11th April 1612 and Edmund Wightman wouldn’t have known it at the time but he was to be the last person to be burned at the stake for heresy in this country, the execution taking place in the square outside St Mary’s Church in Lichfield, a plaque marks the site.
Aside from a number of views which would probably be considered simply the start of a new sect today, he made the mistake of claiming Edmund Wightman was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament; that he was the Holy Spirit; he was the prophet Elijah; Christ was never incarnate and but merely a man; that Christ was not God; there was no Trinity; baptism is wickedness; the communion is evil; and God ordained him the saviour of the world. David Icke must be secretly pleased he wasn’t born in the latter part of the 16th century.
However there is an earlier part to this story for, on March 9th that year, he had been brought to the market to be burned at the stake. The fire was lit and he was heard to cry out and beg for mercy, repenting for everything he had said and done. The people of Lichfield broke through the cordon and dragged the man from the flames, several being badly burned in the process. Wightman was forced to read out his repentance before the chains were removed. Bishop was not impressed and sent for him to read the repentance a second time bur Wightman refused hence he was sent back to the stake and the cordon strengthened to prevent a repeat of the March debacle. In April none were allowed through until the fire had died out completely and all that was left was a pile of ashes.