christ as head of the Church, and the Word of God as the rule of Faith and practice. He would not deny justification by Faith alone or the Reformed/Biblical position concerning the Eucharist.

He died because he was loyal to the God of the Bible and His revealed Word.

A true man of Faith. A true Christian. And it was on this day so many years ago that his trial began.

Ne obliviscaris‘.

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“Martyr George Marsh” Internet premier on YouTube

Watch it now from 5Th November 2013

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