Tudor Brighton: Primary Sources
Primary source materials for a history of Brighton in the sixteenth
century are pretty scarce, but two important documents survive.
The first is a rich source of infomation about the town's main industry:
fishing. It is known as The Booke of All The Ancient Customs and
is dated to 1580. The second source is John Foxe's Acts and Monuments
of the English Martyrs. Foxe's book is the classic text of the English
Reformation, telling the story of the martyrs of the 'true faith' from
New Testament days onwards. It went through four editions between 1563
and 1583. The importance of Foxe's Acts to the history of Brighton
is found in the account we have of the trial and execution (by burning)
of Deryk Carver, a
brewer from Black Lion Street, and one of the victims of the Marian persecutions,
of Bloody Mary. From this account we realise that Brighton was more than
just a simple fishing town.
The Book of Ancient Customs, 1580
"THE BOOKE of all the auncient customs heretofore used
amonge ye fishermen of the Towne of Brighthelmeston in the Countie of Sussex
& orders out of the saide customs by the said fishermen taken & made &
afterwards vz the xx111th day of Julye in ye yeare of ye Raigne of our
Soveraigne Lady Elizabeth ye xxiith by ye Right Honourable the Lorde Buckherst
and Richard Shelley Esquier at Brighthelmeston aforsaid in ye presence
of the saide fishermen redd ratified and confirmed"
John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the English Martyrs.
(1516 - 1587) tells the story of the trial and execution of Deryk Carver,
a Protestant brewer, in 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary. Carver's brewery
was in Black Lion Street. The account of Carver's death is a small part
of a monumental work which went to 2,300 pages in its second edition.
Foxe's book is a mythic history which sets out to justify
the English Reformation, telling the story of the true faith and of those
who suffered martyrdom for it from the days of the early church of the
New Testament onwards to the years of the Marian persecution in his own
Foxe's book became the quintessential justification of
the Reformation in England, casting England in a special role of the defence
of Protestantism everywhere. (There is an only saying - of Lewis Namier's
that whenever you see the phrase 'English Reformation'
you should read it as 'English nationalism'. Okay, but it was a religious
nationalism.) By order of convocation, the ruling body of the Church of
England, a copy of the book was placed in every cathedral church next to
the Bible, and it seems likely that many parish churches also acquired
a copy. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was widely interpreted
as a fulfillment of Foxe's central teaching.
The plaque in memory of Deryk
Carver on the wall of the Black Lion pub in Black Lion Street.
The original brewery was demolished. It was reconstructed in 1974.
See also: Bonfire Night at Lewes
See also: What I Was Taught