Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Derbyshire Martyrs

Blessed Nicholas Garlick, Blessed Robert Ludlam, and Blessed Richard Simpson, three priests, suffered martyrdom on July 24, 1588 in Derby.
It's neat when one can find a parish website commemorating the English martyrs, Blessed NIcholas Garlick and Blessed Robert Ludlam are featured on this site from the Catholic Church at Glossop in Derbyshire:

Who is Blessed Nicholas? None other than one of the martyrs of what is called the English Reformation. Nicholas was a local boy, from Dinting, about a half hour’s walk west from Old Glossop. The Catholic Encyclopaedia tells us that Nicholas was born in about 1555 and met his end at Derby in 1588, following his capture with his brother priest Robert Ludlum at Padley, also in the Peak District and to the south-east of Glossop.

A charismatic man, Nicholas seems to have had great influence, for example, during his time as school-master at Tideswell in the Peak, enough indeed that some of his pupils followed him to the seminary at Rheims in France, where men were being prepared for the missionary priesthood in protestant England, men who expected to meet a grisly end if they were arrested by the authorities (at a time when being a priest was considered in England to be an act of treason). Nicholas went there in 1581, was ordained and returned to Englandin 1583. He was arrested soon afterwards and exiled in 1585 with a warning.

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells more about the second and third priests who suffered that day:

With Garlick was arrested another priest, Robert Ludlam, or Ludham, who had, like Garlick, been at Oxford and had engaged in teaching before his ordination in May, 1581. In Derby Gaol, a small and pestiferous prison, they found a third priest, Robert Sympson, who was of Garlick's college at Oxford. There he had taken Protestant orders, but was soon after reconciled to the Church, for which he suffered long imprisonment in York Castle. In this trial his faith had grown stronger, but having been ordained and passed through many labours, including exile, he was again in durance and in danger of his life, and this time he was wavering. Garlick and Ludlam cheered, reconciled, and comforted their fellow-captive, and all three were tried and suffered together.

These martyrs are remembered annually with a pilgrimage and Mass at Padley Chapel; it was a Padley, the home of John Fitzherbert, that Fathers Garlick and Ludlam were captured. The Catholic Fitzherberts suffered much for their faith, including the invasion of their home on July 12, 1588 when these priests were captured, according to this site:

The special events which led up to the execution, and subsequent martyrdom of the two Catholic priests who were captured at Padley have been recorded many times, but briefly the main protagonists in the saga were:-

Sir Thomas FITZHERBERT, who married Anne, daughter of Sir Arthur EYRE. Inherited Padley through his marriage to Anne. Lived at Norbury, having handed over the tenancy of Padley to John, his younger brother. A staunch Catholic, he had been imprisoned in 1559 at Derby for his recusancy. Although he was later released, he was ultimately denounced by his nephew, imprisoned again and died in the Tower of London on 2nd October 1591.

John FITZHERBERT, Thomas's brother. Captured by George, Earl of Shrewsbury at Padley on 12th July 1588, with his son Anthony, three of his daughters, Matilda, Jane and Mary (married respectively to - Thomas BARLOW, Thomas EYRE and - DRAYCOTT), and ten serving men from the estate. Jane and Mary were placed in the custody of the Anglican Rectors of Aston, and Weston upon Trent. The others were taken to the county Gaol at Derby. John was reprieved of the death sentence, by an alleged payment of £10,000 in bribes; kept 2 years in Derby Gaol and then sent to Fleet Prison in London where he died on 8th November 1590.

Thomas FITZHERBERT, John's traitorous son, who betrayed his uncle Thomas. Had Norbury estate after his uncle died, but was refused Padley by arch-villain Richard TOPCLIFFE.

Richard TOPCLIFFE, a spy for the Privy Council, who persuaded Thomas to betray his uncle. Sir Thomas made a will whilst he was in the Tower, disinheriting his nephew, but Topcliffe managed to get hold of it, and destroyed it. He obtained Padley for himself after Sir Thomas and John's deaths, but lost it again after 1603 (when Elizabeth I died) to Anthony FITZHERBERT, Thomas's brother (who although captured in 1588 apparently survived!).


  1. Living in the High Peak I find this extremely interesting. First heard about these men at mass earlier this year and it piqued my curiosity. We tend to think of the Reformation as been London Centric not aware that it was happening on our doorstep. The Peak has a strong Protestant tradition which would have made it very dangerous to be aPriest/Catholic in this area at that time. John Wesley reputedly preached in the yard of the farm opposite where I live.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I appreciate hearing from readers who live in or are familiar with the areas in which these martyrs suffered and died!