Thomas Garret or Garrard

Thomas Garret ( or Garrard)  was a curate to Roger
Forman, rector of All Hallows church in Cheapside, London.  Described
as a plain man of lively imagination  he was possessed of a `delicate
conscience` and of a timid disposition. But as with so many of the unsung
workers of the Reformation he was bold in his faith. With him and his
colleagues the momentum  for freeing the minds of the people
gathered pace. These were the men prepared to face all the dangers to
store and sell copies of forbidden books knowing that they risked a charge
of heresy and death by fire.

It was to Honey Lane and Thomas Garret
that five Hanseatic merchants took their wares in 1525, miraculously
avoiding searches from customs waiters at the port of London, papal spies
and the agents of Bishop Tunstall. Garret was already being watched for
his preaching which included `reformist` phrases that faith alone would
save man. However, having access to these forbidden books, he was
stimulated to read them and become not only student, librarian and
preacher, but also trader. Having supplied the London area and dispersed
the Word from there, Garret decided to take his wares to Oxford where he
had been educated, and perhaps where the Word was needed most – in a
stronghold of traditional catholicism. In January 1526 Garret set up his
stall with the help of Anthony Dalaber ( who held the stock of books) and
began to stealthily sell his books to the students. These included
Tyndale`s  translation of the New Testament in English.

 The pursuit of Garret soon began
in earnest with a formal order from Wolsey to the bishops on Saturday 3
February 1526; the particular objective was to root out the copies of the
New Testament in Oxford, Cambridge and London. By the Tuesday following, 6
February, friends hastened to warn Garret to take flight, while purchasers
of the banned books were alarmed at the thought of an Inquisition. Dalaber
gave Garret a letter introducing him to his brother , rector of Stalbridge
in Dorset, who needed a curate, and from there Garret could proceed
abroad. Dalaber himself, took great pains to hide the remaining stock of
books which he had at  St Alban`s Hall including the New Testament of
Tyndale, some of Luther`s works, and those of Oecolampadius.

On his trek to Dorset Garret suffered
great pangs of conscience, not wishing to disguise himself and
hypocritically appear to support the very beliefs he opposed. He resolved
to turn back and by evening of Friday 9 February, lay in his bed at Oxford
awaiting the arrival of Wolsey`s agents. They duly arrived after midnight
and dragged him before Dr Cottisford the commissary of the university, who
placed him in secure custody while messengers hastened to tell Wolsey of
the capture. Garret managed to escape from the room and hurried to find
Dalaber, but in so doing he possibly gave away his friends connection to
him and location at Gloucester College. Taking a change of clothes from
his frock and hood to a more common sleeved coat, Garret then fled and
Dalaber took refuge with friends at St Alban`s Hall.

Garret hastened westward, hoping to make
the security of Wales but at Hinksey, not far from Oxford he was taken and
brought back to imprisonment. He was arraigned before Dr London, Warden of
New College, and Dr Higdon, Dean of Christs College and duly declared a
heretic. He was perhaps fortunate that a great show was desired to
demonstrate the power of the priests and he was sentenced, along with many
others of the students, to carry a faggot  in open procession and
made to burn their books on a huge bonfire made for the purpose in the
market place in Oxford. Garret and Dalaber were then confined at Osney.
How long they lay there is uncertain save that Garret appears to have

In 1528 Garret was arraigned before the
bishops of London, Lincoln,

Bath and Wells where a list of charges were alleged against him. However,
He managed to evade his pursuers until Easter 1540  when he was
seized and cast into the Tower alongside Dr Barnes. On 30 July 1540 he was
burnt at Smithfield with Dr Barnes and William Jerome, the vicar of

The burning of Barnes, Garret and

The prelates got their way eventually,
but not before Garret had made his
contribution to the Reformation and distributed the Word throughout
England. The dissemination of the English New
Testament to the people was vital to the Reformation; and those who undertook this work
deserve the  fullest credit.

A particular irony of the day of
execution was that on the same day and in the same place three papists
named Powel, Fetherstone and Abel were also executed. They had been
accused of treason in that they refused to acknowledge the superiority of
the King. In the Privy Council there was an even divide between those who
demanded death for religion and those who demanded death by law. The three
Roman Catholics
were executed by hanging, drawing and quartering for the crime of popery.