ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Burning of Joan Waste: The Blind Faithful Protestant

Updated on September 20, 2014
St. Peter's Church, Derby where Joan Waste and her family attended service
St. Peter's Church, Derby where Joan Waste and her family attended service | Source

On August 1, 1556, Joan Waste was hanged and burned for holding protestant views. She was one of around 300 Protestants burned for heresy during Mary I’s reign, when the country temporarily returned to Catholicism for the five year period. Joan was just around 22 at the time and was executed in her hometown of Derby.

The Birth of Joan Waste

Joan was a twin—so both babies and the mother were lucky to survive at the time—but was born blind. The exact date is unknown but it is sometime in 1534. This was after Henry VIII had broken from the Catholic church in order to marry Anne Boleyn a year earlier. The poor girl was raised to be a Protestant and her family would have been deemed heretics had they not raised her with Protestant views. She had no chance of survival when it came to Mary I’s reign.

Joan’s blindness didn’t stop her from succeeding in life. She learnt to knit and was skilled at making ropes. Her father, William Waste, was a rope-maker and taught her everything he knew. Her twin brother, Roger, grew up to be a barber in Derby.

Mary I condemned people for their Protestant views
Mary I condemned people for their Protestant views

Mary I Makes Protestant Views Illegal

While Mary took the throne in 1553, she didn’t make Protestantism illegal until 1555. Mary was raised as a Catholic and her mother was a devout Catholic. When Henry VIII broke from Rome and banned Catherine of Aragon and Mary Tudor from seeing each other, Mary refused to conform to the Protestant religion. It was such a worry for Edward VI, Mary’s half-brother, that he tried to remove Mary from the line of succession by placing their Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne. Of course, this lasted all of 13 days and Mary I had the support of the English people to become Queen of England.

There were around 300 people who were condemned for their religious views. Some of the bigger names include Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer but there were many who were relatively unknown. It was a shame for the English people though. They were in a world that was very uncertain and they were all very religious people.

Until Mary’s reign, many of the English people were now used to listening to services in English and now they were thrown into Latin services. This was difficult for many but more so Joan, who was blind and wouldn’t even be able to risk reading her own bible in secret.

The Differences Between Protestantism and Catholicism

Many people may question what the differences are. Many Christian countries have simply become used to so many different branches of the religion and accept that people have different views. Those who aren’t Christian view the different branches as the same thing: they both believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; the Three in One.

There are some major differences though. One of those is the fact that traditionally, the Catholic services were spoken in Latin and the bibles were all in Latin. This helped to prevent the “lower people” misinterpreting the word. The Priests and Cardinals were the only people able to preach about the word because they ‘knew the true meaning of it’. Protestants believed that everyone had the right to read God’s word and the bibles were translated into English.

Another major difference was the aspect of Mass. Protestantism removed Mass from the services. While bread and wine was still taken, believers of this faith didn’t believe that it became Jesus’ blood and flesh like Catholics did. Joan refused to acknowledge the Catholic view of Mass. She stated that they were just bread and wine; a symbol of the flesh and blood of Christ.

One difference that many know is that Catholics believe the Pope is the only person who can talk directly to God, along with those appointed by the Pope. To ask God’s forgiveness for sin, they must go to Confession and talk to their priest. The priest will tell them everything they have to do to atone and receive that forgiveness. However, Protestants believe that they can all talk to God. They can ask him directly for forgiveness and, as long as they are genuine in this asking, they will receive it.

Joan Waste was executed at Windmill Pit
Joan Waste was executed at Windmill Pit

Joan Waste Is Condemned of Heresy

Sometime in 1556, Joan was called before Anthony Draycot, the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. He was a Catholic and the chancellor of Ralph Baines. She had objected to services being spoken in Latin and defended her Protestant views. Instantly she was condemned for heresy as she was breaking the law created the year earlier.

One factor that condemned Joan was how she bought her own New Testament. While she couldn’t read it herself, she paid her friends a penny a time to read some of it to her. This was her way of understanding the bible in her own way and discussing it with her friends.

Her trial was at All Saints Parish Church as it was known back then. It is now known as Derby Cathedral and has been rebuilt over time. The only part of the original building is the tower, which is from the 1530s.

Fan Video of Mary I vs. Elizabeth I

The Execution of Joan Waste

Joan walked to her execution holding her twin brother’s hands. The final sermon was given by Anthony Draycot and was also accompanied by Master Jon Dethick, Sir John Port, Henry Vernon and Thomas Powthread. The execution was at Windmill Pit, referred to as the Ordeal Pit during the 1200s.

Joan was hanged by a rope over a fire. When the fire burnt through the rope, she dropped into the flames. It was expected that she would forever suffer and burn for her Protestant beliefs. It was a shame for Joan. Had she denied her Protestant views, just for two years, she would have been saved. Mary I died in November 1558 and Elizabeth I was crowned Queen of England. However, it does show the strong beliefs that Joan held. She knew she would be condemned for her religious views and admitted to them anyway. She truly believed that this would save her from the pits of Hell after her death.

What happened to Draycot? He lost his Bishop title on June 21, 1559, during the reign of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth repealed the law forbidding Protestant views and helped to find a balance between the differing religions. Draycot became a prisoner of the fleet. He died after his release in 1571.

The site of Joan Waste’s execution is now a Roman Catholic church! Joan did become a Martyr for her religion.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Andeslay Rodriguez 

      21 months ago


    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 

      6 years ago from America

      She died a martyr for Christ. Christians do not agree with Catholic teachings and may she rest in Gods peace. I hope I have the same courage she did if put to the test.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)