Arraignment of John Hodgkins (undated: late 1590 or early 1591)

John Hodgkins joined the Marprelate project in July 1589, apparently recruited in London by Humphrey Newman, the primary distributor of the tracts (documents 15-16). Hodgkins does not appear in the records of the Stationers’ Company, and might have gained his printing experience on the Continent. He was apparently trained as a “saltpeterman,” leading Matthew Sutcliffe to comment that he was “a good printer for such saltpeter and gunnepowder workes” (Answere, 71r). But his two assistants, Valentine Simmes and Arthur Thomlin, were both licensed printers. The work was dangerous and illegal, so Hodgkins swore the two to secrecy, and promised Simmes twenty pounds a year and Thomlin eight pounds; Hodgkins in addition would provide both with their meat and drink (document 11).

After their capture near Manchester on August 14, 1589, Hodgkins, Simmes, and Thomlin were questioned by the Earl of Derby, and then sent to London where they were examined by the Privy Council on August 24. Proving reluctant witnesses, they were imprisoned in Bridewell and a special committee appointed to interrogate them (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XVIII, 59). That committee was equally unsuccessful in extracting useful information, so the three printers were transferred to the Tower in September with instructions “to put them all to the torture” if they continued unforthcoming (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XVIII, 62). Hodgkins claims in his arraignment that his subsequent confession had been forced “by rackinge and great tormentes,” but one of his judges protests that Hodgkins “did verie shamefully” because “himself being present at the examinacion which conteyned noe more in effect then he him self volentorilie confessed.”

Simmes and Thomlin were examined on October 10, 1589, but Hodgkins was left to sit with his thoughts in the Tower until November 27 and 28 (examinations not extant, but summarized in documents 15 - 17). Symmes and Thomlin were examined once again on December 10
(document 11), revealing for the first time the role of Job Throkmorton in the project: the printers had apparently up that point been protecting him. Hodgkins appears to have been examined once more in December, to follow up on information provided by Simmes and Thomlin: document 16, compiled in early 1590, cites evidence provided from Hodgkins confirming the role of Throkmorton that he had not revealed in November.

Hodgkins would remain in the Tower until July 1590, when he was transferred to the Marshalsea prison in Southwark (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XIX, 308). At some point later that year or in early 1591, he was tried on the charge that printing Theses Martinianae violated the statute of 23 Elizabeth, chapter 2 because it promoted sedition and offered “slaunder to her Majestie.” Hogkins fights the charges, defending himself on various technical points. But his judges respond to all his objections, and Hodgkins concludes the arraignment “in verie submise” manner: “he renounced his former assercons and humblie praied the lords for his life & the furtherance to her Majestie for her favor.” He was sentenced to death: in May 1591, the Privy Council reminded Archbishop Whitgift that the time of execution appointed for Hodgkins, Humphrey Newman, and John Udall “draweth vearie neare” and asked that the three prisoners be invited once more to acknowledge their default, sign submissions, and beg for leniency from the Queen (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XXI, 130). Newman’s submission is extant (British Library Add. MSS 48064, fol. 181v). Hodgkins’ does not survive, but he apparently signed one: Matthew Sutcliffe notes that Hodgkins owed his escape from hanging and release to the Queen’s mercy (Answere, 72r).

Source: British Library Add. MS 48064 fol. 146 (formerly Yelverton MS, vol. 70). Printed in Pierce (1908), 333-35.


Jo: Hodgskins arraigned uppon the stat [statute] of 23 Eliz. for printinge
of thes matiname [Theses Martinianae].

It was proved by the confession: of the partie him self and of one Simes and Tomlins which were servantes hired by the saide Hodgkins did print the booke above saide the place was in Mr Wigstones house in Com. Warr: [county of Warwick]. The authers of the booke was confessed by the parties above named to be Mr Jobe Throckindton of Warwickshire by these circumstances first when that Hodgkins had gotten first those his under printers redie and had sworne them by a corporall [oath] they not to discover anie thinge they should print he then appointed them to goe to Coventrie where they should print certaine accidents [i.e., a grammar textbook] but he him self went to Mr Throckintones house where he met Penery with whome he abode there all that night. The next morninge takinge leave of the saide Throckmortone Mr Penry would needes bringe him one [on] his waye whereas the[y] were walkinge towardes Warwicke the[y] founde in [the] path within a boult shoote of the house a great part of the saide theses [Martinianae] which the saide Hodgk: tooke upp and printed and before the fin[i]shinge of that work Mr Throck: came to them usinge there print and expoundinge certaine obscure interlines unto the printers demaunding further of the said Hodgk: whether the said Symes and Tomlynes were fitt men for the purpose wherein Hodgk: then satisfied him. It appeared by the conf[ession] of they [the] parties above named taken before the lords of the [privy] counsell and by the circumstances precedent that this booke was devised chiefly by the said Throck: as also he is thought to be the auther of Martin senior and More worke for the cooper for that & as they said Symes and Tomkines conf[essed] they sawe the Coppies written which the[y] should have printed which were all of one hand with the other booke called theses. Hodgk: uppon his arr[est] did at thefirst appeale to her Majesties mercie but when the pointes cont[ained] in the inditment beinge ten in number were urged against him and plainly proved to cont[ain] matter of sedicion and slaunder to her Majestie and the state he stoode them verie confidently to the justifinnge of the saide booke, bouldly affirminge that nothinge therin cont[ained] was reprochfull or slaunderous to her Majestie or the state untill at the length beinge therein notable convinced he then protested that he knewe not the authors meaninge therein affirminge that he did print the saide booke with [i.e., without] anie such malicious intent against her Majestie or the state as in that intent he was charged for wherunto he was answeared that not the intent which might be secret but the fact of the partie must shewe his minde and because the matters in the booke are sedicious turbulent and rebellious and the devise therof by the lawe to be within compasse of fellonie the printer also by express wordes and judged by the same lawe to be in the same degree of fellonie as the deviser yet the saide Hodgk: uppon his innocencie herein much insested till in the end he vehemently urged and claimed the benefit of a certaine premise in the said statut wherein provision is made that the partie accused must be manifestly convinced by twoe wittnesses produced viva voce and that within one moneth after the fact before one Justice of peace or els must be indicted thereof within one yere next after the offence where as nowe they wanted witnesses and also that one yere and more was since the first impression. This proviso was reade and it appeared plainly that none could take benefit thereof but only those offend[ing] by speaking and reportinge and printers and writers plainely exempted. Then hee protested that the confessions of the said Symes and Tomlynes had bene violent[ly] extorted from them and by his one confession he was forced thereunto by rackinge and great tormentes whereuppon Justice [Philip] Gawdie protested that he did verie shamefully himself being present at the examinacion which conteyned noe more in effect then he him self volentorilie confessed namely [that he was] the printer of the saide booke. Lastly he acknowledged the degree of Bishoppes but not of Lord Bishoppes Archbishoppes, after all these matters produced against him he would no[t] resist from allowinge the book till they that had [i.e., they had] found him guiltie, at what time in verie submise manner he renounced his former assercons and humblie praied the lords for his life & the furtherance to her Majestie for her favor.

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