The Brentford Six – The Middlesex Burnings

W Bro Stan Marut, News Editor, looks at an aspect of Middlesex history perhaps not very well known.

The History of England has been strewn with the boulders of religious dissent and persecution.

The 16th century was a particularly robust time and under the regime of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) many came to a grim end.

For religious persons it was a difficult period as with changes in the monarch came a different set of rules, reaffirmations of faith and acceptance of dogma which had hitherto been anathema. This was especially difficult for clergy and the religious.

We hear of the Smithfield Martyrs and others who met a grim end being burnt at the stake.

In general we, perhaps, do not associate these burnings with Middlesex.

With the swallowing up of Middle Saxon territory by the concept of a Greater London and now a Metropolitan London, places like Tyburn – infamous for executions especially by hanging, drawing and quartering – come under a heading, perhaps, of London Places of Execution.

Strictly, Tyburn was in Middlesex and in the parish of Marylebone.

Getting back to the Brentford Six, these men, along with others, were arrested whilst holding a dissident religious meeting in Islington, which in the 16th century and until much later was firmly in Middlesex.

They were betrayed by a neighbour and arrested by a constable.

My researches showed that six were taken to Brainforde or Brayneforde as Brentford was know in those days and summarily burnt at the stake.

The names of the unfortunates.

The day is ominous and July 14th is the anniversary of their deaths and the day of the Provincial Grand Convocation of the Holy Royal Arch this year at the Stoop, Twickenham.

Regrettably for them, Mary died later in the year and with the accession of her half sister Elizabeth to the throne things might have turned out differently for them.

Not only did executions take place in this part of Middlesex, but some in Uxbridge and Stratford-le Bow, then part of the eastern area of Middlesex, also suffered persecution and burnings.

The Stratford Martyrs Memorial is a memorial that commemorates the group of 11 men and two women who were burned at the stake together for their Protestant beliefs, at Stratford-le-Bow or Stratford near London in England on 27 June 1556, during the Marian persecutions

Middlesex, our Masonic Province and heritage has many surprises and there is always something more to learn.

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