Friday, June 19, 2015

480 Years Ago; Three More Carthusian Priors Martyred

On June 19, 1535, the second group of Carthusians were executed: Blesses Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew and Sebastian Newdigate. Arrested on May 25, they had been imprisoned in Marshalea for about a fortnight before their trial at Westminster on June 11. The three were taken before the Privy Council before their trial, refused again to swear Henry's oaths and were condemned to death. While in prison, they were chained at the neck and hand and foot against pillars, unable to move.

Thus Sebastian Newdigate reportedly received Henry VIII (in disguise), who offered him riches and preferment if he would swear the oaths. Newdigate had been a member of Henry's Privy Chamber and had sworn the Oath of Succession, acknowledging Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn and their heirs--but he could not accept Henry's supremacy over the Church in England. Henry visited him while he was the in the Tower of London after being brought before the Privy Council. Newdigate refused Henry's offers and was brought to trial with the two other priors.

Thomas Bedyll, one of Henry's chaplains and another member of his Privy Chamber had harassed the Carthusians after the execution of their first leaders on May 4, pressing them to take the Oath of Supremacy. He reported them to Thomas Cromwell, noting their obstinacy.

The outcome of the trial on June 11 was certain, of course, and they were found guilty of treason and sentenced to being hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Reports indicate that they went to their deaths as to a feast, with eagerness and joy!

These three Carthusians were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on December 9, 1886, along with Thomas More, John Fisher, the other Carthusians and several others, totaling 54. According to the decree, translated in The Tablet on January 15, 1887, those beatified were:

Those who suffered death under King Henry VIII: John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church; Thomas More, Chancellor of England; Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, mother of Cardinal Pole; Richard Reynolds, of the Order of St. Bridget; Haile, Priest; eighteen Carthusians, namely, John Houghton, Augustine Webster, Robert Laurence, William Exmew, Humphrey Middlemore, Sebastian Newdigate, John Rochester, James Walworth, William Greenwood, John Davy, Robert Salt, Walter Pierson, Thomas Green, Thomas Scryven, Thomas Redyng, Thomas Johnson, Richard Bere, and William Horne; John Forest, Priest of the Order of St. Francis; John Stone, of the Order of St. Augustine; four Secular Priests: Thomas Abel, Edward Powell, Richard Fetherston, John Larke; and German Gardiner, a layman.

Those who suffered under Elizabeth: Priests, Cuthbert Mayne, John Nelson, Everard Hanse, Randolph Sherwin, John Payne, Thomas Ford, John Shert, Robert Johnson, William Fylby, Luke Kirby, Laurence Richardson, William Lacy, Richard Kirkman, James Hudson, or Tompson, William Hart, Richard Thirkeld, Thomas Woodhouse, and Plumtree. Also three Priests of the Society of Jesus: Edmund Campion, Alexander Briant, and Thomas Cottam. Lastly, John Storey, Doctor of Law; John Felton, and Thomas Sherwood, laymen.

The decree was issued on December 29, 1886 to coincide with the Feast of St. Thomas a Becket, "whose faith and constancy these Blessed Martyrs so strenuously imitated".

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