189 English Catholic Martyrs & Heroic Confessors: 1603-1729

189 English Catholic Martyrs & Heroic Confessors: 1603-1729 February 9, 2018

“The executioner 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.”


[biographical information was obtained in most cases from Wikipedia and/or the Catholic Encyclopedia. The martyrs are listed chronologically by date of execution]

[See a gruesome description of the English punishment of being hanged, drawn, and quartered]

See related papers:

Total of all documented martyrs and heroic confessors for the Catholic faith, persecuted by English “head of the Church” royalty and its minions, in these four papers:


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 neighbours 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 1605.

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.

Henry Garnet (or, Garnett)

Born c. 1554. Ordained as a Jesuit in 1575. Though he generally lived in London, the hotbed of persecution, neither he nor any of his subordinates, who often came to see him, were captured in his lodgings, though perilous adventures were numerous. The conclusion of Garnet’s life is closely connected to the Gunpowder Plot. After the plot had been discovered, and Garnet had been arrested, he thought it best in his peculiar circumstances to confess the whole truth about his knowledge, and for this he was tried and executed at the west end of Old St. Paul’s, 3 May, 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 1606.

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”.

Nicholas Atkinson

Priest. Died in 1610.

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, owing to the unskilfulness of the hangman, and was eventually cut down and butchered alive at Leominster, on 27 August 1610.

Blessed George Napper (or, Napier)

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 (or, Sommers)

Priest and schoolmaster. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 10 December 1610 at Tyburn.

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.

John Mawson

Layman. Died in 1614.

Robert Edmonds 

Benedictine. Died in prison in 1615.

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.

Christopher Dixon

Priest (O.S.A.). Executed in 1616.

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, Thouless)

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 (or, Herst)

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].

Thomas Dyer

Benedictine. Died sometime between 1618 and 1630.

John Gerard

Jesuit. Died in 1637.

Richard Bradley 

Born 1605. Jesuit. Seized, imprisoned, but died before trial at Manchester, 20 January 1640.

Thomas Preston (or, Roger Widdrington)

Benedictine. Spent many years in prison and died in the Clink prison, 5 April, 1640.

Laurence Mabbs 

Benedictine. Died in a prison in 1641.

Blessed William Ward (or, Webster)

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 [1641] he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster.

Francis Quashet

Priest. Died in a London prison in 1642.

John Hammond (or, Jackson)

Layman. Died in a London prison in 1642.

Edward Wilkes

Priest. Died in York Castle before execution, in 1642.

Blessed Thomas Green (or, Reynolds)

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 (or, Huddleston) 

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.

Placid Peto

Benedictine. Died in prison in 1642 or 1643.

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 Newgate prison. 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 1643.

William Middleton (or, Heathcote) 

Benedictine. Died in prison in 1644.

Venerable Richard Price

Colonel. Executed on 7 May 1644 in Lincoln.

Idlephonse Hesketh (or, William Hanson) 

Benedictine. O.S.B. Died as a result of the persecution of Puritan soldiers in Yorkshire, around July 1644.

Boniface Kempe (or, Francis Kipton)

Died as a result of the persecution of Puritan soldiers in Yorkshire, around July 1644.

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.

Walter Coleman

Franciscan. Died in prison in 1645.

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, London.

John Felton

Jesuit. He was seized and so badly used that, when released (for no one appeared against him) he died within a month, 17 February, 1645.

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.

Thomas Foster (or, Forster) 

Jesuit. Died in prison in 1648.

Matthew Brazier (or, Grimes)

Jesuit. Died in prison in 1650.

Robert Cox

Benedictine. Died at the Clink Prison, 1650.

Edmund Cannon
Andrew Fryer (or, Herne, or Richmond)

Priests. Died in London prisons between 1640-1651.

James Brown

Benedictine. Died in prison between 1640-1651.

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.

Thomas Horsley

Layman. Died in a York prison in 1677.

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, 1678.

Venerable Edward Mico

Jesuit. Died or was executed in Newgate prison on 3 December, 1678.

Venerable Thomas Beddingfield (or, Bedingfield)

Died or was executed on 21 December, 1678, in Gatehouse prison.

Placid Aldham (or, John Adland)

Benedictine and convert. Chaplain to Queen Catherine of Braganza. Died under sentence in 1679.

Robert Green
Lawrence Hill 

Laymen. Died in 1679.

William Lloyd

Died under sentence of death, Brecknock, 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 (or, Levison)

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 at Tyburn.

Blessed John Fenwick

Ordained as a Jesuit in 1656. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 20 June 1679 at Tyburn.

Blessed John Gavan (or, Green)

Born 1640. Jesuit. Hanged, drawn, and quartered on 20 June 1679 at Tyburn.
Blessed William Harcourt (or, Barrows)

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 following:

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 offense 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.

Thomas Jennison 

Jesuit. Died after twelve months’ imprisonment, 27 September, 1679. He had renounced a handsome inheritance in favour of his brother, who, nevertheless, having apostatized, turned king’s evidence against him.

David Joseph Kemys (or, Kemeys)

Dominican. Died in prison in 1679 or 1680.

Richard Birkett 

Priest. Died in 1680 under sentence in Lancaster Castle.

Richard Gerard 

Layman. Died in 1680.

John Penketh

Jesuit. Died in prison in 1680.

Richard Lacey

Jesuit. Died in Newgate prison, 11 March, 1680.

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.

William Allison 

Priest. Died in York Castle, 1681.

Thomas Molineux 

Jesuit. Died in 1681.

William Atkins

Jesuit. Condemned at Stafford, was too deaf to hear the sentence. When it was shouted in his ear he turned and thanked the judge; he was reprieved and died in bonds, 7 March, 1681.

Edward Turner

Jesuit. Died on 19 March, 1681, in Gatehouse prison.

St. Oliver Plunkett

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: “Deo Gratias”.

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. The very next day after his execution, the bubble of conspiracy burst. Lord Shaftesbury, the chief instigator of the persecution, was consigned to the Tower, and his chief perjured witness Titus Oates was thrown into jail.

Benedict Constable (or, Counstable)

Benedictine. Died on 11 December, 1683, in Durham Jail.

Lord William Petre

Layman. Died in 1684.

William Bentney (or, Bennet) 

Born 1609. Jesuit; ordained by 1640. He was sent to the English missions in 1640, and labored there with great zeal and success for forty-two years. He was then arrested, at the instigation of a nobleman to whose sisters he was administering the sacraments, and was taken to the Leicester jail. No one in those parts being willing to bear witness against him, Bentney was at once transferred to Derby, where he was tried and sentenced to death at the spring assizes of 1682. His execution was delayed for unknown reasons, and on the accession of James II he was released. He was rearrested, however, tried and condemned after the Revolution, but the sentence remained suspended, and on 30 October 1692 he died in Leicester jail.

Paul Atkinson

Franciscan. One of the notable confessors of the English Church during the age which succeeded the persecution of blood. Having been condemned to perpetual imprisonment for his priesthood, starting around the year 1699, he died in confinement in Hurst Castle, after thirty years’ imprisonment, on 15 October, 1729. He joined the English Franciscan convent at Douai in 1673, and had served with distinction on the English mission for twelve years, when he was betrayed by a maidservant for the 100 pound reward.

* * * * *

Priests Who Died in London Prisons: Unknown Dates

Austin Abbot (or, John Rivers)
Richard Adams
Thomas Belser
? Gretus
Richard Weston (Jesuit)
William Wood
John Young

Laymen Who Died in London Prisons: Unknown Dates

Alexander Bales
Sandra Cubley
Anthony Fugatio (Portugese)
Richard Hart
? Lingon (widow)
? May
? Reynold
Edmund Sexton
Francis Spencer
John Thomas
Peter Tichborne

Priests Who Died in York Prisons: Unknown Dates

William Bannersley
James Gerard
John Pearson
Thomas Ridall
James Swarbrick

Laymen Who Died in York Prisons: Unknown Dates

Anthony Ash
John Chalmer (or, Chalmar)
Isabel Chalmer
Agnes Fuister
Thomas Luke
Alice Oldcorne
? Reynold? Robinson
John Stable
Margaret Stable
Geoffrey Stephenson
Christopher Watson
Frances Webster

Margaret Webster
Hercules Welbourne
Alice Williamson

Priests or Monks Who Died in English Prisons: Unknown Dates

Thomas Blount
Humphrey Browne (Jesuit)
Thomas Brownel (Brigittine laybrother)
James Gerard
Germain Holmes (Franciscan)
John Hudd (Jesuit)
John Pearson
Cuthbert Prescott (Jesuit)
Ignatius Price (Jesuit)
Charles Pritchard (Jesuit)

Thomas Rede (Benedictine)
Francis Simeon (Jesuit)
James Swarbrick
John Thompson (Jesuit)
Charles Thursley (Jesuit)
Thomas Vaughan

Sister Isabel Whitehead (Benedictine)
Boniface Wilford (Benedictine)

Laymen Who Died in English Prisons: Unknown Dates

Richard Hocknell
William Maxfield
Alice Paulin
Edmund Rookwood
Richard Spenser
? TremaineRobert Tyrrwhit
Edmund Vyse
Jane Vyse


(originally 2-16-08)

Photo credit: part of the gruesome process of being hanged, drawn, and quartered (removal of the intestines). Unknown date [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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