Hamont, Matthew (DNB00)

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HAMONT, MATTHEW (d. 1579), heretic, was a ploughwright at Hethersett, Norfolk, five miles from Norwich. In the Hethersett parish registers the name is spelt Hamonte, Hammonte, and Hammante. He was probably of Dutch origin. Early in 1579 he was cited before Edmund Freake [q. v.], bishop of Norwich, on a charge of denying Christ. The articles exhibited against him represented him as a coarse kind of deist, holding the Gospel to be a fable, Christ a sinner, and the Holy Ghost a nonentity. That he was a man of religious character is clear from a reference to him (not previously quoted) by William Burton (d. 1616) [q. v.], who says: ‘I haue knovven some Arrian heretiques, whose life hath beene most strict amongest men, whose tongues haue beene tyred with scripture upon scripture, their knees euen hardned in prayer, and their faces wedded to sadnesse, and their mouthes full of praises to God, while in the meane time they haue stowtly denied the diuinitie of the Sonne of God, and haue not sticked to teare out of the Bible all such places as made against them; such were Hamond, Lewes, and Cole, heretikes of wretched memorie, lately executed and cut off in Norwich.’ Other authorities describe Hamont as an Arian. He was condemned in the consistory court on 13 April, and handed over to the custody of the sheriff of Norwich. His offences were aggravated by a further charge of ‘blasphemous words’ against the queen and council, for which he was sentenced to lose his ears, and for his heresy to be burned alive. On 20 May 1579 his ears were cut off in the Norwich market-place, and he was burned in the castle moat. More than a century later the case excited the curiosity of Philip van Limborch, the remonstrant theologian, who corresponded on the subject in 1699 with John Locke. Hamont left a widow, who died in 1625; he had a son Erasmus. John Lewes, mentioned above, was burned at Norwich on 18 Sept. 1583; Peter Cole, a tanner of Ipswich, met the same fate at Norwich in 1587.

[Burton's Dauid's Euidence, 1592, pp. 125 sq.; Collier's Eccles. Hist. (Barham) 1840, vi. 608 sq.; Wallace's Antitrin. Biography, 1850, ii. 364 sq., and references there given; Spears' 'Historical Sketch' in Record of Unitarian Worthies (1877), p. 8.]

A. G.