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Foxe's Acts and Monuments (the original Foxe's Book of Martyrs):
how to obtain a facsimile or a print-on-demand copy.

By Peter Reynolds. Compiled 29 April 2006.

People sometimes ask booksellers for an unabridged copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Let's get something clear first. If it's a printed book, and it's called Foxe's Book of Martyrs, it is abridged. Why? Because “Foxe's Book of Martyrs” is usually used as a generic term for a wide variety of abridgements from a much larger work “The Acts and Monuments of the Church: Containing the History and Sufferings of the Martyrs” first published in 1563 and 1570. Some of them may have 600 pages, some may have 60 pages, but they are all abridgements of a much larger, multi-volume or multi-column/small print work. If someone tells you they have an unabridged Foxe's Book of Martyrs from 1854, they most likely don't, though it will no doubt be longer than some of those tiny paperback editions. Also, at one time about 10 years ago, Ambassador Productions claimed that their edition was unabridged – I'm not sure what they meant by this, no doubt they had no dishonest intent, and the Victorian edition they reproduced may itself have made such a claim, but it certainly wasn't an unabridged copy of Foxe's original work.

If you want something with a comparable quantity of content to the original, you want Foxe's Acts and Monuments.

How to obtain Foxe's Acts and Monuments

  • Online (free) as an annotated reproduction of the texts of the 1563, 1570, 1576, and 1583 edition; from The Humanities Research Institute Online Press
    John Foxe's Book of Martyrs: Foxe's Book of Martyrs Variorum Edition Online (v.1.0)

  • On CD-ROM as a facsimile of the 1583 edition;
    from Oxford University Press (GBP 185 +VAT for an individual licence)
    Facsimile of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, 1583 Actes and Monuments of Matters Most Speciall and Memorable Version 1.0 on CD-ROM
    ISBN-10: 0197262252 ; ISBN-13: 9780197262252

  • At a scholarly (national or university) library, either as an original or on microfiche

  • As large paperback books containing a much longer text than a Foxe's Book of Martyrs, but in a modernised Victorian form. For a not very sympathetic comparison of Victorian editions see

How to obtain reprinted Victorian editions of Foxe's Acts and Monuments:

  1. Elibron Classics have 3 paperback volumes at $32.99 for the set

  2. Kessinger Publishing have 2 different sets each of 2 paperback volumes, for $54.12 and $57.36 respectively (price via Amazon)

    Also, possibly

  3. AGES Software used to have another, 8 volume, Victorian edition on a CD-ROM

  1. Elibron Classics (apparently no ISBN): We bought a copy of this at $30.99 plus $9.90 shipping to UK. The price is now shown at $32.99, and Elibron's site says “This book will be available soon”. What follows is a review of our experience of the content, production, and delivery of this edition.

    • Content: This contains a condensed edition by Rev Michael Hobart Seymour, MA. It is in double column small print and extends to xxxii + 1082 pages.

      The condensing is described by the editor in his preface:
      “The edition which we now present to the public, possesses certain peculiarities which require to be noticed.
      I. There is a large mass of official documents and forms, which, though interesting to the writers of history, possess no interest or value for the religious, or general reader. They seem to have been published by Foxe, more with the view of preserving them as records, than in the expectation that they would be perused by the general reader.
      A large portion of these have been omitted from this edition
      II. There is a series of narrations, from time to time introduced by the author, connected with the superstitious credulity of the dark ages. Some of them are absurd, others are marvellous. And Foxe, while he inserts them, does not hesitate to express judgment on them, pronouncing them to be apocryphal.
      These have been excluded from this edition, as calculated to injure, rather than promote the interests of religion.
      III. There is also inserted in the original work, a variety of Latin quotations, a few from the Greek, and a number of letters and documents, also in the Latin language.
      These have been removed from the present edition, as being calculated to encumber it unnecessarily.
      IV. Owing to the state of society in the age in which the work was written, there was a coarseness of expression, and an absence of delicacy and propriety, in some of the narrations, which render it unfit for family perusal, in the present state of society, and which have aided much in consigning the work itself into oblivion.
      All these narrations, and indelicacies, have been most carefully expunged from this edition.

      V. There are many errors in the dates, embodied in the original work. Some of these are, perhaps, the result of those mistakes into which the authors of that age were very likely to fall, in reference to more ancient history. Many of them are merely the mistakes of the printing press, accumulated through successive editions.
      These have been carefully corrected in the present edition, so as to prevent the reader falling into error.
      These particulars, present the peculiarities of this edition. The object has been, to present the Protestant population of this land, with A FAMILY EDITION – one that, in point of size and cheapness, would be accessible to all – one that could be perused without toiling through unnescessary and uninteresting documents – and especially one that could be read with interest, and advantage, in the family circle.

      In order to render the work complete, an Appendix has been added, containing accounts of the massacre of St. Bartholomew – of the Spanish Armada – of the Gunpowder Treason – of the great Rebellion of Ireland, in 1641 – all written by authors who wrote immediately after the events which they narrate. Also an account of the executions in the reign of Elizabeth, proving them to have been the punishment for treason, and not a persecution of Popery.

      From a quick glance at the first few paragraphs and comparing with Amazon's sample pages of the Kessinger reprint of John Cumming's edition (see below – section (2) for Kessinger editions), it is evident that Seymour also modernised and condensed the language to some extent. For instance Cumming's edition says “In the tractation of all which things our chief purpose and endeavour shall be, (so near as the Lord will give us grace,) not so much to intermeddle with outward affairs of princes, or matters civil, (except sometimes for example of life,) as specially minding (by the help of the Lord) to prosecute such things only which to the ecclesiastical state of the church are appertaining...”. In Seymour's edition this reads “In treating of all which things, our chief purpose shall be, not so much to intermeddle with outward affairs of princes, or civil matters, as especially minding to prosecute such things as appertain to the state of the church...”. This example shows Seymour modernising and abridging. Of course Cumming may have done the same in other places.

    • Production: Elibron's printing is a facsimile reprint from Seymour's edition published by Scott, Webster and Geary, London, 1838. There are no illustrations apart from a frontispiece portrait of Mr Foxe himself. It has been divided into three volumes, containing Books 1-5; 6-10; 11-12 & appendices, respectively. These are printed on bright white paper and bound in green shiny covers which tend to curl. The pages are glued into the spine with a hard brown glue. The print is a bit fuzzy throughout but is eminently readable. Bizarrely, the set we received had the first volume 4 mm (nearly 2 tenths of an inch) shorter in height than the other two.

    • Delivery: Despite saying in their original email confirmation of our order on 23 January “We expect to ship this order in 3 business days”, Elibron did not in fact ship these volumes until 3 March (they sent us an email to say they had shipped on 1 March, but both customs label and postage say 3 March). This was a delay of 39 days, or 5½ weeks. As expected, the books were shipped by Surface Mail M-Bag and arrived today, 29 April, thus within the usual time frame of two months for Surface Mail shipments from USA, but over three months after they were paid for! It is only fair to mention that we paid $9.90 for shipping, but it actually cost Elibron $17.05, not to mention the cost of the box.

      The packaging was inadequate for despatch of heavy books weighing 3.1 kg or nearly 7lb in an M-Bag. It consisted of a singlewall box, with two layers of bubblewrap filling the void on top of the books, but no cushioning underneath the books or round the sides. As a result, when one bottom corner of the box hit another solid object during shipping, one of the corners of the first volume ended up no longer in new condition, having obviously received a shock, though with no tearing or soiling. Users of the M-Bag service need to realise that sacks of mail will be thrown, violently, several times during their journey, and pack accordingly.

  2. Kessinger Publishing: two different editions

    Kessinger uses Lightning Source to produce some, perhaps all, of their output. We have some of Lightning Source's smaller paperback items and have found the quality to be quite good.

  3. AGES Software: Acts and Monuments appeared in the “Reformation History Library” CD which is no longer available on its own – I am not clear as to whether you can still buy this from AGES as part of a larger DVD.
    This was a different edition to those reproduced by Elibron and Kessinger. According to a review in The Tyndale Society Journal by Vic Perry
    (on the web at, the edition reproduced is the second nineteenth century one with a 'life of the martyrologist, and vindication of his work' by George Townsend, published 1843-49.
    On consulting COPAC (, it appears this would be the 8 volume edition published in London by Seeley, Burnside, and Seeley.

Peter Reynolds, 29 April 2006.

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