FOX (FOXE), JOHN: Author of the Book of Martyrs; b. in Boston (100 m. n. of London), Lincolnshire, 1516; d. in London Apr. 15, 1587. He studied at Oxford, and became fellow of Magdalen College, where he applied himself to church history. Dean Nowell, Hugh Latimer, and William Tyndale were among his intimate friends and correspondents. For his Protestant sentiments he seems to have been expelled from his college. He became tutor in Sir Thomas Lucy's family, and then to the children of the Earl of Surrey for five years. During this period he issued several tracts and Sermon of John Oecolampadius to Yong Men and Maydens (London, 1550?). After the accession of Mary he was obliged to seek refuge from persecution on the Continent. He met Edmund Grindal at Strasburg and saw through the press in that city a volume of 212 pages on the persecution of Reformers from Wyclif to 1500, entitled Commentarii rerumin ecclesia gestarum maximarumque per totam Europam persecutionum a Vuicleui temporibus ad hanc usque ætatem descriptio (1554). He went to Frankfort and sought to be a mediator in the differences between Dr. Cox and John Knox and removed from there, on Knox's departure, to Basel. Poverty forced him to apply himself to the printer's trade. Encouraged by Grindal (Remains, ed. W. Nicholson for the Parker Society, Cambridge, 1843, pp. 223 sqq.) he labored diligently on his great work on the martyrs, which appeared in Latin at Basel, 1559, and was dedicated to his former pupil, now the duke of Norfolk. Returning to England he spent much time under the roof of the duke, and attended him to the scaffold, when at the age of thirty-six he was executed for conspiring with Mary Queen of Scots. He received a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral but remained poor all his life, although an annuity from the duke of Norfolk of £20 kept him from want. Called by Archbishop Parker to subscribe to the cannons, he refused, and, holding up a Greek Testament, said, "To this will I subscribe." He was fearless in the avowal of his convictions, and petitioned the queen earnestly but unsuccessfully to spare the lives of two Dutch Anabaptists.
Fox's title to fame rests upon the Book of Martyrs, in the compilation of which he had the assistance of Cranmer and others. The first complete English edition appeared in London, 1563 (2d ed., 1570; 3d, 1576; 4th, 1583; etc.), with the title Actes and monuments of these latter and perillous dayes, touching matters of the Church . . . from the yeare of our Lorde a thousande, to the tyme now present, etc. Of the numerous later editions mention may be made of those of S. R. Cattley, with dissertation by J. Townsend (8 vols., London, 1837-49) and J. Pratt, with introduction by J. Stoughton (8 vols., London, 1877). The work has been often abridged as by M. H. Seymour (London, 1838). For list of other writings by Fox, cf. the Lives of the British Reformers (London, 1873). By order of Elizabeth a copy of the Book of Martyrs was placed in the common halls of archbishops, bishops, deans, etc., and in all the colleges and chapels throughout the kingdom. It exercised a great influence upon the masses of the people long after its author was dead. Nicholas Ferrar (q.v.) had a chapter of it read every Sunday evening in his community of Little Gidding along with the Bible. The Roman Catholics early attacked it, and pointed out its blunders. Fox was not in all cases accurate or dispassionate, but he was a man of wonderful industry. His book was a book for the times and produced a salutary impression.
D. S. SCHAFF.