After 1506 the earliest reference we have to John Clydesdale is in 1513 and relates to his land in the Middle Field  of Hungerford (2). In 1519 he was one of the feoffees of the lands of the chantry of St. Mary  in Hungerford (3). This was the chantry of which Thomas Clydesdale  had been chaplain some fifty years previously. Known as 'the burgesses' chantry' it had close links with the town's officialdom.

It was c.1520 that John Clydesdale's sister. Alice  Cottesmore, later Doyley, (A109) had been accused of heresy. In 1521 John Clydesdale himself was rounded up in the large scale drive launched by Bishop Longland of Lincoln against those 'later Lollards' whose doctrines have been summarised in connection with Alice in chapter 3. The authority for the detailed account of these persecutions is John Foxe , some forty six years later himself to become a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral, who drew on its ecclesiastical registers to provide a roll call of early English dissent in a Reformation best-seller entitled "The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe" -- popularly known an Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Bishop Longland began his drive against heresy by examining on oath some of those who had abjured in the time of his predecessor (4). Since these were liable to the death penalty 'on pain of relapse’, he was able to pressurise sufficient of them to detect the whole group. One of the informers, Robert Pope  of West Hendred . incriminated no less than 87 persons, among then John Eden [=Hidden] alias Clydesdale. Thomas Hall  who farmed the neighbouring manor of Leverton  and Haywood , and John Ludlow , one of whose ancestors was said to have been ‘of Hydden' in 1476 (5). The social status of these three men was that of minor landed gentry.

In addition to John Eden alias Ledisdall (=Clydesdale), Hall, and Ludlow, two other possible Hungerford persons are mentioned viz. ‘one mother Joan; father Joan, of Hungerford'. Foxe's text has many mispunctuations and misspellings - Elizabethan printers' errors and no doubt Foxe's own mistranscriptions of unfamiliar name in the Lincoln register - so a likely original version may have been 'one mother Joan; and father John, of Hungerford'. The terms ‘mother’ and ‘father' were often terms of respect given to an old person, and their conjunction here suggests husband and wife. John Eden or Ledishall's mother's name was certainly Joan and his father was probably the John Clydesdale who signed a deed of indenture for the manor and farm of Leverton in 1488. The transmission of Lollard beliefs was notable within families from parent to child, and a good deal of intermarriage among these families is also likely to have taken place.

John Eden (he is also called Eding) was also informed against by Robert Collins  of Asthall , by John Edmunds  of Burford, and by Roger Dods  of Burford. It was Dods who provided the one piece of substantial evidence quoted by Foxe against him: 'John Liddisdall of Hungerford for reading of the Bible in Robert Burges ' house at Burford upon Holyrood Day, with Collins, Lyvord, Thomas Hall and others. 'Holy Rood Day was the festival of the exaltation of the Cross (= September 14th). This meeting in Burford , like those held in other houses, was attended by people from a wide spread of villages in west Oxfordshire and north Berkshire. A journey from Hungerford could hardly have been made in a single day. The reason why Burford was a centre for these conferences is not known. It is likely that, to disguise the influx of so many strangers into the little town these occasions would be arranged on suitable 'cover' dates -- and the festival of the Exaltation of the Cross would be one which always brought into town villagers from miles around.

His investigation having proved so successful, Longland obtained the king's authority to proceed 'in the executing of justice’. Those who had 'relapsed' (i.e. after a previous abjuration) were sentenced to be burnt at the stake. Of the others 'who had but newly been taken' i.e. first time offenders, and there were some fifty of these, the Bishop enjoined 'most strait and rigorous penance'. They were split up and sent to various monasteries in the area, including St. Frideswide 's. Details survive of the full penance ordained for them in a letter by Bishop Longland to the head of one of the monasteries:

 'In primis, that every one of them shall, upon a market day, such as shall be limited unto them, in the market time go thrice about the market at Burford, and than to stand up upon the highest greece (= step) of the cross there, a quarter of an hour, with a faggot of wood every one of them upon his shoulder, and every one of them once to bear a faggot of wood upon their shoulders before their procession upon a Sunday, which shall be limited unto them at Burford, from the choir-door going out, to the choir-door going in; and all the high mass time to hold the same faggot upon their shoulders, kneeling upon the greece afore the high altar there; and every of them to do likewise in their own parish church, upon such a Sunday as shall be limited unto them; and once to bear a faggot at a general procession at Uxbridge , when they shall be assigned thereto; and once to bear a faggot at the burning of a heretic, when they shall be admonished thereto.

'Also every one of then to fast, bread and ale only, Friday during their life; and every Eve of Corpus Christi every one of them to fast bread and water during their life, unless sickness unfeigned let (= prevent) the same.

'Also to be said by them every Sunday, and every Friday, during their life, once our lady-psalter; and if they forget it one day, to say as much another day for the same.

'Also neither they, nor any of them, shall hide their mark upon their cheek, neither with hat, cap, hood, kerchief, napkin, or none otherwise; nor shall suffer their beards to grow past fourteen days; nor ever haunt again together with any suspected person or persons, unless it be in the open market, fair, church, or common inn or alehouse, where other people may see their conversation.

'And all these injunctions they and every of them to fulfil with their penance, and every part of the same, under pain of relapse’ (6).

As to the ' mark upon their cheeks' which they were forbidden to hide, this was branding with a hot iron on their right cheek, described by Foxe elsewhere as follows: 'their necks were tied fast to a post or stay, with towels, and their hands holden fast that they might not stir; and so the iron, being hot, was put to their cheeks’ (7).

Among those sentenced was John Hidden (Eden) alias Clydesdale (Ledishall). The sentence may have been fierce on paper and in intention, but it depended for its enforcement upon local authorities -- the parish priest, or the prior of the monastery to which an offender was sent. In John Clydesdale's case, he was a feoffee of St. Mary ’s chantry, whose chaplain was involved in parish affairs. His consent was needed in the case of a lease of any of the chantry' s lands. He was one of the leading burgesses of the town, to whom many men turned for help and made overseer of their wills. It in difficult to see the parish priest treating such an influential penitent with strict literalness. As to being sent to a monastery he is unlikely to have found a stay at St. Frideswide's, for example, whose tenant farmer he was, too arduous. Whatever sentence Bishop Longland may have devised for him. he seems to have retained his influence and respect locally, and in the 1522 muster of Hungerford John Cleesdale is one of the six highest rated freeholders of the town (8).

In fact, however, whatever punishment or restriction may have been placed upon him, he was fortunate enough to experience a sudden turn in the wheel of fortune. In 1524 the Crown had begun the first step in the dissolution of the monasteries. It was a tentative or experimental step, which involved only a small number of monasteries, and it included St. Frideswide's with the manor of Hidden  as well as the priory of Poughley  which lay just to the north of Hidden. The lands of these dissolved religious houses were granted to Cardinal Wolsey to enable him to finance the building of a new College at Oxford -- Cardinal's College  (later to become Christ Church).

[From The Hiddens of Hungerford  By N.F & N.J. Hidden  (2nd edn 2011) Vol 1, pp 25-27]

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