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Christian Voice are on the front line - they need support

Elisabeth Gaunt

d. 1685

In the beautiful church of St Oswald's, Ravenstonedale, well-know for its inward-facing pews and fine three-decker pulpit, there is a stained-glass window commemorating the death on 4th October 1685 of the last woman to be burnt at the stake at Tyburn for her belief. She was Elizabeth Gaunt, the Anabaptist daughter of Anthony Fothergill of Brownber, the head of an influential family in the Dale: a family who produced many eminent members in the 17th and 18th centuries and whose descendents still live in the
parish. None, however, were so famous as Elizabeth Gaunt. At that time Baptists were sometimes called 'Anabaptists' after a group founded on the continent in the 16th century and those beliefs were brought over by refugees from the Low Counties. They refused to have their children baptised and re-instituted the baptism of believers, hence the nick-name 'Anabaptists' after the Greek, meaning 're-baptisers', so, in today's phraseology, you could say that Elizabeth Gaunt was one of the first 'born-again Christians'.

The Anabaptists were vigorously denounced by both Luther and Calvin and were severely persecuted by both Roman Catholics and Protestants alike.
Those put to death probably ran into tens of thousands.

In Hume's 'History of England' there is this account of Elizabeth's death:

'Of all the executions during the dismal period when the iniquitous Jeffries was carrying out his dreadful work, the most remarkable were those of Mrs Gaunt and Lady Lyle who had been accused of harbouring traitors. Mrs Gaunt was an Anabaptist, noted for her benevolence which she extended to persons of all professions and persuasions. One of the rebels, knowing her humane disposition, had recourse to her in distress and was concealed by her.
Hearing of the proclamation which offered an indemnity to such as discovered criminals, he betrayed his benefactress and bore evidence against her. He received a pardon as a recompense for his treachery and she was burnt alive for her charity.'
One of the witnesses of her death was William Penn, who related that 'when she had calmly disposed the straw about her in such a manner as to shorten her suff~rings, all the bystanders burst into tears'. It was recorded that while the foulest judicial murder which had disgraced even those times was perpetrated, a tempest burst forth such as had not been seen for many a day.

So died a brave and good woman. 'My fault,' said Elizabeth, shortly before her death, 'was one which a prince might well have forgiven, did but relieve a poor family and I must die for it.'