Monday, May 30, 2016

Remember: Six Martyrs at Tyburn on May 30, 1582 and 1612

Saint Luke Kirby, Blessed William Filby, Blessed Lawrence Johnson, and Blessed Thomas Cottam SJ, four priests and martyrs suffered at Tyburn Tree on May 30, 1582. Thirty years later, two more Catholic priests joined the blessed clouds of witnesses at the site of martyrdom: Blessed William or Maurus Scott, OSB and Blessed Richard Newport. St. Luke and his Blessed companions had been tried with St. Edmund Campion in 1581 accused in the trumped-up "Rome and Rheims" plot; they had been asked the same "bloody questions" after the delay in their executions from late 1581 to the middle of 1582.

For St. Luke Kirby, who was included among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized in 1970, please see this blog, authored by a Benedictine Monk in Ireland with the same last name. Some excerpts:

Saint Luke Kirby, priest and martyr. Born in 1549 in England under Edward VI -- an England severed from its Catholic roots -- Saint Luke was educated at Cambridge. He abjured Protestantism and was reconciled to the Catholic Church at Louvain. He studied for the priesthood at Douai College, then in Rome, and was ordained at Cambrai in 1577 for the English mission. . . .

Imprisoned and Tortured

Five days after his transfer to the Tower of London, Saint Luke was subjected to "the Scavenger's Daughter." This was a hinged hoop of iron; the prisoner was required to kneel and draw himself into a ball, the hoop was placed under his legs and across his back, and then drawn tight, the torturer helping the fit by kneeling on the prisoner's shoulders. Among other things, it caused a flow of blood from the nostrils and sometimes from the tips of the fingers and toes. Father Kirby was tried and found guilty, together with Father Campion and other priests on November 16, 1581. Saint Luke was kept in prison until the end of May, the last four weeks in chains.


When Saint Luke was brought to Tyburn to be executed on May 30th, 1582, Blessed William Filby's body was still hanging from the dreaded 'triple tree'. Standing in the cart beneath the gallows, he declared himself innocent of the treason alleged against him and said that he was, in fact, about to die for the Catholic faith. A number of officials began wearisome discussions with him, arguing points of law and doctrine. They tried in several ways to induce him at first to denounce the Pope and finally to yield in any slight point of doctrine or practice. Father Kirby held fast to the Catholic faith.

Pater Noster

Finally, the Queen’s preachers bid him pray with them, in English, in his last moments: they would pronounce the prayer and asked Luke, if he found nothing objectionable, to repeat their words after them. “Oh,” he said, “you and I are not of one faith, therefore I think I should offend God if I should pray with you.” At this the people began to cry, “Away with him!” So, Saint Luke Kirby, an Englishman saying his Pater Noster in Latin, the language of the Church of Rome, ended his life. After the hanging, his body was gutted and quartered.

Blessed Thomas Cottam, SJ was born 1549, in Lancashire . . . His parents, Laurence Cottam of Dilworth and Anne Brewer, were Protestants. Having completed his studies at Brasenose, Oxford (M.A., 14 July, 1572) he became master of a grammar school in London. Converted there to the faith by Thomas Pound he went over to Douai, and was ordained deacon at Cambrai, Dec., 1577. Desirous of the Indian mission, he went to Rome and was received (8 April, 1579) as a Jesuit novice at Sant' Andrea. Attacked by fever about October, he was sent to Lyons to recuperate, and went thence to the College at Reims, considering himself as accepted for India, if his health improved by a visit to England. In May (probably 28th), 1580, he was ordained priest at Soissons, and started (5 June) with four companions for England. Through the treachery of an English spy by the name of Sledd he was immediately arrested at Dover, but by a ruse of Dr. Ely, one of his fellow-travellers, reached London safely. Ely being imperilled through this friendly act, Cottam voluntarily surrendered himself and was committed "close prisoner" to the Marshalsea, where he perhaps said his first Mass. After being tortured, he was removed, 4 December, 1580 to the Tower, where he endured the rack and the "scavenger's Daughter". He was arraigned with Campion and others and (16 November, 1581) condemned to death. His execution was deferred till 30 May, 1582 (see Munday's 'Breefe Reporte"), when with William Filby, Luke Kirby and Laurence Richardson, secular priests (all beatified 29 December, 1886), he was drawn to Tyburn and executed. His portrait, with martyrdom misdated, is reproduced in Foley, "Records", VII (1) 174; his relics are the Mass corporal used by him and four other martyrs in the Tower (cf. Camm, English Marytrs, II, 563) and perhaps his autograph in the registers of Sant' Andrea. More about Blessed Thomas Cottam, SJ here, at the Singapore Jesuit website.

Blessed Lawrence Johnson and Blessed William Filby:

Laurence, a son of Richard Johnson, of Great Crosby, Lancashire, was a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, in or before 1569, and supplicated B.A. 25, November, 1572. In 1573 he was at Douai, and on 23 March, 1577, was ordained priest at Cateau-Cambresis. He was sent on the mission 27 July following, and laboured in Lancashire. He was arrested in London on his way to France and imprisoned in Newgate, where he remained until the day of his indictment, 16 November, 1581, when he was committed to the Queen's Bench Prison, and on the day of his condemnation, 17 November, to the Tower, where he had no bedding for two months. 

Filby, born in Oxfordshire between 1557 and 1560; suffered at Tyburn, 30 May, 1582. Educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, he was admitted to the seminary at Reims, 12 October, 1579. He was ordained priest at Reims, 25 March, 1581, and shortly after left for the mission. He was arrested in July, committed to the Tower, removed 14 August to the Marshalsea, and thence back to the Tower again. He was sentenced 17 November, and from that date till he died was loaded with manacles. He was also deprived of his bedding for two months. 

On May 30, 1612:

Blessed William or Maurus Scott, OSB: Benedictine martyr of England. Born William Scott in Chigwell, Essex, England, he studied law at Cambridge, where he became a Catholic. Maurus was converted by Saint John Roberts, the Benedictine, and was sent to Sahagun, in Spain, to St. Facundus Benedictine Abbey. Note: this abbey was on the pilgrimage road to St. James Compostela, and was named for the martyr St. Facundus, who with his companion St. Primitivus, was beheaded in the year 300.

Before leaving England he witnessed the execution of Roberts at Tyburn on December 10, 1610--less than two years later he was brought to the same site. He was ordained in Spain, taking the name Maurus. When he returned to England he was arrested, imprisoned for a year, and then banished. He returned again and again, being exiled each time. Remember that King James I was more reluctant about making martyrs, knowing that they would strengthen, not weaken, the Catholic community; he also thought that it was sign of weakness that the supreme governor of the Church of England had to resort to execution. Finally, Scott was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on May 30 with Blessed Richard Newport. They were beatified in 1929. Blessed William Scott was one of the nine Benedictine monks beatified as martyrs by Pope Pius XI that year. The others: Blessed Mark Barkworth, Blessed George Gervase, Blessed John Roberts, Blessed Thomas Tunstall, Blessed Ambrose Barlow, Blessed Alban Roe, Blessed Philip Powel, and Blessed Thomas Pickering. His Wikipedia entry includes these details about his execution:

On the morning of May 30 he was to be executed with Richard Newport, another Catholic priest. He appeared wearing his Benedictine habit and declared himself once again a loyal subject of the King, before being tied to a horse and dragged through the streets to the gallows at Tyburn. Before being executed, he made a declaration of his life, his faith and his conversion to the Catholic Church, and gave the small number of gold coins he had in his purse to the executioner, saying, "Take these, friend, for love of me. I give them to you with good will and gladly do I forgive you my death". He was then hanged, drawn and quartered.

Blessed Richard Newport: English martyr, also called Richard Smith. Born at Harringworth, Nothamptonshire, England, he studied in Rome and was ordained in 1597. Returning to England, he worked in London for a number of years before being arrested and banished twice, but he returned each time. His third arrest was with Blessed William Scott and he was finally executed.

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