134 LIVES OF THE PURITANS. freedom of the city, and afterwards to suffer what should follow.". Mr. Hawkins was a leading person among these sepa- ratists, and an active and a zealous preacher. Several other ministers were members of the congregation. Having kept their assemblies for some time more privately, to elude the notice of the bishop's officers, they at length ventured to come forth morepublicly ; and June 19, 1567, they agreed to havea sermon and the Lord's supper at Plumbers-hall, which they hired for the day, as some one gave it out, under pre- tence of awedding. Here the sheriffs of London discovered them, and broke up their meeting, when about one hundred were assembled together. Most of them were taken into custody, and sent to the Compter. These were the first puritans who accounted it unlawful to hold communion with the church of England, and who totally separated from it. They did not separate, however, till after their ministers were silenced ; and they appear to have been the first who were cast into prison, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, for not coming to their parish churches, and for holdingcon- venticles. They deserved more humane treatment, especially when it is recollected, that they only imitated the worthy protestants a fewyears before, in the time of Queen Mary ; who, to the great hazard of their lives, assembled in private places ; and some of them were, indeed, the same persons. Theywere harassed and persecuted, while the papists con- tinued unmolested.t The day after their imprisonment in the Compter, Mr. Hawkins, and Messrs, William White, Thomas Howland, John Smith, WilliamNixson, James Ireland, and Richard Morecraft, werebrought before Bishop Grindal, Dean Good- man, Archdeacon Watts, the lord mayor, and other com- missioners. The bishop charged them with absenting themselves from the parish churches, and with settingup separate assemblies for prayer, preaching, and administering the sacrament. He told them, that by these proceedings, they condemned the church of England, which was well reformed according to the word of God, and those martyrs who shed their blood for it.t. To this charge, Mr. Hawkins replied in the name of the rest, as follows; and would have said more, but was interrupted. Hawkins. We condemn them not. We only stand to the truth of God's word. Biographia Britan. vol. iv. p. 2432. Edit. 1747. 1. MS. Remarks, g. 213. Parte of a Register,p. 23, 24.