1533 – John Frith (Fryth) is burned at the stake in Smithfield by King Henry VIII of England. A Protestant and fellow translator with William Tyndale, he had been accused of heresy.
Frith was an important contributor to the Christian debate on persecution and toleration in favour of the principle of religious toleration. He was ‘perhaps the first to echo in England’ of that ‘more liberal tradition’ of ‘Zwingli, Melanchthon and Bucer’.
Frith was tried before many examiners and bishops, and produced his own writings as evidence for his views that were deemed as heresy. He was sentenced to death by fire and offered a pardon if he answered positively to two questions: Do you believe in purgatory, and do you believe in transubstantiation? He replied that neither purgatory nor transubstantiation could be proven by Holy Scriptures, and thus was condemned as a heretic and was transferred to the secular arm for his execution on 23 June 1533. He was burned at the stake on 4 July 1533 at Smithfield, London for, he was told, his soul’s salvation. (King Henry VIII was excommunicated one week later.)