“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lichfield in Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom

Edward Wightman Memorial

Edward Wightman Memorial Plaque image. Click for full size.
circa 2006
1. Edward Wightman Memorial Plaque
Edward Wightman
of Burton-on-Trent
was burnt at the stake
in this Market Place
for heresy
11th April 1612
being the last person
in England so to die.

Location. 52° 41.01′ N, 1° 49.667′ W. Marker is in Lichfield, England, in Staffordshire. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Market Street and Breadmarket Street. Click for map. Plaque is mounted on the side of St. Mary's Church in the Market Place of Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. Marker is in this post office area: Lichfield, England WS13, United Kingdom.
Regarding Edward Wightman Memorial. Edward Wightman was a mercer by occupation (a dealer in cloth and textiles), and although a layman he held strong religious convictions. When King James passed through his town in 1611, Edward presented the king with a manuscript he had written, expounding his religious beliefs. The king asked the bishop of the Church of England to question Edward, as a result of which Edward was thrown in jail and was put on trial for religious heresy. He was charged with 11 distinct heresies, chiefly regarding the trinity, communion, and baptism.

Edward believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but not exactly as taught by the established
Edward Wightman Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
By Diane Rutherford Baxter, October 24, 2007
2. Edward Wightman Memorial Marker
Marker is to the left of the entrance/archway; below the blue sign.
churches of the day. And because he believed that hearing and believing should precede baptism, Edward rejected the validity of infant baptism, which especially angered the established churches of the time (Catholic, Church of England, Anglican, Episcopal), since non-conformists, by holding such beliefs, denied the validity of ordinances performed by clergy of the established churches. Edward and others who held this view were known as Anabaptists (re-baptizers).

Part of the charges against Edward stated he believed "that the baptizing of infants is an abominable custom; that the Lord's Supper and baptism are not to be celebrated as they now are in the Church of England; and that Christianity is not wholly professed and preached in the Church of England, but only in part." He was found guilty, sentenced to death by fire, and was taken to the marketplace of Lichfield for a public execution. As the flames began to scorch him, Edward cried out what was taken to be a desire to recant, so the crowd rushed in and pulled him from the flames. He was returned to prison and was asked to sign a formal document denouncing his "heresies", which he refused to do. So a few weeks later he was again taken to the market place, and this time was burned to death.

It is said that Edward Wightman's suffering in standing up for his principles aroused so much sympathy in the people,
Edward Wightman Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
By Diane Rutherford Baxter, October 23, 2007
3. Edward Wightman Memorial Marker
This is the actual square where the burning took place. Unfortunately, the day I visited they were having a street market.
inspiring many to attend non-conformist churches, that it was decided by the authorities to never again make such a public spectacle. Subsequently, religious "heretics" were starved to death in prison rather than being publicly burned at the stake. Most non-conformist believers fled to the American colonies seeking religious liberty and freedom.
Also see . . .
1. Edward Wightman. Wikipedia article on Edward Wightman and his public execution. (Submitted on September 23, 2009.) 

2. Burnings and Persecutions. History of the early English Churches of Christ as they become established and the Trinitarian controversy. (Submitted on September 23, 2009.) 
Additional comments.
1. Distant grandfather
My mother has done our family history and Edward Wightman was my 16th (I belive this number is correct) great grandfather. I have been to Lichfield and viewed the marker. I will search my photos to find the wide angle photo you need. The marker is to the upper left of the gift shop entrance. Very interesting town and history.
    — Submitted September 26, 2009, by Diane Rutherford Baxter of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

2. Edward Wightman marker
I also descended from Edward Wightman thru his son John who settled in Rhode Island. What fun to see the marker which many old Baptist books refer to.
Great website..
    — Submitted October 1, 2009, by Mary Ellen Wright of Lake Forest, Illinois.

3. Another descendant.
I am also a descendant of Edward Wightman through the first Wightman's of Rhode Island George Wightman and Elizabeth Updyke. I am very proud of the Wightman lineage and very pleased to see the marker dedicated to my grandfather of many years ago.
    — Submitted March 9, 2010, by Marci Wightman of Bellingham, Washington.

Additional keywords. religious intolerance, religious history, religious beliefs, freedom of religion, execution
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Credits. This page originally submitted on . This page has been viewed 2,722 times since then and 146 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on .   2, 3. submitted on , by Diane Rutherford Baxter of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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