and Welsh Martyrs
Blessed Robert Grissold
Born c. 1675. Layman. He refused the offer of freedom if he would attend
Anglican services and was condemned for assisting Blessed John Sugar.
Hanged at Warwick on 16 July, 1604. Going up the ladder he said to the
people, "Bear witness, good people, that I die here not for theft, nor
for felony, but for my conscience." Then he forgave his persecutors and
the hangman, made an act of contrition, and called on the name of Jesus.
Lastly, he commended himself into the hands of Almighty God and was turned
off the ladder.
Blessed John Sugar
Born 1562. Ordained in 1601. Hanged, drawn, and quartered at Warwick on
16 July, 1604. His head and quarters were set up on the gates of the city.
Venerable Lawrence Bailey
Layman. Executed on 16 September 1604 at Lancaster.
Venerable John Fulthering
Layman. Executed at York on 1 August 1605. See next entry.
Blessed Thomas Welbourne
Layman. Bishop Challoner wrote: "Thomas Welbourne was a school-master,
. . . and John Fulthering was a layman of the same county, who being zealous
Catholics, and industrious in exhorting some of their neighbors to embrace
the Catholic faith, were upon that account arraigned and condemned to
suffer as in cases of high treason" (II, 12). Executed at York on 1 August
Blessed William Brown
Layman. Executed at Ripon on 5 September 1605.
Blessed Ralph Ashley
Jesuit lay-brother. Arrested at Hindlip, near Worcester, in connection
with the Gunpowder Plot,
and committed to the Tower on 3 February 1606. He was terribly tortured,
and the reticent answers and trembling signatures of Ashley's extant confessions
bear eloquent testimony to his constancy. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered
on 7 April, 1606, giving an admirable example of heroically faithful service.
Blessed Edward Oldcorne
Ordained as a Jesuit in 1587. Condemned to death at Worcester for alleged
complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, and executed on 7 April 1606.
St. Nicholas Owen
Born c. 1550. For several years he built hiding-places for priests in
the homes of Catholic families. He was arrested in 1594, and was tortured,
but revealed nothing. He continued his work, and is said to have contrived
Fr. Gerard's escape from the Tower of London in 1597. Early in 1606, Owen
was arrested again in Worcestershire. Under English law, he was exempt
from torture, as he had been maimed a few years previously, when a horse
fell on him. Nevertheless, he was tortured on the rack until he died,
having betrayed nothing. The exact date of his death is not known; some
sources give 2 March, while others place his death on the 12 November
Blessed Robert Drury
Born 1567. Ordained as a priest and returned to England in 1593. King
James I soon proved that he would not be satisfied with any purely civil
allegiance. He thirsted for spiritual authority, and, with the assistance
of an apostate Jesuit, a new oath of allegiance was drawn up, which in
its subtlety was designed to trouble the conscience of Catholics and divide
them on the lawfulness of taking it. It was imposed 5 July, 1606, and
about this time Drury was arrested. He was condemned for his priesthood,
but was offered his life if he would take the new oath. But he felt that
his conscience would not permit him to take the oath, and he was executed
at Tyburn, 26 February, 1607.
Blessed Mathew Flathers
Born c. 1580. Ordained 1606. He was brought to trial, under the statute
of 27 Elizabeth, on the charge of receiving orders abroad, and condemned
to death. By an act of unusual clemency, this sentence was commuted to
banishment for life; but after a brief exile, the undaunted priest returned
to England in order to fulfil his mission, and, after ministering for
a short time to his oppressed coreligionists in Yorkshire was again apprehended.
Brought to trial at York on the charge of being ordained abroad and exercising
priestly functions in England, Flathers was offered his life on condition
that he take the recently enacted Oath of Allegiance. On his refusal,
he was condemned to death and taken to the common place of execution outside
Micklegate Bar, York [21 March 1607]. The usual punishment of hanging,
drawing, and quartering seems to have been carried out in a peculiarly
brutal manner, and eyewitnesses relate how the tragic spectacle excited
the commiseration of the crowds of Protestant spectators.
Blessed George Gervase
Born 1571. Ordained as Benedictine priest in 1603. Refusing to take the
new oath of allegiance on account of its infringing on spiritual matters
where Catholics were concerned, he was tried, convicted of the offense
of merely being a priest, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn
on 11 April 1608.
St. Thomas Garnet
Born c. 1575. Because English colleges had been turned over to Protestants,
English Catholics had to go to the continent for their education. Thomas,
at age 17, was amongst the first students of Saint Omer's Jesuit College
in 1592. In September, 1607, he was sent back to England, but was arrested
six weeks later by an apostate priest called Rouse. This was the time
of King James' controversy with Cardinal Bellarmine about the Oath of
Allegiance. Garnet was offered his life if he would take the oath, but
he steadfastly refused, and was executed at Tyburn [23 June 1608], protesting
that he was "the happiest man this day alive".
Blessed Roger Cadwallador
Born 1568. Ordained as a priest in 1592. Arrested on Easter, 1610 and
brought before the Bishop, Dr. Robert Bennet, who committed him to Hereford
gaol where he was loaded with irons night and day. On being transferred
to Leominster gaol he was treated with the greatest inhumanity. He was
condemned, merely for being a priest, some months before he suffered.
A very full account of his sufferings in prison and of his martyrdom is
given by Challoner. He hung very long, suffering great pain, and was eventually
cut down and butchered alive at Leominster, on 27 August 1610.
Blessed George Napper
Born 1550. By December, 1580, he had been imprisoned. He was still in
the Wood Street Counter, London, on 30 September, 1588; but was liberated
in June, 1589, on acknowledging the royal supremacy. Ordained by 1603.
He was arrested at Kirtlington, four miles from Woodstock, on 19 July,
1610. As late as 2 November it was believed that he would have his sentence
commuted to one of banishment. As he refused the oath of allegiance, which
described the papal deposing power as a "false, damnable, and heretical"
doctrine, it was decided to execute him, and so he was hanged, drawn,
and quartered on 9 November 1610 at Oxford, England and his body parts
hung on the city gates as warnings to other Catholics.
St. John Roberts
Born c. 1576. Ordained as a Benedictine priest in 1602. He was captured
on 2 December 1610; the arresting men arrived just as he was concluding
Mass and took him to Newgate in his vestments. On 5 December he was tried
and found guilty under the Act forbidding priests to minister in England,
and on 10 December 1610 was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn.
Blessed Thomas Somers
Priest and schoolmaster. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 10 December 1610
Blessed Maurus (or, William)
Scott (or, Scot)
Born c. 1579. Benedictine priest (ordained in 1510). He had been firmly
of the position that Catholicism and its claims were both false and treasonable,
however, while visiting a Catholic friend, he began casually flicking
through a book of theology and was struck by the force of an argument
he read there. This caused him to enter into a period of intensive study
and prayer, and it was only after two years of intellectual and spiritual
struggle that he finally decided to be received into the Catholic Church.
He was executed on May 30th 1612. He appeared wearing his Benedictine
habit and declared himself once again a loyal subject of the King, before
being tied to a horse and dragged through the streets to the gallows at
Tyburn. Before being executed, he made a declaration of his life, his
faith and his conversion to the Catholic Church, and gave the small number
of gold coins he had in his purse to the executioner, saying, "Take these,
friend, for love of me. I give them to you with good will and gladly do
I forgive you my death". He was then hanged, drawn and quartered.
Blessed Richard Newport
Ordained in 1597. Hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on May 30th 1612.
St. John Almond
Ordained in 1598 and returned to the dangers of England in 1602 as a secular
priest. He was arrested in 1608, and then again in 1612. In November of
that year seven priests had escaped from prison, and this may have sharpened
the zeal of the persecutors. He displayed to the last a great acuteness
in argument, and died with the Holy Name upon his lips. He was hanged,
drawn, and quartered on 5 December 1612 at Tyburn, London.
St. John Ogilvie
[Scottish] Ogilvie, the son of a wealthy laird, was born in 1579 into
a respected Calvinist family near Keith in Banffshire, Scotland and was
educated in mainland Europe where he attended a number of Catholic educational
establishments, and decided to become a Catholic. Ordained as a Jesuit
in 1610. After ordination he made repeated entreaties to be sent back
to Scotland to minister to the few remaining Catholics in the Glasgow
area (after the Scottish Reformation in 1560 it had become illegal to
preach, proselytise for or otherwise endorse Catholicism). He returned
to Scotland in November 1613 disguised as a soldier, and began to preach
in secret, celebrating mass clandestinely in private homes. However, his
ministry was to last less than a year. In 1614, he was betrayed and arrested
in Glasgow and taken to jail in Paisley. He suffered terrible tortures,
including being kept awake for eight days and nine nights, in an attempt
to make him divulge the identities of other Catholics. Nonetheless, Ogilvie
did not relent. Consequently, after a biased trial, he was convicted of
high treason for refusing to accept the King's spiritual jurisdiction.
On 10th March 1615, aged 36 years, John Ogilvie was paraded through the
streets of Glasgow and hanged at Glasgow Cross.
His last words were "If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray
for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have". After he was pushed
from the ladder, he threw his concealed rosary beads out into the crowd.
The tale is told that one of his enemies caught them and subsequently
became a lifelong devout Catholic. After his execution Ogilvie's followers
were rounded up and put in jail. They suffered heavy fines, but none was
to receive the death penalty.
He is the only post-Reformation saint from Scotland.
Venerable Cuthbert Tunstall
Priest. Died in 1616.
Blessed Thomas Atkinson
Born c. 1546. Priest. Served in England from 1588 until his martyrdom
28 years later. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 11 March 1616 at age 70.
He suffered "with wonderful patience, courage, and constancy, and signs
of great comfort".
Blessed John Thulis (or,
Born c. 1568. Ordained in 1592. Hanged, drawn, and quartered at Lancaster,
18 March, 1616. He was imprisoned with thieves, four of whom he converted.
These were executed with the martyrs. His quarters were set up at Lancaster,
Preston, Wigan, and Warrington.
Blessed Roger Wrenno
Born c. 1576. Layman. Executed at Lancaster, 18 March, 1616. When Wrenno
was being hanged, the rope broke, and he was once more offered his life
for conformity, but ran swiftly to the ladder and climbed it as fast as
he could, saying to the sheriff, "If you had seen that which I have just
now seen, you would be as much in haste to die as I am now."
Blessed Thomas Maxfield
Born c. 1590. Ordained in 1614. 1 July 1616 at Tyburn. Within three months
of landing in England in 1615 he was arrested, and sent to the Gatehouse,
Westminster. After about eight months' imprisonment, he tried to escape
by a rope let down from the window in his cell, but was captured on reaching
the ground. This was in June, 1616. For seventy hours he was placed in
the stocks in a filthy dungeon at the Gatehouse, and was then on Monday
night (17 June) removed to Newgate, where he was set amongst the worst
criminals, two of whom he converted. On Wednesday, 26 June, he was brought
to the bar at the Old Bailey, and the next day was condemned solely for
being a priest, under 27 Eliz., c, 2. The Spanish ambassador did his best
to obtain a pardon, or at least a reprieve; but, finding his efforts unavailing,
had solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in his chapel during the
martyr's last night on earth. The procession to Tyburn early on the following
morning [1 July 1616] was joined by many devout Spaniards, who, in spite
of insults and mockery, persisted in forming a guard of honour for the
martyr. Tyburn-tree itself was found decorated with garlands, and the
ground round about strewn with sweet herbs. The sheriff ordered the martyr
to be cut down alive, but popular feeling was too strong, and the disembowelling
did not take place till he was quite senseless.
Blessed Thomas Tunstall
Ordained by 1610. On reaching England he was almost immediately apprehended
and spent four or five years in various prisons till he succeeded in escaping
from Wisbech Castle. He made his way to a friend's house near Lynn, where
is was recaptured and committed to Norwich Gaol. At the next assizes he
was tried and condemned (12 July, 1616). He was executed at Norwich on
13 July 1616. The saintliness of his demeanor on the scaffold produced
a profound impression on the people.
Blessed William Southerne
Born c. 1579. Priest. Executed at Newcastle-under-Lyme, 30 April, 1618.
St. Edmund Arrowsmith
(Portrait above). Born 1585. His family was constantly harassed for its
adherence to Roman Catholism, and in 1605 Edmund left England and went
to Douai to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1611 and sent
on the English mission the following year. He ministered to the Catholics
of Lancashire without incident until about 1622, when he was arrested
and questioned by the Protestant bishop of Chester. Edmund was released
when King James I of England ordered all arrested priests be freed, joined
the Jesuits in 1624 and in 1628 was arrested when betrayed by a young
man. He was convicted of being a Catholic priest and sleeping with the
king. He was sentenced to death, and hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster
on August 28th 1628. Brought to execution, he prayed for everyone in the
kingdom, then said, "Be witnesses with me that I die a constant Roman
Catholic and for Christ's sake; let my death be an encouragement to your
going forward in the Catholic religion."
Blessed Richard Hurst
Layman. Hurst was indicted on a trumped-up murder charge. Through Hurst's
friends a petition was sent to King Charles I, which petition was also
supported by Queen Henrietta Maria. But the Government was successful
in procuring the judicial murder of Hurst, by grossly tampering with the
very palladium of English liberties. The jury were unwilling to convict;
but the foreman of the jury was actually told by the judge, in the house
of the latter, that the Government was determined to get a conviction,
that a foul murder had been committed, and that the jury must bring in
a verdict of guilty. Hurst was accordingly convicted and sentenced to
death; on the next day, being commanded to hear a sermon at the Protestant
church, he refused and was dragged by the legs for some distance along
a rough road to the church, where he, however, put his fingers in his
ears so as not to hear the sermon. At the gallows he was informed that
his life would be spared if he would swear allegiance to the king, but
as the oath contained passages attacking the Catholic Faith he refused
and was at once executed [on August 28 or 29, 1628].
Blessed William Ward (or,
Born c. 1560. Ordained in 1608. Imprisoned for three years in Scotland.
On obtaining his liberty he came to England where he laboured for thirty
years, twenty of which he spent in various prisons as a confessor for
the Faith. He was in London when Parliament issued the proclamation of
7 April, 1641, banishing all priests under pain of death, but refused
to retire, and on 15 July was arrested in the house of his nephew. Six
days later he was brought to trial at the Old Bailey and was condemned
on 23 July. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn, 15 or 26 July,
1641, uttering the words, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, receive my soul!"
St. Ambrose (Edward) Barlow
Born 1585. Until 1607 he adhered to the Anglican church, but then turned
to the Catholic church. Barlow was educated at the Benedictine monastery
of St. Gregory in Douai, France, and entered the English College in Valladolid,
Spain, on September 20, 1610. He later returned to Douai where his elder
brother (William) Rudesind Barlow was a professed monk. Barlow also professed
in 1614 and was ordained a priest in 1617. After his ordination to the
priesthood in Douai, Barlow was sent to England on the mission in South
Lancashire. Pursued by anti-Catholic mobs and Anglican officials, Barlow
was imprisoned at least five times for his proselytization. He was caught
for the fifth and final time on Easter Sunday, 25 April 1641 and was arrested
by the Vicar of Eccles. He was paraded at the head of his parishioners,
dressed in his surplice, and was followed by some 400 men armed with clubs
and swords. Although he had been preaching at the time of his apprehension,
and could possibly have escaped in the confusion, he voluntarily yielded
himself to his enemies. He was taken to Lancaster Castle and, after four
months' imprisonment, was tried on September 6th or 7th, and sentenced
the following day after confessing to being a Catholic priest. On Friday
September 10  he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster.
Blessed Thomas Green (or,
Born c. 1562. Ordained in 1592. Spent 14 years in prison. He was hanged,
drawn, and quartered on 21 January 1642 at Tyburn at age 80, amidst great
demonstrations of popular sympathy.
St. Alban (or Bartholomew) Roe
Born c. 1583. Benedictine priest and convert. He was imprisoned twice,
for a total of 22 years, meeting his end at Tyburn, where he died by hanging,
drawing and quartering on 21 January 1642, amidst great demonstrations
of popular sympathy.
Blessed Edward Catherick
Born c. 1605. Ordained c. 1635. Catherick was dragged through the streets
of York on a hurdle to the place of execution and hanged, drawn, and quartered
on 13 April 1642. His head was placed on Micklegate Bar, and what fragments
remained, after the hangman's butchery, were buried at Toft Green.
Blessed John Lockwood
Born 1561. Ordained in 1597. He was dragged through the streets of York
on a hurdle to the place of execution and hanged, drawn, and quartered
at age 81 on 13 April 1642.
Venerable Edward Morgan
Welsh. Ordained c. 1621. He seems to have laboured in his fatherland,
and in April, 1629, was in prison in Flintshire, for refusing the oath
of allegiance. Later about 1632 he was condemned in the Star Chamber to
have his ears nailed to the pillory for having accused certain judges
of treason. Immediately afterwards he was committed to the Fleet Prison
in London, where he remained until a few days before his execution at
Tyburn, on 26 April, 1642.
Blessed Hugh Green
Born c. 1584. Convert. Ordained in 1612. On 8 March, 1641, Charles I,
to placate the Puritan Parliament, issued a proclamation banishing all
priests from England, and Green resolved to obey this order. Unfortunately
the news had been late in reaching him, and when he embarked the month
of grace given for departure was just over. He was therefore arrested,
tried, and condemned to death in August. Hanged, drawn, and quartered
in Dorchester on 19 August, 1642. As the executioner was quite unskilled,
he could not find the martyr's heart, and the butchery with appalling
cruelty was prolonged for nearly half an hour. After this the Puritans
played football with his head, a barbarity happily not repeated in the
history of the English martyrs.
Blessed Thomas Bullaker
Born c. 1604. Ordained Franciscan priest in 1628. On the 11th of September,
1642, Bullaker was seized while celebrating the Holy Sacrifice in the
house of the pious benefactress. He was condemned to be drawn on a hurdle
to Tyburn and there hanged, cut down alive, quartered and beheaded [carried
out at Tyburn on 12 October 1642].
Blessed Thomas Holland
Born in 1600. Ordained as a Jesuit in 1624. He was arrested on suspicion
in a London street 4 Oct., 1642, and committed to the New Prison. He was
afterwards transferred to Newgate, and arraigned at the Old Bailey, 7
December, for being a priest. There was no conclusive evidence as to this;
but as he refused to swear he was not, the jury found him guilty, to the
indignation of the Lord Mayor, Sir Isaac Pennington, and another member
of the bench named Garroway. On his return to prison great multitudes
resorted to him, and he heard many confessions. He was executed at Tyburn,
on 12 December, 1642. There he was allowed to make a considerable speech
and to say many prayers, and when the cart was turned away, he was left
to hang till he was dead.
Blessed Henry Heath
Born 1599. Franciscan priest. He was indicted under the 1585 "Act against
Jesuits, Seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons" (27
Eliz. c. 2) for being a priest and present in the realm of Queen Elizabeth.
While imprisoned at Tyburn he reconciled in the very cart one of the criminals
that were executed with him [on 17 April 1643]. He was allowed to hang
until he was dead.
Venerable Brian Cansfield
Jesuit. Executed on 3 August 1643 at York Castle.
Blessed Arthur Bell
Born 1590. Franciscan priest. In 1637 he returned to England, where he
laboured until November 1643, when he was apprehended as a spy by the
parliamentary troops at Stevenage in Hertfordshire and committed to the
The circumstances of his trial show Bell's devotedness to the cause of
the Catholic faith and his willingness to suffer for the faith. When condemned
to be drawn and quartered it is said that he broke forth into a solemn
Te Deum and thanked his judges profusely for the favour they were conferring
upon him in allowing him to die for Christ. Executed in London on 11 December
Venerable Richard Price
Colonel. Executed on 7 May 1644 in Lincoln.
Blessed Ralph Corbie (or,
Corby, or, Corbin, or, Corbington)
Born 1598. Ordained as a Jesuit, c. 1626. His imprisonment at Newgate
was characterized by cheerfulness and sanctity. Hanged, drawn, and quartered
at Tyburn in London on September 7, 1644.
Blessed John Duckett
Born 1603. Convert. Ordained in 1639. His imprisonment was characterized
by cheerfulness and sanctity. Hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn in
London on September 7, 1644.
St. Henry Morse
Born 1595. He converted to Catholicism, studied for the priesthood in
Rome and joined the Jesuits in 1626. Worked as a covert priest in London,
and among plague victims in 1636, he caught the plague himself but recovered
from it. Betrayed to the authorities by an informer, he was briefly imprisoned
in 1638. He ministered to people around the countryside of southern England
for years. He was arrested and convicted for practising as a Catholic
priest and hanged, drawn, and quartered on 1 February 1645 at Tyburn,
Venerable John Goodman
Welsh. Born in 1590. Ordained as a Protestant minister but converted and
ordained as a priest in 1624. He worked with unremitting zeal for some
years, was twice apprehended and twice released. Once more a prisoner
in 1642, he was brought to trial and condemned to death, but at the queen's
intercession was reprieved. When this act of Clemency on the part of Charles
I excited the anger of Parliament, Goodman, with great magnanimity, protested
his unwillingness to be a cause of dissension between Charles and his
subjects, and begged that he might be sacrificed to appease the popular
displeasure. This heroic act of generosity made a considerable sensation,
and probably suggested to Wentworth, Lord Strafford, the idea of doing
the same. Goodman, however, was left to languish in Newgate, but the hardships
soon put an end to his life on Good Friday, 8 April 1645.
Blessed Philip Powel
Born 1594. Ordained as a Benedictine in 1618. He was captured on 22 February,
1646 and denounced as a priest. On 11 May he was ordered to London by
the Earl of Warwick, and confined in St. Catherine's Gaol, Southwark,
where the harsh treatment he received brought on a severe attack of pleurisy.
His trial, which had been fixed for 30 May, did not take place till 9
June, at Westminster Hall. He was found guilty and was hanged, drawn,
and quartered at Tyburn on 30 June, 1646.
Blessed Edward Bamber
Priest. Arrested for a third time, he was committed to Lancaster Castle,
where he remained in close confinement for three years, once escaping,
but recaptured. Executed at Lancaster 7 August, 1646. He suffered with
great constancy, reconciling to the Church a felon executed with him,
and encouraging his fellow-martyrs to die bravely. His conduct so enraged
the persecutors that they urged the executioner to butcher him in a more
than usually cruel and savage manner.
Blessed Thomas Whitaker
Born 1614. Ordained in 1638. He was committed to Lancaster Castle, 7 August,
1643, being treated with unusual severity and undergoing solitary confinement
for six weeks. For three years he remained in prison, remarkable for his
spirit of continual prayer and charity to his fellow-captives. Before
his trial he made a month's retreat in preparation for death. Though naturally
timorous, and suffering much from the anticipation of his execution, he
steadfastly declined all attempts made to induce him to conform to Anglicanism
by the offer of his life, saying to the sheriff: "Use your pleasure with
me, a reprieve or even a pardon upon your conditions I utterly refuse".
He was executed at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646.
Blessed John Woodcock
Converted to Catholicism in 1622. Ordained as a Franciscan priest in 1631.
On 7 August 1646, in an attempted execution at Lancaster, he was flung
off a ladder, but the rope broke. He was then hanged a second time, was
cut down and disemboweled alive.
Blessed Peter Wright
Born 1603. Jesuit priest; ordained in 1636. Wright was condemned under
the statute 27 Eliz., c. 2. for being a Catholic priest in England and
sentenced on Saturday May 17 to being hanged, drawn and quartered. His
execution at Tyburn, London on a hot Whit Monday, May 19, 1651, took place
before over twenty thousand spectators. In the period of the trial and
the days after his execution, Wright was if not popular, at least a respected
figure in public opinion. The sheriff's officers also seem to have been
relatively well disposed to him and he was allowed to hang until he was
dead, being thus spared the agonies of being eviscerated alive.
St. John Southworth
(Portrait above) Born 1592. Fr. John Southworth came from a Lancashire
family that chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic
faith. He was arrested under the Interregnum
and was tried at the Old Bailey under Elizabethan anti-priest legislation
. He pleaded guilty to exercising the priesthood and was sentenced to
be hanged, drawn and quartered. At his execution at Tyburn, on 28 June
1654, he was not “drawn and quartered” as sentenced.
Blessed Edward Coleman
Layman and convert. He became a suspected character, and on the discovery
of the Titus Oates Plot,
conceived in 1678 for the ruin of the Duke of York whose Catholicity was
suspected Coleman was named as one of the conspirators. Conscious of his
innocence he took no steps to protect himself, allowed his papers to be
seized, and gave himself up for examination. He was tried 28 Nov., 1678,
being accused of corresponding with foreign powers for the subversion
of the Protestant religion, and of consenting to a resolution to murder
the king. His defense was that he had only endeavoured to procure liberty
of conscience for Catholics constitutionally through Parliament, and had
sought money abroad to further this object. He denied absolutely any complicity
with the plot against the king's life. His foreign correspondence of 1675
and 1676, when examined, proved him to be an intriguer, but contained
nothing that could connect him in any way with designs on the king's life.
However, in spite of the flagrantly false testimony of Oates and Bedloe,
he was found guilty, drawn to Tyburn, and there executed, on 3 December,
Venerable Edward Mico
Jesuit. Died or was executed in Newgate prison on 3 December, 1678.
Venerable Thomas Beddingfield
Died or was executed on 21 December, 1678, in Gatehouse prison.
Placid Aldham (or, John
Benedictine and convert. Chaplain to
Queen Catherine of Braganza. Died under sentence in 1679.
Blessed John Grove
Layman. Executed at Tyburn, on 24 January, 1679, saying: "We are innocent,
we lose our lives wrongfully, we pray God to forgive them that are the
causes of it."
Blessed William Ireland
Born in 1636. Ordained as a Jesuit in 1673. Found guilty in a kangaroo
court and executed at Tyburn, on 24 January, 1679.
Venerable Francis Nevil
Jesuit. Died in February 1679, in Stafford jail.
Venerable Francis Levinson
Franciscan. Died on 11 February, 1679, in prison.
Blessed Thomas Pickering
Born c. 1621. Lay Benedictine. In 1678, Titus Oates made claims of Catholic
plots against the King's life, and Pickering was accused of being part
of this conspiracy. No evidence except Oates's word was produced and Pickering's
innocence was so obvious that the Queen publicly announced her belief
in him, saying that she could not accept that he was a risk to the royal
family: "I should have more fear to be alone in my chamber with a mouse".
Nonetheless, the jury found him guilty. The king was divided between the
wish to save the innocent men and fear of the popular clamour. However,
on 26 April 1679, the House of Commons petitioned for Pickering's execution.
Charles yielded, and on 9 May 1679, Pickering was hanged, drawn and quartered
Blessed John Fenwick
Ordained as a Jesuit in 1656. Hanged, drawn,
and quartered on 20 June 1679 at Tyburn.
Blessed John Gavan (or,
Born 1640. Jesuit. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 20 June 1679 at Tyburn.
Blessed William Harcourt
Jesuit. Hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on 20 June, 1679.
Blessed Anthony Turner
Convert. Ordained as a Jesuit in 1661. Arrested in the Titus Oates Plot,
he was convicted of treason based on perjured evidence; one of the trial
rules was that no Catholic could be believed in court. Hanged, drawn,
and quartered at Tyburn on 20 June, 1679.
Blessed Thomas Whitbread
Born in 1618. Jesuit priest. He refused to admit Titus Oates
as member of the Society of Jesus, and shortly afterwards the celebrated
plot was fabricated. Father Whitbread was arrested in London on Michaelmas
Day, 1678, but was so ill that he could not be moved to Newgate till three
months later. He was first indicted at the Old Bailey, 17 December, 1678,
but, the evidence against him and his companions breaking down, he was
remanded and kept in prison till 13 June, 1679; later, he was again indicted,
and with four other fathers was found guilty on the perjured evidence
of Oates, Bedloe, and Dugdale and hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn
on 20 June, 1679.
Blessed Richard Langhorne
Born c. 1635. Layman. He was arrested on 15 June, 1667, in connection
with the great fire. Arrested a second time on 7 October, 1678, and committed
to Newgate without any previous examination, he was kept in solitary confinement
for eight months. On 14 June, 1679, he was brought to the bar at the Old
Bailey; Oates, Dugdale, Bedloe, and Prance gave evidence against him,
and he was found guilty. He was offered a pardon, if he would confess
his guilt and also make a disclosure of the property of the Jesuits with
which he had become acquainted in his professional capacity. This last
he did -- probably with the consent of his fellow-prisoner, the provincial,
Fr. Whitbread -- but, as he persisted in declaring his ignorance of any
conspiracy, he was executed at at Tyburn, on 14 July, 1679. His last words
were to the hangman: "I am desirous to be with my Jesus. I am ready and
you need stay no longer for me."
St. William John Plessington
Born c. 1637. he was ordained in Segovia on 25 March 1662. He returned
to England in 1663 ministering to covert Catholics in the areas of Holywell
and Cheshire. He was imprisoned for two months, and then hanged, drawn
and quartered for the crime of being a Catholic priest, on 19 July 1679.
From the scaffold at Gallow's Hill in Boughton, Cheshire he spoke the
But I know it will be said that a priest ordained by authority derived
from the See of Rome is, by the Law of the Nation, to die as a Traitor,
but if that be so what must become of all the Clergymen of the Church
of England, for the first Protestant Bishops had their Ordination from
those of the Church of Rome, or not at all, as appears by their own writers
so that Ordination comes derivatively from those now living.St. Philip Evans
Born 1645. He joined the Society of Jesus, 7 September 1665, and was ordained
at Liege and sent to South Wales as a missionary in 1675. In November
1678 a John Arnold, of Llanvihangel Court near Abergavenny, a justice
of the peace and hunter of priests, offered a reward of £200 (an enormous
sum then) for his arrest. Despite the manifest dangers Father Evans steadfastly
refused to leave his flock. He was charged with being a priest and coming
into the principality of Wales contrary to the provisions of the law.
The execution took place in Gallows Field, Cardiff on 22 July 1679.
St. John Lloyd
Father John Lloyd, a Welshman and a secular priest (ie, a priest not associated
with any order) was a Breconshire man, who had taken the missionary oath
at Valladolid in 1649 and had been sent to minister in his own country.
He was charged with being a priest and coming into the principality of
Wales contrary to the provisions of the law. The execution took place
in Gallows Field, Cardiff on 22 July 1679.
Blessed Nicholas Postgate
Born c. 1597. Ordained in 1628. Hanged, drawn, and quartered at York,
7 August 1679.
Blessed Charles Meehan
(or, O'Meighan, or, Mahoney)
Born c. 1640. Irish Franciscan (ordained in 1671). On the way to Ireland
from Rome, his ship was wrecked off the coast of Wales in a storm in 1678.
Charles was able to swim ashore with some of his belongings, coming upon
land near Milford Haven in Wales. He was arrested, while traveling North
on foot, in an effort to find a ship heading for Ireland. His offence
was that he did not speak the Welsh language. During his questioning it
became known that Charles was a Catholic priest. He was therefore handed
over to a cruel man named William Shaw, who beat him and spit upon him,
saying "say Mass for us priest." Charles escaped for a short time but
was recaptured. Upon his return, he was treated even more brutally. Eventually,
he was tried for treason. There was little reason to punish Charles further,
but the Welsh court found him guilty. On August 12, 1679, Charles was
taken from his prison cell, and tied to a wooden sled so that he could
be dragged outside the town by a horse. There (in Ruthin, North Wales)
he was hanged, and drawn and quartered. His last words were a prophesy
of King Charles II's conversion to Catholicism. "Now Almighty God is pleased
I should suffer this martyrdom. His Holy Name be praised since I die for
my religion . . . God forgive you, for I do and I shall always pray for
you, especially for those who were good to me in my distress. I pray God
to bless our King, Charles, and defend him from his enemies and convert
him to the Holy Catholic Faith. Amen." King Charles II was received into
the Catholic church on his death bed on the 6th of February, 1685.
St. John Kemble
Born 1599. Kemble was ordained a priest at Douai College, on 23 February
1625. He returned to England on 4 June 1625 as a missioner in Monmouthshire
and Herefordshire. Little is known of his work caring for the sustenance
of his flock for the next fifty three years. The conditions for Catholics
had eased from the ferocious persecution of the Elizabethan period, but
the priest performed his ministry discreetly. Father Kemble was staying
at his brother's home, Pembridge Castle, near Welsh Newton, when he was
arrested. He was warned about the impending arrest but declined to leave
his flock, saying, "According to the course of nature, I have but a few
years to live. It will be an advantage to suffer for my religion and,
therefore, I will not abscond." He was arrested by a Captain John Scudamore
of Kentchurch. It is a comment on the tangled loyalties of the age that
Scudamore's own wife and children were parishioners of Father Kemble.
Father Kemble, now 80, was taken on the arduous journey to London to be
interviewed [and] was found guilty of the treasonous crime of being a
priest. He was sentenced to death, with the punishment for this being
hanged, drawn and quartered [on 22 August 1679]. Before his death Father
Kemble addressed the assembled crowd: "I die only for profession the Roman
Catholic religion, which was the religion that first made this Kingdom
Christian." Kemble was allowed to die on the gallows before drawn and
quartered, thus he was spared the agonies suffered by so many of the other
martyrs. Miracles were soon attributed to the saintly priest. Scudamore's
daughter was cured of throat cancer, while Scudamore's wife recovered
her hearing whilst praying at the Kemble's grave.
St. John Wall
Born 1620. Ordained as a priest on 3 December, 1645. He was declared innocent
of all plotting and offered his life if he would abjure his religion.
Brought back to Worcester, he was executed at Redhill on 22 August 1679.
St. David Lewis
Born 1616. At sixteen years of age, while visiting Paris, he converted
to Catholicism and subsequently went to study in Rome, where in 1642 he
was ordained as a Catholic priest. Three years later, he became a Jesuit.
In 1647 he returned home and, for over thirty years, worked in South Wales.
He was arrested in November 1678, at Llantarnam in Monmouthshire, and
condemned as a Roman Catholic priest and for saying Catholic masses, at
the Assizes in Monmouth in March 1679. He was brought to the bar on a
charge of High Treason – for having become a Catholic priest and then
remaining in England. He was finally brought back to Usk in Monmouthshire
for his execution, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 27 August 1679.
After the Titus Oates affair (1679–80), the remaining Welsh-speaking Catholic
clergy were either executed or exiled.
Blessed Thomas Thwing
Born in 1635. Ordained in 1665. On October 23, 1680 Thomas Thwing was
drawn from York Castle to the place of execution. He was the last of the
""seminary priests"" to be martyred for his faith in England.
Blessed William Howard
Born 1614. On 25 October, 1678, he was committed to the Tower, and it
was more than a year before it was decided to try him. Then the resolution
was taken so suddenly that he had little time to prepare. The trial, before
the House of Lords, lasted from 30 November to 7 December, and no attempt
was made to appraise the perjuries of Oates, Dugdale, and Tuberville,
and the viscount was of course condemned by 55 votes to 31. It is sad
to read that all his kinsmen but one voted against him. His last letters
and speeches are marked by a quiet dignity and a simple heroism, which
give us a high idea of his character. He was beheaded on Tower-Hill, London,
on 29 December, 1680.
St. Oliver Plunkett
(Portrait above) Irish. Born at Loughcrew near Oldcastle, County Meath,
Ireland, 1629. Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, his is
the brightest name in the Irish Church throughout the whole period of
persecution. Plunket lingered for some time in London, using his influence
to mitigate the rigour of the administration of the anti-Catholic laws
in Ireland, and it was only in the middle of March, 1670, that he entered
on his apostolate in Armagh. From the very outset he was most zealous
in the exercise of the sacred ministry. Within three months he had administered
the Sacrament of Confirmation to about 10,000 of the faithful, some of
them being sixty years old, and, writing to Rome in December, 1673, he
was able to announce that "during the past four years", he had confirmed
no fewer that 48,655 people. To bring this sacrament within the reach
of the suffering faithful he had to undergo the severest hardships, often
with no other food than a little oaten bread.
The storm of persecution burst with renewed fury on the Irish Church in
1673; the schools were scattered, the chapels were closed. Dr. Plunket,
however, would not forsake his flock. His palace thenceforward was some
thatched hut in a remote part of his diocese. As a rule, in company with
the Archbishop of Cashel, he lay concealed in the woods or on the mountains,
and with such scanty shelter that through the roof they could at night
count the stars of the sky. He tells their hardship in one of his letters:
"The snow fell heavily, mixed with hailstones, which were very large and
hard. A cutting north wind blew in our faces, and snow and hail beat so
dreadfully in our eyes that up to the present we have scarcely been able
to see with them. Often we were in danger in the valleys of being lost
and suffocated in the snow, till at length we arrived at the house of
a reduced gentleman who had nothing to lose. But, for our misfortune,
he had a stranger in his house by whom we did not wish to be recognized,
hence we were placed in a garret without chimney, and without fire, where
we have been for the past eight days. May it redound to the glory of God,
the salvation of our souls, and of the flock entrusted to our charge".
Writs for the arrest of Dr. Plunket were repeatedly issued by the Government.
At length he was seized and cast into prison in Dublin Castle, 6 Dec.,
1679, and a whole host of perjured informers were at hand to swear his
life away. In Ireland the character of those witnesses was well known
and no jury would listen to their perjured tales, but in London it was
not so, and accordingly his trial was transferred to London. There was
no secret as to the fact that his being a Catholic bishop was his real
crime. Lord Brougham in "Lives of the Chief Justices of England" brands
Chief Justice Pemberton, who presided at the trial of Dr. Plunket, as
betraying the cause of justice and bringing disgrace on the English Bar.
This Chief Justice set forth from the bench that there could be no greater
crime than to endeavour to propagate the Catholic Faith, "than which (he
declared) there is not anything more displeasing to God or more pernicious
to mankind in the world". Sentence of death was pronounced as a matter
of course, to which the primate replied in a joyous and emphatic voice:
On Friday, 11 July 1681, Dr. Plunket, surrounded by a numerous guard of
military, was led to Tyburn, to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Vast crowds
assembled along the route and at Tyburn. As Dr. Brennan, Archbishop of
Cashel, in an official letter to Propaganda, attests, all were edified
and filled with admiration, "because he displayed such a serenity of countenance,
such a tranquillity of mind and elevation of soul, that he seemed rather
a spouse hastening to the nuptial feast, than a culprit led forth to the
scaffold". From the scaffold he delivered a discourse worthy of an apostle
and martyr. An eye-witness of the execution declared that by his discourse
and by his heroism in death he gave more glory to religion than he could
have won for it by many years of a fruitful apostolate.
St. Oliver Plunket's martyrdom closed the long series of deaths for the
faith, at Tyburn.
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