Patrick Hamilton was a man who was awakened to the truths of Scripture upon hearing Martin Luther’s teaching. He and some friends then went to attend the University of Marburg (this was Europe’s first Protestant university). After his time at University, Patrick Hamilton was very anxious to return home and share these wonderful truths with his friends and neighbors. And this is just what he did upon returning to Scotland. It was not long before the archbishop of St. Andrews, James Beacon, put a stop to this. Hamilton was called to appear before the archbishop where he was arrested and appeared the next day before a council of bishops. He was charged with the following:
“… he had publicly disapproved of pilgrimages, purgatory, prayers to saints, prayers to the dead, the mass, and denied the infallibility of the pope.” Source pg 98
As you can imagine, Hamilton’s ‘crimes’ were punishable by death. But not just any death, a torturous slow death.
When they brought Hamilton to the stake, he knelt down and prayed fervently for some time. When finished, he was chained to the stake and faggots* were piled around him. A bag of gunpowder was then placed in each armpit and set on fire first, but they did not explode and only scorched his arms and face and did not injure him otherwise or start the faggots* on fire. So more gunpowder and some dry kindling was brought and set among the faggots and lit. The gunpowder did not explode but did ignite and fire quickly flamed up around Hamilton. As the flames engulfed him, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! How long will darkness overwhelm this realm? And how long will you allow the tyranny of these men?” Apparently, however, the faggots* themselves were green, and after the initial fire died down they burned slowly and caused him great anguish. Source pg 98
*Faggots are a bundle of sticks/twigs bound together used as kindling.
Let us never forget what men like Patrick Hamilton suffered to get people back to the true Word of God. I thank God that these men bravely stood up for truth in Scripture – no matter the cost! Praise the Lord that Hamilton’s prayer was answered … darkness and tyranny did not reign forever.
(Mr. Hamilton’s death took place in the year 1527.)