Tyndale's Letter from Prison

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. - 2 Timothy 4.13

Tyndale wrote the following letter in 1535 from his cell in the Vilvorde Prison, presumably to the Governor of Vilvorde, the Marquis of Bergen-op-Zoom. The text is taken from Jacob Isidor Mombert, William Tyndale's Five Books of Moses Called the Pentateuch: Being a Verbatim Reprint of the Edition of M.CCCCC.XXX. (New York and London, 1884), pp. li-lii.

Latin text

Credo non latere te, vir pręstantissime, quid de me statutum sit. Quam ob rem, tuam dominationem rogatum habeo, idque per Dominum Jesum, ut si mihi per hiemem hic manendum sit, solicites apud dominum commissarium, si forte dignari velit, de rebus meis quas habet, mittere calidiorem birettum; frigus enim patior in capite nimium, oppressus perpetuo catarro qui sub testitudine nonnihil augetur. Calidiorem quoque tunicam, nam, hęc quam abeo admodum tenuis est. Item pannum ad caligas reficiendas. Duplois [sic] detrita est; camiseę detritę sunt etiam. Camiseam laneam habet, si mittere velit. Habeo quoque apud eum caligas ex crassiori panno ad superius induendum; nocturna biretta calidiora habet etiam: utque vesperi lucernam habere liceat; tediosum quidem est per tenebras solitarie sedere. Maxime autem omnium tuam clementiam rogo atque obsecro ut ex animo agere velit apud dominum commissarium quatenus dignari velit mihi concedere Bibliam Hebraicam, Grammaticam Hebraicam, et Vocabularium Hebraicum, ut eo studio tempus conteram. Sic tibi obtingat quod maxime optas modo cum animę tuę salute fiat: Verum si aliud consilium de me ceptum [sic] est, hiemem perficiendum omnem, patiens ero, Dei expectans voluntatem, ad gloriam gratię Domini mei Jesu Christi, Cujus Spiritus tuum semper regat pectus. Amen.

W. Tindalus.


I believe, most excellent Sir, that you are not unacquainted with the decision reached concerning me. On which account, I beseech your lordship, even by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to pass the winter here, to urge upon the lord commissary, if he will deign, to send me from my goods in his keeping a warmer cap, for I suffer greatly from cold in the head, being troubled with a continual catarrh, which is aggravated in this prison vault. A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin. Also cloth for repairing my leggings. My overcoat is worn out; the shirts also are worn out. He has a woolen shirt of mine, if he will please send it. I have also with him leggings of heavier cloth for overwear. He likewise has warmer nightcaps: I also ask for leave to use a lamp in the evening, for it is tiresome to sit alone in the dark. But above all, I beg and entreat your clemency earnestly to intercede with the lord commissary, that he would deign to allow me the use of my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Lexicon, and that I might employ my time with that study. Thus likewise may you obtain what you most desire, saving that it further the salvation of your soul. But if, before the end of winter, a different decision be reached concerning me, I shall be patient, and submit to the will of God to the glory of the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord, whose spirit may ever direct your heart. Amen.

W. Tyndale


The image below is reproduced from William Tydale: A Biography, by R. Demaus, New Edition, revised by Richard Lovett (London, 1886), p. 437.
Tyndale's letter from prison