Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This day in 1612

Since this is "time specific" and I've had it saved awhile, I'm breaking into the "Baptist origins" series with something a little different. Perhaps y'all need a break anyway. The post below in based on the Wikipedia entry for Edward Wightman, part of which I wrote:

Edward Wightman (1566 - 1612) has the peculiar distinction of being the last person in England to be executed for heresy by burning at the stake.

In 1611, Wightman presented a petition of his beliefs to King James. For his trouble, he was tried and found guilty of heresy. He was given the sentence of death on December 14, 1611. The charges against him included that he believed "the baptizing of infants is an abominable custom; that the Lord's Supper and baptism are not to be celebrated as they now are in the Church of England; and that Christianity is not wholly professed and preached in the Church of England, but only in part." These charges were doubtless true, and many wild charges were added to them. Some contemporaries said that if Edward Wightman held all the opinions he was accused of, he would have been either an idiot or a madman. Further, they added, if true, he ought to have had sympathy rather than a cruel death.

Wightman was tied to the stake and his body burned on April 11, 1612. In that same year Thomas Helwys wrote
A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, a plea for religious liberty in England. 1

A few were executed for religious reasons after Wightman, but he was the last person to be burned at the stake in England.

1. Search "Google Books" for Helwys' "Mystery of Iniquity". I think you will find it is a free book you can read online.

No comments: