Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anne Askew – Protestant Martyr

As I have continued exploring our family history … one of the most intriguing personalities that I have stumbled across is Anne Askew. She was born in 1521, the daughter of an English nobleman, Sir William Askew. Unfortunately she was forced into an unhappy marriage to Thomas Kyme at the tender age of fifteen but, remained defiant to all unjust authority. She came of age at a time when the Church of England under King Henry VIII was of the Catholic faith but, the English Protestant Reform movement was gaining popularity. Anne was a well educated and devout Protestant. She would visit homes and conduct study groups based on Protestant beliefs. These study groups were considered illegal at the time. Her beliefs were not condoned by her husband so Anne traveled to London in order to obtain a divorce. While in London, Anne continued her Protestant study groups which were believed to be attended by Katherine Parr, King Henry the VIII’s last wife and Queen of England. Katherine Parr was a known reformist and a threat to the Catholic clergy within the Church of England. The Catholic clergy had declared some Protestant practices and beliefs as heresy. Stephen Gardiner, who served as the Bishop of Winchester, determined to stop the Protestant Reform movement, desired to prove that the Queen had engaged in heretic practices against the crown by having Anne confess to the Katherine Parr’s attendance at her study groups. Anne was arrested and endured several ‘examinations’ by the Church of England clergy to determine ‘heretical’ practices and beliefs. While confined at the Tower of London, Anne was tortured on the rack but, she never confessed even under great duress. She was finally condemned and burned at the stake at Smithfield on July 16, 1546 at the age of 25. Although, I cannot draw a direct lineage to Anne as she did have two children with Thomas Kyme, I am positive she is from the same family, as my family originated from England. Recently, I completed Only Glory Awaits by Leslie S. Nuernberg which does a fantastic job of capturing her mortal life and indomitable spirit. Anne wrote of her beliefs and the tribulations of her trails in Examinations. John Foxe, who was married to Margaret Askew (1614-1702) a descendant of Anne and reformist as well, also wrote of her in his Book of Martyrs. Anne has impressed me as a strong young lady with a deep commitment to her faith. I have also had the opportunity to visit the Tower of London a few years ago and could have possibly walked the same grounds as Anne. I truly believe that Anne was a steadfast force of Faith … and a great representation of how Faith can change unjust societal constraints.


  1. I believe that my family also are descendants of Anne Askew. I don't know a lot about our family history, but my mother has done some research. I would like to get some contact information from you. Thanks for your time. My email is aelwoodc@hot

  2. Where did you find evidence that Foxe was married to anyone by the name of Askew? His only recorded marriage was to Agnes Randall. Also, Foxe died in 1587 so how did he marry someone not born until 1614?