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Introduction and Prologue

Talented with numbers and money, he later served under Sir John Harington of Exton in Rutland as a servant. Through his good influence and abilities in auditing and writing, he gained favour and trust with his employer and at the Siege of Montreuil in , occupied the office of paymaster of the English army during the wars of Henry VIII.

There But For the Grace of God, Go I – Quote Investigator

Later, he became a law student at the Inner Temple in London. Through the contact and preachings of a fellow student, he became acquainted with and converted to the Protestant faith. This caused him to abandon his legal studies and in , he took up theology at Catharine Hall now St Catharine's College , University of Cambridge. In he was awarded his MA and in that same year was appointed to a fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge. At this institution he was often referred to with the nickname "Holy Bradford" not from malice but out of respect for his dedication to God and his unselfish attitude.

He began preaching in churches in London under the mentorship of Ridley and Hugh Latimer.

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He continued as a Fellow of Pembroke and as a roving preacher, mainly in London, Lancashire and Cheshire. Following the death of Edward in , Mary Tudor ascended to the throne bringing the threat of reprisals against opponents of Catholicism. In the first month of the new monarch's reign, Bradford was arrested and imprisoned on the seemingly trivial charge of "trying to stir up a mob" and committed to the Tower of London. During his time in prison, he continued to write religious works and preach to all who would listen.

For a time whilst in the Tower, Bradford was put in a cell with three other reformers, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer , Ridley, and Latimer.

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Their time was spent in careful study of the New Testament. On 31 January , Bradford was tried and condemned to death. Bradford was taken to Newgate Prison to be burned at the stake on 1 July.


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Bradford was given a special " Shirt of Flame " by a Mrs. Marlet, for whom he had written a devotional work. This was a clean shirt that was sewn specifically for the burning, made in the style of a wedding shirt.

Dallyn Bayles sings "There But for You Go I" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A large crowd delayed the execution, which had been scheduled for 4 o'clock in the morning, as many who admired Bradford came to witness his death. He was chained to the stake at Smithfield with a young man, John Leaf.

there but for fortune go I

Before the fire was lit, he begged forgiveness of any he had wronged, and offered forgiveness to those who had wronged him. He then turned to Leaf and said, "Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night! There is a 19th-century tradition tracing to Bradford the idiomatic "There but for the grace of God go I" as an expression of humility and reliance on God's grace rather than his own morality.

The familiar story, that, on seeing evil-doers taken to the place of execution, he was wont to exclaim, "But for the grace of God there goes John Bradford", is a universal tradition which has overcome the lapse of time. The tradition of attribution of the phrase to Bradford dates to at least the early 19th century, as it is found in A treatise on prayer by Edward Bickersteth :.

The pious Martyr Bradford, when he saw a poor criminal led to execution, exclaimed, "there, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford". He knew that the same evil principles were in his own heart which had brought the criminal to that shameful end. While the phrase, or its attribution to Bradford, cannot be traced to before , Townsend notes that there is a 17th-century attribution of a similar sentiment to Bradford, demonstrating how "by the sight of others' sins, men may learn to bewail their own sinfulness".

Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter's words, and say, "There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.


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The phrase has also been attributed to John Newton — [13] and in Catholic tradition to Philip Neri — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Origin Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution.

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Link to this page. MLA Style "There-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i. In YourDictionary. Home Dictionary Definitions there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i. Also Mentioned In. Kelly Grace Patricia graceworthy.