William Hunter (d. 1555)

Mark Fackler

READ : Psalm 119:17-24

Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (v. 18)

William Hunter was just a boy, the bishop thought. He can be coaxed to obey her majesty the queen. Surely his childish rebellion would be easily solved with a friendly incentive, or perhaps a whipping. The bishop would see to it.

Young William was taught at home to love God’s Word. He trusted God but distrusted the established church. Queen Mary had decreed that everyone in London would attend Mass. Hunter did not show up. Even in London, he could hide only so long.

Finally caught, he explained to the sheriff that reading the Bible, even alone, was worship. He had obeyed the edict, though not in the required way. Then Bishop Bonner got involved in trying to persuade the youth. Nothing worked. Still rebellious? Then off to Newgate Prison.

Nine months later the bishop’s patience had worn thin. Have it your way, boy. Be a lesson to others.

In his home village, William was burned as a heretic. He was 19. At the fire, William’s brother yelled to him, “Think on the holy passion of Christ, William, and be not afraid of death.” William replied, “I am not afraid.”

Today a monument in Brentwood reads, William Hunter, Martyr. Christian, learn from his example to value the privilege of an open Bible.


Put your word deep within me, Lord.