Gerard, Thomas (DNB00)

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GERARD, GARRET, or GARRARD, THOMAS (1500?–1540), divine, matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 9 Aug. 1517, graduating B.A. in June 1518, and M.A. in March 1524. Some time during his residence at Oxford he removed to Christ Church, then Cardinal College, and also went to Cambridge, where he took his B.D. and D.D. (Clark, Register of Matriculation and Degrees, Oxford, p. 104; Cooper, Athenæ Cantabrigienses, i. 75). Gerard was one of the first English protestants, and showed his zeal by distributing Lutheran books. In December 1525 Erasmus begs his commendations to him among other ‘booksellers.’ In 1526 he became curate to his friend Forman, rector of All Hallows, Honey Lane, but Foxe says that he was at Oxford at Easter 1527, and had been there since Christmas 1526, selling Latin books and Tyndall's translation of the New Testament to the scholars. He had also distributed books at Cambridge. Foxe says that he had intended to take a curacy in Dorsetshire under a feigned name, but gave up the design, and was at Reading some time this year (1527) ‘corrupting the prior,’ to whom he sold more than sixty of his books. By Christmas, however, he was again hiding at Oxford, ‘privily doing much hurt,’ until in the middle of February 1528 he was seized by the commissary. He escaped by the help of a friend, but was again captured at Bedminster, near Bristol, on 29 Feb., and taken to the Somerset county gaol at Ilchester. After an examination on 9 March he was sent to London, examined before the Bishop of Lincoln and the lord privy seal, and afterwards forced to recant before them and the bishops of London (Tunstall) and Bath and Wells. Lincoln complains (1 April) to Wolsey that Gerard is ‘a very subtyll, crafty, soleyn, and untrue man,’ as his answers differ from the scholars. Foxe gives a detailed but inaccurate account of this capture under a wrong date (1527), in which he states that one of the proctors gave secret information as to his whereabouts, and after an attempted escape he was taken at Hinksey, and condemned to carry a fagot on his back from St. Mary's to Christ Church, of which college he was then called a student, ‘with his red hood on his shoulders like an M.A.,’ and was afterwards imprisoned at Osney till further orders. Gerard finally obtained his pardon from Wolsey, and was employed by him the same year in copying documents (see Foxe, Acts and Monuments, v. 414, 421–9, Appendix, p. vi; State Papers, Henry VIII, Brewer, iv. pt. i. 1524–6, pt. ii. 1526–8, index). By 1535 he had obtained the king's license to preach. On 11 July he preached at Jervaulx Abbey, Yorkshire; a monk who interrupted him was taken into custody, and he was sent with letters from Sir Francis Bigod to Cromwell as a mark of favour (State Papers, 1535, viii. 405, 420). Cranmer recommended him unsuccessfully to Cromwell for the living of St. Peter's, Calais, as a ‘forward and busy Lutheran.’ In June 1536 he was chaplain to the Bishop of Worcester, though in May his old enemy the Bishop of Lincoln had complained of his want of learning and discretion to Cromwell (ib. 1536, x. 371, 463). Through Cranmer's influence with Cromwell Gerard was inducted on 14 June 1537 to All Hallows, Honey Lane. He also became chaplain to Cranmer, who sent him in August to preach at Calais. To please Cromwell, who had taken him into favour, Bonner appointed him to preach after Stephen Gardiner [q. v.] and Robert Barnes [q. v.] at St. Paul's Cross in Lent 1540. Gerard, like Barnes, argued against Gardiner's sermon on passive obedience, and both of them, together with another Lent preacher, Jerome [q. v.], vicar of Stepney, were ordered to publicly recant from the pulpit of St. Mary Spital in Easter week. A contemporary (see Chronicle of Henry VIII, 1889, pp. 193–6) calls Jerome ‘a great heretic,’ and Gerard ‘a good Christian,’ and says that Gerard in his sermon declared that his two predecessors deserved to be burnt for their heresies, while himself ‘warmed so much to his sermon that he preached in favour of the pope.’ The recantation was held to be ambiguous, and they were all three sent to the Tower and attainted as detestable heretics. Their names and Cromwell's were specially excepted from the king's general pardon of all offences committed before 1 July, and ten days after Cromwell's execution they were drawn on a sledge through the middle of the city to Smithfield, and burnt at one stake (30 July 1540), the two heretics, says the Spanish chronicler, in one sack, and the good Christian in another. Three Romanists were hanged on the same day. Gerard suffered with great courage, renouncing all heresy and begging forgiveness for faults of rashness and vehemence.

[Besides the State Papers, Henry VIII, and Foxe's Acts and Monuments, vol. v., see Burnet's Reformation, i. 590; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, ii. 760; Wood's Fasti, i. 45; Cranmer's Works, ed. Jenkyns, i. 445; Original Letters (Parker Soc.), 1537–8, i. 207, 209–10; Tunstall Register, f. 137; Todd's Cranmer, i. 138; Soames's Hist. of the Reformation, ii. 437–42; Collier's Ecclesiastical History, v. 76–9, &c.]

E. T. B.