A COMPLETE HISTORY
FROM THE ROMAN OCCUPATION
A COMPLETE HISTORY
THE BRITISH MARTYRS,
Jrom tbe IRoman Occupation to
BY WILLIAM CANON FLEMING,
Rector of St. Mary's, Moorfields, London.
PUBLISHED BY THE
PROPRIETORS OF THE CATHOLIC REPOSITORY,
LITTLE BRITAIN, LONDON.
<5ultelmu6 Canonicus (Silfcea, 2). 2).,
Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval SfudieS
113 ST. JOSEPH STREET
! ~n OMT PAiJADA M5S1J*
IN MEMORY OF
THIRTY YEARS' UNBROKEN FRIENDSHIP
IS DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR
REV. DEAN NORRIS,
RECTOR OF ST. HELEN'S, BRENTWOOD,
Britain's Title : " Primogenita Ecclesiae."
THE voices of the Apostles announcing the Gospel of Jesus
Christ our Lord were heard in every land, and their words
re-echoed from the utmost confines -of the known world.
Such is the claim which the church makes in behalf of the
Galilean fishermen whom Our Saviour sent to teach all
Gildas, Britain's most ancient historian, whilst lament-
ing the subjugation of his country "by the Romans during
the reign of Tiberius Caesar, finds consolation in the
thought that during those dark days the light of the
Gospel was spread throughout Britain. His words cannot
be otherwise interpreted : they are as follows : " In the
meantime, whilst these things lasted, there appeared" and
imparted itself to this cold Island, removed farther from
the visible sun than any other country, that true and invis-
ible Sun, which, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, showed
itself to the whole world I mean Christ vouchsafed to
impart His precepts to the Britons." (De excidio Brit. y
The Roman Army under Claudius, which did not set out
for Britain until some time after the Prince of the Apostles
entered the gates of the Eternal City, and was being con-
stantly recruited from Rome during the long and tedious
war that followed, must have numbered multitudes of
Catholics in its ranks. It may well be supposed, then, that
Christianity marched into Britain with the Roman Army.
Eusebius (A.D. 259), in his Ecclesiastical History,
narrates that " some of the Apostles" passed over the
ocean "to the British Isles." The names of SS. Peter and
Paul, Saints Simon Zelotes and Joseph of Arimathea are
mentioned as having preached in Britain by one or other
of the following historians : Gildas, Capgrave, Harpsfeld,
Polydor Virgil, the Magdeburg Centuriators, Eysengranius
in his " History of the First Century," Simeon Metaphrastes,
and Baronius in his famous Annals.
It will be interesting to dwell on the reasons suggested
for believing that St. Peter himself was one of Britain's
Apostles. There are many reasons which lead to that
conclusion. The presence of so many Christians in the
Roman Army occupying Britain, the greater number of
whom were possibly his own converts, may well have in-
spired the Prince of the Apostles with a great desire of
visiting Britain. Other circumstances also contributed to
excite his active interest in native Britons. In the year
of our Lord 52 Claudius made a triumphal entry into
Rome, leading captive Bran, Prince of the Silures, and his
brave son Caractacus. Bran and Caractacus were detained
as captives in Rome for seven years, during which time
Bran was instructed and baptized a Christian, most
probably by St. Peter himself. On their release from
captivity in the year 59 St. Peter, at Bran's request, sent
Aristobalus, his own disciple, as bishop, with two priests
named Hid and Cynvan, to preach the Gospel to the Cymry,
who inhabited the province governed by Bran, now called
Wales. It is stated in the " Triads " that " Bran, the son
of Lear the Stammerer, was that Bran that first brought
the Christian Faith to this Island from Rome, where he
was detained a captive through the treachery of Cartis-
mandrua, the daughter of Avarny, the son of Lud."
This statement is confirmed by the " Genealogy of the
British Saints," which relates that " Bran, the son of Lear
the Stammerer, was the first of the nation of the Cymry
that embraced the Christian faith." The same " Genealogy"
informs us that Bran brought with him three missionaries,
Hid and Cy nvan, Israelites, and Aristobalus, a native of Italy
and a disciple of St. Peter. It is added that Aristobalus was
the first Christian Bishop of this Island. These facts are at
least sufficient to prove that St. Peter must have taken a
deep interest in the welfare of the Early British Church,
and prepare us to believe that he may himself have visited
Britain. That he actually did visit Britain and preach the
Gospel there is distinctly stated by authorities of repute.
Eysengranius, in his " History of the First Century " (part
7, d. 8) affirms that the first churches in Britain were founded
by St. Peter during Nero's reign. Simeon Metaphrastes
(Apud Surium, 23 Junii, p. 362) directly, and Gildas
indirectly confirm this statement (De excidio Brit. Epistola
Secunda). Gildas calls Britain "The see of Peter," for
when alluding to the fearful massacre of the British priests
and to the desecration of the churches in Britain by the
Saxons under Hengist, he charges them with "tramp-
ling on the see of Peter with shameless feet :" " quod sedem
Petri Apostoli invericundis pedibus usurpassant."
Baronius (Annales ecclae A.D. 58) is of opinion that St.
Peter visited Britain in the year 58, when the Emperor
Claudius banished all the Jews from Rome. He fairly
urges that St. Paul would not have written his Epistle to the
Romans unless St. Peter were absent at the time, or, if
he had written it whilst the Prince of the Apostles was.
still there, he would have sent his salutations to him as
he did to St. Peter's disciple Aristobalus. (Rom. xvi., 10.)
Assuming the truth of Baronius's conjecture, it is clear
that St. Peter visited Britain whilst his disciple was still
in Rome, the year before Bran with Aristobalus, Hid, and
Cynvan, returned to spread the Gospel among the Cymry
This theory may seem at first sight inconsistent with the
statement already quoted from the "Triads," viz., "that
Bran, the son of Lear the Stammerer, was that Bran that
first brought the Christian faith to this Island." It must
be noticed, however, that this declaration is considerably
modified by what is stated further on, in the same ancient
book, viz., that " Bran was the first person who introduced
the Christian religion among the Cymry from Rome."
The " Genealogy of the British Saints" leaves this dis-
puted question perfectly open, as it confines its statement
to Welsh Cymry: "Bran, the son of Lear the Stammerer,
was the first of the nation of the Cymry that embraced the
Christian Faith." Any other of the British nation, the
Brigantes for instance, might have the Gospel preached to
them by St. Peter in the year 58 without infringing this
statement. The exact date, however, of St. Peter's visit to
Britain, though interesting in itself, is a matter of secondary
importance. The really, important point is that historians
of credit declare that St. Peter preached the Gospel in this
As all the Christians in Britain at the time were alto-
gether exempt from persecution, even during Nero's reign,
the sacred writers would be no doubt prudently silent
concerning the progress of Christianity in that country, and
it is for this reason, perhaps, that no mention is made in the
Sacred Scriptures of St. Peter's missionary labours there.
The whole controversy on this point is well summed up
by Doctor Richard Smith, second Vicar- Apostolic of
England and Scotland, in his " Prudential Ballance of
Religion," published in 1609. The first chapter of this
book commences with the question : " What religion was
in this land before the coming of St. Austin r"
" The ancient inhabitants of this Island were the
Britons, whom we now call Welsh men. The faith of
Christ was planted amongst them by the glorious Apostles
Saints Peter and Paul and Simon, by the Apostolic man
St. Joseph of Arimathea (who buried our Saviour) and by
St. Aristobalus, of whom St. Paul maketh mention in his
Epistle to the Romans. All these, Protestants grant to
have preached Christ's faith in this Island, except St.
Peter, to whom some of them will not have this land be-
holden, which question, because it is beside my purpose,
I will not stand to discuss ; only I assure the indifferent
reader that St. Peter's preaching to the Ancient Britons is
on the one side affirmed by Greeks and Latins, by ancient,
by foreign and domestic, by Catholic writers such as
Protestants themselves account most excellent, learned,
and great historians ; by Protestant antiquaries such as
Protestant Divines term most excellent antiquaries; and, on
the other side, denied by no ancient writer, Greek or Latin,
foreign or domestic, Catholic or otherwise. And what better
proof shall we require to believe a thing done so long ago
than the assertion of many learned men of such different ages,
of such different countries, and of such different religions,
who have not been gainsaid by one single ancient writer.
" To argue against so various and grave testimonies
without any writer's testimony to the contrary, is rather to
cavil than to reason, and to show a mind more opposed to
St. Peter and his successors than desirous of truth and
"This faith, implanted amongst the Britons by the
Apostles and Apostolic men, perished not after their
departure but remained, as Gildas (De excidio Brit., c. 7)
writes : 'A pud quosdam integre,' amongst some entire ;
which, about the year of Christ 158 was marvellously
increased and confirmed by Pope Eleutherius, who, sending
hither at the request of King Lucius his two legates, St.
Fugatius and St. Damienus, the King and the Queen and
almost all the people were baptized, and this land was the
first that publicly professed the faith of Christ and justly
deserved the title of * Primogenita Ecclesiae' * the first
begotten of the Church.' '
St. Bede, in his British Chronicle, informs us that in the
year 156 Lucius, King of the Britons, sent messengers to
Pope Eleutherius begging him to send missionaries- to
Britain in order that he and those of his subjects who were
still pagans might be baptized Christians. Acceding at
once to the King's request St. Eleutherius sent two good
bishops named Fugatius and Damienus, who converted
multitudes and abolished idolatry throughout the whole of
Britain. Soon afterwards a regular ecclesiastical Hierarchy,
consisting of three Archbishoprics, viz., London, York, and
Caerleon, and twenty-five bishoprics, was established in
Although this revival of Christianity in Britain is con-
firmed by the Roman Martyrology and Breviary, and
mentioned by Platina, an enemy of the Church, in his
" History of the Popes," superficial modern critics reject
the whole narrative as a fable on the ground that as
Britain long before the period in question was reduced to
the condition of a Roman province it is futile to suppose
that a Lucius, King of Britain, could be alive and flourishing
in the year of our Lord 156. Now as it would take about
a thousand modern antiquarians to make an Usher or a
Camden it will be very interesting to listen to what these
two of the greatest antiquarians have to say in behalf of
King Lucius of Britain.
Quoting from an old Saxon Chronicle, Archbishop Usher
proves that Lucius was King of the Britons of Wales,beloved
by his people and friendly to the Romans. In the history
of the British Saints his pedigree is as follows : "Lleirog,
son of Coil, the son of Cyllin the saint, who was the son of
Caractacus:" In the Triads he is named one of the "three
Blessed Princes" on account of his building a church at
Llandaif. Camden, commenting on the position of those
who deny the story of King Lucius, makes the following
instructive observations : " I would have them remember
that the Romans, by an old custom, had kings as their
tools of servitude in the provinces ; that the Britons at the
time denied submission to Commodus ; that all the rest of
the Island beyond the wall belonged to them ; and that they
had their kings. Moreover, that Antoninus Pius, some
years afterwards, having ended the war, left the kingdom
to be ruled by its own kings, and the provinces to be
governed by their own counts, so that nothing hinders that
King Lucius might be king of those parts of the Island
which was never subjeQt to the Roman. For certainly that
passage of Tertullian who wrote about the time refers to
the conversion of the Britons to the Christian religion, and
that very aptly, if we consider the words and the time :
" Some countries of the Britons that proved impregnable to
the Romans are yet subjected to Christ," and a little after:
"Britain lies surrounded by the ocean. The Mauri and
the barbarous Gentulians are blocked up by the Romans
for fear they should extend the limits of their countries.
And what shall we say of the Romans themselves who
secure their empire by the power of their armies ? Neither
are they able with all their force to extend that empire
beyond these nations, whereas the Kingdom of Christ and
His Name reach much farther. He is everywhere believed
in and worshipped by all the nations above mentioned."
(Tertullian, Contra Judeos, cap. 7.)
Again quoting Usher, Camden continues : " That there
was such a King in Britain as Lucius is proved by so many
authors that no dispute can be made about it, and a learned
writer (Usher, Primod, p. 39) tells us that he has seen
'two coins with a Christian image on them' as he
conjectures by the crosses, and the letters Luc (that could
be clearly deciphered) which probably denote the same
Lucius." (Camden, Britannia, vol. L, pp. 45, 46.)
The existence of Christianity in Britain before and up to
the time when St. Augustine converted the great enemies of
the Britons, the Anglo-Saxons, to the faith, is clearly testi-
fied by ancient writers. Origen (A.D. 200) suggests this
in his Homily on Ezekiel : " The miserable Jews acknow-
ledge that this is spoken of the presence of Christ, but are
stupidly ignorant of the person, though they see the words
fulfilled, when, before the Advent of Christ did the land of
Britain agree to the worship of one God ? ' Arnobius (A.D.
306) commenting on the 1 47th Psalm, contributes his testi-
mony: "Whereas for so many ages the true God was
known among the inhabitants of Judea alone, he is now
known to the Indians in the East and the Britons in the
The presence of three British Archbishops, representing
London, York, and Caerleon, at the Council of Aries, A.D.
314, shows the vigorous vitality of the British Church at
that early period. Theodoret (A.D. 423) makes mention
of the Church in Britain in his triumphant observations
about the spread of the Christian religion : " These our
fishermen and our tentmakers have propagated the Gospel
amongst all nations; not only among the Romans and
those who are subject to the Roman Empire, but the
Scythians and the Sauromatae, the Indians, also the
Ethiopians, the Persians, the Hyrcani, the Britons, the
Cimmerii, and the Germans ; so also it may be said in one
word that all the different nations of the earth have re-
ceived the laws of the Crucified."
It is pleasant to reflect that Britain always received the
Christian faith direct from Rome, its fountain head ; first,
from St. Peter and his disciples; and secondly, from Pope
Eleutherius through his messengers Damienus and Fugatius
in the days of good King Lucius; whilst the Anglo-Saxon
robbers, to whom the Britons absolutely refused to preach
the Gospel, were converted into honest and robust Chris-
tians by St. Augustine whom St. Gregory sent to convert
the fathers of the fair-haired Anglo-Saxon youths whom he
saw sold as slaves in the Roman market place.
Sufficient has been written to prove the unbroken
Apostolicity of the Catholic Church in Britain. The light
of Divine faith diffused throughout Britain at the early
dawn of Christianity has never been extinguished, and it
has outlived the Roman, Saxon, and Danish persecutions
before the " Reformation/' and since that national act of
apostasy three hundred years of cruel and diabolical
persecution have utterly failed to suppress the chosen few,
who still survived to pay homage to the successor of St.
Peter, St. Eleutherius, and St. Gregory the Roman Pontiffs
to whom the English nation, representing as it does the
Britons, the Anglo-Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans,
are indebted for the priceless pearl of Divine faith still in
their midst, handed down to them by their British, Saxon,
and Norman forefathers.
The history of what English Catholics have suffered,
both before and since the " Reformation," to preserve their
Apostolic faith, is faithfully recorded in the lives of the
glorious multitude of British martyrs. The sufferings of the
martyrs before the sixteenth century are briefly alluded to
in the British Martyrology, and more fully treated in the
writings of the pre- Reformation historians, and by Cressy,
whose " History of the Church of Brittany" merited the
praises of Wood, the celebrated historian of Oxford.
This book endeavours to give a Complete History of
the English Martyrs from the Roman Occupation until
the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, when Doctor
Challoner's Memoirs begin.
WILLIAM CANON FLEMING.
A COMPLETE HISTORY
From the Roman Occupation to Elizabeths Reign.
SAINT GEORGE, Patron of England.
MARTYRED UNDER DIOCLETIAN, IN NICOMEDIA, ON GOOD FRIDAY,
APRIL 23rd, A.D. 290.
St. George, Martyr, and Patron of England, was born of noble
parents at Cappadocia in the year 269. His father was a
Cappadocian, and his mother a native of Palestine. After his
father's death he entered the Roman army, in which, on account
of his valour and military skill, he obtained the rank of tribune,
and was afterwards advanced to a place of high dignity in the
Imperial Court of Diocletian. When the Emperor published an
edict threatening death to all who would not abandon the
Christian faith, the youthful tribune publicly tore down the
edict. Foreseeing the consequence of his open confession of
faith, he immediately divested himself of his military uniform,
and having distributed his wealth amongst the. poor he entered
the senate, which was about to lend its sanction to the
Imperial decree. Then addressing himself to the Emperor and
the senators, he spoke as follows : " How long, most noble
Emperor, and you, Conscript Fathers, will you continue to
increase your tyrannies against Christians ? How long -will
you persevere in enacting cruel and unjust laws against them,
endeavouring to compel those who are properly instructed in the
faith to follow a religion of the truth of which you yourselves
are doubtful ? Your idols are not gods : I repeat it, they are
2 A COMPLETE HISTORY
not ! Be no longer deceived by your errors. Our Christ alone is
God, He alone is Lord in the glory of the Father. Either
acknowledge that religion which is true, or, at least, disturb
not by your furious folly those who would willingly embrace it."
Diocletian ordered that the fearless tribune, manacled, and
laden with chains, should be imprisoned for the night with a
heavy weight upon his chest. When questioned by Diocletian
on the following day as to whether he still persisted in believing
in Christ, St. George resolutely answered : "You will sooner
grow tired of tormenting me than I of enduring your tortures."
The tyrant then ordered that the saint should be put on a
w T heel barbed with sharp knives, but though his body was covered
with wounds his faith remained unshaken.
He was afterwards placed for three continuous days close to
the burning heat in a lime kiln, and then forced to wear a pair
of heated iron shoes, with the nails turned inwards. They next
scourged and buffeted him before leading him back to prison.
On the following day, after being sentenced to death, he was per-
mitted to see his faithful servant Pasicrates, whom he earnestly
besought to procure that after his martyrdom his body should be
interred in Lydda in Palestine, where he had formerly dwelt with
This glorious martyr was beheaded in the imperial city of
Nicomedia on Good Friday, April 23rd, in the year of our Lord
290, when he had just reached the twenty-first year of his age.
(Facts taken from the Life of St. George by his servant
Pasicrates, a copy of which is preserved in the University of
MARTYRED AT VERULAM, JUNE 22nd, 303.
St. Alban, who holds the honoured title of England's Proto-
Martyr, was born of pagan parents at Verulam, a flourishing
Roman town which once stood quite close to the present site
of St. Alban's, Hertfordshire. Wishing to serve in the Imperial
army, young Alban journeyed to Rome, accompanied by
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 3
Amphibalus, a British nobleman, who had the same object in
view, and by Bassianus, son of Severus, Viceroy of the Britons.
Soon after their arrival in Rome, Amphibalus renounced
paganism and became a Christian. Having been consecrated
Bishop by St. Zepherinus, Pope, he was sent back as a missionary
to his own countrymen.
Having served with great distinction in the army of Diocletian,
Alban returned to his own native town, where, doubtlessly, on
account of his service in the army, he was appointed High
Steward of the Roman Emperor.
Alban, although still a pagan, when the first edicts against
Christians were issued in Britain, generously offered hospitality
and shelter to his old friend Amphibalus, who was then preaching
the gospel at Verulam. Deeply moved by the saintly life of his
guest, Alban renounced paganism and embraced Christianity.
Rumours having reached the President that a priest was hiding
in the High Steward's house, Arciepodatus, the Roman Governor,
sent a file of soldiers to arrest Amphibalus. Acting on the spur
of the moment with equal generosity and presence of mind,
Alban placed on his own shoulders the clerical cloak of his
guest and presented himself to the soldiers, who, taking him for
the priest, hurried him before the judge. It so happened that
Arciepodatus was standing before an altar sacrificing to the
Roman gods when the prisoner was brought in.
Enraged that the High Steward should have incurred such a
risk for a fugitive Christian, the Roman Governor, addressing
Alban, said : " Because thou hast chosen to conceal a rebellious
and sacrilegious man, rather than deliver him up to surfer the
just penalty of his blasphemy, the punishment due to him shall
be inflicted on you if you refuse to conform with the ceremonies
of our religion."
Undaunted by these threats, Alban boldly declared that he
would not obey the command. In reply to the judge's formal
" Of what family and nation are you ? '
"Why should it concern you to know my pedigree?' the
prisoner made answer. " If you would know my religion I am a
A COMPLETE HISTORY
u Tell me your name," was the next formal question.
. "My name is Alban," was the reply, " and I worship the only
true and living God, who created all things."
" If you would enjoy eternal happiness, delay not to sacrifice
to the gods," was the threatening command.
" Your sacrifices are offered to devils ; they can neither help the
needy nor grant the prayers of those who invoke them," was the
fearless answer of the destined martyr.
Incensed beyond control, Arciepodatus commanded Alban to
be scourged, but finding that ineffectual to reduce him to submis-
sion, he sentenced him to immediate death.
As the procession advanced to the place of execution, a very
large crowd, anxious to see the destined martyr as he passed, so
densely thronged the bridge spanning the river Colne, which it
was necessary to cross to reach the place of execution, that the
procession, unable to proceed further, came to a halt. Impatient of
martyrdom, Alban, standing by the river's bank, uttered a fervent
prayer, and in answer to his petition the Colne suddenly ceased
to flow, thus affording an opportunity to the martyr and those '
who acompanied him of crossing the bed of the river on foot.
Startling as this miracle undoubtedly is, it is vouched for by
St. Bede in the first book and seventh chapter of his History
of the English Nation.
Overcome by this heavenly manifestation of the sanctity of
St. Alban and of the truth of the Christian religion, Heraclius,
the deputed executioner, casting down the sword of his office,
and falling down at St. Alban's feet, prayed that he might be
permitted to die with him or for him. The refusal of Heraclius
to perform his accustomed task, and the necessity of appointing
another executioner, caused considerable delay, during which
St. Alban, followed by a crowd, ascended the hill side, searching
in- vain for water to quench his thirst. Again he prayed, and a
fountain welled up immediately under his feet. Close to that
well, if it still exists, the martyrdom of St. Alban took place
on June 22nd, 303. St. Bede, from whom all these facts have
been taken, further testifies that the executioner who beheaded
St. Alban was immediately after the deed stricken with sudden
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 5
The miracles wrought on this occasion, accompanied by the
conversion and martyrdom of Heraclius, the public executioner,
on the same day, led to the conversion of great numbers
to Christianity. One of the spectators, according to Harpsfeld,
made the following speech to a large number of his fellow-
townsmen, who were witnesses of all that happened :
" If Alban had proved his belief by mere rhetoric, I should not
have wondered if his countrymen had paid no regard to his dis-
course ; for why should they listen to the doctrine of a persuasion
which stood condemned by the constitutions and religious customs
of their ancestors ? But since he wrought miracles in attestation
of his doctrine, not to submit to such irresistible evidence was, in
effect, to stand out against the omnipotence of God ; for that
God was the cause of such effects is beyond dispute. With
what show of reason, then, can we dispute the truth of these
doctrines, thus supernaturally attested ? For whenever -was it
recorded, or even mentioned, in our religion, that our deities
performed any wonders of this kind ? '
" Besides all this, the whole bearing of the man was admirable ;
his patience and constancy, his good temper and devotion were
particularly remarkable, insomuch as that, considering all
things, his behaviour during his sufferings forms almost as
great a miracle as any of the rest. When he was insulted, he
neither showed uneasiness nor manifested any feeling but that
of pity for his persecutors. And when he was brought to the
place of execution, his countenance beamed \vith so much plea-
sure as if he were going to an entertainment. Who, then, upon
reflection, will not fail to perceive that Alban was supported by
more than human assistance ? If such greatness and constancy
be the peculiar marks of Divine favour, we may certainly con-
clude that such blessings are given only to the virtuous and
devout. The best service, therefore, that we can render our-
selves and our country is to embrace Alban's principles and
imitate his example." (Harpsfeld, History of the English Church,
Moved by this exhortation, no less than one thousand inhabi-
Itants of Verulam resolved on becoming Christians, and as there
was no priest to receive them in the locality, they went in a
6 A COMPLETE HISTORY
body to Caerleon, whither Amphibalus had fled, and by him were
all baptized. Their fate will be seen later on.
St. Alban was canonised on May i6th, 794, and a year after
his relics \vere translated by King Offa, the pious king of the
Mercians, who had at that date completed the building of St.
Alban's Cathedral in honour of the saint. Before that time the
martyr's relics were laid in a small chapel, situated in the very
place were St. German once stood \vhen addressing the people, as
may be gathered, according to Camden, from ancient records still
preserved in St. Alban's Cathedral. In the life of St. German it
is also stated that Constantinus, probably at the suggestion of
St. Helen, his wife, caused the sepulchre of St. Alban to be
opened, and placed therein the relics of certain other saints, in
order that " they whom one heaven had received might also rest
in one sepulchre."
Camden further adds that *' Verulam was ruined by the wars
when, in 795, Offa, the most potent king of the Mercians, founded
over against it, in a place called Holmehurst, a very large and
stately monastery in memory of the martyr," or, as the charter
expresses it, " unto the memory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to
St. Alban the Martyr, whose relics the Divine grace hath dis-
covered, as a hopeful pledge both of our present prosperity and
of our future happiness."
St. Alban's Cathedral was built out of the ruins of Old Veru-
lam ; for though time and weather have made the outside look
like stone, yet if you break them or ascend the tower the redness
of the bricks will appear.
When King Offa granted Pope Hadrian I the Romescot or
Peter Pence of the whole kingdom, he obtained from the
Sovereign Pontiff this singular privilege for the Monastery of
St. Alban's : that the monks should be allowed to collect, and
retain for their own support, all the Romescot collected in Hert-
Pope Hadrian IV, who was born near Verulam, granted tothe
abbots of this monastery " that as St. Alban is well known to
be the proto-martyr of the British nation, so the abbot of his
monastery should be, at all times, reputed first in dignity of all
the abbots in England."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 7
When the Abbey of St. Alban's was suppressed by Henry VIII
the Cathedral was redeemed by the citizens for 400, a sum
equal to about 4,000 in the present day.
Nothing remains of the martyr's famous shrine but the white
slab covering the place where the sacred relics remain.
(Camden, Britannia, vol. i., p. 221 to p. 323. Weaver's Monu-
ments, p. 655.)
THE THOUSAND MARTYRS OF VERULAM.
JANUARY 2nd, 304.
On January 2nd, at Lichfield, in Staffordshire, is commemo-
rated the Feast of a Thousand Martyrs of the British nation. They
were newly converted to the faith by witnessing the fortitude
displayed by St. Alban during his martyrdom, and afterwards
baptized by St Amphibalus at Caerleon in Wales.
Whilst returning again to Verulam, they were met and mas-
sacred at Lichfield, or the Field of Corpses, by soldiers acting
under the orders of Arciepodatus, Roman President of Britain,
about the year of Christ 304.
The place where they suffered was afterwards called by the
Romans Cadavorum Campus, and by the British Lichfield, where
that city is now said to be built, and to take its name and
(Cressy's Church History of Brittany, and the British Martyr-
SAINT AMPHIBALUS, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT REDBURN, ON JUNE 25th, 304.
" On June 25th, at St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire, occurs the
Passion of St. Amphibalus, Bishop and Martyr. Born of noble
parents in Britain, he went to Rome with Bassianus, son of
Severus, Viceroy of the Britons" (Leland adds, "With St. Alban
also ") and whilst there was baptized and ordained priest by St.
Zepherinus, Pope, and sent back to preach the Christian faith in
Britain. There he converted St. Alban, High Steward then of
the Roman Emperor, with many other noble Britons, and was
8 A COMPLETE HISTORY
constantly engaged in the same pious work until he was taken
and accused of being a Christian priest.
The executioners opened his side, and, tying one of his bowels
to a stake, forced him to walk until all his bowels were with-
drawn, when he fell down and expired.
Many thousands who witnessed his agony were converted to
the Christian faith." (British Martyrology, June 2 x 5th, 304.)
Harpsfeld, in the loth chapter of his " History of the Sixth
Century," supplies us with the name of the place where St.
Amphibalus was martyred: "That holy man of God was put
to death at Redburn, a village three miles distant from Verulam,
where, as Thomas Redburn relates, there were reserved at his
time two large knives with which he was killed." This Thomas
Redburn lived about the year 1480.
'* In the village," Harpsfeld continues, "there may be seen
unto this day some marks of the martyrdom ; for on the road
between Redburn and Verulam there is shown a certain tree
of late enclosed with walls where, it is believed, was fixed the
post where the body of the martyr was tied, and where his
bowels were torn out."
SAINTS JULIUS and AARON, Martyrs.
MARTYRED AT CAERLEON, UPON THE USK, JULY ist, 304.
July ist, at Caerleon, upon the Usk, in South Wales, is the
Feast of the Passion of Saints Julius and Aaron. They were
two noble citizens of that city who, during the persecution of
Diocletian and under the President of Britain, were put to
death for confessing Christ in the year of our Lord 304.
They were buried at Caerleon, where a fine church was
afterwards built in their honour, and their bodies are kept in great
veneration. (British Martyrology, July ist.)
Although the names of Saints Julius and Aaron, like those of
Saints Alban and Amphibalus, and later on Saints Ursula's, do
not sound very British, it must be remembered, as Cressy
observes, that it was quite customary for the ancient British
Christians to assume Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew names at
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 9
Camden (vol. 2, p. n), in describing Caerleon, remarks that
" two very eminent and, next to Saints Albanand Amphibalus,
the chief proto-martyrs of Britain lie entombed here, where
they were crowned with martyrdom, viz., Julius and Aaron, each
of whom had a church dedicated to him in this city, for in
ancient times there were three noble churches there, one of
Julius the Martyr, graced with a choir of nuns ; another
dedicated to St. Aaron, his companion, ennobled with a famous
order of canons ; and the third honoured by being the Metro-
politan See of Wales. Amphibalus also, the instructor of St.
Alban, was born here."
SAINTS STEPHEN and SOCRATES, Martyrs.
MARTYRED IN MONMOUTHSHIRE, ON SEPTEMBER iyth, 304.
September iyth, in South Wales, is the Feast of the Passion of
Saints Stephen and Socrates, Martyrs.
They were by birth noble Britons, who, being converted by
Amphibalus, Bishop and Martyr, were put to death in Britain,
in the persecution of Diocletian the Emperor, by the most
exquisite torments, about the year of Christ 304.
Their memory is famous in South Wales, especially in Mon-
mouthshire, where several monuments are yet remaining to their
name and honour.
(Roman Martyrology. Martyrology of Usuardus. British Martyr-
ology, September I7th.)
SAINT ANGULUS, Bishop of London, and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN LONDON, ON FEBRUARY yth, 305.
February 7th is the Feast of the Deposition of St. Angulus,
Bishop of London, martyred during the Diocletian persecution
in Britain. According to the British Martyrology he was put
to death " for preaching the Christian faith in our Island, by the
command of the Governor of Britain," in the year of our Lord 305.
(Roman Martyrology. Joannes Molanus hac die. British
Martyrology, February 7th.)
10 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT DECUMAN, Hermit and Martyr.
MARTYRED DURING THE ROMAN OCCUPATION, ON AUGUST 27th, 320.
On August 27th, in Somersetshire, the Passion of St. Decuman,
Hermit and Martyr, is celebrated. He was born in South Wales
of a noble and ancient British parentage. In his youth he stole
secretly away from his friends, and with a fagot of wood, instead
of a boat, miraculously passed over the Severn, and came into
Somersetshire. Leading there the austere life of a hermit for
many years, he was slain at length by a pagan soldier in hatred
of the Christian religion, about the year of Christ 320. After his
decapitation he himself took up his head from the ground and
carried it to a fountain at which he was wont to wash. On this
spot a church was afterwards built to his honour, \vhere his holy
body for a long time remained. There was also another church
erected in his honour in the city of Wells, commonly called St.
Decomb's. Both these churches are still extant.
(Broughton, Hist. Ecclesiae, 361. Capgrave, quoted by the
SAINT LUCIUS, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN CHUR, IN GERMANY, DECEMBER 3rd, A.D. 330.
On December 3rd, at Chur, in Germany, is the Feast of the
Passion of St. Lucius, Bishop and Martyr. He was a most noble
Briton by birth, being the son of Constantius Chlorus and of his
wife St. Helen. Having incurred the displeasure of his father he
was banished into France, where he built a goodly monastery at
Luxon, in Poictiers, where he lived many years a penitential life.
Being afterwards made a bishop, he went into Germany and
preached the Christian faith to the Helvetians or Switzers.
He \vas finally stoned to death by the incredulous people of
that country about the year of Christ 330, and was buried at
Chur, where his feast is celebrated solemnly on this day with
(British Martyrology, which quotes Bouchet, Annales Ecclesice, 1.
i, cap 5, Schedel's Chronica Chronicorum, and Broughton, Hist.
Ecclesiae, sec. 3, cap 12, as its authorities.)
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. I I
SAINT EMERITA, Virgin and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN HELVETIA, IN GERMANY, ON DECEMBER 4th, 330.
December 4th, at Chur, in Germany is the Feast of the Passion
of St. Emerita, Virgin and Martyr. She was the daughter of
Constantius Chlorus and St. Helen. Having left Britain with
her brother Lucius, they went to France, and from thence to
Germany. She was martyred by the pagans of Helvetia, about
the year of Christ 330, and buried near her brother St. Lucius
at Chur, where her feast is duly celebrated.
(Eysengranius, third cent. Hist. Ecclesia Brit. Saecula tertia,
quoted by the BritisJi Martyrology, Dec. 4th.)
SAINT MELIORUS, a British Prince and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN CORNWALL, ON OCTOBER ist, 411.
" On October 2ist, in Cornwall, is celebrated the Martyrdom of
St. Meliorus. He was the son of Meliorus, Duke of Cornwall,
who, being secretly made a Christian, was, by Rinaldus, his
brother-in-law, a pagan, cruelly murdered in hatred of the
Christian religion, about the year of Christ 411.
His body was buried in an old church in Cornwall but after-
wards translated to the Abbey of Ambury, where his relics were
preserved until the destruction of that fair monument."
(Capgrave, Catalogue English Saints, anno 411. Antiquities of
Cornwall. British Martyrology, October ist.)
SAINT VODINE, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED BY THE SAXONS, IN LONDON, ON JULY 23rd, 436.
On July 23rd, in London, the'Feast of the Passion of St. Vodine,
Archbishop and Martyr, is celebrated. He was the fifteenth Arch-
bishop of that See in our primitive British Church. Being a
man of great sanctity of life he reproved King Vortigern of
12 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Britain for putting away his lawful wife, and taking another
woman, whose father was a great enemy to the Christian religion-
wherefore King Hengist of Kent, the woman's father, incensed
with rage against the holy man, caused him to be forthwith slain,
like another John the Baptist, together with many British priests
and other religious men, and so he received the crown of martyr-
dom in the year of Christ 436.
(William of Malmesbury. Godwin's Bishops of London. British
Martyrology, July 23rd.)
SAINT URSULA AND HER COMPANIONS, Virgins.
MARTYRED BY THE HUNS, AT COLOGNE, ON OCTOBER 2ist, 453.
The facts of St. Ursula's history are taken from Cressy's History
of Brittany. During the reign of the impious Vortigern, whilst
the Britons, rendered effeminate by vice, yielded almost with-
out resistance to the tyranny of their neighbours, and called
to their aid far more barbarous enemies to tyrannise over them-
selves, God raised up another army of Britons, destined to
efface the shame and the cowardice of the former the Army^of
Holy Virgins, under the command of St. Ursula.
The whole circumstances of their history prove, in a convincing
manner, that their martyrdom took place in the year 453.
Those authors who hold that the holy virgins were put to death
A.D. 238 fall into grievous error ; for they make mention of the
Huns as the murderers, at a time when the Huns were unheard
of either in Italy or Germany. A Pope named Cyriacus is also
quoted, whereas no Pope of that name can be discovered in the
whole catalogue of Sovereign Pontiffs.
Other historians relate that the martyrdom took place in 383,
the year when Maximus crossed over from Britain to Gaul, with
a large army of British soldiers, with which he is said to have col-
onized Armorica. Although this opinion is supported by Baronius,
who quotes the Sarum Breviary, and Polydore Virgil as his
authorities, it is rejected by Cressy on the following convincing
The very short time that Maximus reigned after passing from
Britain into Gaul, together with his continual occupation during
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 13
the war that followed when he usurped the Imperial Crown,
would not allow him sufficient time for indulging in the peace-
ful policy of colonizing Armorica with 30,000 British soldiers,
and at the very time when he was collecting all the troops he
could find to fight under his standard. Sozoman, moreover
clearly states in his Ecclesiastical History (b. 7, c. 13) that
" Maximus quitted Britain with the design of usurping the
Imperial power," and that when he landed in Gaul "he raised
a large army of Britons, Gauls, Celts, and other nations and
marched into Italy." Having -this object in view, the ambitious
Roman General would not be disposed to waste his time in
It may be further added that no historian maintains that the
Huns, who are admitted to have massacred St. Ursula and her
Companions, invaded Germany at that early date. French
writers, on the contrary, declare that the colonization of Armor-
ica by Britons took place about the middle of the fifth century,
during the reign of Moravius, King of the Franks.
The martyrdom of St. Ursula and her Companions took place
when Attila, King of the Huns, at the head of a huge army
of barbarians numbering 700,000 soldiers, devastated Italy and
all the Western Provinces of the Roman Empire. Gregory,
Bishop of Tours, narrates that Attila devastated Germany, burnt
the city of Metz, and everywhere throughout the country mas-
sacred the priests before the very altars in the churches.
A brief examination into the state of Britain at this period
will greatly help us to solve the difficulty surrounding the exact
date of the martyrdom of the holy virgins. Vortigern, King of
the Britons, very unwisely hired some Saxon mercenaries to repel
the frequent invasions of his northern enemies the Picts and
The Saxon chiefs, Hengist and Horsa, at the head of some
veteran warriors, successfully undertook the defence of the
whole country. Despising the Britons on account of their
effeminacy and vices, the Saxons, having been reinforced by many
more of their own countrymen, practically took possession of the
whole country. Persuaded by Hengist, Vortigern married
Rowena, daughter of the Saxon chief, and as a reward for the
14 A COMPLETE HISTORY
alliance the rich Province of Kent became the property of her
father. Having soon after made a friendly treaty with the
Picts and Scots, the Saxons, on the pretext of not receiving their
proper pay and maintenance, made open war against the unfor-
tunate Britons. During these troubles, according to Huntingdon
(b. i, c. 2) great numbers of Britons, forsaking their own country,
fled to foreign parts, whilst those who remained in the country
were converted by the Saxons into slaves.
Gildas, alluding to this same period, tells us that 4 ' Very
many Britons passed over the sea into foreign countries, with
grievous cries and lamentations, and in their voyage by sea they,
uniting together, repeated with mournful voices the words of
the Psalmist, "Thou hast, O Lord, given us up as sheep to be
devoured, and hast dispersed us among the nations."
Taking advantage of an offer made to them by the Emperor
Maximus the Younger, who usurped the throne after Valentinian's
death, 30,000 British soldiers and 100,000 labourers, under the
leadership of Captain Conanus, settled down in Armorica, \vhich
was afterwards called Brittany, (Trithemius b. i,p. 387). All the
settlers were single men, and, as they had no wish to marry the
pagan Gauls, their leader Conanus petitioned his friend Prince
Dionatus, to \vhom the younger Maximus had committed the care
of Britain, to send over a number of British maidens for marriage
with his followers in Armorica. Conanus moreover asked his
friend for the hand of his daughter Ursula, whom he deeply loved
and who reciprocated his affections.
Dionatus having granted both petitions, collected throughout
Britain 11,000 maidens of noble descent, and having assembled
them in London and chartered vessels for ' their conveyance to
Gaul, preparations were at once made for the voyage.
These virgins were converted into a nominal army of which
Princess Ursula was the leader. Four virgins, viz., Pinosa,
Cordula, Eleutheria, and Florentia, were each appointed to com-
mand one of the four divisions of the army. Under these were
eleven others, each commanding a thousand virgins. Their
names \vere Benedicta, Benigna, Carphophora, Celinda, Clem-
antia, Columba, Leta, Lucia, Odilia, Sapientia, and Sybilla.
Other virgins are mentioned as acting under these, viz., Agnes,
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 15
Antonina, Areophila, Babcaria, Baldina, Caradumea, Christina,
Columbina, Corona, Cunera, Deodata, Flora, Fiorina, Florentina,
Grata, Honorata, Honoria, Hostia, Langusta, Margarita, Oliva,
Pampeta, Panefrides, Pavia, Paulina, Pharanina, Pinosa, Sam-
barta, Sancta, Sominbaria, Terentia, and Valaria.
In the year of our Lord 453, a fleet of ships, having on board
the eleven thousand virgins, sailed for Armorica. Carried out
of their course by contrary winds, succeeded by a raging storm,
they were compelled to take haven at the mouth of the Rhine.
There the vessels were seized and the virgins taken prisoners by
a piratical fleet of the Huns. Having been taken in boats by
their captors up the Rhine as far as Cologne, they -were
threatened with death if they refused to sacrifice their chastity.
The holy virgins eagerly listened at this terrible moment to
the fervent exhortation of St. Ursula, who told them that death
itself was far preferable to the degrading alternative offered as
the price of their lives. They all resolved to die ; not one of
that multitude of noble virgins wavered in her resolution, and
all but one were beheaded on that day, October ist, 453. Cor-
dula, in the confusion of the general massacre, managed to effect
her escape. Returning, however, on the following day to visit
the scene of the slaughter, on beholding the lifeless bodies of her
numerous companions she was moved by a generous impulse
to follow their example. Openly, and in the presence of the
Huns, she proclaimed her determination to abide by the resolu-
tion of her martyred sisters, and was consequently put to death
in the same ruthless manner on October 2nd.
Ten years after the martyrdom of St. Ursula and her com-
panions, Hermanus Florien, one of the canons of Cologne
Cathedral, left a -written statement on record that Solinas, Arch-
bishop of that city, built four walls around the ground where
the eleven thousand virgin martyrs were buried in stone coffins.
These walls \vere afterwards replaced by the -walls of that
magnificent cathedral, which has been dedicated to St.
Ursula and her companion martyrs.
The body of St. Ursula, and all the relics of the eleven thousand
virgin martyrs are still preserved in Cologne Cathedral, with
the following exceptions :
1 6 A COMPLETE HISTORY
The relics of Saints Penefridis, Secunda, Somibaria, Fiorina,
and Valaria rest in the Church of St. Denis outside Paris ; St.
Cordula's at the Monastery of St. Marcian, Flanders ; St.
Odilia's at Hay, in Germany ; St. Tarentia's, Margarita's,
Baldina's, Samburia's, and Margarita's in the Monastery of Good
Hope ; Saints Honorata's and Fiorina's at the Monastery of St.
Martin, Tournay ; Saints Grata's, Hostia's, and Areophila's at
the Monastery of St. Armand, in Pabula ; St. Languida's at the
Hospital in Tournay ; Saints Beata's and Sancta's at the
Cathedral of Arras ; Saints Pavia's and Caradumea's at the
Church of St. Salvinas ; Saints Corona's, Pharaminea's, Bab-
caria's, Magara's, Benedicta's, Margarita's, Cordula's, Sam-
baria's, Deodata's, Panphela's, and Christina's at the Norbertine's
in Vicoine ; Saints Pinosa's and Oliva's with the Canons at
Tongres ; Saints Paulina's and Florentina's at St. Mary's Con-
vent ; St. Canaria's at Phenan, in the Diocese of Utrecht ; St.
Honoria's at the Convent of St. Belian ; St. Columbina's at
Pobetum, in Catalonia ; St. Candida's at Poseda ; and St. Ursula's
head at the College of the Sorbonne, Paris.
Serenus Cressy, in his history, very truly observes that such a
sacrifice as that of St. Ursula and her companions has never
been offered up to God neither before nor since by such a number
of tender virgins in the very spring time of their lives. Even
amongst men a parallel can only be discovered in the massacre
of the Theban Legion, but these were men, who were daily
accustomed to look death in the face.
This history of St. Ursula and her companions is in perfect
harmony with the English Martyrology, Oct. ist, which is as
" At Cologne, in Upper Germany, is celebrated the Passion of
St. Ursula, Virgin and Martyr, daughter of Dionatus, King of
Cornwall, who, together with eleven thousand virgins, being
sent over to be married to two legions of British soldiers, unto
whom Maximus the Emperor had given the country of Armorica,
\vere by contrary winds and tempests driven down to the mouth
of the Rhine, and there, near Cologne, were all slain in defence
of their virginity by the barbarous Huns and Picts."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 17
SAINT JUSTINIAN, Monk and Martyr.
MARTYRED BY HIS BRETHREN AT MENEVIA, ON AUGUST 23rd, 486.
August 23rd, at Menevia now called St. David's, in Pembroke-
shire, Wales the Passion of St. Justinian, Monk and Martyr, is
celebrated. He was a noble Briton by birth, and out of his own
inheritance built a monastery at Ramsey, where he gathered
together many servants of God, with whom he lived many years
under monastic discipline until, at the instigation of the devil,
he was slain by three of his brethren in his own monastery.
They were struck by God with the worst form of leprosy as a
punishment for so foul a deed. His body was brought into Mene-
via, where it was interred with great solemnity and veneration by
St. David, then Bishop of Menevia, about the year of Christ 486.
(Taken from Capgrave's Catalogue of the British Saints by the
author of the British Martyrology, August 23rd.)
SAINT SOPHIAS, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT BENOVENTUM, IN ITALY, ON JANUARY 24th, 490.
" January 24th, at Benoventum, in Italy, is the Feast of the
Passion of St. Sophias, or Cadock, Bishop and Martyr. A
prince by birth, being the son of Gundeley, King of North
Wales, he first became a monk, and then abbot of a famous
monastery which he, with his own patrimony, had built in a
place in Glamorganshire called Lancarvan ; and, lastly, having
been three times on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and seven times
to Rome, he was, on account of his virtues and innocence of life,
ordained Bishop of Benoventum. Whilst one day celebrating
Holy Mass he was pierced through the body by a miscreant with
a lance, and so he received the crown of martyrdom about the
year of Christ 490.
"The memory of this saint has been very famous until these
our days in many places in Wales and in Gloucestershire, where
there is yet remaining a fair church dedicated to his name and
(Capgrave's Catalogue of British Saints. Broughton's History of
Britain, fourth century. British Martyrology, January 24th.)
1 8 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT ALMEDHA, Virgin and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN BRECKNOCKSHIRE, ON AUGUST ist, 490.
August ist, in Brecknockshire, is the Feast of the Passion of
St. Almedha, Virgin and Martyr. She was daughter to Bragan,
who gave that country its name, and sister to Saints Canocus
and Keyna. Geraldus Cambrensis mentions (Itin., 1. i, cap. 2)
that a church was built in her honour on a hill near Brecknock,
where many miracles were wrought annually on the feast of her
(Menology of England and Wales. British Martyrology, August
SAINT CLITANE, King.
MARTYRED AT BRECKNOCK, IN WALES, ON AUGUST igth, 492.
August I9th, in South Wales, is the Feast of the Passion of
St. Clitane, King of Brecknock, and Martyr.
He was a zealous and godly prince in our primitive Christian
Church, who was slain by a pagan soldier, in hatred of the
Christian faith, as he was one day out hunting, in the year of
There was afterwards a fine church erected in his honour in
South Wales, near the place where he was slain. In this church
his holy relics are kept in great honour and veneration by all the
country round about.
(Capgrave's Catalogue of British Saints. British Martyrology,
SAINT THEODERICK, King and Martyr.
MARTYRED BY THE SAXONS, NEAR MATHERN, MONMOUTHSHIRE, ON
JANUARY 3rd, 540.
On January 3rd, at Ma them, Monmouthshire, in the Diocese
of Llandaff, Wales, the Passion of St. Theoderick, King and
Martyr, is celebrated. Having left the care of his kingdom to
his son he became a hermit, leading a strict kind of monastic
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 1 9
life until the Saxons invaded that province. His subjects com-
pelled him by force to fight against th^ invaders, whom he
victoriously defeated and put to flight. Having, however,
received a mortal wound in battle, he hastened back towards his
hermitage, but died on the way at Ma them. His son Manrick
built a goodly church in his honour, and placed his holy body
there. The church was held in great esteem by all the country
round about even until this last age, when the Bishop of Llandaff
found the martyr's body whole and incorrupt after it had lain
there a thousand years, the mark of his deadly wound still
remaining in his skull. He is called in the British tongue St.
Thewdrick. He suffered about the year of Christ 540.
(Godwin in Antiq. Provinciae Glamorgan. British Martyr~
ology, January 3rd.)
SAINT CONSTANTINE, Prince and Priest.
MARTYRED AT CANTYRE, IN SCOTLAND, ON MARCH nth, 590.
" The Scottish Breviaries commemorate on March nth the
Feast of Saint Constantine, Martyr. He is said to have been a
prince who, after the death of his princess, retired from the
world, and, having resigned his kingdom to his son, became a
monk in the Monastery of Saint David's.
Going afterwards to Ireland, he entered a religious house at St.
Carthag at Rathene, where, unknown to any, he served for four
years at a mill, until his name was discovered. He was then
fully instructed, ordained priest, and sent as a missionary to the
Picts in Scotland.
Having for many years laboured with Saint Columba for
their conversion, he established a religious community of men
at Govan, and converted the inhabitants of Cantyre to Chris-
tianity. At length the happiness he so long desired came to him
in his advanced age ; he was slain by infidels, actuated by
hatred of the Christian religion."
(Challoner's Britannia Sancta).
20 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT ERPENWALD, King.
MARTYRED (DATE NOT MENTIONED) A.D. 633.
In the year 632, Erpenwald, King of the East Angles, re-
nounced idolatry, and became a zealous Christian.
Endeavouring afterwards to persuade his subjects to follow his
good example, he was slain by a pagan named Richerts, insti-
gated by Penda, King of the Mercians, who hated the Christian
St. Erpenwald, therefore, is justly entitled to the martyr's crown.
(Taken from St. Bede, Book 2, cap. 15.)
SAINT EDWIN, King.
MARTYRED AT HETHFIELD, IN NORTHUMBERLAND, OCTOBER 4th, 633.
" October 4th, in Northumberland, is the Feast of the Passion
of St. Edwin, King of the Northumbrians, and Martyr. He
was the first Christian King of that Province, having been
converted to the faith by the preaching of Saint Paulinus,
Bishop of York. He was afterwards, through hatred of Chris-
tianity, slain by Cadwalla, the impious King of the Britons, and
Penda, King of the Mercians, who made war against him in the
seventeenth year of his reign and of Christ 633.
* 4 His holy body was magnificently buried in Saint Peter's
Church at Strenshal, now commonly called Whitby."
(St Bede's Hist., B. 2, cap. 16, 17, and 20. British Martyrology r
SAINT OSWALD, King of the Northumbrians.
MARTYRED AT OSWESTRY, IN WALES, ON AUGUST 5th, 635.
St. Oswald, King of the Northumbrians, on account of his
great love for God and charity to the poor, endeared himself to
all his subjects. Capgrave, in his life of the saint, tells us
" that he never sent the poor away empty-handed ; but observed
exactly that precept of our Lord : ' Give to every one that
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 21
asks thee.' Yea, his liberality was so great, that he almost
impoverished himself in supplying the wants of the poor."
A bright example of the good King's charity is given by St.
Bede (B. 3, c. 3.) The holy Bishop Aidan and King Oswald were
dining together on one Easter Sunday, when one of the royal
servants announced that a great number of beggars in distress
stood waiting at the palace gate. Welcoming the occasion for
exercising his charity, the King, taking up a large silver dish
full of meat, commanded his servants not only to give the meat,
but also the dish, broken up into pieces, to the poor.
St. Oswald, although a man of constant prayer, was especially
distinguished as a wise king in the ruling of his province and
a brave general on the battle-field. With a small army he
obtained a great victory at Hilston, near Hexham, in Northum-
berland, over a large army commanded by the impious pagan
Cadwalla, which was utterly routed, leaving their leader dead
on the battle-field. In addition to this, he subjected to his sway
all the nations Britons, Picts, Scots, and English inhabiting
the different provinces of Britain, and induced them to embrace
the Christian faith.
Having reigned nine years, he was at length slain in battle,
whilst fighting in defence of his country and Christianity,
against Penda, a declared enemy of the faith, at Oswestry, in
Wales, on August 5th, 635.
St. Bede testifies to the wonderful cures wrought at the place
where St. Oswald was killed, in the 38th year of his age. His
body was buried at Bardney, in Lincolnshire, and from thence
translated to Gloucester.
During the Danish persecutions his holy relics were saved
from destruction by being translated to Flanders, and placed in
the Abbey of St. Winoc, at Berg, where they are still preserved
in great veneration.
(British Martynlogy, June 2oth and August 5th.)
22 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT LIEPHARD, Bishop.
MARTYRED AT CAMBRAY, ON FEBRUARY 4th, 642.
February 4th, at Huncourt, in the territory of Cambray, is the
Feast Day of St. Liephard, Bishop and Martyr.
He was born in our Island of Britain, and there made Bishop
in the primitive Church. On returning from a pilgrimage
which he had made to Rome, he was slain by pagan robbers,
four miles from Cambray, where his feast is celebrated in that
church with an Office of three lessons.
(Molanus in addit ad Usuardum. Broughton, Hist, of the
Church, third century. British Martyrology, February 4th.)
SAINT OS WIN, King and Martyr.
MARTYRED NEAR TINMOUTH, ON AUGUST 20th, A.D. 650.
On August 2Oth, in Northumberland, the Passion of St.
Oswin, King and Martyr, is celebrated. Being a zealous
Christian Prince, he was slain by Osway, King of the Bernicians,
about the year of Christ 650. His body, being cast into an
obscure place, was miraculously discovered and brought with
great veneration into Tinmouth, and there placed in the Church
of Our Blessed Lady. St. Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarn, -whilst
preaching to the people had a revelation of St. Oswin's death,
and said to them : " This nation of ours is not worthy to have
so good a prince and ruler over them."
(British Martyrology, August 2oth.)
SAINT SIGEBERT, King.
MARTYRED NEAR BURGE CASTLE, SUFFOLK, ON SEPTEMBER 2yth, 652.
September 27th, at Burge Castle, in Suffolk, the Feast Day of
St. Sigebert, King of the East Angles, and Martyr. Inflamed by
the love of God, he left the administration of the kingdom to
his cousin Eric, and became a monk in a monastery which he
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 23
had lately built near the River Yare in the same province, now
called Burge Castle. Soon afterwards Penda, the pagan King of
the Mercians, having invaded the kingdom, St. Sigebert was by
his own subjects drawn out of his cloister to fight against the
invader, when the saint and his cousin Eric were slain, in the
year of Christ 652.
St. Sigebert was afterwards declared a martyr.
He first founded the University of Cambridge, in his own
province, for the education of youth in all good learning, and in
(St. Bede, B. 3, c. 18. Polydor Virgil, Hist. Westtn., anno 652.
British Martyrology, September 2yth.)
SAINT OSITH, Queen.
MARTYRED AT ST. OSITH'S, NEAR COLCHESTER, ON
OCTOBER 7th, 653.
" October yth, at Chick (now called St. Osith's, near Colches-
ter), in Essex, is the Feast of St. Osith, Queen and Martyr.
She was the wife of Ethelred, the last King of the East Saxons.
With his consent she entered the Convent at Alisbury, where
she became a religious ; and then, having built one of her own
at Chick, in Essex, gathered around her many noble virgins,
over whom she ruled as abbess until the Danes made an incur-
sion into that province.
They beheaded her in hatred of the Christian religion. She
stooped down, and, taking up her head, carried it three furlongs
to a Church of Saints Peter and Paul, and standing at the
church door, imbrued in her own innocent blood, she fell down,
and so ended her martyrdom on October yth, 653. Her body
was buried at Alisbury, in Buckinghamshire, but afterwards, by
a revelation from heaven, it was translated to Chick, near
Colchester, which now in her memory is called St. Osith's, and
there kept in great veneration until our days.
(Capgrave, Catalogue of British Saints. Polydor Virgil, Hist.,
lib. 3, in fastis sanctorum. British Martyrology, October 7th.)
24 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT MONO, Hermit and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN GERMANY, ON OCTOBER i8th, 660.
On October i8th, at Nassau, in the territory of Liege, in Lower
Germany, the Passion of St. Mono, Hermit and Martyr, is cele-
brated. Descended from a noble family in Scotland, in the flower
of his youth he forsook the world, and passing over to Lower
Germany he became a hermit in the forest of Ardens. Having
led a most strict and austere life for many continuous years he
was at length slain by certain pagan robbers in hatred of his
religion and sanctity, and so happily obtained the crown of
martyrdom about the year of Christ 660. His body was buried
at Nassau, a village belonging to the Abbey of St. Hubert, in a
church which he himself had built, and where his holy relics are
preserved unto this day with great veneration.
(Usuardus, October i8th. British Martyrology, October i8th.)
SAINT WINEFRID, Virgin.
MARTYRED AT ST. WINEFRID'S WELL, ON NOVEMBER 3rd, 660.
November 3rd, in North Wales, is the Feast of the Deposition
of St. Winefrid, Virgin and Martyr. She was the daughter of
Trebuith, a noble Briton, and was beheaded by Cradocus, son
of Alan, King of North Wales. Her head was set on again by
St. Beuno, and she, to the great astonishment of the whole
world, survived fifteen years afterwards.
In the place where she was beheaded sprang up a miraculous
fountain of water, very sovereign for curing many diseases,
which even at present is a place of pilgrimage, resorted to by
people from all parts of England, commonly called St. Winefrid's
Her body was afterwards translated to Shrewsbury A.D. 1138.
Her feast was, by a Provincial Constitution, under Henry
Chichelcy, Archbishop of Canterbury, ordered to be celebrated,
with a double Office, according to the use of Sarum, throughout
(Mart. Rom. Novae Legis. SS. Angliae, fol. 296. Breviarum
Sarum hac die. British Martyrology, November 3rd.)
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 25
SAINT CLARE, Priest.
MARTYRED IN FRANCE, ON NOVEMBER 4th, 666.
November 4th, in France, is the Feast of St. Clare, Priest and
Martyr, -who was born in Rochester, Kent.
After crossing over to Normandy, when travelling through
France he was put to death by assassins, sent by a noble
woman of that country, -who was enraged because he would not
yield his chastity to her ; and thus, in defence of that virtue, he
obtained the crown of martyrdom on November 4th, 666.
His body was buried in a village called Ville Caffm, where it
pleased God to work many miracles.
(Roman Martyrology. Martyrology of Usuardus, this day.
British Martyrology, November 4th.)
SAINTS RUFIN and ULFADE, Princes.
MARTYRED NEAR STONE, STAFFORDSHIRE, ON JULY 24th, 668.
"July 24th, at Stone, Staffordshire, is the Feast of Saints Rufin
and Ulfade, brothers and Martyrs. They were sons of Wolfere,
pagan King of the Mercians, who having heard that his sons,
having been baptized by Saint Chad, had become Christians, put
them to death, through hatred of Christianity, as they were
praying at St. Chad's Oratory on July 24th, 668. Their bodies
were, by their pious mother, Queen Ermeneld, a Christian, and
afterwards a saint, conveyed to Stone, and kept there with due
Afterwards a fine church and priory were erected in their
honour. Their father, the King, being converted afterwards to
the Christian faith, destroyed all the temples of the false gods in his
dominions, and in their place built churches and monasteries, to
the increase of religion and piety in his kingdom."
(Registers of Lie h field and Peterborough. British Martyrology,
26 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINTS ETHELBRIGHT and ETHELRED, Princes.
MARTYRED NEAR WAKERING, HUNTINGDONSHIRE, ON
OCTOBER iyth, 668.
"October lyth, at Wakering, in Huntingdonshire, is the Feast
of the Translation of Saints Ethelbright and Ethelred, brothers and
Martyrs, nephews to Ercombert, King of Kent. They were slain
during their minority by Egbert, their cousin german, and their
bodies cast into an obscure place, where, by a miraculous light
from heaven, they were discovered, and brought to Wakering for
Afterwards, in the reign of King Edgar of England, they were
on this day, October lyth, solemnly translated to the Abbey of
Ramsey, where it pleased God to work many miracles through
them. There was a fine church and convent (of which she was
abbess) erected in their honour at Estry, in Kent, by St. Ermen-
burge, their sister, about the year of our Lord 670.
(Mart. Novae Legis. SS. Angliae, fol. 142. Annals of West-
minster, 654. British Martyrology.)
SAINT ALNOTH, Anchoret and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN THE DIOCESE OF ELY, ON NOVEMBER 25th, 670.
On November 25th, at Ely, in Cambridge, the Deposition of
St. Alnoth, Martyr, is celebrated. He was herdman to St. Wer-
burg, abbess of the same place. He afterwards became an
anchoret and led the austere life of a recluse in the Diocese of
Ely, until at length, in hatred of his sanctity, he was slain by
robbers who infested the place where the holy man lived, and
thus he received the crown of martyrdom about the year of
(Buckland's Life of St. Werburg. British Martyrology, Novem-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 27
SAINT LEWINA, Virgin and Martyr.
MARTYRED NEAR SEAFORD, SUSSEX, ON JULY 22nd, 687.
In the year 687, our ancient records mention the martyrdom of
a British Virgin named Lewina, whose memory is celebrated in
our Martyrology on the 22nd of July.
She is said to have been slain in our Island by a certain
Saxon, through hatred of the Christian faith.
She was martyred in the Province of the South Saxons, whom
St. Wilfrid had lately converted to the faith, and buried at a
place called Seaford, in Sussex, not far from the town of Lewes,
which probably was named after this virgin.
During the Danish persecutions, when they threatened destruc-
tion to all the monuments of the saints, St. Lewina's relics were
translated to Berg, in Flanders, where now lies the town of
Winoc. This fact is mentioned by the Belgic calendar : July
22nd. On this day is celebrated the memory of St. Lewina, an
English Virgin, who flourished during the reign of Egbert, the
father of Alfred, King of the English nation.
(British Martyrology, June 22nd.)
She suffered martyrdom in the days of Theodore, the seventh
Archbishop of Canterbury. Her sacred body was taken from
her tomb by Edilin, a bishop, and translated to Berg of St.
Winoc, together with the relics of St. Oswald, King and Martyr,
and St. Idalberga, a Virgin.
There is a book by Drago, Bishop of Morini, which treats
of the miracles of St. Lewina.
(Cressy's Church History of Britain.)
The British Martyrology contains the following notice of St.
" July 22nd, at Berg, in Flanders, is the Feast of the Transla-
tion qf St. Lewina, Virgin and Martyr.
Descended from a noble British family she was, during the
time of Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, slain for confessing
Christ in the year 687.
28 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Her body was kept in an old Monastery 'of St. Andrew, near
Seaford-haven, in Surrey, until the second Danish persecution,
when it was translated to Berg, in Flanders, in 1058, and placed
in the Abbey of St. Winoc, where it is honoured with due
veneration by the inhabitants. They celebrated her feast on
August 5th, the day of the saint's translation."
SAINTS ARVALD, Princes.
MARTYRED IN THE ISLE OF WIGHT, ON AUGUST 2ist, 687.
" August 2 ist, in the Isle of Wight, is the Feast of the Martyr-
dom of the brothers and Saints named Arvald.
They were two noble youths, descended from the royal family
of the South Saxons. Having lately been converted to the faith
by St. Cymbert, Bishop, they were slain by Cadwalla, King of
the West Saxons, through hatred of the Christian religion,
before his own conversion, at the time when he made conquest
of the Isle of Wight, in the year of Christ 687.
Their bodies were becomingly interred at Readford in a church
of the same province (Hampshire) by St. Cymbert, by whom they
were baptized. As a sign of their innocence God was pleased to
work many miracles in this place."
(Bede's History of England, B. 4, cap. 16. Annals of Westmin-
ster, anno 689. British Martyrology, August 2ist.)
SAINT WIGBERT, Priest and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN FRIESLAND, ON AUGUST i3th, 694.
In Friesland, on August I3th, the Passion of St. Wigbert, Priest
and Martyr, is commemorated. He was born in England, and
went over to Ireland in order to lead there a solitary life.
Acting afterwards under a special inspiration he went to Fries-
land, and preached the Christian faith to the infidels in that
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 2 9
country. Having served there for many years he was at length
put to a cruel death by Radbod, King of Friesland, in the year
of Christ 694, for persuading the people, whornhe converted, to
break down a statue to Jupiter which the King had set up to
(St. Bede, Lib. 5, cap. 10 and n. British Martyrology,
SAINTS EWALD, Brothers and Priests;
MARTYRED IN WESTPHALIA., ON OCTOBER 3rd, 695.
October 3rd, in Westphalia, is the Feast of the Martyrdom
of Saints Ewald, commonly called Niger and Albus (the dark
and the fair). They \vere both priests and monks of Ripon, in
Yorkshire, who went over to Friesland to preach the Christian
faith to that nation. Having done so for a long time with
great advantage and success, they went to Westphalia, where they
were slain for their confession of Christ by the old Saxon pagans
in the year of Christ 695.
Their bodies were afterwards miraculously found in the Rhine
and honourably placed in the Church of St. Cunibert, at
Cologne, by Duke Pepin of Brabant, in the year 1004, and are
still preserved with due veneration.
(Roman Martyrology. Bede, B. 5, cap. n. British Martyrology?
SAINT FREMUND, Prince and Hermit
MARTYRED AT HESAGE, IN WALES, ON MAY nth, 700.
May nth, at Offchurch, in Warwickshire, is the Feast of the
Passion of St. Fremund, Martyr. He was the son of Offa, King
of the Mercians. Despising the vanities of the world, he became
a hermit in a little island called, in the British tongue, Hesage,
in the marshes of Wales.
30 A COMPLETE HISTORY
There, together with two virtuous monks, he lived a most holy
and contemplative life, until, through envy of his happiness, he
was traitorously slain on May nth, in the year 700, by Osway
his kinsman, who had apostatized from the Christian faith.
He was afterwards canonized in 1257, during the reign of
(Capgrave, Catalogue of English Saints. Molanus in addit ad
Usuardum. British Martyrology, May nth.)
SAINT ENGLEMUND, Priest and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN FRIESLAND, BY KING RADBOD, ON JUNE 2ist, 720.
On June 2ist, at Beverwick, in Holland, in the Diocese of
Harlem, the Festivity of St. Englemund, Martyr, is celebrated.
He was descended from a noble family in our island of Great
Britain. Going first to Holland, and thence to Friesland to
propagate the Christian faith, he was put to a cruel death by
Radbod, the pagan King of Friesland, about the year of Christ
720. His body was brought to Holland, and there used to be
kept in great veneration in an oratory at Beverwick, even until
the last age of schisms and heresies in those parts.
(Albinus Flaccus invita Willebrordi. British Martyrology.)
SAINT ITHWARE, Virgin.
MARTYRED IN SOUTH WALES, ON DECEMBER 23rd, 740.
" December 23rd, in South Wales, is the Feast of the Deposi-
tion of St. Ithware, Martyr. Descended from a noble British
family, she led a holy and virtuous life in her father's house,
wholly employing herself in entertaining the pilgrims and
strangers who called there.
On account of her sanctity and goodness she was envied by
her mother-in-law, who accused her to her brother Bona of being
a sinful woman.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 31
He, in his rage, slew her with his own hand as she was one
day coming out of church.
God, however, testified to her innocence by miracles after her
head had been cut off. She instantly took it up from the ground
and carried it to the church from whence she came, and a clear
fountain sprang up in the place where she was beheaded, which
afterwards proved to be a sovereign remedy for many diseases."
She suffered about the year of Christ 740.
(Nov. Leg. SS. Angliae, fol. 203. British Martyrology, Decem-
SAINT GERMAN, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN FRIESLAND, ON MAY 2nd, 750.
On May 2nd, in Lower Germany, the Deposition of St. German,
Bishop and Martyr, is celebrated. An Englishman by birth, he
\vent over to Brabant and Friesland to preach the Christian
faith. He received the crown of martyrdom about the year of
(British Martyrology, May 2nd.)
SAINT BONIFACE, Archbishop, Primate, and Apostle
MARTYRED AT DOCKUM, IN GERMANY, ON JUNE 5th, 754.
The Apostle of Germany was, according to Camden (vol. i., p.
162) born at a town in Roman times called Cridiantum, now
contracted into Kirton, in Devonshire. At baptism he received
the name of Wilfrid, a name which Pope Gregory changed to
that of Boniface when, in 723, he consecrated him Bishop of
Mayence. The following history of the Apostle of Germany is
taken substantially from Alban Butler's " Lives of the Saints" :
32 A COMPLETE HISTORY
When Wilfrid was only a child, his chief delight was listening
to holy men speaking about God and heavenly things. This
gave him a strong desire of embracing the religious state. When
only thirteen years of age he commenced a course of classical
education in the Monastery of Exeter, under the Abbot Wol-
phard. With his studies he devoted himself to continuous prayer
and meditation, accompanied by faithful observance of monas-
After he had spent some years studying in Exeter he went to
the Monastery of Nutcell, in the Diocese of Winchester, to
complete his studies under the Abbot Wimbert.
At thirty years of age he was ordained priest, and after that
he spent some time in preaching, and in the cure of souls. So
great was his reputation that he was entrusted by his superiors
with an important commission to Brithwald, Archbishop of
Canterbury, when his great merits became known both to that
prelate and to good King Ina. Conscious of his holiness
and learning, the Bishops of the Province invited him afterwards
to be present at their synods and take part in their deliberations.
Burning with zeal for the conversion of those nations who had
not yet received the light of faith, and having obtained per-
mission from his Abbot, Wilfrid passed over to Friesland, to
preach the Gospel to the pagans in that country. Radbod, King
of Friesland, put so many difficulties in his way, however, that
he was obliged unwillingly to return again to England. The
Abbot Wimbert dying soon after, Wilfrid was unanimously
chosen to take his place, although he did all in his power to
decline the promotion.
Through the influence of the pious Bishop of Winchester,
Wilfrid's resignation of the office thus thrust upon him was
accepted. Free now to devote himself to the work of a mis-
sionary, Wilfrid set out for Rome, and presented himself to Pope
Gregory II, begging his Apostolic blessing and authority for
preaching to the infidels.
Satisfied with the credentials given by the Bishop of Winchester
to Wilfrid, the Pope, having treated him with great kindness,
gave him formal permission to preach the Gospel to the German
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 33
The holy missionary lost no time in crossing the Lower Alps
and passing through Bavaria into Thuringia, where he began his
Apostolic labours. He not only baptized great numbers of in-
fidels, but also induced the Christians whom he found in
Bavaria and in the provinces adjoining France to reform many
irregularities, and live in a manner more agreeable to the Canons
of the Church.
The death of Radbod, King of Friesland, and the accession of
Martel to the throne, presented an opportunity to Wilfrid of
preaching the Gospel in that country, of which he availed him-
self, in conjunction with St. Willebrord, with great success.
Having heard, however, that the latter intended making him his
successor in the Episcopal See, he left that mission, alleging, in
excuse, that the Pope had appointed him to preach the Gospel to
the pagans in Germany.
From Friesland he went into Hesse and a part of Saxony,
baptising thousands of idolaters, destroying temples, and build-
ing churches everywhere he visited.
Sending to Rome one of the priests labouring with him in
his glorious \vork, Wilfrid informed Pope Gregory of the won-
derful success of his mission, asking his Holiness, at the same
time, to solve several difficulties which had arisen. In obedience
to the command of the Pope, Wilfrid at once journeyed to
Rome and arrived there in the year 723.
After he had made the necessary confession of faith, he was,
much to his own reluctance, consecrated Bishop ; and it was on
this occasion that his name was changed by Pope Gregory from
Wilfrid to that of Boniface ; after this the saint returned again
to Hesse to take-up his missionary work with renewed fervour,
and soon after, the missionary work becoming heavy, he obtained
a number of zealous priests from England, whom he stationed
at Hesse and Thuringia.
When in 732 Pope Gregory III became Sovereign Pon-
tiff, he appointed St. Boniface Archbishop and Primate of
Germany, giving him at the same time full power to create new-
bishoprics wherever the needs of the Gospel required them. In
738 St. Boniface for the third time visited Rome to confer with
the Sovereign Pontiff, and on this occasion he was appointed
34 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Legate of the Apostolic See in Germany. On returning to Ger-
many he established three new bishoprics in Bavaria at Salz-
burg, Freisingen, and Ratisbon ; and one at Erford for
Thuringia ; another at Barasburg for Hesse ; a .third at Wurtz-
burg for Franconia ; and the last at Achstat, in the Palatinate
Political events, at this juncture, greatly favoured the
missionary labours of the Apostle of Germany. On the
death of Charles Martel, Prince of France and Mayor of
the Palace, his son Charles, afterwards called Charlemagne,
succeeded to his titles and power as Mayor of France, and
Prince of Burgundy, Aquitaine, and Lorraine, and that part of
Germany which was then subject to France. He added to the
conquests of his father by subduing Bavaria and Saxony, and
converting the princes of these two countries into his tributaries.
The spread of Christianity, the cultivation of useful arts, and
the happiness of his subjects, were his chief aims as an
Finding in St. Boniface a man deeply learned in the science
of the saints, and full of the Spirit of God, Charlemagne both
consulted him as his spiritual director and followed his advice,
by resigning his kingdom in the zenith of his glory. Having
entrusted all his dominions to his brother Pepin, he went to
Rome, and having dismissed all his attendants, he received the
monastic habit from Pope Zachary, and entered the monastery
of St. Sylvester, on Mount Saracte. Distracted, however, by
too many visitors, he afterwards retired to Monte Cassino, and
finally to Vienne, where he died A.D. 755,
Pepin, who succeeded him, was chosen King by the general
consent of the whole nation ; and all historians unite in praising
the princely virtues and religious zeal of the new monarch. He
was solemnly crowned at Soissons by St. Boniface, the prelate
whom he especially selected for that function.
St. Boniface in 745 established the Metropolitan See of
Germany at Mayence, and Pope Zachary subjected to it the
bishoprics of Tongres, Cologne, Worms, Utrecht, and also the
new bishoprics already mentioned founded by the saint,
together with the bishoprics of Strasburg, Augsburg, Constance,
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 35
and Coire, which were formerly subject to the See of Worms.
Thus Mayence was constituted the Metropolitan See of Germany.
To assist him in gathering the great spiritual harvest in Ger-
many, St. Boniface invited over from England many good priests
and nuns. Amongst these will be found the names of St. Wig-
bert ; St. Burchard, Bishop of Wurtzburg ; St. Willebald, Bishop
Eichstadd, and St. Lullus ; whilst St. Thecla, St. Walburga, St.
Lioba, Birgita, and Contruda are names of the holy nuns
to whom he entrusted the spiritual care and supervision of all
the convents which he had erected in Thuringia, Bavaria, and
In 746 he laid the foundation of the great Abbey of Fulda,
which long remained the most famous seminary of piety and
learning in that part of the world. Several years before this, the
Apostle of Germany had founded a Monastery at Fridislar, in
honour of St. Peter ; another at Hamenburgh, in honour of St.
Michael ; and a third at Ordorfe in honour of the same arch-
angel, in all of which the monks gained their livelihood by the
labour of their hands.
Craving still to go further afield in order to spread the light
of the Gospel amongst the infidels, St. Boniface, using the privi-
lege of choosing his successor granted to him by Pope Zachary,
consecrated his fellow-countryman St. Lullus Archbishop of
Mayence in 754, at the same time instructing him to complete the
churches which he himself had begun in Thuringia and Fulda,
and imploring him to labour zealously for the conversion of the
remaining idolaters within the region of his jurisdiction. He
likewise wrote a touching letter to King Pepin, begging him to
extend his protection to the English priests, monks, and nuns
dispersed throughout Germany, who were all employed in
gathering in the spiritual harvest which he himself had reaped.
He pointed out to the King also that very many poor and
destitute priests had established missions on the pagan frontiers,
who, indeed, were able to get food, but not clothing unless
assisted by the royal bounty.
Pepin granted the saint's requests ; and Pope Stephen II
not only confirmed the nomination of St. Lullus to the
See of Mayence, but also gave the Apostle of Germany per-
36 A COMPLETE HISTORY
mission to preach the Gospel to the unconverted nations in
that country. The saint then, without delay, accompanied by
several zealous companions, went to preach the Gospel to the
pagan inhabitants of East Friesland.
Having converted and baptized many thousands, he appointed
the following Whitsunday Eve as the date of their confirmation,
which was to take place in the open fields, in the Plains of
Dockum. There he pitched his camp, and whilst awaiting the
arrival of the new converts suddenly a band of savage
infidels appeared in arms on the plain, and brandishing their
weapons, they rushed into his tent. The servants surrounding
St. Boniface wished to offer armed resistance to these savages ;
but he would not permit it, declaring that the day he so longed
for had come, which would usher him into the eternal rest of the
Lord. He then exhorted them all to meet with cheerfulness and
constancy the death of martyrdom, which would open to them
the gates of everlasting life. The pagans then falling on them
put them all to the sword on June 5th, 755.
St. Boniface was martyred in the seventy-fifth year of his age,
and with him died no less than fifty-two companions, the prin-
cipal of whom were Eoban, bishop ; Winstrung, Walter, and
Adelhere, priests ; Hamund and Rosa, deacons ; Waccar, Gun-
derhar, Williker, and Hadulph, monks ; the rest were laymen.
The barbarians expected to capture a great amount of gold
and silver in the baggage of the martyrs, but finding nothing
except relics or books, they either contemptuously scattered them
in the fields or hid them in the marshes.
Some were afterwards found, and amongst them are three books,
which are still preserved in the Monastery of Fulda : one, a Book
of the Gospels, written in St. Boniface's own hand ; the second,
a copy of a harmony of the Canons of the New Testament ; and
the third, which is stained by the martyr's blood, contains a
letter from St. Leo to Theodorus, Bishop of Frejus, and the
discourses of St. Ambrose on the Holy Ghost, with his treatise
11 De Bono Mortis."
The body of St. Boniface was first carried to Utrecht, then to
Mayence, and lastly to Fulda, where, in fulfilment of the martyr's
wishes, it was finally deposited by St. Lullus.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 37
The Centuriators of Magdeburg of Bollandus have given us,
under the title of Analecta Bollanda, a long history of the vast
number of miracles, down to the present, which have been wrought
by God at the relics of the Apostle of Germany, St. Boniface.
The British Martyrology contains the following : June 5th
is the Feast of the Passion of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr.
He was an Englishman, who was born in Devonshire, and went
over to Germany to preach the Christian faith, and was there con-
secrated Bishop of Mayence. He laboured incessantly, gaining
so many souls to God, and founding such a number of churches
and monasteries that he gained for himself the title of " The
Apostle of Germany."
Afterwards he entered Friesland to preach to that people,
when he was slain by the enemies of Christ, at Dockum, A.D.
754, together with many others, both priests, deacons, and monks,
to the number of fifty.
His body was afterwards translated to Mayence, but the bodies
of the other martyrs are preserved at Mastrick, in Brabant, -with
due veneration. (British Martyrology, June 5th.)
SAINT ALFWOLD, King of Northumbria and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT CITHLECESTER, ON SEPTEMBER 23rd, 788.
On September 23rd, at Cithlecester, near the Roman Wall
in Northumberland, the Passion of St. Alfwold, King and
Martyr, is commemorated. After he had most laudably governed
his kingdom for twelve years, he was, through the enmity of a
nobleman named Lega, of that province, slain in a rebellion by
his own subjects about the year 788. His body was brought to
Hexham. God testified to the royal martyr's sanctity by the
many miracles wrought at his shrine. (William of Malmesbury's
English Kings, L. i. British Martyrology, September 23rd.)
38 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT ETHELBERT, King.
MARTYRED AT SUTTON WALLIS, HEREFORDSHIRE, MAY aoth, 793.
May 20th, in Herefordshire, is the Feast of St. Ethelbert, King
of the East Angles, and Martyr. Whilst on a visit to Offa,
King of Mercia, with the object of entering into a treaty of
marriage with Elfred, his daughter, he was, by the malicious
machinations of Quandred, King Offa's wife, traitorously slain
at Sutton Wallis.
Having been brought to Hereford, his body was there interred,
and as a sign of his innocence it pleased God forthwith to
work miracles. A goodly church, dedicated to his honour, was
afterwards erected by Kenulphus, successor to King Offa.
Kenulphus also raised Hereford to the dignity of an Episcopal
See, and St. Ethelbert's is now the Cathedral Church of that city.
He was martyred in the year of Christ 793.
(Annals of Westminster, 393. Capgrave's Catalogue and Geraldus
Cambrensis in historia. British Martyrology, May 2oth.)
SAINT TANCON, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT WERTH, IN GERMANY, ON FEBRUARY i6th, 800.
On February i6th, at Werth, in Germany, the Deposition of
Saint Tancon, Bishop and Martyr, is commemorated. He was
first the abbot of Amarbarick, in Scotland, but afterwards went
over to Germany to preach the Christian faith. Whilst there
he was consecrated Bishop of Werth, and preached incessantly
to the barbarous people of that country. At length he was
martyred by them in hatred of the Christian religion about the
year of Christ 800, and was buried at Werth.
(Leslie's Hist, of Scotland, B. 5. Crarizuis in Metrop. Werdensis,
L. i, c. 22, quoted by the British Martyrology.)
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 39
SAINT ALKMUND, Prince.
MARTYRED NEAR DERBY, ON MARCH i9th, 800.
March i9th is, at Derby, the Feast of St. Alkmund, the son of
Alured, King of Northumbria. He was impiously slain by the
Danes in a battle waged against Walstan, Duke of Wilton. As
many miracles were wrought through his intercession after his
death, his body was translated to Derby and interred there with
A fine church, which still remains to this day, is commonly
called St. Alkmund's, in his honour. On account of the great
number of miracles which took place in this edifice, many pilgri-
mages are made to it.
St. Alkmund suffered about the year of Christ 800.
In Shrewsbury another church built in honour of this holy
martyr is still to be seen.
(Sped, in Chron. Regum Northumbrian. British Martyrology,
SAINT KENELM, King of the Mercians.
MARTYRED AT WINCHELCOMB, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, ON JULY lyth,
July lyth, in Gloucestershire, is the Feast of St. Kenelm, King
of the Mercians, and Martyr. In the third year of his age he was
committed to his sister Quandred for his education, but she
herself afterwards, wishing to reign, caused him to be secretly
murdered by one of his own guards, who cast the young King's
body into an obscure place, full of brambles and thorns.
An angel having miraculously revealed the spot, the body was
brought into the Church of Winchelcomb, where it was solemnly
It pleased God to work many miracles at the grave of the
martyr in testimony of his innocence.
His martyrdom took place in the year of Christ 820.
(Rom. Mart. Nov. Legis SS. Anglice, for 206. Matthew of
Westminster. Flores SS. Britannice. British Martyrology,
40 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT WINSTAN, Prince,
MARTYRED NEAR REPTON, DERBYSHIRE, ON JUNE ist, 849.
June ist, at Evesham, in Worcestershire, is the Feast of St.
Winstan, Martyr, nephew to Coelwolf, King of Mercia, who
through envy was secretly slain by one of his kinsmen named
Barefred. A great light was seen shining for thirty days to-
gether over the place where St. Winstan was murdered. Through
this his body was discovered.
It was first interred in the Monastery of Rependune (now Rep-
ton) in Derbyshire, where afterwards it was the occasion of
It was, with great solemnity, later on translated to the Abbey
of Evesham, and there preserved with due honour until our days.
St. Winstan was martyred on the Vigil of Pentecost, about the
year of Christ 849.
(Matthew of Westminster, 849. Huntingdon Hist., L. 4. British
THE FEAST OF MANY HOLY MARTYRED
. MONKS AND NUNS.
COMMEMORATED AT LINCOLN, ON MARCH 22nd, 870.
On March 22nd, at Bardney, in Lincolnshire, the Feast of Many
Holy Monks and Nuns, martyred during the Danish persecution,
is celebrated. They were slain by those pagans in hatred of
the Christian religion in their own monasteries. During that
time the Danes, infesting the whole country, slew the Abbot of
the Monastery of Croyland, and set fire to all the churches and
dwellings. At Peterborough they slaughtered all the religious
whom they found, and on arriving at the Convent of Ely they
mercilessly put all the nuns to the sword about the year of
(Ingulph's Hist, of Croyland. British Martyrology, March
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 41
SAINT EDMUND, King and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT ST. EDMUNDS BURY, ON NOVEMBER 20th, 870.
November 2Oth, at Henglesdon, now called Hoxon, in Suffolk,
is the Feast of St. Edmund, King of the East Angles, and
Martyr. After he had most laudably ruled his kingdom for
fifteen years, he was, during the first Danish persecution under
Captains Hinguar and Hubba, put to a cruel death. He was
first tied to a tree and brutally scourged ; then transfixed with
arrows ; and, lastly, beheaded. They cast his head amongst the
briars and bushes in a wood hard by. It was afterwards sought
for by the Christians, who, having lost themselves in the
wood, began calling to one another : "Where art thou?' The
blessed martyr's head answered " Here." Thus it was discovered
by this miraculous voice and buried with his body.
Doctor Challoner, in his Britannia Sancta, states that the
Royal Martyr's body and head were buried at Bedricks worth,
now called, on account of that event, St. Edmunds Bury. Over
his grave a small wooden church was built, which afterwards
became famous for numerous miracles.
Fifty-seven years after the saint's burial, his relics were rever-
ently raised by Theodore, Bishop of London, surnamed the Good.
To the great astonishment of all who were present, St. Edmund's
body appeared incorrupt ; his wounds were all found closed up,
the only mark remaining being a red circle around the neck.
Theodore built a spacious church over the saint's monument.
King Canute, who had a great devotion to St. Edmund, founded
a grand abbey of Benedictine monks at Edmunds Bury in the
(Mart. Rom. Osbertus de Stokes' Life of St. Edmund. British
Martyrology, November 2oth.)
SAINT HUMBERT, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED BY THE DANES, ON NOVEMBER 2oth, 870.
On November 2oth, at Hoxon, in Suffolk, the Passion of
St. Humbert, Bishop and Martyr, is commemorated. He acted
as counsellor to King Edmund, Martyr, in the administration of
42 A COMPLETE HISTORY
his kingdom, and deserved on the same day and in the same
place to be also partaker with him in his martyrdom in the year
of our Lord 870.
(Baronius, torn. 10, an. 870. West. Annales, quoted by the
British Martyrology, November 2Oth.)
SAINT HAMUND, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED AT MERDEN, IN WILTSHIRE, ON MARCH 22nd, 872.
On March 22nd, at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire, the Feast of
St. Hamund, Bishop and Martyr, is commemorated. In the
Danish persecution under Captains Hinguar and Hubba, he was
barbarously slain at Merden, in Wiltshire, for confessing Christ,
during the reign of Alfred, King of the West Saxons, about the
year of Christ 872.
(Matthew of Westminster, anno 872, quoted by the BritisJi
Martyrology, March 22nd.)
SAINT ETHELRED, King of the West Saxons.
MARTYRED NEAR W T HITTINGHAM, DORSETSHIRE, ON APRIL 23rd, 872.
The Danes having subdued the East Angles after St.
Edmund's death in so short a time, assured themselves that no
real resistance could be offered to their complete conquest of
Britain. Marching boldly into the Kingdom of the West Saxons
they beseiged Redigan, now called Reading, a town situated on
the south bank of the Thames.
Three days afterwards a large force of their infantry and
most of their cavalry, under specially chosen leaders, went into
the country in search of forage and plunder ; but the rest of
their army employed itself in fortifying the camp, which was
pitched between the rivers Thames and Cynetan, now called the
Kennet, on the right side of the town.
In the meantime the valiant Ethelwolf, Count of Hampshire,
with an army of countrymen, opposed them at a village called
Inglesfields, \vhen a fierce battle was fought, till at length the
Danes wavered and fled, leaving most of their army and one of
their great leaders dead on the battle-field.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 43
Four days after this battle, King Ethelred and his brother
Alfred, uniting their forces with Count Ethelvvolf's, advanced on
Reading, where they routed the Danes guarding the outworks,
and even advanced to the very entrance of the camp. Furious
at this unexpected onslaught on the part of their despised
enemies, the Danes, with all their forces, marched outside their
entrenchments to meet the British. A long and terrific battle
took place, which cost the lives of the undaunted Count
Ethelwolf and of many of his bravest followers before the
Danes gained the victory.
Overcome by feelings of grief and shame at their defeat, the
English army, under the command of King Ethelred, risked an-
other battle at Ashendum, where the Danes were utterly routed.
Before the fight King Ethelred had Mass celebrated in the open
plain to implore the help of the great God of Battles to aid them
in fighting for Christianity against paganism.
Fourteen years after their defeat at Ashendum, the Danes,
reinforced by their fellow-countrymen who had settled in East
Anglia and Mercia, advanced on Besang, in Hampshire, where
they were again met and defeated by the pious King Ethelred's
army. Unsubdued by this signal defeat they again tried their
fortune in another battle, which took place at Merton, in Surrey.
Although the Danes at first wavered and fled, rallying again
they faced and defeated the British Army now scattered in pursuit.
The gallant and saintly King Ethelred fell in this battle, leav-
ing to his brother Alfred the Great the task of breaking down
the Danish power in England, a work which he himself had so well
commenced. The body of St. Ethelred, carried in state by his
mourning followers, was buried at Wimborne in Dorsetshire.
Camden, in his Britannia, has the following notice of the
church in that village :
King Ethelred, a most pious Prince, brother of King Alfred,
being 1 slain in a combat against the Danes, was buried in this
church, on whose tomb, not long repaired, is read this inscrip-
" In this place rests the body of Ethelred, King of the West
Saxons, and Martyr, who, in the year 872, was slain by the hands
of the Pagan Danes."
44 A COMPLETE HISTORY
This agrees with the British Martyrology.
"April 23rd is the Feast of the Martyrdom of St. Ethelred,
King of the West Saxons, and Martyr, who, during the Danish
persecution, was slain by the tyrannical invaders, in hatred of
the Christian religion, at an old town called Whittingham, in
the year of Christ 872.
His body was brought to Wimborne, and there interred in that
monastery with due veneration, as beseems so precious a relic."
SAINT EBBA AND HER COMPANIONS, Virgins.
MARTYRED AT COLDINGHAM, IN SCOTLAND, ON APRIL 2nd, 880.
April 2nd, at Coldingham, in the Marshes of Scotland, is the
Feast of St. Ebba, Abbess and Martyr. Descended from the
Royal family of the Kings of Northumbria, she, together with
her sisters in the convent, cut off their noses and upper lips, and
so deformed themselves during the first Danish invasion to avoid
the barbarous lust of those Pagan persecutors.
When the Danes beheld them so mangled and hideous they
set fire to the convent, which was, with the whole community,
consumed in the fire, thus completing their martyrdom in the year
of Christ 880.
(Chron. Brit. West., anno 880. Baronius, torn. 10. British
Martyrology, April 2nd.)
SAINT EDWARD, King.
MARTYRED NEAR CORFE CASTLE, IN DORSETSHIRE, ON
MARCH i8th, 880.
March i8th, in Wareham, Dorsetshire, is the Feast of St.
Edward, King and Martyr. He through the treachery of his
step-mother, desirous that her own son should be made King
was slain by a miscreant, hired for that purpose, at Corfe Castle,
as he was out hunting about the year of Christ 880.
His body was first interred at Wareham, then at Shaftesbury,
and lastly at Glastonbury in 1001.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 45
(Surius in ej'us vita. Westminster, anno 978. British Mar-
tyrology, March i8th.)
St. Edward, writes Alban Butler, "followed in all things the
counsels of St. Dunstan ; and his ardour in the pursuit of virtue
cannot be expressed in words.
His love of purity of mind and body, and his fervent devotion
rendered him a miracle of princes ; whilst his modesty, clemency ,,
prudence, charity, and sympathy for the poor made him both
the blessing and delight of his subjects."
SAINT MENIGOLD, Hermit and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN LOWER GERMANY, ON FEBRUARY Qth, 900.
On February 9th, at Hue, in Lower Germany, the Feast of St..
Menigold, Martyr, is commemorated. He "was a noble Briton,
who first attained the rank of captain in the French and German
wars, but afterwards became a hermit. The Emperor Arnulph
gave him a small plot of land on the banks of the river Mosa,
there he built an oratory and began a life of continual mortifica-
tion and prayer. As he -was one day going to church he was
slain, in hatred of his sanctity, by some wicked soldiers about
the year of Christ 900. His body was afterwards translated to
Hue, and is kept until this day with due honour and veneration
by the inhabitants.
(Sancte Belgie in addit ad Usuardum. British Martyrology^
SAINTS WIAMAN, UNAMAN, and SUNAMAN,
MARTYRED AT WEXIOW, IN GOTLAND, ON JULY 25th, 1000.
"July 25th, in Gotland, is the Feast of Saints Wiaman, Unaman,.
and Sunaman, nephews to St. Sigfrid of York, and Apostles of
Gotland. On going to that country with their uncle, to preach
the Christian faith, they were slain in hatred thereof, by the
barbarous people of Gotland about the year of Christ 1000.
Their bodies were afterwards thrown into a river, and their
heads were placed in a large jar, to which a stone was tied, and:
46 A COMPLETE HISTORY
then cast into a pool near the place of their martyrdom. They
were, however, discovered by miraculous lights, which appeared
burning every night over the pool, and consequently taken out
and decently interred by St. Sigfrid, as became such precious
(Joannes Magnus, Hist. Goth.,D. 17, cap. 20. British Mart yr-
, July 25th.)
SAINT LEFRONA, Abbess and Martyr, and her
MARTYRED BY THE DANES, ON SEPTEMBER 23rd, 1010.
On September 23rd, in Northumberland, the Feast of St. Lefrona,
Abbess and Martyr, is celebrated. She was martyred during the
second Danish persecution in hatred of the Christian religion.
The brutal Danes coming to her monastery, after they had
treated the holy nuns with barbarous violence decimated the
whole community, putting nine to death and sparing the tenth.
This massacre took place about the year of Christ 1010.
(Matt. West., anno 1010, quoted by the British Martyrology,
SAINT ELPHEGE, Archbishop of Canterbury.
MARTYRED AT GREENWICH, ON APRIL iQth, 1012.
April. iQth, at Greenwich, in Kent, is the Feast of St. Elphege,
Bishop and Martyr. He was first Prior of Glastonbury, then
Bishop of Winchester, and lastly Archbishop of Canterbury.
When the Danes invaded his cathedral demanding 3,000 marks
of money, he, like a good pastor, manfully refused to give the
same from his church funds. After seven months' imprisonment
and divers torments he was finally stoned to death at Greenwich,
by those wicked men, about the year of Christ 1012.
About this time also were slain about thirty monks of St.
Augustine's Monastery, Canterbury, and eight thousand lay people
in other places of England.
(Mart. Rom., Surius hac die. Polydor Virgil, L. 7. BritisJi
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 47
SAINT ESKELL, Bishop and Martyr.
MARTYRED IN SWEDEN, ON APRIL loth, 1016.
On April loth, in Sweden, the Passion of St. Eskell, Bishop
and Martyr, is commemorated. Having left England he went
with St. Sigifrid to preach the Christian faith in Sweden, where
he was stoned to death by the pagan inhabitants of the coun-
try whilst he was preaching to them on Good Friday, in the
year of Christ 1016.
(Magdeburg, Hist. Goth., L. 18, cap 2. Annales Brev. Sueciae.
British Martyrology, April loth.)
SAINT ULFRIDE, Bishop.
MARTYRED IN SWEDEN, JANUARY lyth, 1036.
January iyth, in Sweden, is the Feast of St. Ulfride, Bishop
and Martyr. An Englishman by birth, and learned in the Holy
Scriptures, he went over to Sweden to preach the Christian faith.
Having done so with great success for about four years, he was put
to death by the enemies o-f truth in the year of our Lord 1034.
(Adam Bremenses, Hist. Sueciae, L. 2, cap. 22. Baronius, Annales
Ecclesia, 1036. British Martyrology, January i7frh.)
SAINT WILLIAM, Martyr.
MARTYRED NEAR ROCHESTER, ON MAY 23rd, 1150.
On May 23rd, at Rochester, in Kent, the Feast of- St. William,
Martyr, is celebrated. He was born at Perth, in Scotland, and,
whilst on his way on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem through England,
he was slain by his own servant, in the main road, a short dis-
tance from Rochester. When his dead body was brought to the
city it pleased God to work many miracles there in testimony of his
saintly and spotless life. His relics were, on that account, interred
in St. Andrew's Cathedral Church, and there preserved with due
honour and veneration until our days. The whole history of
his life is written in full by Thomas Monmouth, a Benedictine
monk, about the year of Christ 1150.
(Capgrave, in his Catalogue of the English Saints, and Molanus in
addit at Usuardum, quoted by the English Martyrology, May
48 A COMPLETE HISTORY
SAINT LEOFGAR, Bishop of Hereford,
MARTYRED AT HEREFORD, ON JUNE i6th, 1056.
On June i6th, in Hereford, the Passion of Leofgar, Bishop and
Martyr, is commemorated. Having faithfully exercised the
office of a good pastor, he and seven of his canons were slain by
Griffith, King of Wales, because they refused him entrance into
the church, which he had plundered and despoiled of all its
treasure. He burnt the church, together with the whole city of
Hereford, in the year of Christ 1056.
(Westm. An. 1036. Godwin, De Episcopis Herefordiensis. British
Martyrology, June i6th.)
SAINT HENRY, Bishop.
MARTYRED IN FINLAND, ON JANUARY i9th, IN THE YEAR 1151.
January I9th, at Upsal, in Sweden, is the Feast of the Passion
of St. Henry, Bishop and Martyr. He left England to preach
the Christian faith in Sweden, and was there honourably enter-
tained by the King himself and was consecrated Bishop of Upsal.
By his advice and direction the King waged war against the
Finlanders and completely conquered them, whereby Finland also
received the Christian faith and St. Henry became their Apostle.
He was afterwards stoned to death by the pagan people of
that country in the year of Christ 1151.
His body was brought to Upsal, and there was accustomed to
be kept with due veneration in his own cathedral even until these
late years of schisms and heresies in those parts.
(Joannes Magnus, Hist. Goth., L.I9, cap. 3. Breviarum Sueciae
hac die. British Martyrology.)
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 49
SAINT THOMAS A'BECKET, Archbishop of Canter-
MARTYRED IN CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL, ON DECEMBER 29th, 1170.
Singularly enough, two of England's most honoured martyrs,
namely, St. Thomas A'Becket and Blessed Thomas More, were
both born in the City of London and in or off the same street :
St. Thomas A'Becket in a house which stood on the present site
of the Mercers' Hall, Cheapside, and Blessed Thomas More in
Milk Street, Cheapside, not more than one hundred yards distant
from the Mercers' Hall. The parallel of their lives does not end
here ; St. Thomas A'Becket once filled the office of Sheriff's
clerk, and Blessed Thomas More that of Sub-Sheriff in the city.
Each enjoyed the distinguished but dangerous honour of being
a royal favourite and Lord Chancellor of England, and each
was doomed to martyrdom by two kings of the same Christian
The author of the "Legend of St. Thomas of Aeon," a book
written for and dedicated to the Honourable Mercers' Company,
informs us, in his introduction, " that during the reign of King
Stephen Gilbert A'Becket was appointed by His Majesty Port
Reeve of London," which was an office equivalent to that of Lord
Mayor at the present time. This fact alone the writer contends
would bespeak a high position in the respect of the King and of
his fellow-citizens. His erection of the mortuary chapel adjoin-
ing St. Paul's Cathedral indicates his possession of considerable
wealth. It cannot, therefore, be a matter of much surprise that
one in his position should indulge in the luxury of a pilgrimage
to the Holy Land.
That such was the case is recorded by Bampton in his Chron-
icon (1167). Gilbert A'Becket, accompanied by his servant
Richard, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Whilst one day they
were at their devotions in one of the churches a party of infidels
seized and carried them away captive.
A'Becket during his captivity seems to have won the esteem
of his master, who often invited him to table, when they spoke
together about the manners and customs of different nations.
50 A COMPLETE HISTORY
This noble Saracen's daughter, struck by A'Becket's appearance
and conversation, found opportunities of conversing with him
privately about his religion, country, and the history of his life.
To his great astonishment, this lady one day informed him that
she had determined on leaving her father and country, and be-
coming a Christian, and she asked him to marry her, so that with
propriety they might escape together. The proposal was so un-
expected and astounding that Gilbert was careful to give a very
guarded reply. A little later on A'Becket succeeded in effecting
his escape into Christian territory, and from thence sailed to
The fair Saracen no sooner discovered the captive's flight,
than she resolved on following him. Leaving secretly her
father's house at night she made her way to the sea coast, and
sailed to England. Arrived in London, and knowing no English
words except "A'Becket" and "London," her condition would
have been a very precarious one had not A'Becket's servant,
Richard, met her by chance, and informed his master of her
arrival. Greatly touched by her zeal for Christianity and
affection for himself, Gilbert ordered his servant to conduct her
to a gentlewoman of his acquaintance, where she was kindly
received and treated.
However anxious A'Becket might be for the lady's conversion
he had no desire for marriage, as his wish was to depart again
soon for the Crusades. However he decided to seek the Bishop
of London's advice, and that prelate, considering the whole
circumstances of the case, and seeing the hand of God in them,
persuaded Gilbert to marry the Saracen lady.
Soon afterwards she was solemnly baptised, and married on
the same day, at St. Paul's Cathedral. Thomas, the son of
Gilbert A'Becket and Matilda his wife, was born in Cheapside,
London, on December 2ist, 1118, and after Vespers on the same
day baptised at St. Mary's Colechurch. In honour of the
Apostle whose feast occurs on that day, he was called Thomas.
As the child grew, his good mother was accustomed every
morning to put him on one side of the scales and alms for the
poor, in food or clothing, on the other, and her son was never
liberated from his temporary imprisonment until the balance
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 51
unquestionably inclined in favour of charity. Devotion to the
Blessed Mother of God and charity to the poor were the great
lessons impressed on the mind of young Thomas by his saintly
In his early youth young A'Becket frequented one of the city
schools ; later on he entered Merton Abbey College ; from thence
he passed on to Oxford and Paris, and was just completing the
course of his studies in the latter university \vhen he was
summoned home to bid a last farewell to his dear mother, whc
was on her death-bed. Owing to losses through fire and other
causes, his father, who did not long survive his beloved wife,
left only a moderate inheritance to Thomas and his sister Agnes.
After his father's death the future martyr went to live \vith
one of his relatives named Osbern Wildeniers, who, being a man
of means and of influence in the city, obtained for his young
relative the post of " Clerk to the Sheriff," an office which he
filled for three years, while keeping at the same time Wildeniers'
accounts, thus acquiring those business habits so useful to him
later when he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England.
During his off days he indulged in his favourite pastimes of
hunting and hawking, which on one occasion nearly cost him
his life. In the eagerness of the chase he fell into a stream
which rapidly flowed onwards to a mill, and, carried away by
the current, he was on the point of being crushed by the mill
wheels when the man in charge of the mill, knowing nothing of
the accident which had happened, providentially turned off the
water and saved Thomas A'Becket's life. There is a tradition in
St. Edmund's College that Wade's Mill a village midway
between Ware and Old Hall Green was the scene of this acci-
dent. In curious confirmation of this pious belief, Knight, in his
History of London, informs us that the citizens of London enjoyed
the right of hunting and hawking in Hertfordshire in those days.
The position of " Clerk of the Sheriffs ' did not wholly
satisfy A'Becket ; he longed to fill some post which would
enable him to do something for religion, and in consequence
applied to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of his
father's friends, for some employment at the Archiepiscopal
Court. Pleased with his address and talents, the primate
52 A COMPLETE HISTORY
of England sent young A'Becket to complete his education in
Bononia in Italy. After going through a course of studies in civil
law, on his return to England he was ordained deacon, and
appointed archdeacon of Canterbury.
King Henry II, who was now reigning, was surrounded by a
number of favourites who were constantly urging him to
undermine the rights and influence of the Church in England.
Archbishop Theobald resolved on opposing the remarkable talents,
ability, and sterling virtue of the new archdeacon to the false
counsels and perfidious influence of the King's flatterers. Accord-
ingly he sent his archdeacon with strong letters of recommenda-
tion to His Majesty. Thomas A'Becket was indeed just the man
to win respect and esteem. He was six feet two in height,
splendidly proportioned, in the prime of life, and good looking,
and of a manly countenance. His intellect, naturally of a very
high order, had been assiduously cultivated by both study and
travel. He was a capable man of business, well suited for
handling large affairs, yet, at the same time, a keen sports-
man, delighting in falconry and in the chase. He at once won
the King's favour, and his promotion was rapid.
In the year 1158, A'Becket was made High Chancellor.
Overcome by the glamour of his new office, or else taking an
exaggerated view of the lavish hospitality expected of one in
his exalted position, A'Becket seemed to affect, for the moment,
all the manners of the courtiers by whom he was surrounded.
Nevertheless, according to Fitz Stephen, a contemporary biog-
rapher, in spite of the general laxity of the Court he passed
through the trying ordeal of his life with an unblemished
character. When on one occasion the King and his Chancellor
were entertained at Stafford by a rich gentleman named Vivien,
the latter, who suspected the purity of A'Becket, arose at mid_
night, and, stealing into his guest's bed-room, found the High
Chancellor of England not resting in a luxurious bed, but lying
asleep on the bare boards.
Whilst enjoying the semi-regal power, Thomas A'Becket was
accustomed when in London to be disciplined by Ralph, Prior
of the Holy Trinity, and when at Canterbury by Thomas, a priest
of St. Martin's. (Morris's Life of St. Thomas, pp. 31 and 32).
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 53
No one has ever called in. question the ability with which he
discharged his high office. Whilst carefully increasing the royal
revenue, he diminished the most oppressive burdens of taxation,
and caused all the money-lenders and extortioners, mostly
foreigners, to relinquish their grasp over the estates of the
nobility and gentry and quit the kingdom.
On the death of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry,
who with the Chancellor was then in Normandy, offered the
vacant see to his astonished favourite. The latter laughingly
replied, " Truly, Sire, you have pitched upon a very reformed
and holy person to govern the first church in England."
Perceiving, however, that the King was in real earnest, he
pleaded : "I assuredly know, Sire, that if God permits me to be
Archbishop of Canterbury, I shall soon lose your Majesty's good
grace, and that the love you now bear me will be changed into
extreme hatred, for permit me to tell your Majesty, that the
attempts you have already made against the rights of the
Church give me cause to fear that your Majesty will require some
things of me which I cannot, in honour and conscience, comply
with, and my enemies will take occasion from thence to animate
and incense your Majesty against me."
Henry, so far from being offended with his Chancellor's
freedom of speech, ordered some courtiers to accompany him to
England and acquaint the chapter of Canterbury that it was
His Majesty's earnest desire that his Chancellor should be elected
to the vacant see. A'Becket, however, remained obstinate in
his refusal to accept the proffered dignity until the Papal
Legate, Cardinal de Pisa, persuaded him that the good of the
Church in England required his compliance with the King's
wishes. (Biog. Brit., 1747, A'Becket.)
After his election, the archdeacon was ordained priest on
Whit-Sunday, 1162, by Walter, Bishop of Rochester, and, on the
Trinity Sunday following, consecrated Bishop by Henry, Bishop
of Winchester, the young Prince Henry and a great, number of
the nobility being present on the occasion. The new Archbishop
of Canterbury received the Pallium from Pope Alexander III,
who was then in France, after which, to the King's great indig-
nation, he resigned the seal and office of Lord Chancellor. This
54 A COMPLETE HISTORY
act, \vith his admitted unwillingness to accept the Primacy of
England, is the most effectual answer to the statement that
Thomas A'Becket was an ambitious man.
On assuming the office, he fully undertook the responsibility
of defending the rights and privileges of the see over which he
was placed. This he accomplished in the most fearless manner :
he not only prosecuted several of the nobility who were en-
deavouring to appropriate estates belonging to the archdiocese,,
but also laid claim to the custody of Rochester Castle, which
the crown had quietly assumed. Insisting on his right of pre-
sentation to all the vacant livings within his episcopal charge,
he promptly excommunicated William de Ainford, Lord of the
Manor, for expelling by force of arms the rector whom he (the
primate) had appointed to a vacant living at Ainford, Kent.
It was only at the urgent entreaties of Henry and in the interests
of peace that the archbishop absolved the penitent knight from
the censure. Acts of upright justice like these, accompanied by
the manifest determination of the primate to guard the interests
of his diocese, created a swarm of enemies amongst the avari-
cious knights, who were forced to restore their ill-gotten estates
to the Church of Canterbury.
Unfortunately, about this time, some grave clerical scandals
presented an opportunity to the Court for making an open
attack on the liberties of the Church in England, which the King,
at the commencement of his reign, had solemnly sworn to respect
and defend. Ignoring altogether his Coronation oath, Henry
called a meeting of the bishops at Westminster, nominally to
declare the Archbishop of Canterbury's right to the primacy 7
which was disputed by Roger, Archbishop of York, but really
to obtain representative control over the ecclesiastical tribunals.
On finding the latter proposal unacceptable to the assembled
prelates, Henry, addressing himself personally to the primate,
demanded that all clerical delinquents found guilty and degraded
by the Ecclesiastical Courts should be handed over to the civil
authority. As this would evidently be equivalent to trying and
punishing the culprits over again for the same offence, the
bishops, acting on the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury,
declined to accede to the King's request. Discovering that he
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 55
could not prevail by fair means, Henry resorted to a stratagem :
he requested that they should all, at least, agree to observe the
"Royal Customs." Not knowing what these Royal Customs
really were, the primate, speaking cautiously on behalf of his
bewildered brethren, answered that they were all willing to be
bound by the ancient laws, as far as the privileges of their
order, the honour of God, and Holy Church would permit.
These Royal Customs were, as a matter of fact, mere fictions,
which his Majesty endeavoured to manufacture into facts at the
Council of Clarendon. (Collier, vol. 2, p. 271.) Exasperated by
the complete failure of his plot to entrap the prelates, the King
indignantly left the Council Chamber.
Though baffled at the time, Henry did not, however, abandon
all hope of ultimate success. Taking advantage of unscrupulous
offers made by Arnulph, Bishop of Lesieux, to sow dissensions
amongst the prelates, and of the assistance volunteered by Philip,
the Cistercian Abbot of Eleemoysna, just returned from Rome,
Henry, with ill-concealed impatience, waited for the turn of
events. The abbot so succeeded in persuading the primate, with-
out, however, producing any letters, that Pope Alexander earnestly
recommended the archbishop to yield in the interests of peace.
The abbot, it is true, produced at this interview letters from the
cardinals, who declared that the King had assured them that
he sought the bishops' submission more for the sake of saving
his own dignity in the eyes of his subjects than for gaining any
advantage over the Church. The Bishop of Lesieux in the
meantime succeeded, by means of similar arguments, in inducing
most of the bishops to agree to the omission of the obnoxious
condition. Believing in the assurances thus given, and acting in
behalf of his brethren, the primate visited Henry, who was then
at Woodstock, and agreed to withdraw the clause, which would
nullify their promise to observe the Royal Customs. (Morris's
Life of St. Thomas, pp. 119 to 130).
Taking full advantage of the primate's submission, Henry
summoned the famous Council of Clarendon to meet on January
29th, 1164, on the ground that as the opposition of the prelates
to the u Royal Customs ' had been public, their promise to
observe them also should be publicly made. Trusting implicitly
5'6 A COMPLETE HISTORY
in the honour of the King and in the assurance of his agents,
the primate and all the suffragan bishops took a leap in the
darkness and promised to observe the so-called " Royal Customs,"
the nature of which had not yet been explained to them. Having
received the promises of all the bishops, including the primate,
on the first day of the meeting, the King spoke as follows :
" I suppose everyone has heard the promise which the arch-
bishops and bishops have made, that the laws and customs of my
kingdom may be better kept and observed. In order that, for the
future, there may be no more contention on the subject, let my
grandfather Henry's laws be committed to writing."
Carefully and deliberately prepared, the " Constitutions of
Clarendon ' ' were read to the astonished bishops on the following
day. It is necessary to refer to the drastic nature of some.
By the first Constitution it was enacted that the custody of all
the archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys, and priories should be
given, together with the revenues collected during the vacancy, to
the King, and that the election of the new incumbents should not
take place before the issue of the King's writ by the clergy of
the Church assembled in the Royal Chapel with the assent of the
King, and with the advice of such prelates as the King might
call to his assistance. By the second and seventh Constitutions
it was provided that, in almost every suit, civil or ecclesiastical,
in which each or either of the parties was a clergyman, the proceed-
ings should commence before the King's High Justices, who should
determine whether the case ought to be tried in the Secular or
Episcopal Courts ; that in the latter case a civil officer should be
present to report the proceedings, and the defendant, if he were
convicted in a criminal action, should lose the benefit of the
In the third Constitution it was ordered " that no tenant in
chief to the King, no officer of his household, or of his demesne,
should be excommunicated or his lands put under an interdict
until application had been made to the King, or, in his absence,
to the High Judiciary, who ought to take care that what belongs
to the King's Courts shall be there determined, and what belongs
to the Ecclesiastical Courts shall be determined by them."
In the fourth Constitution it was laid down that "no arch-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 57
bishop, bishop, or clerical dignitaries could lawfully go beyond
the seas without the King's permission."
By the fifth Constitution it was enacted that " appeals should
proceed regularly from the archdeacon to the bishop ; and from
bishop to archbishop. If the archbishop failed to do justice the
cause ought to be carried before the King, that by his precept
the suit might be terminated in the Archbishop's Court, so as not
to proceed further without the Royal consent."
The fourth and fifth Constitutions aimed at preventing all
appeals to or intercourse with Rome, except through the King ;
and in the first and third and seventh practically took away all
jurisdiction from the Ecclesiastical Courts. In comparison with
these the other Constitutions are of minor importance. (Lingard,
Henry II.) .
Having carefully read these manufactured " Royal Customs,"
the bishops, when called to subscribe their names, fully realized
how completely they had been duped by the King and his
Now the King's grandfather, Henry I, had sworn at his
coronation to preserve the liberties of the Church, and never to
appropriate the revenues of any episcopal see pending the filling
up of the vacancy. This oath, carefully worded, had been required
of him with a view to preventing a repetition of the scandals
which had arisen during the reign of William Rufus, who, for
his own profit, refused on many occasions to fill the vacant
benefices, and on others offered them to the highest bidder.
(Lingard, vol. 2, 8). Flagrantly violating his oath, Henry I
kept the bishoprics of Norwich and Ely vacant for three years,
and those of Canterbury, Durham, and Hereford for five years,
appropriating all their revenues in the meantime.
He was also guilty of selling the Bishopric of Winchester to
an unworthy prelate for 800 marks.
King Stephen had likewise sworn to respect the liberties of
the Church and to entrust the vacant sees to the clergy, pending
the appointment of new bishops, but soon afterwards broke his
coronation oath in the most shameless manner.
Henry II, at his accession to the throne, confirmed all the
privileges and liberties granted to the Church (Stat. I, 45), and,
58 A COMPLETE HISTORY
for the greater solemnity, subscribed the charter himself, placing
it on the altar. Finding, however, the custody of the vacant
sees too profitable to be surrendered without a struggle, Henry,
in his sixteenth year, as appears from the records of the ex-
chequer, had in his hands one archbishopric, six bishoprics, and
six abbeys ; and, in his thirty-first year, one archbishopric, six
bishoprics, and seven abbeys. (Madox, 209, 212.)
St. Thomas, after the rupture with Henry, declared in one of
his letters that the King had possession of seven bishoprics in
England and Normandy ; and in another epistle that he held
the temporalities of Canterbury, Lincoln, Bath, Hereford, and
Ely, and several abbeys, and had divided among his knights the
temporalities of Llandaff. (Ep. St. Thomas, 23, 123.) Judging by
the acts of William Rufus, Henry I, Stephen, and Henry II, the
only Royal custom which rested on a strong foundation was that
of swearing at their coronation to confirm the liberties of the
Church in England and never to appropriate the revenues of
the vacant sees, and immediately afterwards breaking their
By the imperial laws of the Emperors Constantine and
Charlemagne, delinquent clerics were left to be dealt with by
Ecclesiastical Courts. King Alfred of Britain caused a judge to
be executed who had tried and condemned a cleric. In the
contest between William Rufus and St. Anselm, it was taken
for granted that the Pope alone had a right to try the archbishop.
That these precedents were supported by the constitution can be
gathered from old law books, especially from Bracton and
Fleta. (Biog. Brit. St. Thomas.)
It is no wonder, then, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, when
asked to fix his seal to the " Constitutions of Clarendon," thus
suddenly sprung upon the bishops, indignantly exclaimed :
" During my life-time no seal of mine shall ever touch them."
When the assembly had broken up in confusion the primate
retired to Canterbury and, considering himself suspended on
account of his jeopardising through want of vigilance the interests
of the Church, abstained from officiating in his Cathedral until
the Pope absolved him from censure.
Despairing of any successful issue in his contest with the King,
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 59
A'Becket endeavoured to escape to France, but the captain of
the vessel on learning the name of the passenger, and fearing the
royal displeasure, tacked about again and returned to the coast
The King summoned Parliament to assemble at Northampton
in October, 1165. He called upon the archbishop to answer the
charges made against him by the King's Marshal, whose claims
to some estates in Canterbury St. Thomas had refused to recognize.
The defence made by the archbishop was, of course, not accepted,
and he was sentenced to a privation of all his goods.
St. Thomas soon after made his escape to St. Bertin, in Flanders.
Having received intelligence of this Henry dispatched emissaries
with the object of inducing the Earl of Flanders and the King of
France to refuse protection to the fugitive prelate. Disappointed
at their refusal to meet his wishes, the King sent an embassy to
the Pope asking his Holiness to settle the dispute between himself
and the archbishop.
The primate, in the meantime, went from St. Bertin to Soissons,
where he was visited and offered maintenance, suitable to his
rank, by the King of France. This kind offer was gratefully
declined by the exiled primate, who shortly afterwards repaired
to Sens, -where he was honourably received by the Pope. At a
private audience he resigned the Archbishopric of Canterbury into
the Pope's hands, but was immediately afterwards reinstated in
his former dignity by the Holy Father, who promised to guard
From Sens, the archbishop, like his distinguished successor,
St. Edmund, retired to Pontigny, in Normandy, where, spending
most of his time in religious exercises, he lived two years.
From there he wrote an expostulatory letter to King Henry,
and another to the suffragan bishops of England, informing them
that the Pope had annulled the Constitutions of Clarendon and
released them from any obligation of observing them. He
likewise from the same place issued sentences of excommunica-
tion against various persons who had lately violated the rights
of the Church.
Provoked beyond measure at the excommunication of some of
his own personal attendants by the primate, the King, as a
CO A COMPLETE HISTORY
counter-blow, ordered all the archbishop's relations, under
circumstances of great cruelty, to quit the kingdom, sparing
neither age nor sex. Children in the cradle, and even women in
childbed were involved in the sentence, and exiled beyond the
seas. The unfortunate exiles were, before leaving, forced to
swear that they would travel directly to Pontigny and show
themselves to the archbishop.
A royal order was at the same time published throughout
England forbidding everyone either to correspond with the
archbishop or send him money. (Matthew Paris, 498-499).
Henry next wrote to the General of the Cistercians, expressing
his anger at their hospitable reception of the prelate, and
threatening to confiscate all their estates in England unless they
expelled him from the Abbey of Pontigny. In order to save the
Order which so kindly befriended him from disaster, St. Thomas
retired to the Abbey of St. Columba at Sens, where he remained
four years, edifying the whole community by his holiness and
After that time two ineffectual attempts were made by Papal
Legates to bring about a friendly arrangement between the King
and the archbishop, but the obstinacy of the former in insisting
on the observance of the " Constitutions of Clarendon," and
the firm determination of the archbishop to do nothing that
would prejudice the rights of the Church, made reconcilation
After the failure of a similar attempt in 1169, Henry, fearing
that the primate would induce the Pope to put England under
an interdict, ordered all his subjects over fifteen years of age. to
take an oath renouncing the authority of the archbishop and the
Pope ; but although the laity, generally speaking, complied
with his request, few or none of the clergy could be induced
to take the required oath.
In the following year the King caused his son Prince Henry
to be crowned at Westminster Abbey by Roger, Archbishop of
York, who was assisted by other bishops, without even asking the
formal sanction of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom
the right of performing this ceremony belonged. The primate,
very naturally, complained of this insult to the Pope, who
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 6 1
promptly suspended the Archbishop of York and excommunicated
the assistant bishops. Henry seemed convinced by the severity
of this step that some kind of reconciliation was necessary, and
consequently an accommodation was at last brought about
between him and the primate, the King granting the archbishop
full possession of his see with all the rights and privileges of his
predecessors, and likewise permission to deal with the case of the
Archbishop of York and the other delinquent prelates.
The fearless exile, on his return to Canterbury, was received
with great joy and acclamation. Almost as soon as he arrived,
he received an express order from the King to absolve the
incriminated prelates ; but the archbishop reminded him, in his
reply, that he could not set aside the sentence of a superior
court, and that Papal censures could only be removed by the
Soverign Pontiff himself. When the King, who was in Normandy,
read this answer he exclaimed, in the presence of his personal
attendants : " I am an unhappy prince, who maintain a great
number of lazy, insignificant persons about me, none of whom
have gratitude or spirit enough to revenge me on a single
insolent prelate, who gives me such disturbance."
These words were heard by four knights of the court, viz. :
Reginald Fitz Urse, William Tracy, Richard Britton, and Hugh
Morvill, who immediately conspired against the archbishop's life.
Crossing over the channel, they landed at Dover, and on the
following day, December 2Qth, they arrived at Canterbury, and
having forced their way into the archbishop's presence, they told
him that they had come from, the King with orders that he
should absolve the bishops under censure. His reply was practi-
cally the same as that which he had already written to Henry.
Unsatisfied with this answer, they charged the monks of Canter-
bury in the King's name to keep the archbishop in safe custody
until their return. The destined martyr told them plainly that
he would not be intimidated by their threats, and that he had
not returned to England to fly away again. The assassins
returned again in the evening to the palace, and, leaving a body
of soldiers in the courtyard, rushed into the cloister with drawn
swords, and from thence to the 'church, where the archbishop
was presiding at Vespers. They cried aloud, " Where, is the
62 A COMPLETE HISTORY
traitor? ' No answer was returned. Again they cried, "Where
is the archbishop ? ' Stepping forth, the primate made answer :
"I am the archbishop, but no traitor." "Thou must die,"
they cried out, " thou canst not escape from our hands." " I am
ready to die," said the saint, "for the cause of God, and in
defence of the rights of the Church, but if you must have my
life, I charge you, in the name of Almighty God, not to hurt
any other person here, either priest or layman, for none of these
have any concern in the late transactions." Then, laying hands
on him, they tried to drag him out of the church, but finding it
impossible, on account of the powerful resistance of the arch-
bishop, they determined to murder him where he stood. Kneeling
down, the holy martyr commended himself and the cause of the
Church to the Blessed Virgin and to all the saints, especially to
St. Denis the Martyr, to whom he had a great devotion, and
then, like his Divine Master and St. Stephen, prayed for his
Fitz Urse began the tragedy by aiming a terrific blow at the
martyr, which completely severed the arm of Edward Grimfere,
one of the Cathedral clergy, who tried to ward it off. Two
others, with equal violence, attacked St. Thomas with their
broad-swords. Though wounded in several places St. Thomas
neither gave a groan nor tried to avoid a blow. The fatal
stroke was a furious blow which severed the crown of his head
and strewed his brains on the pavement, in the fifty-second year
of his age, on December 2Qth, 1170.
During the night St. Thomas was privately buried by the monks,
who, upon divesting the body of the Pontifical robes, discovered
the rough hair shirt which the saint had always worn.
Assured of their exemption from punishment, the brutal
assassins went leisurely to Knaresboro, Yorkshire, where Hugh
Morvill had a residence. They remained there undisguised for a
considerable time, in perfect security from arrest. It is feebly
argued by some that there was no civil law in England at
the time to warrant the punishment of any layman -who mur-
dered a cleric, and it is added that no one was more answer-
able for this state of things than St. Thomas himself. If this
be true, it is difficult to discover how the good King Alfred
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 63
ordered a judge to be executed for condemning a cleric. Henry
evidently discovered a law which warranted him in exiling all
St. Thomas A'Becket's relatives when it suited his own revenge,
but he was blind to its existence when justice cried out that the
men who murdered his saintly opponent should at least be
banished from the kingdom. One word from the King would
have effected their expulsion, but that word was never spoken.
The horror and indignation with which the whole of Christen-
dom regarded the brutal murder of St. Thomas A'Becket found
expression in an appeal made to the Pope by the King of France
in his own name, and in the name of Stephen of Blois, begging
his Holiness " to unsheath St. Peter's sword " and inflict condign
and exemplary punishment on the instigator of the murderers,
Henry, King of England.
To ward off the evils which now threatened himself, Henry
dispatched ambassadors to Rome to deny on oath the general
imputation that he was the cause of St. Thomas's murder.
Presenting themselves before the Consistory, they, in their mas-
ter's name, made a solemn affirmation that he was willing to
submit to the judgment of the church on the question of his
personal responsibility for the martyr's death, which he indig-
nantly disowned. By taking this oath they induced the Pope
neither to excommunicate the King nor put his dominions
under an interdict.
Secure from all danger of arrest, the assassins lived for a
considerable time in Knaresboro, making a bold attempt to face
and survive the storm of popular horror and indignation which
their act had raised. Pretending at length, if they did not feel
genuine remorse for their crime, they journeyed to Rome in
order to receive any penance Alexander III might impose upon
them. The penance was that they should go to Jerusalem to
spend the rest of their lives in penitential austerities. They
afterwards died in the Black Mountains, and were buried outside
the Templar's Church in Jerusalem. The epitaph written over
their graves was as follows :
" Hie jacent miseri, qui martyriazaverunt Beatum Thomam,
Archiepiscopum Cantuariensis." " Here lie the wretches who
martyred Blessed Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury."
64 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Having waited in France for about a year after the martyrdom,
Henry returned to England, landing at Dover. Thinking it wise
to make an attempt to soften down the odium and contempt with
which he, in common -with the actual murderers, was regarded
by all his subjects, dressed in a pilgrim's habit he journeyed to
Canterbury. As soon as he sighted the Cathedral, alighting from
his horse he walked barefooted to the martyr's tomb, where he
spent a long time in prayer. Submitting himself to be disciplined
afterwards by the monks, he passed a whole day and night with-
out food, kneeling on the bare stones.
Prior Odo testifies to the numerous miracles which were
\vrought during his time at the Shrine of St. Thomas of
Two years after his martyrdom, St. Thomas A'Becket was
solemnly canonised by Pope Alexander III in a Bull dated
March I3th, 1173.
In the year 1221 the martyr's body was translated to a rich
shrine in the presence of King Henry III and a great number of
the nobility, the sermon on the occasion being preached .by
Cardinal Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the general desecration which took place during the reign
of Henry VIII, that monarch, having arraigned and sentenced
St. Thomas A'Becket as a traitor, plundered his shrine and
consigned his sacred relics to the flames.
Returning again to Cheapside after a long lapse of years, we
find, according to the information given in the "Legend of St.
Thomas of Aeon," that St. Thomas A'Becket's sister, Agnes,
the wife of Thomas FitzTheobald, a Norman knight to whom
Henry granted estates in Tipperary, made over the house in
which the martyr was born to the brethren of St. Thomas of
Aeon, by whom it was converted into a hospice. The objects of
the Brotherhood of St. Thomas of Aeon were : ist, the succour-
ing of poor pilgrims on the way to Palestine ; 2nd, the relief of
the indigent and infirm poor ; and 3rd, the collecting money
for the redemption of Christian captives.
Agnes A'Becket was doubtlessly influenced by the history of
her father, Gilbert A'Becket, in making over the house where St.
Thomas was born to a brotherhood whose work principally lay
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 65
in helping pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, and on the
redemption of Christian captives.
On the suppression of the Hospice of St. Thomas of Aeon the
whole site became the property of the Mercers' Company ; and
the present Mercers' Hall, in Cheapside, is built over the site of
the house where St. Thomas of Canterbury was born.
Concerning the descendants of Fitz-Theobald and his \vife
Agnes, Carte's History of the Earls of Ormond contains the
following information :
44 Theobald de Heily is believed, on good authority, to have
inherited from his grandfather, Herveus Walter, the post of
King's butler, and to have been installed in that office in Ireland
in 1177. His emoluments were to consist in the prisage of wines,
and he was to bear on his shield three cups, and gules, in token
of his office. His only son, by his first wife, is believed to have
been the husband of Agnes A'Becket, and, as the signature of
4 Theobald de Heily,' nephew to St. Thomas of Canterbury, is
affixed to a deed of gift made later by Agnes to the Abbey of
Bermondsey, we may conclude that this lady had one son, and
was herself the immediate ancestress of the Butlers in Ireland."
The British Martyrology, December 2Qth, has the following
record of the martyrdom of St. Thomas A'Becket :
44 December 2Qth is at Canterbury the Feast of the Passion of
St. Thomas, Archbishop of that See, and Primate of England.
He died in defence of the liberties of the Church, which were
being in many ways injured by King Henry II. Having been
seized by some of the King's servants, viz. : Sir William Tracy,
Sir Reginald Fitz-Urse, Sir Hugh Morvill, and others, he was
slain, in his own Cathedral Church of Canterbury, during
Vespers, before the High Altar, in the year of Christ 1170. His
body was, shortly after, put into a costly shrine beset with
jewels and precious stones ; whereunto all England went on
pilgrimage, on account of the many miracles wrought at it until
the days of Henry VIII, who, falling into schism, commanded
that the shrine should be utterly abolished, in the year of
Christ 1538. The martyr's relics were then burned to ashes,
the King appropriating all the riches of the shrine to his own
66 A COMPLETE HISTORY
There is also a record of the translation of the martyr's relics
in the Martyrology, July yth :
44 July yth at Canterbury is the Feast of the Translation of
St. Thomas, Archbishop of the same See, and Martyr. His body
was on this day taken up and enclosed in a costly shrine set
with precious stones, and solemnly translated to the most
eminent place of his Cathedral Church of Canterbury, where-
unto all England went on pilgrimage on account of the frequent
miracles wrought therein. This Feast was afterwards commanded
to be kept a Holy Day, in his Memory, by a Provincial Decree of
Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, about the year of
ORIGIN OF THE LORD MAYOR'S SHOW.
It may be of interest to know that respect for the memory of
the A'Becket family occasioned the annual procession on the
Lord Mayor of London's day. This may be gathered from Stow's
account of the Mercers' Chapel, called St. Thomas of Aeon :
44 Next to great Conduit is the Mercers' Chapel, some time an
Hospital, entitled of St. Thomas of Aeon . . . for a master and
brethren, Malitiae Hospitalis, &c., saith the record of Edward III
the I4th year. It was founded by Thomas Fitz-Theobald de
Heily and Agnes his wife, sister to Thomas A'Becket, in the
reign of Henry II. They gave to the master and brethren the
lands with the appurtenances that sometime were Gilbert
A'Becket's, father of the said Thomas, in which he was born ;
there to make a church. There was a charnel, and a chapel
over it, of St. Nicholas and St. Stephen.
44 From this St. Thomas anciently was a solemn procession used
by the new Mayor, who, the afternoon of the day he was sworn
at the Exchequer, met with the Aldermen here. Whence they
repaired together to St. Paul's, and there they prayed for the
soul of Bishop William, who was Bishop of London in the time
of William the Conquerer. Then they went to the churchyard,
to a place where Thomas A'Becket's parents lay, and there they
prayed for all the faithful souls departed. And then they went all
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 67
back to St. Thomas of Aeon's again, and both Mayor and Alder-
men offered each a penny."
(Stow's Survey of London, b. 3, p. 37.)
VENERABLE HENRY PLANTAGENET;
KING HENRY VI of England, Martyr.
MARTYRED IN THE TOWER OF LONDON ON MAY 22nd, 1471.
On May 22nd, at Windsor, the deposition of King Henry VI is
commemorated. He was a virtuous and innocent Prince, who was
wrongfully deposed by Edward IV and imprisoned in the Tower
of London, where he was soon afterwards barbarously murdered
by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in the year of Christ 1471. His
body was buried in the Abbey of Chertsey in Surrey, where it
was the immediate occasion of miracles. It was afterwards
translated to Windsor with great solemnity and veneration, and
interred in the Chapel of St. Gregory. There it pleased God as
a sign of the martyr's innocence again to work miracles. It is
recorded that when a velvet cap which he used to wear was placed
on the head of anyone suffering from headache, an immediate
cure was effected through his intercession. He founded the
famous school of Eton, and King's College in Cambridge. King
Henry VII was interceding with Pope Julius II in order to bring
about the martyr's canonization, but on account of both their
deaths shortly afterwards the negotiations were broken off.
(Calend. Secundum usum Sanun hac die. Polydor Virgil, L I, 24.
Registrar Ecclesice Windsor. British Martyrology, May 22).
68 A COMPLETE HISTORY
CATHOLIC MARTYRS DURING THE
REIGN OF HENRY VIII.
BLESSED JOHN HOUGHTON, Prior of Charter-
house, London ;
BLESSED ROBERT LAWRENCE, Prior of Beauvaile,
BLESSED AUGUSTINE WEBSTER, Prior of Ax-
BLESSED RICHARD REYNOLDS, Prior of the
Brigittine Monastery of Sion, on the Thames; and
BLESSED JOHN HAILE, Vicar of Isleworth, a Secular
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON MAY 4th, 1535.
Blessed John Houghton was a native of Essex. For four
years after his ordination he served on the mission as a secular
priest, but in his twenty-eighth year he joined the Carthusian
Order. His piety, humility, and modesty soon obtained for him
the high esteem of his superiors. After being promoted to
various offices of trust in the community, he was at length Prior
of the Charterhouse, London, an office which he filled until
called upon to solemnly acknowledge Henry VIII to be supreme
head on earth of the Catholic Church in England. It just
happened that Blessed Robert, Prior of Beauvaile, and Blessed
Augustine Webster, two distinguished, learned, and faithful
priors of the same order, were then in London on business,
and residing at the Charterhouse at the same critical moment.
The three were called upon, and absolutely refused, to subscribe
to the infamous declaration. It is not clear how the singularlv
pious and learned Prior of the Brigittine Monastery of Sion,
Richard Reynolds, came to be included in the same indictment ;
or how the saintly Blessed John Haile, proto-martyr of secular
priests during the so-called Reformation of England, was
tried for the same holy offence at the same time, but the fact
that the five martyrs were arraigned, tried, and condemned
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS 69
to die the death of traitors on the same day is beyond dispute.
When Blessed Thomas More and his favourite daughter,
Margaret Roper, who was visiting him, were looking out of the
prison window at the Tower of London on the bright morning
of May 4th, 1535, about 8 o'clock, they beheld these five
Catholic martyrs walking fearlessly from their prison cells to
the hurdles on \vhich they were to be dragged to the place of
execution, with the bright sun of heaven shedding a halo of
glory over each martyr's head. Blessed Thomas More, regarding
them with a holy envy, pointed out to his daughter how singularly
they were about to be rewarded by God for the sanctity of their
lives. " But," said he, " thy silly father, Meg, who, like a wicked
caitiff, hath passed the whole course most sinfully God thinking
him not worthy so soon to come to that eternal felicity, leaveth
him here yet in this world to be plagued and turmoiled with
On arriving at Tyburn, the five martyrs were one by one half
hanged, then cut down -whilst still alive, and, groaning with
agony, disembowelled, and then quartered in the presence of
their surviving brethren in order to terrorize those who still
survived into taking the oath of supremacy. Not one of those
Christian heroes showed the faintest signs of yielding, although
perfectly conscious that their lives would be spared if they
consented to acknowledge the King to be the supreme head on
earth of the Church in England.
BLESSED HUMPHREY MIDDLEMORE,
BLESSED WILLIAM EXMEW and SEBASTIAN
NEWDIGATE, Carthusian Monks.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON JUNE i8th, 1535.
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore was a gentleman by birth.
Wishing to devote his life entirely to God he entered the
Charterhouse, London, where he was greatly esteemed both by
his superiors and brethren.
70 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Blessed William Exmew was distinguished when a student
at Cambridge on account of his piety, amiability, and learning.
In his twenty-fifth year he became a Carthusian.
Blessed Sebastian Newdigate, although brought up in the
midst of every luxury, even in the Royal Palace, contemned
everything that the world holds dear, and forsaking home and
friends he entered the Monastery of the Carthusians in London.
He is described in the Menology as a man " of great natural
talents and influence, which made him a marked man in the eyes
of those who sought to overthrow the Catholic religion."
These three martyrs on their absolute refusal to take the oath
of supremacy were cast into the Marshelsea Prison, where they
were subjected to most barbarous treatment in order to bend
them to submission. For a whole fortnight, day and night with-
out intermission, they were each tied in an upright position by
the neck and feet to a post. When it was thought that this
treatment had effectually cowed their zeal for the true faith, they
were summoned before the Council and commanded to take the
oath. They each without a moment's hesitation absolutely re-
fused to obey. They were then, according to Bargrave (State
Trials, vol. ix., p. 23), indicted for having said that " they neither
could nor would consent to be obedient to the King's Highness,
as true and obedient subjects, to take him to be the supreme head
on earth of the Church in England." They were, as a matter of
course, found guilty by the jury, and condemned to be hanged,
drawn, and quartered as traitors.
After condemnation they desired that they might be permitted
to receive Holy Communion before death, but the Court refused
permission, since that never was granted, except by the King's
order. Bargrave states that the three holy monks were executed
on May 2yth, two days after their condemnation, but the
Menology holds that they were not martyred until June iSth.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 71
BLESSED JOHN CARDINAL FISHER.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, ON TOWER HILL, JUNE 22nd, 1535.
Blessed John Cardinal Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire,
A.D. 1469. The town derives its name from St. John de
Beverley, the pious and celebrated Bishop of York who A.D.
718 surrendered his bishopric, retired from the world, and
ended his days in that neighbourhood A.D. 721.
The parents of the blessed martyr, Robert and Agnes Fisher,
lived in very affluent circumstances. His father was a much
respected merchant in that town, who, dying whilst his sons,
John and Thomas, were still in their tender years, the whole
responsibility of their training and education rested on their
mother. Although Mrs. Fisher married again, she never neglected
the devoted care and attention that she owed to her two sons.
They were both sent to the celebrated college attached to the
church at Beverley, and John, who displayed remarkable talents,
was sent in his fourteenth year to St. Michael's House, now
incorporated with Trinity College, Cambridge. There young
Fisher remained pursuing the even course of his studies until the
thirty-second year of his age. He took the degree of B.A. 1487,
and was soon afterwards elected Fellow and one of the Proctors
of the University. His piety and learning were so great, and
his prudence so conspicuous, that when, in 1497, William de
Melton was made Chancellor of York Cathedral, the governing
authorities of Cambridge could find no one more worthy than
John Fisher to fill the place left vacant by the great master.
Soon after this he was duly ordained priest, and his position
as a theologian of great ability and piety was recognized
throughout England. Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond,
mother of Herny VII, having heard of his illustrious virtues,
selected him as her confessor and administrator of her household.
Guided by his deep love for his Alma Mater, he advised the
Queen Mother to spend a portion of her great wealth in founding
and endowing two colleges in the university one dedicated to
Our Saviour, Christ's College, and the other to St. John the Evan-
gelist, John's College. On the completion of Christ's College,
Lady Margaret had determined on devoting the rest of her spare
72 A COMPLETE HISTORY
money to beautifying and endowing the chantry of the chapel
lately erected by her son, Henry VII, in Westminster Abbey ; but,
readily yielding to Fisher's expressed wish, changed her intention,
and at her death, which soon afterwards took place, she left her
confessor and executor money sufficient for building and endowing
St. John's College.
In his thirty-second year he became Doctor of Divinity, and in
the same year was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University.
DR. JOHN FISHER APPOINTED BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.
A man so illustrious for his sanctity and learning could not
be passed over when higher honours became vacant. In his
thirty-fifth year Dr. Fisher was nominated to the vacant Bishop-
ric of Rochester by King Henry VII, and his nomination was
confirmed by Pope Julius II in a Bull dated October I4th,
It is quite evident, from the following letter, that neither his
nomination nor election was due to the influence of the Lady
Margaret. King Henry VII, in writing to her, said :
"Madam, as I thought that I should not offend you, which 1
will never do willingly, I intend to promote Master Fisher, your
confessor, to a bishopric ; and I assure you, madam, for no other
cause but the great and singular virtues I see in him, for shrewd
and natural wisdom, and especially for his good and virtuous
living and conversation. By the promotion of such a man I
know that it could encourage many others to live virtuously
and follow his example. Howbeit, without your sanction I will
not move him or induce him to it."
Whilst the Bishop-elect, carrying out the wishes of the
deceased Lady Margaret, was superintending the completion of
St. John's College, Cambridge, the Master, Dr. Wilkinson, died,
and Fisher was unanimously elected to fill his place. The fol-
lowing year he was appointed life visitor, and commissioned to
draw up statutes for the .better government of the two colleges
that he was instrumental in founding.
Not content with merely carrying out the wishes of Lady
Margaret, Bishop Fisher by deed of gift enriched the college
with endowments sufficient for four fellowships, four examiners,
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 73
and one Greek and Hebrew lecturer. He also bequeathed his
househould furniture, plate, and private library, supposed at the
time to be the best in Europe, and, to show his undying love
for the university, he built a mortuary chapel, and placed a
\vhite marble monument over the spot where he wished his
remains to rest after death.
When once Dr. John Fisher became Bishop of Rochester he
could never be induced to exchange it for any other diocese,
although offered Lincoln and Ely. The reasons why he refused
both are highly creditable to himself.
44 Others (said he) have larger revenues, but I have fewer souls
under my charge, so that when I have to give an account,
which must be very soon, I "would not desire my position to be
other than it is."
THE REAL ORIGIN OF THE SO-CALLED REFORMATION IN ENGLAND.
When King Henry VII died in 1509 he was succeeded by his son,
King Henry VIII, then in his eighteenth year. The young monarch
possessed, both physically and intellectually, many good qualities
which at once made him popular. Physically he was tall,
strong, well-proportioned, and powerfully built ; an expert in
all athletic exercises ; of noble presence and commanding mien.
Intellectually he had considerable reputation as a scholar,
philosopher, and divine. Passionately fond of music, he com-
posed two Masses which were often sung in the royal chapel.
His deceased brother, Arthur, had been married to Catherine of
Arragon ; but, sometime after his death, Henry VIII, when
Prince of Wales, was espoused to her, a dispensation having
been granted by Pope Julius II, A.D. 1503. For nineteen years
they lived happily together, and nothing seemed to disturb the
harmony of their lives except the loss of several children.
When, in 1517, Luther, an apostate monk, unfurled the
standard of Protestantism, one of the first to enter the lists
against him was the youthful King, who wrote a defence of the
Seven Sacraments. This was so pleasing to Rome that the
Pope wrote him an autograph letter, giving him the title of
Defender of the Faith, a title which the sovereigns of England
fondly maintain, although they have long since abandoned the
74 A COMPLETE HISTORY
faith that they were entitled to defend. When Luther sent his
insolent reply to Henry VIIT's book, Bishop Fisher refuted the
so-called Reformer in a book, entitled "A Defence of the
Priesthood," dedicated to the people of England.
It is generally admitted that the laxity of the clergy and the
eager desire of the nobility to divide amongst themselves the
broad lands and rich endowments of the Church did more to
hasten the advent of Protestantism in England than the tyranny
of Henry VIII and false doctrines of Luther. If all the bishops,
priests, and people had stood nobly together, like the Bishop of
Rochester and Sir Thomas More, or the Pilgrims of 'Grace,
King Henry could never have imposed his \vill on the nation.
To gratify his lust and avarice, the King proclaimed himself
supreme head on earth of the Church in England, and his
pretended horror of the laxity of the monks served as an excuse
for confiscating the monastic estates. As Masses were daily
said, confessions heard, and the saints honoured in all the
churches of the land during his reign, the people did not realize
the act of apostacy that had taken place, and, in the words of
the late Cardinal Manning, " England was robbed of its faith."
Bishop Fisher saw the evil day coming, and tried to avert it by
all the means in his power. He was about to make a journey
to Rome to take counsel with the Pope, but, in deference to the
wishes of Cardinal Wolsey, he agreed to the alternative of
summoning the National Council of the bishops and clergy in
England to devise some means of stemming the tide of Luther-
anism. The General Council met and ended its sittings without
adopting any practical plans, to the great indignation of Bishop
Fisher, who expressed his feelings in the following words :
" I had thought (said he) that where so many learned men,
representatives of the clergy, had been assembled at this meeting,
that some good suggestions would have been made for the
benefit and welfare of the Church that the disease which has
taken hold of these abuses might have been, on this occasion,
either removed or remedied. Who has proposed any remedy to
rectify the ambition of those men whose pride is so offensive
whilst their profession is humility? How are the goods of the
Church wasted ? The land, the tithes, the offerings of the
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 75
devout ancestors of the people are squandered in superfluous and
riotous extravagances. How can we expect our flocks to fly
from the pomps and vanities of this wicked world when we,
who are bishops, covet all that we forbid? If we should teach
as we act how absurd would not our sermon sound in the ears
of our auditors ? If we teach one thing and each act differently
who will trust our teaching, which would seem to them like
pulling down with one hand all that we have built up with the
other? We preach humility, sobriety, contempt of the world,
and the people see in these very men who preach this doctrine
pride and haughtiness of mind, vanity in dress, and complete
attachment to worldly pomps and vanities. The consequence
of all this will reduce the people to a state of perplexity, not
knowing whether to follow the example of what they see or
rely on what they hear."
The pretended scruples of the King as to the validity of his
marriage with his deceased brother's wife, which in the beginn-
ing he declared to be against the divine law, simply and solely
because he fell in love with Anne Boleyn, led to the nation's
apostacy. The King maintained that the dispensation granted
by Pope Julius II was invalid itself, not only as contrary to the
divine law, but also because the reasons stated in the petition
for granting the dispensation were falsely misrepresented to
Rome. Urged by Henry, the Pope named Cardinals Wolsey and
Campeggio commissioners to investigate the whole question.
The Commission sat and summoned the King and Queen
Catherine to appear before them. The King's proxies \vere
Doctors Sampson, Hall, and Petre ; the Queen's, John, Bishop of
Rochester, the Bishop of St. Asaph, and Dr. Ridley. When
called the King responded ; the Queen made no answer, but,
walking straight towards the King, and kneeling at his feet,
spoke as follows :
" Sir, I beseech you to have pity on me, a woman and a
stranger, without an assured friend, and without an indifferent
counsellor. I take God to witness that I have always been to
you a true and lawful wife, and I have made it my constant
duty to seek your pleasure ; that I have loved all whom you
have loved, whether I had reason or not, whether they were
7 6 A COMPLETE HISTORY
friends to me or foes. I have been your wife for nineteen years ;
I have brought you many children. God knows that when I
came to your bed I was a virgin, and I put it to your conscience
to say whether it was not so. If there be any offence that can
be alleged against me I consent to depart with infamy ; if not I
pray you do me justice.'
The Queen having thus thus expressed herself, walked out,
ignoring the Commission. She did injustice to one of her
counsel at least Bishop John Fisher, who rose up and placed a
book he had written in defence of the marriage before the
Commission, clearly proving that the King's quotation from
Leviticus xx., 21 did not constitute an impediment according to
the divine law by quoting Deuteronomy xxv., 5, where it is laid
down that if a man dies without issue his brother was com-
manded to marry the widow to raise up children in the family.
Queen Catherine sent to Rome, through the Emperor Charles,
an exact copy of the original dispensation, \vhich so strengthened
her case that the Commission was at once declared at an end.
Wolsey, when urged by King Henry, would not pronounce a
divorce before the arrival of the brief from the Holy See ; he
was disgraced, and died of a broken heart at Leicester. In his
last message, addressed to Master Kynaston, he sums up the
character of Henry VIII :
" I pray you have me recommended to His Majesty ; and
beseech him on my behalf to call to mind all things that have
passed between us, especially between good Queen Catherine
and himself, and then shall His Grace's conscience know whether
I have offended him or not. He is a prince of most royal
courage ; rather than miss any part of his will he will endanger
one half of his kingdom ; and I assure you I have often knelt
before him, sometimes for three hours together, to persuade him
from his appetite, and could not prevail, and, Master Kynaston,
had I but served God as diligently as I served the King, He
would not have given me over in my grey hairs. This is my
just reward for my pains and study, not regarding my service to
God but only my duty to my Prince."
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, opposed in the House of
Lords the Bill making over monasteries 200 per annum valua-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 77
tion and under to the King. On November 3rd, 1529, a Bill to
this effect, passed in the House of Commons, was strongly
opposed by Bishop Fisher in the House of Lords in the following
" My Lords, here are certain Bills exhibited against the clergy,
\vherein certain complaints are made against the idleness,
viciousness, rapacity, and cruelty of the bishops, abbots, priests,,
and other clerics ; but, my Lords, are all idle, all ravenous, and
cruel priests or bishops ? Is there any abuse that we do not
seek to rectify, or can there be any such rectification as that
there shall be no abuses, or are not the clergy to rectify the
abuses of the clergy, or shall men find fault \vith other men's
manners whilst they forget their own, and punish when they
have no authority to correct ? If we be not executive in
our laws, let each man suffer for his own delinquency, or, if
we have not the power, aid us with your assistance, and we
shall give you thanks. But, my Lords, I hear that there is a
motion made that the small monasteries shall be taken into the
King's hands, which makes me fear that it is not so much the
good as the goods of the Church that is looked after. Truly,,
my Lords, how this may sound in your ears I cannot tell ; but
to me it appears no otherwise than as our holy mother the
Church were to become a bondmaid, and now brought into<
servility and thraldom, and by little and little to be banished
out of those dwelling-places which the piety and liberality of
our forefathers, most bountiful benefactors, have conferred upon
her. Otherwise to what tendeth these portentous and curious
petitions of the Commons ? To no other intent and purpose
but to bring the clergy into contempt with the laity that they
may seize their patrimony. But, my Lords, beware of yourselves
and your country ; beware of your holy mother the Catholic
Church. The people are subject unto novelties, and Lutheranism
spreads itself amongst us. Remember Germany and Bohemia,
what miseries have befallen them already, and let our neighbours*
houses that are on fire teach us to beware of our own disasters*
Wherefore, my Lords, I tell you plainly that, except ye resist
manfully by your authority this violent heap of mischief offered
by the Commons, you shall see all obedience, first, drawn from
78 A COMPLETE HISTORY
the clergy, and secondly, from yourselves ; and if you search
unto the true causes which reign amongst them you shall find
that all arise through want of faith."
Some of the Lords were pleased and others enraged at this
speech. The Duke of Norfolk, addressing the Bishop, said :
" My Lord of Rochester, many of these words might well
have been spared, but it is often seen that the greatest clerks
are not always the wisest men." To which the dauntless
Bishop replied : " My Lord, I do not remember any fools in my
time that ever proved great clerks." (Thos. Baily's Life of
Fisher, 98, 99, 100.)
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Thomas Audley, went
straightway to the King and complained of the Bishop's
language. Henry sharply enquired of the Bishop why he had
used such language, to which he replied that, being in council,
he spoke his mind in defence of the Church, which he saw daily
injured and oppressed by the Commons, whose office it was not
to judge of her manners, much less conform to them, and
therefore he felt bound in conscience to defend her in all that
lay in his power. The Bishop afterwards in Parliament success-
fully resisted the handing over the lesser monasteries to the
JOHN FISHER, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, SPEAKS AGAINST THE ROYAL
SUPREMACY IN PARLIAMENT.
When the question of making King Henry VIII supreme head
on earth of the Church in England was in the year 1531 debated
in Parliament, the Bishop of Rochester resisted the motion with
all his fervour and learning. This, together with his defence of
Queen Catherine and his speech against the handing over the
small monasteries to the King, incensed the tyrant, who tried to
circumvent him by foul means as he could not by fair. They
accused him of having been one of the accomplices of Elizabeth
Barton, called the Holy Maid of Kent. The Bishop, when
arraigned, defended himself in the following letter :
" It may please you to remember that I sought not for this
woman's coming to me ; nor thought, in her any manner of
deceit. She was a woman that, by many probable and likely
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 79
conjectures, I then considered to be right, honest, religious, and
very good and virtuous. I verily supposed that such feigning
and craft, compassing of any guile or fraud, had been far from
her ; and \vhat default was this in me so to think, when I had
so many probable testimonies of her virtue ? ist. The rumour
of the country, which generally called her the Holy Maid. 2nd.
Her entrance into religion upon the report of certain visions
which was commonly said that she had. 3rd. On account of
the good religious that was said to be her ghostly father, and in
other virtuous and learned priests, who then testified to her
holiness as it was commonly reported ; finally, my Lord of
Canterbury, Bishop Wareham, who was then both her ordinary
and a man reputed for high wisdom and learning, told me that
she had many great visions. But here it will be said that she
told me afterwards something to the peril of the Prince and the
realm. The words she told me concerning the peril of the
King's Highness were these : ' That she had a revelation from
God that if the King went forth with the purpose he intended
he should not be King in England seven months after.' She
told me also that she had been to the King and made known to
His Grace the same revelation. But, whereas I never gave her
any counsel in this matter, nor knew of any forging or feigning,
I trust that your great wisdom will not think any fault in me
touching these points. It will be said that I should have
revealed the words to the King's Highness. Verily, if I had
not undoubtedly thought that she said the same \vords to His
Grace, my duty would have been so to have done. When she her-
self revealed the same to him, I saw no necessity why I should
again tell His Grace. Not only her own words persuaded me,
but her Prioress confirmed the same, and their servants told my
servants that she had been to the King. Besides this, I knew
long afterwards that it was so indeed."
Notwithstanding this clear defence, the poor bishop was con-
demned to imprisonment during the King's pleasure, but
afterwards liberated on paying a fine of .300 for the King's use.
8o A COMPLETE HISTORY
THE BISHOP OF ROCHESTER REFUSES TO TAKE THE OATH OF
During the Bishop's incarceration on the last-mentioned
ridiculous charge taking advantage of his absence an Act
was passed in Parliament annulling King Henry's marriage \vith
Catherine, and confirming his marriage with Anne Boleyn,
entailing the crown upon her children nominally upon Lady
Elizabeth, her daughter.
On the day of prorogation, March 3Oth, 1534, every member
of both Houses took an oath as follows :
" I swear to bear faith, truth, and obedience all only to the
King's Majesty, and to the heirs of his body of the most dear
and entirely-beloved lawful wife, Queen Anne, begotten or to be
begotten, and further to the heirs of the said Sovereign Lord,
according to the limitation of the statute made for surety of his
succession of the crown of this realm, or any other within this
realm, or foreign authority or potentate."
It was quite evident that the good Bishop of Rochester, when
he emerged from prison, refused to take the oath which stated
that Queen Anne was the lawful wife of Henry VIII. Subse-
quently, when summoned before the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Cranmer, and asked to take the oath, he said :
" I have read the oath with as good a deliberation as I could,
but as they have framed it I cannot with any safety to my
conscience subscribe thereto, except they will give me leave to'
alter it in some particulars, whereby my own conscience may be
better satisfied, the King pleased, and his actions justified or
Archbishop Cranmer and the Commissioners answered :
" The King will not permit of any exceptions or alterations
whatsoever ; you must answer directly whether you will or will
not subscribe." Blessed John Fisher, then, with all the fortitude
of a holy man, replied : " If you must needs have my answer
directly it is this that forasmuch as my conscience cannot be
satisfied, I absolutely refuse the oath."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 8 1
FISHER COMMITTED TO THE TOWER.
He was immediately committed to the Tower, April I3th, 1534.
When imprisoned in the Bell Tower every effort was made to
induce him to take the oath of supremacy just passed. Lord
Chancellor Audley and several of the Privy Council first went to
his cell for that purpose, but found him inflexible. His answer
to them was as follows :
"My Lords, you present to me a two-edged sword, for if I
should answer you by denying the King's supremacy that would
be my death, and if I acknowledge the same, perhaps contrary
to my conscience, that would assuredly be to me worse than
death. Wherefore I make it my humble request to you that
you bear with my silence, for I shall not make any direct
answer to it at all."
His answer to the Bishops, who afterwards entered to persuade
him to apostatize, is remarkable: "My good friends, and some
of you my old acquaintances, I know that you wish me no hurt
but a great deal of good ; and, I do believe, that on the terms
you speak of I might have the King's favour as much as ever.
Wherefore, if you can answer me one question I will perform all
that you desire." " What is it ? ' said they all with one voice.
"It is this," saith the Bishop, 'What will it profit a man to
win the whole world and lose his own. soul? ' ' (Matt, xvi., 26).
Abashed, confused, ashamed, each 'feeling, Judas-like, treachery
in his own heart, they all retired. Cromwell, the King's
secretary, visited him with the like result. As a last resort he
sent the newly-elected Bishop of Lichfield, Dr. Lee, to the
saintly martyr, but he also found the Bishop inflexible. The
Bishop-elect, although a thorough-going partisan of the King,
seems to have been possessed of some feeling of humanity, for
in his letter to Cromwell he said that
"Bishop Fisher's body was so that he could scarcely carry the
clothes on his back ; that he was nigh going, and soon would
die, except the King would be more merciful to him."
He was being slowly starved to death ; the only food given
him was that supplied by his brother Robert, who was then a
very poor man. This is evident from the martyr's letter to
82 A COMPLETE HISTORY
" I beseech you be a good master to me in my necessity I
have neither a shirt, nor yet any other clothes for me to wear
but those that are ragged and torn shamefully. Notwithstand-
ing this, I could endure this easily if they could keep my body
warm. And my diet, too. God knows how slender it is at all
times, but now in mine age my stomach can only digest a few-
kinds of meat, which, if deprived of, I decay forthwith, and
fall into Grasses and diseases of body, and cannot keep myself in
health, and, as the Lord knoweth, I have nothing left unto me
to provide any better but such as my brother out of his own
purse layeth out for me to his great hindrance. Wherefore, good
master, have pity on me and mine age (75), and especially for my
health's sake. And, also, may it please you, by your high wis-
dom, to move the King's Highness to take me into his gracious
favour again, and restore me to my liberty out of this cold and
painful imprisonment, whereby you shall find me your poor bedes-
man for ever unto Almighty God, who ever has you under
His protection and custody. Other twain things I desire of you.
The one is that it may please you that you would send a priest
unto me in the Tower to hear my confession, by the will of
Master Lieutenant, at this holy season, Christmastide. The
other is that I may borrow some books to say my devotions
effectually these Holy Days for the comfort of my soul. This I
beseech you to grant me of your charity, that our Lord may
send you a merry Christmas, and one comfortable according to
your heart's desire.
"At the Tower this 22nd day of December, 1534, your poor
bedesman, JOHN, Bishop of Rochester."
The King was relentless ; he sent him neither confessor nor
Office-books, but on Cromwell informing him of the failure of all
negotiations, he exclaimed angrily, " Mother of God ! both More
and he must take the oath, or I shall know why they should not."
And, turning to the terrified secretary, "You shall make them
do it, or I must see better reasons why you could not."
THE BISHOP OF ROCHESTER MADE CARDINAL.
John, Bishop of Rochester, had now endured all the horrors of
imprisonment, accompanied by cold, want of clothing, and
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 83
starvation from April 26th, 1534, to May nth, 1535. All the
Catholic world who knew of his sufferings and great fortitude
lamented the fall of the English episcopacy and deeply sym-
pathised with the martyr. Paul III created him Cardinal of St.
Vitalis. The Cardinal's hat by order of the tyrant was stopped
at Calais, and not allowed to enter England.
It would be a triumph, however, if the newly-elected
Cardinal should voluntarily refuse the proffered dignity. To
effect this Cromwell went to the Tower, and, addressing
the Cardinal, unconscious of his new dignity, said: "My Lord
of Rochester, what would you say if the Pope should send you
a Cardinal's hat? Woulcl you accept it?' "Sir," said the
Cardinal, " I know myself to be unworthy of any such dignity ;
but assure yourself, if any such event should happen, I should
improve that favour to the best advantage I could in assisting
the Holy Catholic Church of Christ, and in that respect I should
receive it on bended knees."
When Cromwell reported the result of this interview to the
King he exclaimed indignantly, "Is he so obstinate? Well,
let the Pope send him a hat when he will. Mother of God ! he
shall wear it on his shoulders then, for I will never leave him a
head to set it on."
BETRAYAL OF JOHN CARDINAL FISHER.
As the King had now made up his mind to encompass the
Bishop's death, the latter, although he refused to take the oath,
had never openly denied the royal supremacy, so some difficulty
was experienced in bringing about a legal murder. To the great
disgrace of his profession, the Solicitor-General at the time, Sir
Richard Rich, having secretly arranged the whole plot with the
King, visited Blessed John Fisher in the Tower, telling him that
he had come from His Majesty to consult him about a case of
conscience. Henry VIII, he said, was anxious to get the good
Bishop's opinion as to whether he could conscientiously assume
the title of supreme head on earth over the Church in England.
" Supremacy ?" said the Bishop. " I must tell His Majesty, as I
have told him heretofore, and would so tell him if I were to die
at the present hour, that it is utterly unlawful, and therefore I
84 A COMPLETE HISTORY
must not wish His Majesty to take any such power or title upon
him as he loves his own soul and the good of posterity."
Rich at once indicted the Bishop for felony ; offered to act as
informer, and arranged the Special Commission appointed to try
the case on June ist, 1535. Poor Fisher was so ill from starvation
and destitution that he could not undergo the trial until his health
was better restored by more generous treatment and medical
advice. The trial had consequently to be deferred until the
TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION OF THE HOLY BISHOP.
On June I5th he was brought to trial, surrounded by a great
number of guards carrying bills and halberds, with the Tower
axe in front with edge averted, from the Tower to Westminster
Hall. He was so weak that he had to be carried by water from
the Tower to Westminster landing-stage, and from thence to the
court on horseback, upheld by men on either side, lest he
should fall from weakness. He was dressed in a black gown,
which made his pale and corpse-like face look more ghastly. Hav-
ing entered the court, he was confronted by the following
Commissioners, all creatures of the King :
Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor of England ; Charles,
Duke of Suffolk; Henry, Earl of Cumberland ; Thomas, Earl of
Wiltshire ; Thomas Cromwell, Secretary of State ; Sir John Fitz-
james, Chief Justice of England ; Sir John Baldwin, Chief Justice
of Common Pleas ; Sir William Powlett ; Sir Richard Lyster,
Chief Baron of the Exchequer ; Sir John Port ; Sir John Spilman ;
Sir Walter Luke, Chief Justice of Common Pleas ; Sir Anthony
Fitzherbert, one of the Justices of Common Pleas.
Presented before the Commission, he was commanded, by the
name of John, late Bishop of Rochester, to hold up his hand, and
this he did with a pleased countenance and great constancy. The
indictment was then read, viz., "That he maliciously, treacher-
ously, and falsely had said, ' The King, our Sovereign Lord, is
not supreme head on earth of the Church in England.' As he
neither maliciously, treacherously, not falsely said the words, he
pleaded not guilty.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 85
The following twelve men, freeholders in Middlesex, composed
the jury : Sir John Vaughan, Sir John Howes, Jasper Leak,
John Palmer, Richard Henry Young, Henry Lodisman, John
Elrington, Thomas Burbage, John Neudicate, William Brown,
George Hevingham, John Hewes. Then came Richard Rich
uiiblushingly forward and solemnly swore that he heard the
accused say in the Tower of London " that the King never
really was, nor by right could be, the supreme head on earth
of the Crlurch in England.
When John Cardinal Fisher heard the testimony of this
wretched man, who, contrary to his pledged word not to
reveal their secret conversation in the Tower, addressing
the informer, he said : " Mr. Rich, I cannot but marvel to hear
you come in and witness against me, knowing in what a secret
manner you came to me ; but suppose that I said unto you, yet in
saying that I committed no treason ; for you yourself know full well
what occasion and for what cause the statement might be made."
Turning to the judge, he said: " Now, pressed in my defence to ex-
plain more fully, I shall request my Lords to have a little patience
in listening to what I have to say for myself." (Pointing to Rich)
" This man came to me from the King, as he said, on a secret
message, declaring openly to what a good opinion His Majesty
had of me, and how sorry he was for my trouble, with many
more words tending to my praise than are needful to recite. I
was not only ashamed to hear them, but also know right well
that I could in no way deserve them.
"At last he opened on the subject of the King's supremacy,
lately granted to him by Parliament, in which he said : * Although
all the Bishops of the realm, except yourself alone, consented to
it, and the whole Court of Parliament, both spiritual and tem-
poral, except very few, yet I tell you that the King, better for his
own satisfaction of his own conscience, hath sent me unto you in
this secret manner to have your full opinion on the subject, and
make satisfaction for the same in case you should so advise
him.' When I heard all this message, and considered a little
upon the words, I reminded him of the new Act of Parliament,
which, standing in force as it does against all who might directly
do anything against the supremacy, might endanger me very
86 A COMPLETE HISTORY
much in case I should utter unto him anything that was offensive
against the law. Upon this he told me that the King willed him
to assure me on his honour, and on the word of a King, that
whatever I should say unto him by his secret messenger I should
expose myself to no peril for it, nor should any advantage be
taken of me for the same, although my words were directly against
the statute, as it would be but a declaration of my mind directly to
him, as to himself personally. As for the messenger himself, he
gave me his faithful promise that he would never utter thy words
on this matter to any one living except the King. Now there-
fore, my Lord," saith the Bishop, "seeing that it pleased the King's
Majesty to send to me thus secretly, under pretence of a plain
and true understanding, to know my poor advice and opinion on
this weighty and grave subject, which I most gladly was, and
ever will be, to send him, methinks it is hard injustice to hear
this messenger's accusations, and to allow the same as sufficient
evidence against me."
Rich impudently answered that he only obeyed the orders of
the King, and, turning to Cardinal Fisher, said, " If I spoke to
you in the manner you have declared, I would gladly know what
privilege this confers upon you in case of so speaking against the
The judges in turn declared that a message or a promise, even a
positive command from the King, could not exempt him from
treason against the statute.
Having failed in this point, the Cardinal pleaded that "The
words were not spoken maliciously, and therefore did not offend
against the statute. My Lords, I pray you consider that by all
equity, justice, and worldly honesty, and courteous dealing, I
cannot, as the case standeth, be directly charged with treason,
though I had spoken the words indeed, as they were not spoken
maliciously, but by way of advice or counsel when it was requested
of me by the King himself. That privilege the very words of the
statute gives me, being made only against such as shall malicious-
ly gainsay the King's supremacy, and none other. Although by
rigour of the law you may take occasion thus to condemn me, yet
I hope you cannot find law, except you add rigour to that law, to
cast me down, which I hope I have not deserved."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 8
The judge, who had determined on his death, answered that
the word maliciously was but a superfluous and empty word, and
could not qualify the interpretation of the statute.
" My Lords," pleaded Cardinal Fisher, " if the law is so under-
stood it is a hard interpretation, and, as I take it, contrary to the
meaning of those who made it. Let me ask this question,
Whether a simple witness is sufficient to prove me guilty of
treason for speaking these words or no, and whether my denial
may not be accepted against his accusation ? ' Well knowing
that Cardinal Fisher was right according to law and justice, they
answered thus, " This being a King's case it was a matter for the
jury to decide." Before they retired the Lord Chief Justice did
his utmost to prejudice the case against the accused. He
charged Cardinal Fisher with obstinacy and singularity that he
alone stood against the decrees of both Houses of Parliament, and
against a doctrine accepted by every other Bishop in England.
To this Cardinal Fisher nobly answered : "As I have on my
side the rest of the Bishops of Christendom, far surpassing the
number of Bishops in England, I cannot be accused of being
singular, and having on my side all the Catholics and Bishops
of the world from Christ's ascension till now, joined with the
whole consent of Christ's Universal Church, I must needs account
my own part far more sure than theirs. As for the obstinacy
which is likewise objected against me, I have no other way for
clearing myself but by giving my solemn word and assurance to
the contrary, if you will please believe it, or if that will not
serve, I am ready to confirm the same on mine oath."
By the menacing and threatening looks of the Commissioners
the jury saw that their own lives would be no longer safe if they
did not bring in a verdict of guilty, which they did after a short
formal retirement, but much against their own conscience.
Then the Lord Chancellor, after commanding silence in the
court, pronounced the martyr's doom : " My Lord of Rochester,
you have been arraigned for high treason and tried before twelve
men, you have pleaded not guilty, but they, notwithstanding,
found you guilty. If you have anything more to say you are
now to be heard, or else to receive judgment according to the
88 A COMPLETE HISTORY
After a pause, the Cardinal Bishop replied : " Truly, my Lords,
if that which I have before spoken be not sufficient, I have no
more to say, but only to pray Almighty God to forgive them
who have condemned me, for I think they know not what they
Then the Lord Chancellor, assuming great solemnity of coun-
tenance, pronounced the. sentence of death : " My Lord of Roches-
ter, you shall be led back to the place from whence you came,
and from thence shall be drawn through the City to the place of
execution at Tyburn, where your body shall be hanged by the
neck ; half alive you shall be cut down and thrown to the
ground. Your bowels are to be taken out of your body, you
being alive your head shall be smitten off, and your body shall be
divided into four quarters, and, after, your head and quarters are
to be set up where the King shall appoint, and may God have
mercy on your soul." The Lieutenant of the Tower was ready
to receive and carry him back to the prison, but the good Bishop
obtained permission to say a few words before his departure.
" My Lords," he said, " I am here condemned before you of high
treason for denying the King's supremacy over the Church in
England, but by what kind of justice I leave to God, who is the
searcher of both the King's conscience and yours. Nevertheless,
being found guilty, as it is termed, I am and I must be content-
ed with all that God shall send, to whose will I wholly defer and
submit myself. And, now, to tell you more plainly my mind
touching the King's supremacy, I think, indeed, and have
always the thought, and do now lastly affirm that His Grace can-
not justly claim any such supremacy over the Church of God as
he now taketh it upon himself. It hath never been seen or heard
of that any temporal Prince before his days hath presumed to
that dignity. Wherefore, if the King will now adventure himself
in proceeding in this strange and unwonted cause he will deeply
incur the displeasure of Almighty God to the great damage of
his own soul and of many others, and to the utter ruin of this
realm committed to his charge, whereof will ensue some sharp
punishment on his head. I pray God that His Grace may remem-
ber himself in time, and hearken to good counsel for the preser-
vation of himself and his realm and the peace of Christendom."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 89
After having said these words he was taken by a lieutenant and
his men to the landing stage near Westminster Bridge on horse-
back, and then by barge to the Tower drawbridge, where he
entered his prison once again. Turning to his escort, he said :
"My masters, I thank you for the great labour and pains you
have taken with me to-day. Having nothing left, I am unable
to recompense you. Wherefore I pray you to accept my heart-
felt thanks." These words he spoke with such a joyful counten-
ance and with such a fresh and lovely colour that he seemed
rather to have come from some pleasant banquet than from a
court where he received his death sentence, for he showed by his
outward appearance that nothing remained but joy and gladness
in his heart.
JOHN CARDINAL FISHER'S LAST DAYS IN PRISON.
He devoted the remaining four days of his life to continuous
and fervent prayer. Deprived of all the consolations of religion
which a devout confession and receiving Holy Communion
could bring, he offered up to God " a humble and contrite heart '
and a spotless soul chastened with affliction. Henry VIII
professed to believe in confession, Holy Communion, and the
Sacrifice of the Mass. He knew well the consolations they
would bring to one so devout as Cardinal Fisher, yet with gross
brutality he deprived him of all these spiritual comforts. The
prisoner never betrayed, by word or deed, any fear of the certain
death that awaited him. His cheerful countenance and joyful
manner in the presence of the warders proclaimed that death
would be to him a welcome release.
A false rumour was spread amongst the people that the
Cardinal was to be executed on a certain day before the 22nd
of June. On that day no dinner was prepared. Sending for
the cook he inquired the reason. " Sir," said the cook, " it was
commonly talked all over the town that you were to be executed
to-day, and therefore I thought it would be vain to prepare
anything for you." " Well," said the Bishop merrily, " notwith-
standing all the rumour, thou seest me yet alive, and, therefore,
whatever news thou shalt hear of me hereafter, let me no more
lack my dinner, but make it ready as thou art wont to do. If
QO A COMPLETE HISTORY
thou seest me dead when thou comest, then eat it thyself, but I
promise thee, if I be alive, I mean by God's grace to eat never a
bit the less."
Meanwhile the people throughout England heard with sullen
and suppressed indignation that Cardinal John Fisher was to be
hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. The King thought it
wiser under these circumstances to issue a writ ordering that he
should be beheaded on Tower Hill.
BLESSED JOHN CARDINAL FISHER'S EXECUTION.
Sir Edward Walsingham, Lieutenant of the Tower, received
the writ on the evening of the 2ist, and at five o'clock on the
morning of the 22nd of June, 1535, he, with his assistants,
entered the Bell Tower, where the prisoner was confined, and woke
him up from a sound sleep, telling him that he had come with
a message from the King. The lieutenant, displaying a con-
siderable amount of kindly feeling, endeavoured gradually to
break the shock of this sudden announcement of death to the
prisoner. He reminded the Cardinal that "he was weak in
health, and an old man in his seventy-fifth year who could not,
in the ordinary course of nature, expect to live long ; that death
a short time sooner would not make much difference ; finally, he
told him that it was the King's pleasure that he should die that
" Well," said the Bishop, " if this be your errand you bring me
no great news, for I have long looked for this message. I most
humbly thank His Majesty that it pleaseth him to relieve me of
alt this worldly care, and I thank you also for your tidings. But
I pray you, Mr. Lieutenant, when is the hour that I must go
hence?" "Your hour," said the lieutenant, "must be nine o'clock?"
" And what hour is it now?" saith the Bishop. " It is just five
o'clock," answered the lieutenant. " Well, then, let me then by
your patience sleep on an hour or two, for I slept very little this
night, and yet, to tell you the truth, not from any fear of death,
I thank God, but by reason of my great infirmity and weakness."
"The King's further pleasure," said the lieutenant, "is that you
should use as little speech as possible, especially anything con-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 91
cerning His Majesty, whereby the people should have any reason
to think of him or his proceedings otherwise than well." "As
for that," saith the Cardinal, " you shall see me order myself so
that by God's grace neither the King nor any other man shall
have occasion to mistake my words."
With this assurance the lieutenant departed, and the prisoner,
turning over on his side, slept soundly until nearly eight o'clock.
Then he woke up and called his attendant to help him to dress.
Taking off the hair shirt which he was accustomed to wear, he
bade him cast it away secretly. Clad in clean linen and his best
apparel, with clothes carefully brushed, he appeared that morning
more anxious about his personal appearance than he ever was
before. The astonished servant asked the Cardinal Bishop what
was the meaning of all this sudden change. " Dost thou not
mark," said the holy martyr, " that this is our wedding morn, and
that it behoveth us to use more cleanliness for the solemnity of
At nine the lieutenant appeared, and, finding him almost ready,
said that he had now come for him. "I. will wait upon you," said
the Cardinal, "as fast as this thin body of mine will give me leave."
Then to his attendant, " Reach me my furred tippet to put
about my neck." " O my Lord," said the lieutenant, " why
need you be so careful for your health for this little time, which,
as you know, is not an hour." "I think not otherwise," said
the good Bishop, " but yet in the meantime I will keep myself as
well as I can till the very time of my execution, for I tell you the
truth, though I have, thank our Lord, a very good desire and will-
ing mind to die up to the present, and so trust to His infinite mercy
and goodness that he will continue it, yet will I not in the mean-
time willingly hinder my health one minute of this hour, but still
prolong it as long as I can by such reasonable ways and means
as the Almighty hath had provided for me."
Taking, then, the New Testament in his hand, and making
the sign of the cross on his forehead, he walked out of the door
of his prison cell, but his weakness was so great that he could
only with great difficulty walk down stairs. At the foot of the
stairs the lieutenant had provided two strong men with a sedan
chair to receive him. On this he sat down and was carried to
92 A COMPLETE HISTORY
the Tower Gate, surrounded by a great number of soldiers, to
be delivered up to the sheriffs of the City for execution. As
they came to the precincts of the Liberty of the Tower, a halt
was made so that a messenger could be sent to learn if the
sheriffs were ready.
At the interval the Cardinal, alighting from the chair, and too
weak to stand without assistance, leaned his shoulder against
the wall, and, lifting up his eyes towards heaven, said the follow-
ing prayer : " O Lord, this is the last time that ever I shall open
Thy book ; let some consoling text be found for me whereby
I, thy poor servant, may glorify Thee in this my last hour.'
Opening the New Testament casually, the following text met
his gaze (John xvii., 3-4): " This is life eternal, that they may
know Thee, the only true God, and Christ Jesus whom He has
sent. I have glorified Thee on earth. I have finished the work
Thou gavest me to do." Then he closed the book and said : "Here
is learning enough for me to my life's end."
Then the messenger came back saying that the sheriffs were
ready. Surrounded by still more soldiers, he was carried to the
scaffold, recalling to mind the words he had read, and fervently
praying all the way. When he had come to the foot of the
scaffold he dismissed the attendants, who wished to help him
up the stairs, and said, "Now, my feet, do your office; only a
short part of the journey remains," at the same time uttering
a fervent prayer to God. Strange to behold, he went up the
stairs with activity and without help. As he ascended the south-
east sun shone brightly on his face, on which he said to himself
these words, " Come ye to Him and be enlightened, and thy
face shall not be confounded." It was ten o'clock, and the
executioners were ready to do their cruel office. The chief
executioner knelt down, according to custom, and asked his
Cardinal's forgiveness. "With all my heart," said the holy
martyr, " and I trust that you will see me overcome this storm
Before his imprisonment and starvation John Cardinal Fisher
is described as a tall man, six feet high, broad shouldered,
strong, good looking, and well proportioned. His complexion
was brown, his forehead broad, and his features regular. What
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 93
a contrast he formed to his former self in bodily appearance on
this morning of his execution. When his large gown and furred
tippet were taken off just before the execution, as he stood in
his doublet and hose before the assembled multitude his long
slender body seemed like a human skeleton covered with skin, so
that the people wondered how one so wasted could still live.
He seemed the very image of death in a man's shape, using a man's
voice. The people freely said that it was a shame for the King
to put a dying man to death except it -were for pity's sake he
put him out of pain. Then this innocent and holy martyr, on
the brink of eternity, spoke in a voice that rang out clear as a
clarion on Tower Hill : " Christian people, I am come hither to
die for the faith of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, and I thank
God hitherto my courage hath served me very well, so that I
have not feared death. Wherefore I desire you all to help and
assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant
of death's stroke I may in that moment stand steadfast -without
failing in any point of the Catholic faith, free from any fear ;
and I beseech Almighty God of His infinite goodness to save
the King and the realm, and that it may please Him to hold His
hand over it and send the King good counsel."
He spoke these words so plainly and distinctly, and with such
vigour, that not a single word failed to reach the outward circle
of the assembled crowd, who were astonished at beholding a
man who seemed to be more pleased to die than to live. Then
kneeling down he recited the hymn of joy, Te Deum laudamus,
and afterwards the Psalm xxx.: " In thee, O Lord, have I
hoped, let me never be confounded ; O, deliver me in Thy
After he had recited these prayers the executioner came forward
and blindfolded his eyes. Then the Blessed John Fisher said a
few short but fervent prayers, and placing his head down on the
block, the executioner with one sharp blow of his axe cut off his
head, and uplifting it in the sight of the multitude, said, " This
is the head of a traitor." The blood-shedding was so profuse
that people marvelled how so slender a body could shed so
Dr. Thomas Baily relates that Anne Boleyn struck and insulted
0,4 A COMPLETE HISTORY
the head of the glorious martyr just as Herodias treated the
head of the saintly St. John the Baptist with indignity. Time,
the avenger, soon ran its course. Within a year Anne Boleyn
was arraigned for the crimes of adultery and incest and con-
victed, and that infamous woman laid her guilty head 011 the
same block, and her neck was severed by the same axe. In
quick succession Cromwell paid the penalty of his crimes on
On May iQth, 1536, Cardinal John Fisher's head, after being
parboiled, was fixed on a stake and exposed during the hot
weather of the ending month of June on London Bridge. His
body was carried away and ignominiously buried at All Hallows,
Barking, but afterwards removed and interred in a chapel within
the Tower, but I know not at whose instigation. His head
exposed on London Bridge seemed to retain all its stately
beauty, and the eyes appeared to gaze on the multitude with
looks of sad reproach. " His crime," says a Protestant writer,
"was a denial of the King's supremacy over the Church in
England, and the Cardinal Bishop's martyrdom was one of
the worst crimes that ever disgraced the infamous reign of
(Biographia Britannica. Dr. Thomas Baily's Life and Death
of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Bar grave's State Trials.)
BLESSED THOMAS MORE.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, ON TOWER HILL, JULY 6th, 1535.
BIRTH AND EARLY TRAINING OF THOMAS MORE.
Blessed Thomas More, who was born in Milk Street, Cheapside,
in the City of London, A.D. 1480, was the only son of Sir John
More, judge of King's Bench. In his early youth he frequented
St. Anthony's School, Threadneedle Street ; but later on, in his
fifteenth year, through the interest of his father, was received into
the mansion of Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who,
following an old Roman custom, was surrounded by noble youths
as pages-in-waiting, whilst they in return were provided with
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 95
board and education suitable to their rank. His Eminence was
so greatly pleased with and astonished at the ready wit, ingen-
uous modesty, and remarkable talents of young More, that when
the latter had attained his seventeenth year the Cardinal per-
suaded Sir John More to send his son to Oxford University.
In the year 1497, More took up his residence at Canterbury
College, Oxford. At the University he was soon distinguished
amongst all the students as a youth of extraordinary ability,
especially for his proficiency in Latin, Greek, logic, and philoso-
phy. He at once attracted the notice, and soon the friendship, of
three great professors of Latin, Greek, and English literature,
viz., Grocyn, Linacre, and Lilly, who respectively professed these
Writing to his old friend, Dean Collet, of St. Paul's, he said,
** I pass my time with Grocyn, Linacre, and Lilly ; the first being
my director in your absence, the second the master of my studies,
the third my dear companion."
During the third year that he pursued his studies at Oxford
young More was kept on very short allowance, having only
sufficient for keeping him in clothing. Far from resenting
this treatment of his kind but strict father, the great Chancellor,
in after years, mentioned it with feelings of undying gratitude,
affirming that owing to it he was preserved from all temptation
to vice and association with evil companions. Fearing that he
would be led away by devotion to literature, Sir John More
removed his son from Oxford, and caused him to enter New Inn
to commence his legal studies, when the latter had attained
his twentieth year. In due course he passed on to Lincoln's Inn,
where he remained until he became an outer barrister.
More's piety and devotion seem to have increased with his
years. On Fridays and Embers he not only kept strict fast, but
slept on the bare ground with a block of wood for a pillow.
At twenty he put on a hair shirt, which he never ceased
wearing until the day of his martyrdom.
MORE ELECTED MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT.
At the age of twenty-one the youthful lawyer was elected
Member of Parliament for the City, and with that fearless
96 A COMPLETE HISTORY
independence in the cause of justice which distinguished his
whole life, successfully resisted the motion of Secretary Tyler
that an exorbitant sum of money should be voted as a dowry for
Princess Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII, who was about
to be married to the King of Scotland. Tyler afterwards bitterly
complained to the King that "a beardless boy had caused the
proposal to be rejected."
Soon after this More was appointed Law Reader at Furnival's
Inn, a post which He filled during three successive years with
great honour and distinction. In obedience to the earnest advice
of his father, he, as soon as he had completed his engagement at
Furnival's, devoted four years to the tedious study of Common
Law, so that in his twenty-eighth year his eminence as a lawyer
was so generally acknowledged that he was retained in every case
of importance. His professional income at this period amounted
to 400 per annum, which would be equivalent to 4,000 now-
Amidst all his occupations he found time to deliver a series of
lectures at St. Lawrence's, Old Jewry, on St. Augustine's DC
Civitate Dei, which were attended by his old friend Doctor
" Grocyn, an excellent, cunning man, and all the chief learned
men of the city." (Roper, p. 5.)
Notwithstanding his great learning and marvellous success as
a lawyer, More, at this time, had very serious thoughts of
devoting his whole life to God and becoming a priest of the
order of St. Francis. To test his vocation he took lodgings near
the Charterhouse, and daily entering the monastery made a long
spiritual retreat, at the end of which he opened his mind and
heart to the Father Confessor, Dean Collet, who advised him to
give up all idea of becoming a religious, and enter the marriage
state. The object of his affection was Jane, the eldest daughter
of his old friend, John Holt, of New Hall, Essex. " He married,"
wrote Erasmus (Epist. ad Ulric Hutton], u a very young girl of
respectable family, who had hitherto lived in the country with
her parents and sisters, and was so uneducated that he could
mould her to his own tastes and manners. He had her instructed
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 97
in letters, and she became a very skilful musician, which greatly
pleased him." After this marriage he took a house and settled
down in Bucklersbury.
In his thirty-fourth year, More was appointed one of the Under-
Sheriffs of the City. This is evident from the City records. On
May 8th, 1514, the Common Council passed the following resolu-
tion : " That Thomas More, gentleman, one of the Under-Sheriffs
of London, should occupy his office and chamber by a sufficient
deputy during his absence as King's ambassador in Flanders."
Soon afterwards, he was appointed Judge of the Sheriff's Court.
This office, according to Erasmus, " though not laborious, is
accounted very honourable. No Judge of that Court ever got
through so many cases ; none decided more uprightly, often
remitting fees to which he was entitled from the suitors. More's
deportment in this capacity endeared him greatly to his fellow-
In the midst of his various occupations he found some time to
devote to literature, and wrote Utopia, which is dedicated to his
friend, Peter Giles : " Whilst I daily plead other men's causes, or
hear them, sometimes as an arbitrator, other while as a judge ;
whilst this man I visit for friendship, and another for business ;
and whilst I am employed abroad about other men's affairs all
the whole day, I leave no time for myself that is, for study, for,
when I come home, I must talk with my wife, chat with my
children, and speak with my servants : seeing this must be done,
I number it amongst my affairs, and needful it is unless one -would
be a stranger in his house ; for we must endeavour to be affable
and pleasing to whom either nature, chance, or choice hath made
our companions, but \vith such measure it must be done that
we don't spoil them with affability, or make them from servants
our masters by too little entreaty and favour. Whilst these things
are doing, a day, a month, a year passeth. When, then, can I
find time to write ? I have not spoken of the time that is spent
in eating and sleeping, which bereave' most men of half their
lives ; as for me, I only get the spare time I steal from my meals
and sleep, which, because it is small, I proceed slowly ; yet, it
being somewhat, I have now at length prevailed so much, that I
have finished and sent to you, Peter, my Utopia." At this time
98 A COMPLETE HISTORY
he kept up correspondence with all the principal literary men of
his day, especially Erasmus. After a long correspondence, Eras-
mus determined on coming to London to see his friend. They
met casually without knowing each other, and sat side by side at
the Lord Mayor's dinner. Erasmus commenced speaking against
the clergy, but More defended them so well that Erasmus
exclaimed, " Tu es Morus aut nullus." More replied, " Tu es
Erasmus aut diabolus." The friendship thus begun lasted during
HENRY VIII ENLISTS MORE IN THE ROYAL SERVICE.
Before entering the Royal service, Thomas More accompanied
Tunstal, afterwards Bishop of Durham, and Doctor Knight, who
\vent to Flanders as commissioners for renewing a treaty between
Henry VIII and Charles V. When the King heard of More's
readiness in solving difficulties whilst abroad, he commanded
Cardinal Wolsey to engage him in the service of the Crown.
More declined the proffered honour at first, and gave his reasons
for so doing in the following characteristic letter to Erasmus :
"When I returned from the Embassies in Flanders, the King
would have given me a yearly pension, which surely, if one
respect honour and profit, -was not to be little esteemed.
Yet have I hitherto refused it, and think I shall refuse it still,
because I should be forced to forsake my present means, which
I have already in the City, and I esteem it more than a better ;
or else I must keep it with some dislike to the citizens, between
whom and his Highness, if there should be any controversy, as
sometimes doth chance, about their privileges, they might suspect
me as not sincere and trusty to them, because I should be bound
to the King by an annual stipend." A remarkable case about
this time came before the Star Chamber. A ship belonging to
the Pope was seized at Southampton as forfeited to the Crown.
The Papal Legate, wishing to test the legality of the
seizure, requested that the case should be tried in court, selecting
More as his counsel. The latter so well performed his part as
an advocate that the capture was declared illegal, and the
ship restored to his Holiness. The King, after this trial, would
take no refusal, and commanded More to enter the Royal
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 99
service as Master of Bequests, with a seat in the Privy Council ;
and, on the death of Weston, Treasurer of the Exchequer, in
1521, appointed him to that post and made him a knight.
SIR THOMAS MORE LEAVES THE CITY TO RESIDE AT CHELSEA.
Much to his regret, Sir Thomas More was obliged to sever his
connection with the City, and, that he might be able to attend to
his offical duties, took up his residence by the river at Chelsea.
It would be well here tc take a glance at his domestic life.
More deeply regretted the loss of his first wife, who died leaving
him a son and three daughters. Three ye'ars after his bereave-
ment he married Alice Middleton, a widow seven years older
than himself, for he was sadly in need of some one to take charge
of his young children and manage the household. She was
" neither beautiful nor young ;" but Erasmus, a confidential friend
of the family, describes her as "a keen and watchful manager,
with whom More lived on terms of as much respect and kindness
as if she had been fair and young. No husband," he added,
"ever gained so much obedience from a wife by authority and
severity as More -won by gentleness and good humour. Though
verging on old age, and not of a yielding temper, he prevailed
upon her to take lessons on the lute, the zither, the viol, the
monochord, which she daily practised to him. With the same
gentleness he ruled his whole family, so that it was free from
broils and quarrels. He composed all differences, and never
parted with anyone on terms of unkindness."
" His custom was daily," according to his son-in-law (Roper,
p. 25), " (besides his private prayers with his children), to recite
the seven penitential psalms, the litany [of the saints], and the
suffrages following ; so was his guise with his \vife, children,
and household, nightly, before he \vent to bed, to go to his
chapel, and there, on his knees, to say certain psalms and
collects with them."
"More," wrote Erasmus, "hath built, near London, on the
Thames, a commodious house. It is neither mean nor subject
to envy, yet magnificent enough. There he converseth daily
.with his family, his wife, his son and daughter-in-law, his three
daughters and their husbands, with eleven grandchildren.
100 A COMPLETE HISTORY
There is not any man living so affectionate to his children as he,,
and he loveth his old -wife as if she \vere a young maid : and
such is the excellence of his temper, that whatever happeneth,
that could not be helped, he liveth as though nothing could
happen so happily.
" You would say that there was in this place Plato's aca-
demy. But I do the house injury in comparing it to Plato's
academy, -where there were only disputations about numbers,
geometrical figures, and sometimes moral virtue ; I should rather
call his house a school or university of Christian religion, for there
is none therein but readeth, or studieth the liberal sciences : their
special care is piety and virtue ; there is no quarrelling or intem-
perate words heard ; none seen idle ; which household discipline
that worthy gentleman doth not govern by proud and lofty
\vords, but with all kind and courteous benevolence. Every-
body performeth his duty, yet is there always alacrity, neither
is sober mirth in any way wanting." (Erasmus's letter to
More lived like a patriarch at his riverside retreat, with " his
children and his children's children" gathered round him. No-
thing was more distasteful to his simple, candid nature tharh
the pomps and ceremonies of the royal palace, and the embar-
rassing favouritism with which their Majesties treated him,,
especially in the beginning of his life as a courtier. The King
would scarcely suffer him to leave the royal presence. He con-
stantly dined, supped, and joined in the recreations of the King
and Queen. His wit, humour, and exhaustless learning charmed
and delighted every one with whom he came in contact, and
made his companionship indispensable to Henry VIII. Whilst
this continued, More could scarcely visit his own family once in
the month. By adopting a ruse, which, under the circumstances,,
was not only excusable but praiseworthy, he extricated himself
from this dilemma. "When he perceived," says Roper (p. 12),,
" so much in his talk to delight, that he could not once a month,
get leave to go home to his wife and children, whose company
he most desired, he, much misliking this restraint on his liberty,,
began thereupon somewhat to dissemble his nature, and so by
little and little from his former mirth to disuse himself, that he
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. I Of
was by them from thenceforth, at such seasons, no more so
ordinarily sent for."
The King frequently visited More at Chelsea, often walking
\vith him in the garden, and showing such signs of great affec-
tion that Roper remarked one day to his father-in-law, " Happy
must you be, for excepting Cardinal Wolsey, the King does not
treat any with the same familiarity as he treats you."
" I thank our Lord, son," replied he, " I find his Grace my
very good lord indeed, and I believe he doth as singularly favour
me as any subject within this realm ; howbeit, son Roper, I
must tell thee I have no cause to be proud thereof, for if my
head could win him a castle in France, it would not fail to
Uncoveted honours, however, could not change More's spirit
of independence in the cause of truth and justice, as is evident
from his conduct on a very trying occasion when, in 1523,
Cardinal Wolsey entered the House of Commons in state, and
endeavoured by his presence and influence to obtain a vote of
.80,000 to levy a useless and unpopular war against France.
As none of the members stood up to reply to Wolsey's powerful
and overbearing speech, as they thought that his whole action
was a breach of privilege, the Cardinal, losing patience, said,
"Masters, unless it be the manner of your House to deliver your
minds by the mouth of the Speaker, whom you have chosen as
truly good and wise, as indeed he is, in such cases, here is
without doubt a marvellous obstinate silence." Sir Thomas
More, in answer to this direct challenge, stood up and excused
the silence of the House in the presence of so noble a personage,
and then showed by several arguments that it was neither
expedient nor agreeable to their ancient liberties to reply ; and
concluded by saying that though all trusted him with their voices,
yet except they could put their wits into his head, he could not
make his Eminence a suitable answer on so weighty a subject.
The vote was refused, greatly to Wolsey's chagrin, who, when he
next met More at Whitehall, sneeringly observed, "Mr. More,
would to God that you had been in Rome when I made you
Speaker." "So would I," More quietly replied, " for then I should
have seen the place I most desire to visit."
102 A COMPLETE HISTORY
After this event More found himself nominated Ambassador to
the Court of Spain, but he begged the King not to send him to a
country which would be unsuitable to his health. Henry, who
suspected Wolsey of jealousy in suggesting this appointment,
replied, "It is not our meaning, Mr. More, to do you any hurt,
but to do you good we should be glad. We shall therefore employ
you otherwise." He soon after appointed his faithful but intrepid
servant Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and afterwards,
on October 25th, 1530, when the famous Cardinal was disgraced
and degraded, for refusing to pronounce the royal divorce, by
the King, Sir Thomas More, in his fiftieth year, was appointed to
the very honourable but unenviable position of Chancellor of
SIR THOMAS MORE AS LORD CHANCELLOR.
It is an historical fact that Sir Thomas More was the first lay-
man who ever occupied this honourable appointment, and it can
be said, without injustice to the memories of the distinguished
prelates who filled that honoured post, that none of his
predecessors discharged the duties of this high office with greater
fidelity, wisdom, and prudence than this eminent layman. He
was essentially the poor man's friend, taking care that the cases
of the humble should be attended to with the greatest dispatch,
and to effect this change sat in his own hall every afternoon, and
frequently issued injunctions to delinquent judges to conclude
long-standing lawsuits. When Roper informed him that the
judges complained of his frequent injunctions, he invited them all
to dinner at Westminster Hall. At the banquet he explained
the reasons for his action with such force and clearness that
their lordships acknowledged that they would have acted in the
same manner themselves if placed in a similar position. Then
he begged of them to do away with occasions of his interference
by not interpreting the penal laws too rigorously, and concluded
thus : " Forasmuch as you yourselves drive me to the necessity
of using my authority, you cannot hereafter any more blame me."
He next took in hand the solicitors of his Court by ordering
that no subpoenas should be issued without notifying the facts
to him, declaring at the same time that he would cancel all if
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 103
they were founded on frivolous complaints. One of the solicitors,
named Tub, one day brought him a subpoana requesting that he
should endorse it. Sir Thomas looked at the subpoena, and
seeing that it was a trumped-up case, wrote on the back instead
of his name, "A tale of a Tub."
His integrity as Chancellor was never seriously doubted, but
when questioned the fact was established beyond dispute. A
man named Parnel accused him, after he resigned the Chancellor-
ship, of having received a bribe in a lawsuit from his rival
Vaughan. On sifting the case it was discovered that Vaughan's
wife, after the trial, presented Sir Thomas with a gold cup, and
that the Chancellor ordered his butler to fill it with wine. He
touched the wine with his lips to the lady's good health, saying,
4 'As freely as your husband hath given this cup to me, even so
freely give I the same to you again, to give to your husband as
a New Year's gift." A man named Gresham, who had a case for
trial, presented him with another gold cup. Sir Thomas took it,
but presented him with one still more valuable in return. So all
the allegations brought against him only confirmed the high
esteem in which he was held by his fellow-countrymen.
For three years he discharged all his duties as Chancellor with
great diligence and uprightness ; but after the royal divorce, as
he would not take the oath of succession, demanded from all
holding official positions, that Anne Boleyn was the " only true
and lawful wife of Henry VIII," he resigned the great seal of
his office on May i6th, 1533. Just before his resignation the
Lord Chancellor buried his father, Sir John More, who had
reached to his ninetieth year. It is recorded of the Lord
Chancellor that he never passed through Westminster Hall to his
Court without paying a filial visit to the Court of King's Bench,
and asking, on bended knees, for his father's blessing. Rever-
ently and with true filial love and sorrow he buried his father in
the graveyard of St. Lawrence's, Old Jewry.
After resigning the Lord Chancellorship for conscience sake,
Sir Thomas determined on retiring into private life, and devoting
his remaining years to the service of God. With all his pro-
fessional income taken away, and nothing left but the scanty
savings of his generous and conscientious years, his fortune was
104 A COMPLETE HISTORY
so impaired that he resolved on dissolving his large household,
so as to reduce the ordinary expenditure. Calling his family
circle together, he thus addressed them : "I have been brought
up at Oxford, at the Inn of Chancery, at Lincoln's Inn, and also
at King's Court, and so from the least degree to the highest,
and yet I have yearly revenue left me not amounting to more
than 100 ; so now we must hereafter, if we like to live together,
be contented to become joint contributors. But by my counsel
it \vill not be best for us to fall to the lowest fare first. We
shall not therefore descend to Oxford fare, nor to the fare of New-
Inn ; but we will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet, where many
worshipfuls and of good years so live well together ; which if we
find ourselves not able to maintain the first year, then will we
the next year go one step down to New Inn fare, wherewith many
an honest man is well contented. If that exceeds our ability
too, then will we descend the next year after to Oxford fare,
where many great, learned, and ancient fathers are continually
conversant ; which if our powers stretch not to maintain neither,
then must we get bags and wallets, go begging together, and
hoping that for pity some good souls may give us their charity,
singing at every man's door the Salve Regina."
SIR THOMAS PERSECUTED.
After the dispersion of his family, Sir Thomas determined on
retiring into private life, and devoting the rest of his days to God
alone. He was now entering his fifty-third year. Cranmer had
pronounced the sentence of divorce between Henry and Catherine,
and the King's marriage with Anne Boleyn was fixed for May
3ist, 1533. Sir Thomas declined the special invitation to be
present on the occasion, sent by the Bishops of Durham, Bath,
and Winchester. As he could not be won over to the King's
side by fair means, it was resolved to break his iron will by an-
noying persecutions. No sooner had he successfully repelled the
charge of being an accomplice of the Maid of Kent, than he was
summoned before Cranmer, Audley the chancellor, the Duke of
Norfolk, and Cromwell. He was accused of urging the King
to vindicate the Pope's authority in the book which his
Majesty had written against Luther, thereby putting a sword
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 105
into the Pope's hand to fight against the King. To this
charge he replied, "My lords, these terrors are arguments for
children, not for me ; but to answer that wherewith you
chiefly charge me, I believe the King's Highness will never lay
that to my charge ; for none is there that can in that point
say more in mine excuse than his Highness himself, who
right well knoweth that I never was procurer, nor counsellor of
his Majesty thereunto ; but after it was finished by his Grace's ap-
pointment and consent of the makers of the same, I was only a
sorter out and placer of the principal matters therein contained ;
wherein finding the Pope's authority highly advanced, and, with
strong arguments, highly defended, I said unto his Majesty, ' I
must put your Highness in remembrance of one thing and that
is this : the Pope, as your Grace knoweth, is a Prince as you
are, and in league with all the Christian princes. It may after
happen that your Grace and he may differ upon some points of
the league, whereupon may grow a breach of amity between
you both. I think it best that that place be amended, and his'
authority be more slenderly touched.' * Nay,' said his Grace,
' that shall not be ; we are so much bound to the See of Rome
that we cannot do it too much honour.' Then did I put him in
mind of the statute Prasmunire, whereby a good part of the
Pope's temporal power was pared away. To this answered
his Highness, ' Whatever impediment to the contrary, we will
set forth that authority to the utmost, for we received from the
See of Rome our Crown Imperial,' which, till his Grace had
told me with his own mouth, I never heard of before, so that
I trust when his Majesty shall be informed of this, and call
to his gracious remembrance my dealing in that behalf, his
Highness will never speak of it more, but clear me thoroughly
MORE REFUSES TO TAKE THE OATH OF SUPREMACY.
Roper informs us that, when Sir Thomas was summoned by
the Commissioners to take the oath of supremacy, they travelled
together in a barge to Westminster. On returning, Sir Thomas
was very dull and thoughtful for a time, but suddenly regaining
his spirits, he whispered in his (Roper's) ear, " Son Roper ! I
106 A COMPLETE HISTORY
thank the Lord the field is won." Roper at once inquired
whether he was exempted from the bill. " By my'troth," quoth
he, " I never remembered it." " Never remembered it," said
Roper ; "a cause that touched yourself so near, and us all for
your sake ! I am sorry to hear it, for I verily trusted that when
I saw you so merry, that all had been well." "Then," said he,
"wilt thou know, son Roper, why I was so merry?' "That
would I gladly, sir," said Roper. "In good faith I rejoiced,*
son," said he, " that I had given the devil a bad fall ; and that
with these lords I had gone so far, as without great shame I
could never go back again."
Four days after his second refusal to take the oath, Sir Thomas
More was marched off a prisoner to the Tower. It was then
customary for the jailor to ask for and appropriate the upper
garment of the prisoner. Sir Thomas, with a serio-comic air,
presented his cap, rather worse for wear, saying, " I am sorry
that it is no better for thee." The jailor indignantly asked for
and obtained his gown. At a juncture so critical, much
depended on the firmness or weakness of the ex-Lord Chancellor.
Cranmer and other important personages tried their utmost to
induce him to compliance ; but Cromwell, the Secretary of State,
assured him, on one of his visits, that the King, his good and
gracious lord, did not intend to trouble his conscience any
more with anything wherein he should have cause of scruple. As
soon as the Secretary was gone, Sir Thomas More took a brand,
from the fire and wrote on the walls of his cell the following :
" Ye flattering fortune, loke thou never so fayre,
Or never so pleasantlie began to smile,
As though thou wouldst my ruin all repaire ;
During my life thou shalt not me beguile.
Trust shall I God, to enter in a while
His haven of heaven, sure and uniforme ;
Even after thy caltne, loke I for a storm."
He passed the fifteen months of his prison life in that happiness
which God alone can give. One day he whispered to his
favourite daughter, Margaret, that " they were mistaken in
thinking they could mortify him by imprisonment," and that he
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 1 07
felt as happy there as he did in his own home. He quaintly de-
scribes the sweet consolation he received in his solitude from
God. " Methinks," he said to his daughter, "God maketh me
a wanton, and sitteth me on His lap, and dandleth me." Look-
ing out of his prison window on the morning of May 4th, 1535, he
saw John Houghton, prior of Charterhouse, London ; Augustine
Webster, prior of Axholme ; Robert Laurence, prior of Beauvaile ;
Richard Reynolds, a monk of Sion ; and John Haile, secular priest,
of Isleworth, walking from their prison cells to the place
of execution. Calling his daughter, who was present, to his
side, he showed her the joyful countenances of these holy martyrs
going cheerfully to their doom, telling her they were specially
favoured by God, and that such a glorious death was a reward
sent them by God for the sanctity of their lives. "Whereas,"
said he, " thy silly father, Meg, who, like a wicked caitiff, hath
passed the whole course of his miserable life most sinfully God
thinking him not worthy so soon to come to that eternal felicity,
leaveth him here yet still in this world to be plagued and turmoiled
Although the King wished the day of Blessed John Cardinal
Fisher's glorious martyrdom to be kept secret from him, by some
means it came to his knowledge, and on the morning of the 22nd
of June, 1535, whilst the execution was taking place, More, over-
come by a holy envy, knelt down and prayed : " I confess to thee,
O Lord, that I am not \vorthy of so great 'a crown, for I am not
just and holy like Thy servant, the Bishop of Rochester, whom
thou hast chosen for Thyself out of the whole kingdom, a man
after Thine own heart ; nevertheless, O Lord, if it be Thy will,
give me a share in Thy chalice." When his wife, Alice, came to
his cell, begging him not to sacrifice herself, his children, and his
life, which he might yet enjoy many years, her husband turned
to her and said, "And how long, my dear Alice, do you think I
should live ?" " If God wills," she replied, " you may live for twen-
ty years." " Then," said he, " you would have me barter eternity
for twenty years : you are not skilful at a bargain, my wife. If
you had said twenty thousand years, you might have said
something to the purpose ; but even then, -what is that to
108 A COMPLETE HISTORY
During his imprisonment he wrote two books : one in English,
called Comfort in Tribulation, another in Latin, entitled Passio
Christi. When he had come to the place, " They laid hands on
Jesus," the manuscript and all his books were snatched away.
After this, he spent the whole day in holy prayer and meditation.
THE TRIAL, SENTENCE, AND DEATH OF SIR THOMAS MORE.
At length he was arraigned and tried at the Court of King's
Bench for denying the royal supremacy over the Church in
England. The only witness brought forward in proof of this
was the. infamous Rich, the Solicitor-General, -who had already
sworn away the life of Cardinal Fisher.
The following account of the trial and sentence is taken bodily
from one of the volumes of the " State Trials ' and proceedings
for high treason, published in 1776 :
The Trial of Sir Thomas More, Knight, Lord Chancellor of
England, for High Treason, for Denying the King's Supre-
macy, May 7, 1535.
Sir Thomas having continued a prisoner in the Tower some-
what more than a twelvemonth, for he was committed about the
middle of April, 1534, and was brought to his trial on the 7th of
May, 1535, he went into the court leaning on his staff, because
he was much weakened by his imprisonment, but appeared with
a cheerful and composed countenance. The persons constituted
to try him were : Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor ; Thomas,
Duke of Norfolk ; Sir John Fitzjames, Lord Chief Justice ; Sir
John Baldwin ; Sir Richard Lyster ; Sir John Port ; Sir John
Spilman ; Sir Walter Luke ; Sir Anthony Fitzherbert.
" The indictment was very long, but where to procure a copy
of it I could never learn," writes the Editor ; " 'tis said in general
that it contained all the crimes that could be laid to the charge
of any notorious malefactor ; and Sir Thomas professed it was so
long that he could scarce remember the third part of what was
objected therein against him." It was read aloud by the
Attorney-General, and Sir Thomas's mortal sin seemed plainly
to be his refusing the oath of supremacy.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 109
To prove this, his double examination at the Tower was
alleged against him : the first before Secretary Cromwell, Thomas
Beada, and John Trigounel, to whom he professed that he had
given up all thoughts of titles, either from Popes or Princes, he
being fully determined to serve God ; the second before the
Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, and the Earl of Wilt-
shire, before whom he compared the oath to a two-edged sword,
the same simile as that used by Cardinal Fisher, with whom he
was accused of acting in collusion.
After the indictment was read, the Lord Chancellor and the Duke
of Norfolk spoke to him to this effect : " You see how grievously
you have offended his Majesty ; yet he is so merciful, that if you
will lay aside your obstinacy, and change your opinion, we hope
you may obtain pardon and favour in his sight." But he stoutly
replied: "Most noble Lords, I have great reason to return my
warm thanks to your Honours for this, your great civility, but I
beseech Almighty God that I may continue in the mind I am in,
through His grace, unto death."
Then, having an intimation that he might say what he thought
fit in his own defence, he began thus : " When I consider the
length of my accusation, and what heinous matters are laid to
my charge, I am struck with fear lest my memory and under-
standing, w r hich are both impaired, together with my bodily
health, through a long indisposition contracted during my
imprisonment, should now fail me so far as to make me incapable
of making such ready answers in my defence as otherwise I might
The Court being sensible of his weakness, ordered a chair to
be brought in, wherein he might seat himself, which he did
accordingly, and then went on thus : " This my indictment, if I
mistake not, consists of four principal heads, each of which I
propose, God willing, to answer in order. As to the first crime
objected against me, that I have been an enemy, out of stub-
bornness of mind, to the King's second marriage, I confess I
always told his Majesty my opinion of it, according to the dictates
of my conscience, which I neither ever would or ought to have
concealed; for which, I am so far from thinking myself
guilty of high treason, that, on the contrary, being required to
110 A COMPLETE HISTORY
give my opinion by so great a Prince, in an affair of so great
importance, upon which the peace of the kingdom depended, I
should have basely flattered him, and my own conscience, had
not I spoken the truth as I thought. Then, indeed, I might have
been esteemed a most wicked subject, and a perfidious traitor to
God. If I have offended the King herein, if it can be an offence
to tells one's mind freely when my Sovereign put the question to
me, I suppose I have been sufficiently punished for the fault by
the great afflictions I have endured, by the loss of my estate, and
my tedious imprisonment, \vhich has continued nearly fifteen
months. The second charge against me is that I have violated
the Act made in the last Parliament ; that is, being a prisoner,
and twice examined, I would not, out of malignant, perfidious,
obstinate, and traitorous mind, tell them my opinion whether
the King is supreme head of the Church or not but confessed
then that I had nothing to do with that Act, as to the injustice
Or justice of it, because I had no benefice in the Church ; yet,
then I protested that I had never said or done anything against
it, neither can any word or action of mine be alleged or produced
to make me culpable. Nay, this, I own, was then my answer to
their Honours, that I would think of nothing else hereafter but
the bitter Passion of our Blessed Saviour, and of my exit out of
this miserable world. I wish nobody any harm, but if this does
not keep me alive I have no desire to live. I know I would not
transgress any law, or become guilty of any treasonable crime :
neither this statute nor any other law in this world can punish any
man for his silence, seeing that they can do no more than punish
words or deeds. 'Tis God alone that can judge the secrets of
The Attorney-General : * ' Though we have not one word or
deed of yours to urge against you, yet we have your silence ; be-
cause no dutiful subject being asked this question will refuse to
Sir Thomas More shrewdly answered : ** As my silence is no
sign of malice, \vhich the King himself must know by my
conduct on divers occasions, neither doth it convince any
man of a breach of law, for it is a maxim amongst civilians
and canonists, ' Oui tacet consentire videtur ' he that holds
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. I 1 1
his peace seems to give his consent. As to what you say that no
good subject will refuse to give a direct answer, I do really think
it the duty of every good subject, except he be a bad Christian,
rather to obey God than man ; to be more cautious to offend his
conscience than of anything else in the world, especially if his
conscience be not the occasion of some sedition and great injury
to his prince and country ; for I here sincerely protest that I never
revealed it to any man alive. I come now to the third principal
article of my indictment, by which I am accused of malicious
attempt, traitorous endeavours, and perfidious practices against
the statute as the \vords therein do allege, because I wrote, while
in the Tower, divers packets of letters to Bishop Fisher, exhort-
ing him to violate the same law, and encouraging him to the
same obstinacy. I insist that these letters must be produced and
read in court, by which I may be either acquitted or convinced
of a lie. But because you say the Bishop burnt them all, I will
tell you the whole truth on this subject. Some of the Bishop's
letters related only to private matters about our friendship and
acquaintance. One of them was in answer to his, wherein he
desired me to let him know \vhat answer I made on the examina-
tion concerning the oath, and -what I wrote to him in reply
was this : That I satisfied my own conscience, and let him
satisfy his according to his own mind. God is my witness, and
as I hope for salvation, I gave him no other answer. This I
presume is no breach of the law. And as regards the specific
charge against me, that I should use the same expression as
Bishop Fisher, * the law is like a two-edged sword,' it is evi-
dently concluded from this that there was a conspiracy between
us. To this I reply that my answer there was conditional, as
there was danger in allowing or disallowing that act ; and there-
fore, like the two-edged sword, it seemed a hard thing to put me
in this dilemma, -who had never contradicted it byword or deed.
These were my words ; what the Bishop answered, I know not.
If his answer was like mine, it did not proceed from any conspir-
acy between us, but from the similitude of our learning and
understanding. To conclude, I do sincerely avouch that I never
spoke a word against the law to any man living, though perhaps
the King's Majesty has been told the contrary." After he had
112 A COMPLETE HISTORY
concluded, the infamous Solicitor-General, as in the case of
Blessed John Cardinal Fisher, presented himself as a witness, and
swore that Sir Thomas More had, in a private conversation with
him at the Tower, denied the royal supremacy. To this Sir
Thomas, addressing the judges, replied, " If I were a man, my
Lords, who had no regard for my oath, I would not be here as a
criminal ; " and, turning to Rich, he said, "If this oath, Mr. Rich,
which you have taken, be true, then I pray that I may never see
God's face, which imprecation, under any other circnmstances, I
\vould not utter to gain the whole world."
Continuing he said, '* In good faith, Mr. Rich, I am more
concerned about your perjury than my own danger ; and I must
tell you that neither myself, nor anybody else to my knowledge,
ever took you to be a man of such repute, that I, or they, would ever
consult you in any matter of importance. You know that I am
acquainted with your mode of life and conversation a long
time, even from your youth to the present moment, for we lived
in the same parish ; but you know very well that I am
forced to speak of it you always laid under the odium of hav-
ing a very lying tongue ; of being a great gamester ; and of
having a bad name and character both there and in the Temple,
where you were educated. Can it, therefore, seem likely to
your Lordships that I should, on such a grave subject as this,
act so unadvisedly as to trust Mr. Rich, a man of whom I had
such a low opinion as to his truth and honesty, so very much
before my Sovereign Lord the King, to whom I am so deeply
indebted for manifold favours, or any of his noble and grave
Councillors ; that I should impart to Mr. Rich the secrets of my
conscience regarding the King's supremacy, and about only what
I have been so long pressed to explain myself ? which I never did
nor never could so reveal, either to the King himself or to any of
his Privy Councillors, as is known to your Honours, who were
sent on no other account, and several times by his Majesty, to
me in prison. I refer to your judgments, my Lords, as to
whether this can seem credible to any of your Lordships.
"But supposing that all Mr. Rich says is true, as the words
were spoken in familiar and private conversation and there was
nothing at all asserted, but only fictitious cases discussed with-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 1 13
out prejudice, it cannot be said that they were spoken
maliciously ; where there is no real subject discussed, there can
be no offence. Besides, my Lords, I cannot think so many
revered Bishops, so many honourable persons, and so many
virtuous and learned men, who were in Parliament when the law
was passed, ever meant to have any man punished with death in
\vhom no malice could be found, interpreting the word malitia
as malevolence ; for if the word malice can be applied to any
crime, who can be free from guilt ? Wherefore malitia signifies,
in this statute, the same as the word forcible in the case of
forcible entry. If in that case any one enters peaceably, and
puts out his adversary forcibly, it is no offence ; but if he enters
forcibly, he can be punished by that statute. Besides all the
unspeakable goodness of his Majesty towards me, for he has
been in so many ways my singular good and gracious Lord, who
has so dearly loved and trusted me, even from my first entrance
into his royal service, vouchsafing to honour me with the dignity
of being one of his Privy Council, and has graciously promoted
me to offices of great reputation and honour, and lastly to that
of Lord High Chancellor, which honour he never conferred on
any layman before, the office being the greatest dignity in this
famous kingdom and next to the King's royal person, so far
beyond my merits and qualifications honouring and exalting me
by his incomparable benignity, for these twenty years and up-
wards heaping continual favours upon me, and now at last, at
my humble request, giving me liberty to dedicate the remainder
of my life to the service of God for the better saving of my soul,
has been pleased to discharge and free me from that weighty
dignity, before which he had heaped more and more honours on
me I say all this, his Majesty's bounty, so long and so plenti-
fully conferred upon me, is enough, in my opinion, to invalidate
the scandalous accusation so injuriously surmised and urged by
this man against me."
Touched to the quick at this indelible brand on his name,
Rich endeavoured to get Sir Richard Southwell and Palmer,
who happened to be in the cell at the time, to corroborate
what he said. They both knew that it was a concocted
falsehood, but Palmer got out of the difficulty by saying, "I
114 A COMPLETE HISTORY
was so busy in thrusting Sir Thomas's books into a sack
that I took no notice of their talk ; ' and Sir Richard swore
44 that he was so busy in carrying the books away that he gave
no ear to their conversation." Sir Thomas More having con-
cluded, the jury retired to find a verdict. Their names are as
follows : Sir Thomas Palmer, Knight ; Sir Thomas Piert,
Knight ; George Hovell, Esq. ; Thomas Burbage, Esq. ; Geof-
frey Chamber, Gent. ; Edward Stockmore, Gent. ; Jasper Leake,
Gent. ; William Brown, Gent. ; Thomas Billington, Gent. ; John
Parnel, Gent. ; Richard Bellame, Gent. ; George Stoakes, Gent.
After retiring for a quarter of an hour, they returned with a
verdict Guilty. The Lord Chancellor Audley was proceeding
to pass sentence, when the prisoner said : " My Lord, when I was
concerned in the law, the practice in such cases was to ask the
prisoner if he had anything to say why sentence should not be
pronounced." The Lord Chancellor having permitted him to
speak, then Sir Thomas made a final effort to defend himself.
"My Lords," urged he, " this indictment is founded upon an Act
of Parliament directly opposed to the laws of God and His Holy
Church, the supreme government of which, or any part thereof,
no temporal person may by any law presume to take upon him,
being what of right belongs to the See of Rome, which, by special
prerogative, was granted by the mouth of our Saviour Christ
Himself to St. Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his successors only,
whilst He lived and was personally present here on earth. It is
therefore among Catholic Christians insufficient in law to charge
any Christian to obey it. This kingdom being but one member,
and a small part of the Catholic Church, should not make a par-
ticular law disagreeing with the universal law of Christ's
Universal Catholic Church, no more than the City of London,
being but one member of the whole kingdom, could enact
a law against an Act of Parliament to be binding on the
whole realm. The law itself is contrary to the laws and statutes
of the kingdom yet unrepealed, as might be seen by Magna
Charta, wherein are the words, * Ecclesia Anglicana libera est,
et habet omnia jura Integra et libertates suas illaesas.' It is
contrary to the sacred oath which the King's Majesty himself,
and every other Christian prince, always take with great solem-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 115
nity at their coronation. It is worse in the kingdom of England
to refuse obedience to the Holy See than for a child to refuse to
obey its parent, for St. Paul says to the Corinthians, '* I have
regenerated you, my children, in Christ." (Cor iv., 15.)
So might that -worthy Pope, St. Gregory the Great, say to
us Englishmen, * Ye are my children, because I have given you
everlasting salvation,' for by St. Augustine and his followers,
his express messengers, England first received the Christian faith,
which is a far higher and better inheritance than any father can
leave to his children ; for a son is only by generation, but we
by regeneration are made the spiritual children of God and the
Here the Lord Chancellor interposed and said : " As all the
Bishops and Universities and most learned men in the kingdom
have consented to the Act, it is much to be wondered that you
alone should so stiffly stickle, and so vehemently argue against
Sir Thomas More : " If the number of Bishops and Universities
are so material, as your Lordship seems to make it, then, my
Lord, I see no reason why that should change my conscience, for
I doubt not but of the learned and virtuous men now alive I do
not speak of this realm only, but of all Christendom there are
ten to one of my mind in this matter. If I were to notice those
learned doctors and virtuous fathers that are already dead, many
of whom are saints in heaven, I am sure there are far more who,
all the while they lived, thought in this case as I do now, and
therefore, my Lord, I do not think myself bound to conform my
conscience to the counsel of one kingdom against the general
consent of all Christendom."
Here it seems that the Lord Chancellor, not willingly taking
the whole load of his condemnation upon himself, asked in open
Court the advice of Sir John Fitzjames, the Lord Chief Justice
of England, whether the indictment was valid or not ? He
wisely answered: " My Lord, by St. Gillian," for that was
always his oath, " I must needs confess, that if the Act of
Parliament is not unlawful, then the indictment is not, in my
The Lord Chancellor then pronounced judgment. " Sir
Il6 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Thomas More, you have been tried by a jury of your fellow-
countrymen and found guilty. The sentence of the Court is
that you be carried back to the Tower of London, by the help
of William Kingston, Sheriff, and from thence drawn on a
hurdle through the City of London to Tyburn, there to be
hanged until you be half dead ; then you shall be cut down
alive .... your four quarters set up over the gates of the
city, and your head upon London Bridge."
When he had received sentence, he spoke with a resolute and
sedate aspect : " Well, seeing that I am condemned, God knows-
with what justice, I will speak, for the disburdening of my
conscience, what I think of the law. When I perceived it was-
the King's pleasure to sift out from whence the Pope's authority
was derived, I confess I studied seven years to find out the
truth of it, and I could not meet with the works of any one
Doctor, approved by the Church, that avouches a layman ever
was or could ever be the head of the Church."
The Lord Chancellor : " Would you be esteemed wiser, or to
have a sincerer conscience, than all the Bishops, learned Doctors,,
nobility, and Commons of the realm ? '
More : "I am able to produce, against one Bishop on your
side, a hundred holy and Catholic Bishops for my opinion, and!
against one realm the consent of Christendom for a thousand
The Duke of Norfolk : " Sir Thomas, you show your obstinate
and malicious mind."
More : " Noble Sir, 'tis no malice or obstinacy that makes me-
say this, but the just necessity of the cause obliges me to do it
for the discharge of my conscience, and I call God to -witness-
that nothing but this has excited me to it."
After this, the judges offered him their favourable audience if
he had anything else to say ; he answered them mildly and
charitably: "I have no more to say, but that, as the blessed
Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and
consenting to the proto-martyr Stephen's execution, keeping their
clothes as they stoned him to death, and yet they are both holy
saints in heaven, and they shall continue friends for eternity, so I
verily trust, "and therefore heartily pray, albeit your Lordships-
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 1 17
have been on earth my judges to condemnation, yet that we may
hereafter meet joyfully together in heaven, to our everlasting
salvation ; and God preserve you all, especially my Sovereign
Lord the King, and grant him faithful Councillors."
Sir Thomas, after his condemnation, was conducted from the
bar to the Tower. The meeting which took place between Sir
Thomas More and his favourite daughter, Margaret Roper, is very
touchingly described by her husband (Roper's Life of More,
p. 90). She met him as he landed at the Tower wharf, surroun-
ded by the guard. " After his blessing, upon her knees reverently
received, without care of herself, pressing in the midst of the
throng and the guards that were about him with halberts and
bills, she hastily ran to him, and openly in the sight of all
embraced and kissed him. He gave her again his fatherly
blessing. After separation, she, all ravished with entire love of
her dear father, suddenly turned back again, ran to him as
before, took him about the neck, and divers times kissed him
most lovingly, a sight which made many of the beholders weep
In his farewell letter to his daughter, written on Monday, July
5th, 1535, More, alluding to this heart-rending scene, said : " I
never liked your manner towards me better than when you kissed
me last ; for I love when daughterly love and dear charity have
leisure to look to worldly courtesy."
During the last days of his life, many messengers from the King
endeavoured to break his inflexible will. Whilst this importun-
ing was taking place one day, his thoughts were occupied as to
-whether he should go to execution clean shaven, as he was before
his imprisonment, or wearing his beard, which had grown during
his captivity. The questioner persisted in asking, " Have you
changed your mind?' and he answered, "Yes." Without a
moment's delay, the royal messenger rushed and told the King
that Sir Thomas had changed. The King at once bade him
return and discover wherein he had changed his mind. Sir
Thomas rebuked the knight for his levity in telling the King
words spoken in private conversation and in jest, explaining that
he had intended to appear before the public with a clean-shaven
Il8 A COMPLETE HISTORY
face, but changed his mind, and resolved that his beard should
take the same part as his head on the day of execution.
SIR THOMAS MORE'S EXECUTION.
Early on the morning of July 6th, 1535, an old friend,
Sir Thomas Pope, paid a visit to the Tower to inform the
prisoner that his execution would take place at nine o'clock.
By the special mercy of the King, he was to be beheaded on
Tower Hill instead of being hanged at Tyburn. After Pope had
delivered the royal message, the man of God replied, with true
Christian fortitude, " I have been much obliged to his Majesty
for the benefits and honours he has bountifully conferred upon
me, yet I am more bound to his Grace, I do assure you, for
confining me in this place, where I have had convenient space
and opportunity to put me in mind of my last end. I am, most
of all, bound to him that his Majesty is pleased to rid me of the
miseries of this wretched world."
Then Sir Thomas Pope told him that it was the King's wish
that he should not say many words at the place of execution.
"Sir," said the martyr, "you do well to acquaint me with the
King's pleasure, for I had deigned to make a speech to the
people ; but it matters not, and I conform myself to his
Highness's pleasure. And I beseech you, sir, that you would
become a suitor to his Majesty that my daughter Margaret may
attend my funeral." Pope replied that the King was willing
that his wife, children, and friends should be present. Then,
overcome with grief, he burst into tears. Sir Thomas More
cheered his friend with these words : " Let not your spirits be
cast down, for I hope we shall meet one another in a better
place, where we shall be free to live and love in eternal
About nine o'clock the procession was formed within the
Tower to the place of execution. The noble martyr walked
to his death, carrying a red cross in his right hand, often
raising his eyes to heaven in silent prayer. A woman offered
him a cup of wine, but he declined it, saying, " Christ at His
passion drank no wine, but gall and vinegar." Another asked
him for some papers which she had left with him when he was
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 119
Lord Chancellor. "Good woman," said he, "have patience but
an hour, and the King will rid me of the care of those papers and
A third reproached him loudly, saying that he had wronged
her when he was Lord Chancellor. To her he said, " I very well
remember your case, and if I had to decide it now I would make
the same decree." When they arrived at the scaffold, it seemed
very tottering, and More said merrily to the lieutenant, " Pray,
sir, see me safe up ; and as to my coming down, let me shift for
myself." When he had ascended the scaffold, he opened his
mouth to speak, but was at once interrupted by the sheriff. They
allowed him, however, to say the few words which he wanted to
say, " I die in the faith of the Catholic Church, a faithful ser-
vant both to God and the King." Then kneeling he reverently
recited the Psalm Miserere, and as he regained his feet the exe-
cutioner asked to be forgiven. He kissed him, saying " Pluck
up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thine office. My
neck is very short ; take heed therefore that thou strike not awry
for saving thine honesty." Then, laying his head upon the
block, he told him to wait until he had put his beard aside,
"for it hath done no treason."
His head was severed in one blow, and placed on London
Bridge, where it lay for some months, and as it was about to be
thrown into the river, it was secretly taken away by his beloved
daughter, Margaret. For this so-called offence she was taken up
and examined before the Council. She boldly stated that she
took it away because she did not wish her father's head to become
food for the fishes in the Thames. After a short imprisonment she
was released. She reverently placed her martyred father's head in
a reliquary, and placed it in the Roper family vault, St. Dunstan's
Church, Canterbury. The mangled body was taken from the Tower
Chapel, where it was first interred, and deposited in the south
chancel of Chelsea Church (Weaver's Monuments, p. 505), where
a monument had been already erected with a suitable inscription
written by the hand of the holy martyr himself in 1532, when
he was still Chancellor of the Exchequer.
120 A COMPLETE HISTORY
BLESSED THOMAS MORE'S PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND
Erasmus, in a letter addressed to Ulric Hutton, gave the
following description of his friend : " He was of middle stature,
exactly proportioned ; his complexion fair with a light tincture
of red ; the colour of his hair dark chestnut ; his countenance the
portrait of his mind, cheerful and pleasant ; his aspect com-
posed by habit to a smile, and, to speak ingeniously, more appo-
site to festivity and jesting than either gravity or dignity, but
very remote from scurrilous. In walking his right shoulder
appeared higher than the other, but this was the effect of habit,
not the fault of nature. Accordingly, the rest of his body was
entirely faultless, only his hands were somewhat rustic and
clumsy ; his apparel was plain, yet when the dignity of his place
required it he conformed to the custom ; his voice was
neither strong nor shrill, but clear and distinct, though not
very musical, as much as he delighted in music ; his con-
stitution generally healthy, only towards the latter part of
his life, by much writing, he complained of a pain in his
chest and some decay of strength, such as was enough to serve
as an excuse to resign the Chancellorship. He drank a great
deal of water, only tasting wine when pledging others."
Fox and Burnett are the only writers who reflect on the
martyr's memory. Burnett, in his History of the Reformation
(vol. 3., part i., p. 45), is responsible for the statement that
" when More was raised to the chief post in the ministry, he
became a persecutor even to blood, and defiled those hands that
were never polluted with bribes." Erasmus thoroughly refuted
this statement. " It is," he wrote, " a sufficient proof of his
clemency that whilst he was Chancellor no man was put to
death for these pestilent dogmas, whilst so many have suffered
capital punishment for them in France, Germany, and the
Netherlands." (Erasmus, Fabio Episcopo Vicun.)
More, in his apology written after he had resigned the Chan-
cellorship, writes thus : " Divers of them have said that of such
as were in my house when I was Chancellor, I used to examine
them with torments, causing them to be bound to a tree in my
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 121
garden and there piteously beaten. Except their sure keeping,
I never did else cause any such thing to be done unto any of the
heretics in all my life except twain : one was a child and a
servant of mine in my own house, whom his father, ere he came
to me, had nursed him up in such matters, and set him to attend
George Jay. This Jay did teach the child his ungracious heresy
against the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, which heresy this
child in my house began to teach another child, and upon this
I caused a servant of mine to stripe him like a child before mine
household, for an amendment of himself and example to others ;
another was one who, after he had fallen into these frantic
heresies, soon fell into plain open frenzy ; albeit he had been in
Bedlam, and afterwards by beating and correction gathered his
remembrance [became sane]. Being set at liberty, his old
frenzies again fell into his head. Being informed of his relapse,
I caused him to be taken by the constables and bounden to a
tree in the street before the whole town, and there striped him
until he waxed weary. Verily, God be thanked, I hear no harm
of him now. And of all who came into my hands for heresy,
as help me God, else had never any of them any stripe or stroke
given them so much as a fillip on the forehead." It is necessary
here to explain that binding and beating the insane was con-
sidered at the time the proper treatment for madness. The only
other fault ever seriously attributed to him is levity of conduct
on the eve and on the day of his martyrdom ; but, as Addison
remarks (Spectator , vol. 6, no. 349), " His death was on a
piece with his life : he saw nothing in it to put him out of his
ordinary humour ; and as he died under the fixed and settled
hope of immortality, he thought any unusual degree of sorrow
and concern improper on such an occasion which had nothing in
it to deject or terrify him."
The simple history of the life of Blessed Thomas More, citizen
and saint, from his birth, 1480, in Milk Street, Cheapside, in the
City, to his martyrdom on Tower Hill on the morning of July
6th, 1535, is but one long record of a saintly life and glorious
death. Apart from this any attempted eulogy would imply that
some word-painting is necessary to develop the glories of a life
that shines all the more brilliantly if left alone in its unaided
122 A COMPLETE HISTORY
splendour. As a page at Cardinal Morton's, as a student
at Oxford, as a young man studying the law at Lincoln's
Inn, as a popular barrister pleading in the courts, as a judge ex-
pounding the law, as a Speaker of the House of Commons
maintaining its privileges, as Lord Chancellor ruling the realm,
Blessed Thomas More proclaims to the world that it is possible
for a man, in the varied paths of life, to obtain the highest
worldly success and yet love God above all, and save his own soul.
Firmly believing from his childhood in the one Holy Catholic
Church and in the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over the
Universal Church, he refused to acknowledge Henry VIII as
supreme head on earth of the Church in England, and nobly shed
his blood for the Faith.
BLESSED JOHN ROCHESTER and
BLESSED JAMES WOLVER,
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT YORK, ON MAY nth, 1537.
Blessed John Rochester and Blessed James Wolver were
Carthusian priests of the Charterhouse in London.
Whilst on a visit to another house of the same order at Hull,
they were arrested for denying the royal supremacy, and tried
at York. After sentence of death was pronounced upon them,
they earnestly begged of the judges to allow them to be attended
by a priest before their execution, but their request was refused.
(Bargrave, State Trials.)
They were hung at York on May nth, 1537.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 123
BLESSED THOMAS JOHNSON, \
BLESSED RICHARD BERE, Priests.
BLESSED THOMAS GREEN,
BLESSED THOMAS DAVY, Professed Monk.
BLESSED RICHARD SALT, "]
BLESSED WILLIAM GREENWOOD,
BLESSED WALTER PEERSON, )>
BLESSED THOMAS SCRYVEN, I
BLESSED THOMAS REDING, J
DIED UNDER HENRY VIII, IN NEWGATE PRISON, IN JUNE, 1537.
Blessed Greenwood, Salt, Peerson and Bere lay dead, whilst
Blessed Scryven, Reding and Green were reported as dying, and
Blessed Johnson and Davy as dangerously ill ; all were either dead,
dying, or suffering from starvation on June I4th, 1537. With
the sole exception of Blessed William Home all succumbed to
the inhuman treatment, but he lingered in prison until Wednes-
day, March 4th, 1540, when, as we shall afterwards see, he was
hung at Tyburn with five other martyrs.
VENERABLE ANTHONY BROOKBY,
DIED IN NEWGATE PRISON, ON JULY iQth, 1537.
Doctor Gasquet gives a very touching description of the
agony and death of this glorious martyr. Quoting, as his
authority, Father Thomas Bourchier's History of the Franciscan
Observants, he describes Father Anthony Brookby as a man of
deep learning and great piety, whose sufferings in prison were
excruciating. For twenty-five continuous days he was not
permitted to lie down to rest, and was allowed no food except
that which some kind-hearted lady visitor secretly brought him
on visiting days. Notwithstanding this terrible treatment, to
the great astonishment of his tormentors he continued to live,
till they, finally losing patience, strangled him with the cord of
his own religious habit on July I9th, 1537.
124 A COMPLETE HISTORY
He was martyred for declaiming against King Henry's war
against the Church.
The same good lady who befriended the martyr in prison
reverently buried his remains in the Cemetery of St. Sepulchre's,
a church situated close to Newgate Prison, which still tolls its
bell at the time when those condemned to capital punishment
are executed at Newgate Prison.
BLESSED JOHN FOREST, Franciscan Observant.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT SMITHFIELD, ON MAY 22nd,
Blessed John Forest, of the Franciscan Observants, was supe-
rior of a house of that order established at Greenwich at the time
when Peto and Elstow, of immortal memory, preaching two
consecutive Sundays in a chapel attached to the Royal Palace,
and in the Royal presence, fearlessly told the surprised and
indignant King that it was not lawful for him to divorce his
true and lawful wife, the good Queen Catherine.
Blessed John Forest, having enjoyed the honour of being the
Queen's confessor, friend, and adviser, was held responsible for
the noble fortitude displayed by her under the trying ordeal of
maintaining her rights. Having endeavoured in vain by fair
words and promises to secure the friar's complicity, Henry at
last resorted to open threats and imprisonment to induce the
holy martyr to second his infamous schemes. Through some
lingering regard for his discarded Queen, the King did not
proceed to further extremities during her lifetime, but contented
himself until her death would enable him to reap full vengeance
on the Queen's devoted friend. When the Queen's death took
place, Henry singled out the good Father Forest for a terrible
and so far as Catholics were concerned during this reign un-
heard of punishment, namely, death by fire at Smithfield.
Protestants were indeed condemned by Henry to be punished by
fire as heretics, but Catholics were hung, drawn, and quartered
as simple traitors ; and therefore to Blessed John Forest belongs
the singular honour of being burned to death by this brutal
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 125.
Legal formalities were, however, in appearance at least, ob-
served. Father Forest was accused of heresy, and condemned
as a heretic, for denying the authority of the Sacred Scriptures,
simply because, as the author of the State Trials (xi., p. 24)
fairly admits, he had maintained that the Scriptures could not
be privately interpreted, and depended for interpretation on the
Church, which was their sole authoritative interpreter. The
unscrupulous judges who, at the King's suggestion, convicted
Blessed John Forest of heresy, must have felt convinced, in their
own hearts, that, on the same evidence, every Catholic in Eng-
land could be punished as a heretic for holding that which the
Church has always taught from the beginning.
This long-suffering and noble martyr, faithful to God and to
the Church, was burnt as a heretic at Smithfield on May 22nd,.
VENERABLE THOMAS CORT,
DIED IN NEWGATE PRISON, ON JULY 2yth, 1538.
Imprisoned for denying the King's supremacy over the Church
in England, the Venerable Thomas Cort died of the hardships
of close confinement and of starvation in Newgate Prison, on
July 27th, 1538.
VENERABLE THOMAS BELCHIAM,
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, IN NEWGATE PRISON, ON AUGUST
Of two hundred Franciscan Observants cast into prison for
denying the royal supremacy, thirty at least died from the effects
of the hardships and privations of their close confinement. Act-
ing under instructions, the Governors of Prisons allowed food to
be supplied from without to prisoners of this class, but refused to
supply them with any sustenance at the Government's expense,
withdrawing from them even the meagre allowance daily given
126 A COMPLETE HISTORY
to common criminals. As it was a dangerous thing for strangers
to show their sympathy for prisoners accused of high treason,
and as many of the accused had no relatives, the death roll of
prisoners who died of starvation was great.
Amongst the few names recorded of those who died thus of
starvation we find that of Father Thomas Belchiam, who earned
the martyr's crown on August 3rd, 1538.
BLESSED JOHN STONE,
FATHER MARTIN DE CONDRES, and
FATHER PAUL OF SAINT WILLIAM,
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT CANTERBURY, SOME TIME IN
Blessed John Stone was superior of the Augustinian Friars at
Droitwich. Accused by Bishop Ingworth, one of the royal
visitors, of still adhering to the Papal supremacy, Blessed John
Stone, according to the Abbot Gasquet, was condemned and
executed at Canterbury, in December, 1538, but the exact day
on which he was martyred is not known. The old Catalogue
.of the late English Martyrs adds that two other Augustinian
Friars were martyred on the same day, for the same political
offence. We are indebted to Father Pollen, S.J., for supplying
the names omitted in the Catalogue. Fathers Martin de
Condres and Paul of St. William are the names of the two
good Augustinian Fathers who were martyred at Canterbury
with their superior in December, 1538.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 127
BLESSED ADRIAN FORTESCUE, and
VENERABLE THOMAS DINGLEY,
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, ON TOWER HILL, JULY 8th, 1539.
These noble knights, with several others, were attainted by the
permission of Parliament in 1539. Bargrave remarks : " These
attainders are blemishes that can never be washed off." Quoting,
he endorses the words of the great Lord Chief Justice Coke, who
said : u Although I question not the power of Parliament, for
doubtlessly the attainder stands of force in law, yet I say of this
manner of proceeding : Auferat oblivion si potest, si non potest
utramque tagat * Let oblivion consign them to the region of
forgetfulness, if possible ; if not, let silence throw its mantle over
In this Parliament no less than sixteen persons were attainted.
Sir Adrian Fortescue, Sir Thomas Dingley, knights ; Robert
Gainster, merchant ; a Dominican friar ; three Irish priests, and
nine others, whose names are not mentioned in the State Trials,
were all found guilty without judge or jury for saying " that
that venomous serpent, the Bishop of Rome, was supreme head
of the Church in England," as it was insultingly worded.
" There was," as Bargrave does not fail to observe, " much
haste in passing the bill ; it was brought in upon the loth of
May, and read the first and second time ; on the nth, it passed
the House of Lords. The Commons kept it five days before
sending it back, and added some more names to the bill than
those that were on it originally, but how many were afterwards
added cannot be discovered, as the original records were lost."
(Bargrave, State Trials, vol. xi., p. 25.)
Sir Thomas Dingley and Sir Adrian Fprtescue were beheaded
on Tower Hill on July 8th, 1539. It is not easy to ascertain
what was the fate of the others, but judging by the relentless
spirit of the times, there can be but little doubt as to their fate.
128 A COMPLETE HISTORY
FATHER JOHN GRIFFITH, Secular Priest, and
FATHER NICHOLAS WAIRE, Franciscan Observant.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT ST. THOMAS'S WATERINGS, ON
JULY 8th, 1539.
Father John Griffith was vicar of Wandsworth, and Father
Nicholas Waire a Franciscan Observant. This is all that is
known of these two good priests, except that they were executed
at St. Thomas's Waterings for refusing to recognize the royal
supremacy over the Church in England.
VENERABLE DOCTOR JOHN TRAVERS, and
FATHER JOHN HARRIS,
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, JULY 30th, 1539.
Next, perhaps, to the Carthusians and Franciscan Observants,
the secular clergy shed their blood more freely for the faith
during this reign than any other religious body.
Amongst the uncrowned martyrs who have always done
yeomen's work in propagating the Gospel, Doctor John Travers's
and Father John Harris's names \vill never be forgotten.
Sentenced to death for denying the King's supremacy over the
Church in England and for having written a book against
the royal divorce, the Venerable John Travers, when asked
whether he was the author of that book, held up the three
fingers of his right hand and said : " These fingers wrote
that book and shall never burn."
Father John Harris was also tried for denying the royal
supremacy. They were both condemned and suffered martyrdom
at Tyburn on July 3Oth, 1539.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 129
BLESSED RICHARD WHITING, Abbot , of Glaston-
BLESSED HUGH COOK, Abbot of Reading;
BLESSED JOHN BEACH, Abbot of Colchester;
BLESSED WILLIAM ONION, and
BLESSED JOHN RUGG, Secular Priests;
BLESSED JOHN THORN and
BLESSED ROGER JAMES, Lay Brothers.
RICHARD WHITING, JOHN THORN, AND ROGER JAMES WERE MAR-
TYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, ON THE HILL OR TOR, ON
NOVEMBER I5th, 1539.
HUGH COOK, JOHN RUGG, AND WILLIAM ONION AT READING,
NOVEMBER i5th, 1539.
JOHN BEACH MARTYRED AT COLCHESTER, DECEMBER ist, 1539.
The histories of the martyrdom of the Blessed Abbot Richard
Whiting with two Benedictine lay brothers, and of Hugh Cook,
Abbot of Reading, with two secular priests, together with that of
John Beach, Abbot of Colchester, are so interwoven that they
cannot be disentangled without incurring the risk of useless
repetition, which would only tend to spoil the whole narrative.
General submission to the royal will followed after the
ruthless suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace. This afforded
Henry an opportunity for completing the spoliation of the
monasteries, of which he took adroit and unscrupulous advantage.
It will be remembered that Parliament only sanctioned the
suppression of religious houses under 200 annual valuation,
and the greater monasteries were not only excluded from the
Act, but the sanctity of the lives of the monks resident in them
was testified even by Cromwell's visitors. The difficulty of
suppressing them even without Parliamentary sanction was
easily overcome by the Vicar-General's diabolical cunning.
Coming to his master's rescue, he suggested that Henry could
easily obtain possession of all the abbey lands by attainting or
terrorizing the abbots who had either given forced hospitality
to the rebels during the late rising, or had indignantly refused
to accept remuneration for what was ironically called the
voluntary surrender of their monasteries.
130 A COMPLETE HISTORY
The result was that, under the first heading, the Abbots of
Barlings, Jerveaulx, Fountains, Whalley, Sawley, Woburn,
Rivers, and Berlington were tried, found guilty of course, and
executed, and all their properties confiscated by the Crown during
the spring of 1537. Terrified by the fate of their brethren and
the King's secret threats, the Abbots of Furness, Hales, and
Walden resigned their monasteries into his hands, and were, in
return, rewarded with fixed stipends for the rest of their lives.
Fearless of the consequences, Richard Whiting, Abbot of
Glastonbury, Hugh Cook, Abbot of Reading, and John Beach,
Abbot of Colchester, refused to surrender their monasteries. They
soon had to face the consequences of their fortitude : Whiting
was imprisoned on the charge of preserving in the Abbey library
a book opposed to the Royal divorce, and of concealing some of
the monastic plate from the avaricious grasp of the visitors ;
Cook and Beach, too, were apprehended on an indefinite charge
of disloyalty. The three abbots were sent prisoners to the Tower
of London, where, after a searching examination by Cromwell,
they were sent back to be dealt with by the local authorities.
Doubting, however, whether they could be convicted on such
slender evidence, the Vicar-General secretly sent word that they
should be called upon to take the oath of supremacy in its most
recent and objectionable form. Refusing absolutely to comply
with this demand, the three abbots were tried for high treason.
The Abbots of Colchester and Reading were condemned to
death, but Richard Whiting, being then in his eightieth year,
was, according to Bishop Godwin, dismissed the Court on account
of his great age, and allowed to go free.
Suspecting no further persecution, he, accompanied by John
Thorn and Roger James, two lay brothers, journeyed towards
Glastonbury. No sooner, however, had they arrived in sight of
the famous abbey, than they were overtaken by Cromwell's
assassins, who mercilessly hung the aged abbot, with his two lay
brothers, within sight of their own monastery, on-the hill or Tor,
on November I5th, 1539.
Hugh Cook, Abbot of Reading, together with his two intimate
friends, John Rugg and William Onion, secular priests, were
executed at Reading on the same day.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 131
Blessed John Beach, Abbot of Colchester, was executed at
that city on December ist, 1539.
Burnett, in his History of the Reformation, although acknow-
ledging that the actual attainders of the three abbots are lost,
contends that, as the accused had already freely taken the oath
of supremacy, it is ridiculous to urge that they would forfeit
their lives rather than repeat an oath that they had already with-
out scruple taken. The fallacy, however, of this contention will
become apparent by contrasting the oath agreed to by the bishops
assembled in Convocation in 1533, and taken by the three abbots,
with another passed in 1537 (Stat. 28 Henry VIII, cap. 10) which
they were called upon to take in 1539.
The oath of supremacy taken by the abbots in 1534 was as
follows : "I, N. N., acknowledge His Majesty to be sole protector,
the only supreme lord, and also supreme head of the Church in
England as far as the law of Christ will permit."
The bishops and abbots, when taking this oath, persuaded
themselves that because of the saving clause, " as far as
the law of Christ will permit," they were protecting themselves
against any surrender of principle. Subsequent events seemed
to, favour this impression : the King, for more than two years
after his assumption of supremacy over the Church in England,
regularly applied to Rome for Bulls sanctioning the appointments
to the vacant sees ; and the bishops, before consecration, were
called upon to take two oaths : one acknowledging the spiritual
supremacy of the Pope, and the other the supremacy of the
King. Many casuists at the same time interpreted the oath of
royal supremacy as referring only to temporal matters. The
history of Cranmer's appointment to the See of Canterbury will
serve as an illustration. When the vacant see was offered to
Cranmer by the King in 1533, the latter replied, " that if he
should accept it, he must receive it from the Pope's hands, which
he neither would or could do, as His Majesty was the only
supreme head of the Church in England, both in ecclesiastical
and spiritual matters ; and that the full right of donation of all
manner of benefices and bishoprics, as well as any other tem-
poral dignities and promotions, appertained 'to him."
" Struck by the proofs which Cranmer adduced in defence of
132 A COMPLETE HISTORY
what he said, Henry consulted Doctor Oliver, a celebrated law-
yer, on the objections raised. As a result it was determined that
the archbishop-elect should privately make his protestation, in
the presence of witnesses, before taking the oath of loyalty to
the Pope, ' That he did not admit the Pope's authority any
further than it agreed with the express word of God.' (Cran-
mer, Biog. Brit.) This digression is necessary in order to show
that neither the King in demanding, nor the bishops and abbots
in taking, the first oath in the early spring of 1534 of royal
supremacy, wished to throw off their allegiance to the Holy
A new oath was passed in Parliament in 1537 of an entirely
different character, and it was this oath that they refused to take
in 1539. It ran thus :
** I, N. N., do utterly testify, and declare in my conscience,
that the King's Majesty is the only supreme governor of this realm,
and of all His Highness's dominions and countries, as well in all
spiritual or ecclesiastical things and causes as temporal, and that
no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath, or
ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence,
or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, \vithin this realm. And,
therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdic-
tions, powers, superiorities, and authorities, and do promise that
from henceforth I will bear faith and true allegiance to the
King's Highness, his heirs and lawful successors, and, to the
best of my power, will assist and defend all jurisdictions,
privileges, and pre-eminences and authorities granted, and
belonging to, the King's Highness, his heirs and successors, or
limited and annexed to the Imperial crown of this realm."
The Blessed Richard Whiting, Hugh Cook, and John
Beach, abbots, the Blessed John Onion and John Rugg,
secular priests, and the Blessed John Thorn and Roger James,
lay brothers, all deserved their crown of martyrdom for refusing
to renounce their allegiance to the Holy See.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 133
REV. THOMAS CROFT, } Secular
REV. NICHOLAS COLLINS, ) Priests.
HUGH HOLLAND, Mariner.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON DECEMBER 3rd, 1539.
The martyrdom of the Revv. Thomas Croft and Nicholas
Collins, Priests, and of Hugh Holland, Mariner, is mentioned,
without the exact date, in the old Catalogue of the Late English
Martyrs, discovered by Father Edwin Burton amongst the manu-
scripts of the Harvington Library, Oscott, in 1897. The learned
author of the Biographical Dictionary of English Catholics
informs us that the Rev. Thomas Croft was attainted on Decem-
ber 3rd, 1539, for denying the supremacy of King Henry VIII
over the Church in England, and that he was executed immedi-
ately afterwards with the Rev. Nicholas Collins, priest, and Hugh
Holland, Mariner, who, too, suffered doubtlessly for the same
holy offence at Tyburn on the same day, December 3rd, 1539.
VENERABLE WILLIAM PATERSON and
VENERABLE WILLIAM RICHARDSON,
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT CALAIS, ON APRIL loth, 1540.
All that is known of these two good priests is that they were
executed at Calais for denying the King's supremacy over the
Church in England.
They died for the faith and should be honoured as martyrs.
134 A COMPLETE HISTORY
BLESSED THOMAS ABELL, D.D.
BLESSED EDWARD POWELL, D.D., Secular
BLESSED RICHARD FETHERSTONE, [Priests.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT SMITHFIELD, ON JULY 3oth, 1540.
According to Dodd's Church History of England, these three
learned divines greatly distinguished themselves and forfeited
their lives for writing in defence of the unfortunate Queen Cath-
erine's marriage with Henry, at the time when the whole question
was publicly discussed.
Bargrave, in his State Trials, informs us that " in the 57th Act
of Parliament, 1540, Richard Fetherstone, Thomas Abell, and
Edward Powell, priests, were attainted for denying the King's
Doctors Abell, Fetherstone, and Powell were executed at
Smithfield on July 3Oth, 1540, with Barnes, Gerard, and Jerome,
three Protestants found guilty of heresy. " It was," Collier
remarks, " an unusual spectacle, and looked like a travesty of
justice." A Frenchman, -who was present at the execution in
Smithfield, freely expressed his surprise to a friend in the following
manner: " They have a strange way of managing things in
England, for those who are for the Pope are hanged, and those
against him are burnt.
REV. FATHER WILLIAM BIRD, Vicar of Bradford,
THOMAS EMPSON, Benedictine Monk of Westminster.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, AUGUST 4th, 1540.
By the 59th Act of Parliament, 1540, " William Bird," writes
Bargrave, Chaplain to Lord Walter Hungerford, "was attainted
for having said to one who was going to fight for the King
against the rebels in the North : * I am sorry thou goest ; seest
thou how the King plucketh down images and abbies every day ?
And if the King go thither himself, he will never come home
OF THK BRITISH MARTYRS. 135
again, nor any of them all who go with him ; and in truth it
were a pity he should ever come home again.' And, at another
time, upon someone saying, ' O Good Lord ! I ween all the
world will be heretics,' Bird said, 'Dost thou marvel at that?
1 tell thee it is no marvel, for the great master of all is a heretic,
and such a one as there is not his like in the world.' Father
William Bird doubtlessly suffered for the faith. All the evidence
against him was dim past recollections of some informer who
found it much to his interest to prove the good priest guilty.
All that is alleged against this faithful son of the Church is so
much to his credit and should not deprive him of the martyr's
crown, which, it is to be hoped, he will obtain on earth, for we
can safely assume that he has already been crowned in heaven.
Thomas Empson was imprisoned in 1537 for denying the royal
supremacy over the Church. He was kept in prison until 1540,
when he was again called upon in open court to take the oath.
On his refusal he was stripped of his monk's cowl, and afterwards
executed with the Vicar of Bradford at Tyburn, on August 4th,
LAURENCE COOK, Prior of Doncaster, Franciscan ;
BLESSED WILLIAM HORNE, Carthusian Lay
VENERABLE EDWARD BRINDHOLME, Secular
VENERABLE CLEMENT PHILPOT,
GERVAISE CARROW, j. Laymen.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON AUGUST 4th, 1540.
They were all, according to Bargrave, attainted by the 37th
and 58th Acts of Parliament in 1540 " for denying the King's
supremacy and adhering to the Bishop of Rome." They were
also suspected of corresponding with Cardinal Pole.
136 A COMPLETE HISTORY
One of these martyrs, William Home, deserves a passing
notice. He was the sole survivor of the ten Carthusians
imprisoned in Newgate in 1537. After nine of his brethren died
of starvation, he survived in the same jail until August 4th, 1540,
when he was executed at Tyburn with the two religious and
five gentlemen above mentioned. Giles Heron was son-in-law of
Blessed Thomas More. Gervaise Carrow and Robert Bird
are both described as gentlemen. Darbie Kenham was probably
a servant of one or the other.
BLESSED MARGARET POLE, Countess of
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, ON TOWER HILL, MAY 25th,
The martyrdom of the aged Countess of Salisbury, Blessed
Margaret Pole, is so sad in all its circumstances that it requires
something more than a passing notice. The shadow of death
darkened all the various scenes of her chequered life. She was
the only daughter of the ill-fated Duke of Clarence, who was
secretly murdered in the Tower of London, by order of his un-
natural brother, King Edward IV, on February i8th, 1477. The
murdered Prince left two children, Edward, Duke of Warwick,
and Margaret. They were both entrusted to the guardianship of
Henry VII when he assumed the title of King of England, to
which he had only a doubtful claim. The two children of the
Duke of Clarence were the last of the Plantagenets.
During his short and miserable life, Edward and his sister lived
in an abject state of dependence on the King, who took good
care that, although the young Duke of Warwick inherited the
title, he should not succeed to the estates of his father, the Duke
Anxious to remove from his path one who had such a strong
claim, by legitimate inheritance, to the throne, Henry VII pro-
cured that the young Earl, when twenty-five years of age, should
be imprisoned in the Tower of London on a frivolous pretence of
high treason. When the prisoner had grown heartily tired of
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 137
close confinement and was sighing for liberty, the unscrupulous
monarch, through his agents, persuaded the unhappy Earl that if
he pleaded guilty to the absurd charge he \vould at once be set
free. The deluded Earl made the required confession, and was
promptly beheaded by Royal command on November 28th, 1499.
The judicial murder of the Countess of Salisbury's eldest son,
Henry Pole, Lord Montague, did not assuage Henry VIIl's thirst
for vengeance on the whole family after he had been openly
attacked by Cardinal Pole, who espoused the cause of Queen
Catherine and in his famous treatise, De Unitate Ecclesiae,
pointed out to the furious monarch the emptiness of the title he
assumed as spiritual head of the Church in England. (See
Collins's Peerage, " Warwick.")
The Countess of Salisbury was consequently charged with
high treason for writing to her son, Cardinal Pole, letters of an
entirely domestic and innocent character.
Even the subservient creatures of the King who formed the
Council were gravely hesitating about finding her guilty, when
Cromwell, who was never at a loss in inventing evidence,
produced before the astonished judges "a coat of silk," which,
he said, the Lord Admiral had found among the Countess of
Salisbury's clothes, on which the Arms of England were wrought
on one side, and the standard carried before the rebels on the
other. This was produced as evidence that she approved of the
rebellion. She was also accused of having Bulls from the
Pope in her house, and with keeping up a correspondence with
her son Cardinal Pole. (Bargrave, State Trials.)
Although condemned to death in 1539, she was left lingering
in prison in the expectation that every day might be her last
until May 25th, 1544, when she was executed on Tower Hill.
To the end of her life Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of
Salisbury, and last of the Plantagenets, preserved a dignified
demeanour "worthy of the long race of monarchs from whom
she was descended and of the cause for which she died."
She refused to lay her head on the block. On being informed
by the executioner that it was customary to do so, she replied,
" It was so for traitors, but I am none." Then turning around
her grey head she said, " If you will have it, you must get it
138 A COMPLETE HISTORY
as you can." He then aimed several fruitless blows at her
neck, mangling her body in a shocking manner. Her last
expiring \vords were, ** Blessed are they that suffer persecution
for justice sake." (Philip's Life of Cardinal Pole.)
Thus died Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, in
her seventieth year, mangled to death on Tower Hill, on May
When Cardinal Pole, who was then at Viterbo, received the
intelligence of his mother's death, he said to his secretary,
Becatelli : " Hitherto I have thought myself most indebted to
Divine Providence for having received my birth from one of the
most noble and virtuous women in England, but, henceforth, my
obligation will be much greater, as I understand I am now the
son of a martyr." (Philip's Life of Cardinal Pole.)
VENERABLE DAVID GENSON, Knight of St, John
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT ST. THOMAS'S WATERINGS,
ON JULY ist, 1541.
The Venerable David Genson -was both a brave knight and
a true Catholic. He absolutely refused to acknowledge Henry VIII
as supreme head on earth of the Church in England, and was
in consequence condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
He was carried on a sledge through the streets of South wark, and
martyred at St. Thomas's Waterings on July ist, 1541.
JOHN RISBY, )
THOMAS RYKE, or RICH, Laymen.
JAMES SINGLETON. )
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, SOME TIME IN 1544.
The particulars of the trial and condemnation of these three
Catholic laymen are not given in any of the Calendars.
Doubtlessly they were martyred, like all the faithful Catholics
at this time, for denying the King's supremacy over the Catholic
Church in England. They are mentioned in the Menology, which
says " that the particulars of their condemnation are wanting."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 139
BLESSED GERMAIN GARDINER,
BLESSED JOHN LARK, Secular
C Pripcf Q
VENERABLE JOHN IRELAND, j
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON MARCH yth, 1544.
The author of State Trials (vol. xi., p. 25) informs us that
11 the last instance of the King's severity was in the year 1544, in
which one Gardiner, who was the Bishop of Winchester's kins-
man and secretary, with two other priests, were tried for
denying the King's supremacy, and soon after executed."
The names of the two other * priests are given in Law's
Calendar of English Martyrs : John Ireland and John Larke.
There Germain Gardiner is mentioned as a layman, but he is
said to be a priest in the Menology of England and Wales and in
the State Trials.
Blessed John Lark was some time Rector of St. Ethelburga's,
Bishopsgate Street, London.
Venerable John Ireland was another faithful secular priest.
Blessed Germain Gardiner also belonged to that body, and acted
as secretary to the great advocate of the Royal supremacy and
author of De Obedientia, written in reply to Cardinal Pole's De
It must have given such a thorough-going follower of the
King, as Bishop Gardiner undoubtedly was, a rude shock and
many searchings of conscience to find his own trusted secretary
and kinsman shedding his blood at Tyburn for the doctrine of
the supremacy of the Sovereign Pontiff over every kingdom in
140 A COMPLETE HISTORY
VENERABLE THOMAS ASH BY, Gentleman.
MARTYRED UNDER HENRY VIII, AT TYBURN, ON MARCH i9th, 1544.
Although Bargrave contends that the persecution of Catholics
during this reign ended with the martyrdom of Blessed Germain
Gardiner and his three fellow-priests, the compiler of the Calen-
dar of English Martyrs states distinctly that the glorious honour
of being the last victim of the royal supremacy rests with
Thomas Ashby, gentleman, who died for the faith on March
iQth, 1544. The Biographical Dictionary of English Catholics
declares that he was " executed at Tyburn for refusing to submit
to the King's ecclesiastical supremacy."
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 141
MARTYRED KINGS OF BRITAIN.
St. Clitane, King of Brecknock, Wales.
St. Theoderick, King of Glamorgan, Wales.
St. Constantine, King of Cornwall.
St. Erpenwald, King of the East Angles.
St. Edwin, King of Northumbria.
St. Oswald, King of Northumbria.
St. Oswin, King of Northumbria.
St. Sigebert, King of the East Angles.
St. Alfwold, King of Northumbria.
St. Ethelbert, King of the East Angles.
St. Kenelm, King of the Mercians.
St. Edmund, King of the East Angles.
St. Ethelred, King of the West Saxons.
St. Edward, King of the West Saxons.
Henry Plantagenet, King Henry VI of England.
St. Meliorus, Prince of Cornwall.
Saints Ulfade and Rufin, sons of Wolfere, King of Mercia.
Saints Ethelred and Ethelbright, nephews of Ercombert, King of
St. Fremund, son of Offa, King of the Mercians.
Saints Arvald, two brothers, South Saxon Princes.
St. Alkmund, son of Alured, King of Northumbria.
St. Winstan, nephew of Coelwolf, King of Mercia.
St. George, Roman Tribune, Patron of England.
St. Alban, High Steward of Verulam, Britain's Proto-Martyr.
The Martyrs of Verulam, said to be a Thousand.
Saints Julius and Aaron.
Saints Stephen and Socrates.
St. Decuman, Hermit.
St. Emerita, Virgin.
St. Ursula and her companions, said to be Eleven Thousand.
St. Almedha, Virgin.
St. Alnoth, Hermit.
St. Mono, Hermit.
St. Ithware, Virgin.
St. Menigold, Hermit.
St. William, Pilgrim.
Britons martyred by the Danes in 1012, estimated at Eight
Blessed Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England.
142 A COMPLETE HISTORY
Blessed Sir Adrian Fortescue, Knight of St. John.
Venerable Sir Thomas Dingley.
Hugh Holland, Mariner.
Venerable Clement Philpot.
Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.
Venerable David Genson.
Venera.ble Thomas Ashby.
The Lay Martyrs, including the King and Princes, number 20,051.
St. Amphibalus, Bishop of Verulam.
St. Angulus, Bishop of London.
St. Vodine, Bishop of London.
St. Elphege, Archbishop of Canterbury.
St. Thomas A'Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
St. Hamund, Bishop of Sherborne, Dorsetshire.
St. Humbert, St. Edmund's Councillor.
St. Leofgar, Bishop of Hereford.
Blessed John Cardinal Fisher, Bishop of Rochester.
St. Lucius, Bishop of Chur, Switzerland.
St. Liephard, Missionary Bishop in Germany.
St. German, Missionary Bishop in Friesland.
St. Boniface, Archbishop of Mayence, Apostle of Germany.
St. Tancon, Bishop of Worth, Germany.
St. Eskell, Missionary Bishop in Sweden.
St. Ulfride, Missionary Bishop in Sweden.
St. Henry, Bishop of Upsal, Sweden.
St. Sophias, Bishop of Benoventum, Italy.
MARTYRED PRIESTS BEFORE THE REFORMATION.
Saints Ewald (Albus and Niger), brothers.
Saints Unaman, Sunaman, and Wiaman, brothers.
PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS MARTYRED UNDER HENRY
Father John Stone. Father Paul of St. William.
Father Martin de Condres.
OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS. 143
Blessed Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury.
Blessed Hugh Cook, Abbot of Reading.
Blessed John Beach, Abbot of Colchester.
Blessed John Thorn, Lay Brother.
Blessed Roger James, Lay Brother.
Thomas Empson, Monk of Westminster.
Blessed Richard Reynolds, Prior of Sion on the Thames.
Blessed John Houghton. Blessed John Rochester.
Blessed Robert Lawrence. Blessed James Wolver.
Blessed Augustine Webster. Blessed Thomas Johnson.
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore. Blessed Richard Bere.
Blessed William Exmew. Blessed Thomas Green.
Blessed Sebastian Newdigate.
CARTHUSIAN LAY BROTHERS.
Blessed Richard Salt. Blessed Thomas Scryven.
Blessed William Greenwood. Blessed Walter Peerson.
Blessed Thomas Reding. Blessed William Home.
Venerable Anthony Brookby. Venerable Thomas Belchiam.
Blessed John Forest. Father Nicholas Waire.
Venerable Thomas Cort. Father Laurence Cook.
Blessed John Haile, Vicar of Isleworth.
Father Thomas Croft.
Father Nicholas Collins.
Father John Griffith, Vicar of Wands worth.
Venerable John Travers.
Blessed John Rugg, Priest of Reading.
Blessed William Onion, Priest of Reading.
Venerable Edward Brindholme.
Venerable William Paterson.
Venerable William Richardson.
Blessed Thomas Abell.
Blessed Edward Powell.
Blessed Richard Fetherstone.
Father William Bird, Vicar of Bradford.
Blessed John Lark, Rector of Chelsea.
Blessed Germain Gardiner.
Venerable John Ireland.
Father John Harris.
144 A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE BRITISH MARTYRS.
St. Osith, Queen and Abbess. St. Ebba and her Companions.
St. Lewina. St. Winefrid.
St. Lefrona, Abbess.
Besides the Martyrs enumerated about thirty Franciscan
Observants and fifty Carmelites died of destitution and starvation
in prison during the reign of Henry VIII.
Ingivingthe grand total of pre-Reformation martyrs no attempt
has been made to enumerate either the number of martyrs put to
death by Hengist the Saxon, or by the Danes during their other
raids into Britain, for the simple reason that no records exist of
the numbers of victims who suffered for Christ during those dark
WILLIAM CANON FLEMING.
[The British Martyrs are classified according as their merits
have been already recognized in a greater or lesser degree by the
Sacred Congregation of Rites with the titles of Saints, Blessed,
or Venerables. There are others whose names are enrolled in the
Calendars and Catalogues of those who have shed their blood for
the faith, but whose histories have not yet been investigated by
the Sacred Congregation; but these, according to the rule of the
Church, only receive their ordinary titles. It will be well to
bear this important distinction in mind when reading the fore-
going brief lives of the British Martyrs.]
Names of the Martyrs Date of Martyrdom Page
St. George, Roman Tribune, Patron
of England ... ... April 23rd, 290 ... i
St. Alban, High Steward of Verulam June 22nd, 303 ... 2
The Thousand Martyrs of Verulam ... Jan. 2nd, 304 ... 7
St. Amphibalus, Bishop of Verulam... June 25th, 304 ... 7
Saints Julius and Aaron, Laymen ... July ist, 304 ... 8
Saints Stephen and Socrates, Laymen Sept. I7th, 304 ... 9
St. Angulus, Bishop of London ... Feb. yth, 305 ... 9
St. Decuman, Hermit... ... ... August 27th, 320 ... 10
St. Lucius, Bishop of Chur, Switzer-
land ... ... ... ... Dec. 3rd, 330 ... 10
St. Emerita, Virgin ... ... ... Dec. 4th, 330 ... u
St. Meliorus, Prince of Cornwall ... Oct. ist, 411 ... n
St. Vodine, Bishop of London ... July 23rd, 436 ... n
St. Ursula and her Eleven Thousand
Companions ... ... ... Oct. 2ist, 453 ... 12
St. Justinian, Monk ... ... ... August 23rd, 486 ... 17
St. Sophias, Bishop of Benoventum ... Jan. 24th, 490 ... 17
St. Almedha, Virgin ... ... ... August ist, 490 ... 18
St. Clitane, King of Brecknock, Wales August i9th, 490 ... 18
St. Theoderick, King of Glamorgan,
Wales ... ... ... ... Jan. 3rd, 540 ... 18
St. Constantine, King of Cornwall... March nth, 590 ... 19
St. Erpenwald, King of East Anglia No date, 632 ... 20
St. Edwin, King of Northumbria ... Oct. 4th, 633 ... 20
St. Oswald, King of Northumbria ... August 5th, 635 ... 20
St. Leiphard, Missionary Bishop in
Germany ... ... ... ... Feb. 4th, 642 ... 22
St. Oswin, King of Northumbria ... August 2Oth, 650 ... 22
St. Sigebert, King of East Anglia ... Sept. 27th, 652 ... 22
St. Osith, Queen of East Anglia and
Abbess ... ... ... ... Oct. 7th, 653 ... 23
St. Mono, Hermit Oct. i8th, 660 ... 24
St. Winefrid, Virgin Nov. 3rd, 660 ... 24
St. Clare, Priest Nov. 4th, 666 ... 25
Saints Rufin and Ulfade, Princes and
Brothers July 24th, 668 ... 25
Names of the Martyrs
Saints Ethelbright and Ethelred, Prin-
ces and Brothers ...
St. Alnoth, Hermit
St. Lewina, Virgin
Saints Arvald, Two Princes and
St. Wigbert, Priest
Saints Ewald, called Albus and Niger,
Priests and Brothers
St. Fremund, Prince and Hermit
St. Englemund, Priest...
St. Ithware, Virgin
St. German, Missionary Bishop of
St. Boniface, Archishop of Mayence,
Apostle of Germany
St. Alfwold, King of Northumbria
St. Ethelbert, King of East Anglia ...
St. Tancon, Bishop of Werth in
St. Alkmund, Prince ...
St. Kenelm, King of Mercia ...
St. Winstan, Prince
Many Martyrs of Lincoln
St. Edmund, King of East Anglia ...
St. Humbert, Bishop Councillor to St.
St. Hamund, Bishop of Sherborne,
St. Ethelred, King of Wessex
St. Ebba and her Companions, Nuns
St. Edward, King of Wessex...
St. Menigold, Hermit ...
Saints Wiaman, Unaman, and Suna-
man, Priests and Brothers
St. Lefrona, Abbess
St. Elphege, Archbishop of Canterbury
Thirty Monks of St. Augustine's, Can-
terbury, martyred same day
Eight Thousand People martyred by
the Danes about same time
St. Eskell, Missionary Bishop in Sweden
St. Ulfride, Missionary Bishop in
St. William, Pilgrim ...
St. Leofgar, Bishop of Hereford
St. Henry, Bishop of Upsal, Sweden
Date of Martyrdom Page
Oct. lyth, 668 ... 26
Nov. 25th, 670 ... 26
July 22nd, 687 ... 27
August 2 ist, 687 ... 28
August 1 3th, 694 ... 28
Oct. 3rd, 695 ... 29
May nth, 700 ... 29
June 2ist, 720 ... 30
Dec. 23rd, 740 ... 30
May 2nd, 750 ... 31
June 5th, 754 ... 31
Sept. 23rd, 788 ... 37
May 20th, 793 ... 38
Feb. i6th, 800 ... 38
March igth, 800 ... 39
July i7th, 820 ... 39
June ist, 849 ... 40
March 22nd, 870 ... 40
Nov. 2Oth, 870 ... 41
Nov. 2oth, 870 ... 41
March 22nd, 872
April 23rd, 872
April 2nd, 880
March i8th, 880
Feb. 9th, 900
July 25th, 1000
Sept. 23rd, 1010
April igth, 1012
April i9th, 1012 ... 46
April I9th, 1012 ... 46
April loth, 1016 ... 47
Jan. I7th, 1036 ... 47
May 23rd, 1150 ... 47
June i6th, 1056 ... 48
Jan. i9th, 1151 ... 48
Names of the Martyrs
St. Thomas A'Becket, Archbishop of
Henry Plantagenet, King Henry VI
Blessed John Houghton, Prior of
Blessed Robert Lawrence, Prior of
Blessed Augustine Webster, Prior of
Blessed Richard Reynolds, Prior of
Sion on the Thames
Blessed John Haile, Vicar of Isleworth,
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore, Car-
Blessed William Exmew, Carthusian
A i 1 \^o L *
Blessed Sebastian Newdigate, Car-
Blessed John Cardinal Fisher, Bishop
of Rochester ...
Blessed Thomas More, Lord Chancel-
lor of England
Blessed John Rochester, Carthusian
L i. .L V. o L *
Blessed James Wolver, Carthusian
A 1 Iv^OL
Blessed Thomas Johnson, Carthu-^
Blessed Richard Bere, Carthusian
-L A A Co L
Blessed Thomas Green, Carthusian
.IT J. it^o L
Blessed Thomas Davy, Professed
i\ JA_l 1 1 1\.
Blessed Richard Salt, Lay Brother
Blessed William Greenwood, Lay
Blessed Thomas Reding, Lay Bro-
Blessed Thomas Scryven, Lay Bro-
Blessed Walter Peerson, Lay Bro-
tl 1 v_l * )
Venerable Anthony Brookby, Fran-
Blessed John Forest, Franciscan Priest
Dec. aQth, 1170
May 22nd, 1471
May 4th, 1535
Date of Martyrdom Page
June i8th, 1535 <
June 22nd, 1535 ... 71
July 6th, 1535 94
May nth, 1537 ... 122
May nth, 1537 ... 122
A 1 1 these
and lay bro-
thers died of
son in June,
July 19th, 1537 ... 123
May 22nd, 1538 ... 124
Names of the Martyrs Date of Martyrdom Page
Venerable Thomas Cort, Franciscan
Priest ... ... ... ... July 2yth, 1538 125
Venerable Thomas Belchiam, Fran-
ciscan Priest ... ... ... August 3rd, 1538 ... 125
Blessed John Stone, Augustinian
Priest ... ... ... ... In Dec., *53% ... 126
Father Martin de Condres, Augus-
tinian Priest ... ... ... ,, ,, ... 126
Father Paul of St. William, Augus-
tinian Priest ... ... ... ,, ,, ... 126
Blessed Sir Adrian Fortescue, Knight
of Malta ... .... ... ... July 8th, J 539 J 27
Venerable Sir Thomas Dingley, Knight
OX iVJ.cH Let y j jj * * 1 2 y
Father John Griffith, Vicar of Wands-
worth, Secular Priest ... ... July 8th, I 539 J 28
Father Nicholas Waire, Franciscan
* i i v o L * * JL Z O
Venerable John Travers, Secular Priest July 3oth, 1539 128
Father John Harris, Secular Priest ... ,, ,, ,, ... 128
Blessed Richard Whiting, Abbot of
Glastonbury, O.S.B. ... ... Nov. i5th, 1539 ... 129
Blessed John Thorn, Benedictine
1\ 1 1 1 IV . . * y y * . . 1 .3 O
Blessed Roger James, Benedictine
IV J. \J 11 IV . . . * * * * J 2 O
Blessed Hugh Cook, Abbot of Read-
ing, vJ.o.-D. ... ... ... ,, ,, ,j ... 129
Blessed John Rugg, Secular Priest of
Reading ... ... ... ... ,, ,, ... 129
Blessed William Onion, Secular Priest
of Reading ... ... ... ,, ... 129
Blessed John Beach, Abbot of Col-
chester ... ... ... ... Dec. ist, I 539 J 29
Father Thomas Croft, Secular Priest Dec. 3rd, 1539 133
Father Nicholas Collins, Secular Priest ,, ,, ,, ... 133
Hugh Holland, Mariner ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 133
Venerable William Paterson, Secular
Priest ... ... ... ... April loth, 1540 ... 133
Venerable William Richardson, Secu-
1 .L 1 1- 1 It^o L * * . JL ^ ^
Blessed Thomas Abell, Secular Priest July 3Oth, 1540 ... 134
Blessed Edward Powell, Secular Priest ,, ,, ... 134
Blessed Richard Fetherstone, Secular
i nest ... ... ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 134
Father William Bird, Vicar of Brad-
ford, Secular Priest ... ... August 4th, 1540 ... 134
Thomas Empson, Benedictine Monk ,, ,, ,, ... 134
Names of the Martyrs Date of Martyrdom Page
Father Laurence Cook, Prior of Don-
caster, Franciscan Priest ... ,, ,, 1540 ... 135
Blessed William Home, Carthusian
Lay Brother ... ... ... August 4th, 1540 ... 135
Venerable Edward Brindholm, Secular
Jj j J y y * I ^ "N
Giles Heron, Layman ... ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 135
Venerable Clement Philpot, Layman ,, ,, ,, ... 135
Gervaise Carrow, Layman ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 135
Darbie Kenham, Layman ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 135
Robert Bird, Layman ... ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 135
Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of
Salisbury ... ... ... ... May 28th, 1541 ... 136
Venerable David Genson, Knight of
St. John ... ... ... ... July ist J54 1 T s8
John Risby, Layman ... ... ... No date, J 544 138
Thomas Ryke, Layman ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 138
James Singleton, Layman ... ... ,, ,, ,, ... 138
Blessed John Lark, Rector of Chel-
sea, Secular Priest ... ... March yth, 1544 ... 139
Blessed Germain Gardiner, Secular
^ j j j ^ y ...17(1
Venerable John Ireland, Secular Priest ,, ,, ,, ... 139
Venerable Thomas Ashby, Layman... March I9th, 1544 ... 140
ST. WILLIAM'S PRESS,
ERR A TA . CORRIGENDA .
PAGE 10, lines 20 and 21, for Chur in
Germany read Chur in Switzerland.
PAGE 1 1, line 3, for Chur in Germany read Chur in Switzerland.
PAGE 67. for Venerable Henry Plantage-
net read Henry Plantagenet.
BX 4660 .A3 1902 IMS
A complete history of the
British martyrs 47089669
99 QUEEN'S PARK