The story of the life of John Foxe is one of miracle and faithfulness to the Lord. Foxe is most remembered today for his Book of Martyrs, originally called Foxe's Acts and Monuments. The following account of his life is given in the preface of an abridgement of his work published by the Protestant Truth Society of London, England.
John Foxe was born in Lincolnshire , in the year 1517. At the age of sixteen he went to Brasenose College , Oxford , where he took his degree of M.A. While at the University, and for some time after, he was a zealous Papist, and was strictly moral in his life. Being led to read Church history, and also to study the Bible, he became convinced of the errors of the Romish Church. The bigoted Romanists soon discovered the change in his opinions, and had him expelled from the University. Oppressed and forsaken, he was in great need, when Sir Thomas Lucy, of Warwickshire, befriended him, and engaged him as tutor in his family.
After remaining some time at Coventry , he removed to London ; but, being a stranger, and without money, he was soon reduced to great want. From this he was relieved in the following extraordinary manner. Sitting one day in St. Paul 's Church, and looking like a specter, being almost starved, a stranger, whom he did not remember having ever seen before, sat down by him. And, putting a large sum of money into his hand exhorted him to be of good cheer, for God would, in a few days, give him more certain means of subsistence. The prophecy was fulfilled, for within three days, he was appointed by the Duchess of Richmond, tutor to her nephew's family.
But Mary was now on the throne, and the persecution carried on against the Protestants became at length so bitter, that Foxe was forced to leave England . He betook himself to Basle , in Switzerland ; and it was in this city, famous for printing, that he began his well-known work on Martyrology. When Elizabeth ascended the throne he returned to England . The Duke of Norfolk, one of his former pupils, received him into his house, and at his death left Foxe a pension. He was afterward settled at Salisbury , where he revised and completed his Book of Martyrs.
After a long life of piety and usefulness, he died on 18th April, 1587, and was interred in the chancel of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, of which parish during the reign of Elizabeth , he had for some time been vicar. A plain tablet, bearing a Latin inscription, was erected by his son to his memory.
It is highly recommended that the reader purchase the book, "Foxe's Christian Martyrs."
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,