Blesseds George Haydock, James Fenn, Thomas Hemerford, John Nutter, and John Mundyn were all executed at Tyburn on the charge of conspiring against Elizabeth on February 12, 1584. I've posted before about Blessed George Haydock. This parish website tells the story of Blessed James Fenn, a lifelong Catholic, late vocation, and martyr:
Much ought to be said of the martyrdom itself. On the morning of the 12th February 1584, when he was already laid on the hurdle at Tower Gate, he looked up, and recognized his little daughter, Frances, standing in the crowd. She was weeping bitterly, but he kept his habitual calm and peaceful expression, as, lifting his pinioned hands so far as possible, he gave her both his parental and priestly blessing, and then was drawn away. Fenn prayed at the gallows itself, though refused the consolation of a Protestant minister ("I am not to be taught my duty by you."). Questioned on the accused charge of treason, he reiterated that he had never wished to harm the Queen by so much as a pin-prick and willingly gave all due obedience to her in worldly matters (but not in spiritual matters). Immediately before being hanged, he commended himself and the Queen to God's mercy.
The nature of the hanging was such that Fenn (by now stripped stark naked) was forced by the rope to stand upright, at which point he cried out to the wonder of all, 'my Lord and my God'. The boldness of Fenn and the other priests suffering the same fate is remarkable. The executioner would cut open the bellies of the still alive men, drag out their intestines with his bloody hands, and cast them into a fire. Meanwhile, the men continued in their confession of Faith. A brutal and experimental means to extend the anguish was employed whereby the breast was cut open and in stages reached towards to heart. His quarters were displayed above the four main gates of London, and his head was mounted on London Bridge.
James Fenn's brother John was also a priest who died in exile in 1615. Of Thomas Hemerford, John Nutter, whose brother Robert was also martyred during Elizabeth I's reign, and John Mundyn, we know less. They were all born and raised in Catholic families and had studied at Oxford or Cambridge, but had to leave their colleges because they would not conform to the state religion. Discerning priestly vocations, they studied on the Continent and returned a missionary priests. We do have an eyewitness account of their executions, included by Father Pollen, S.J., in the fifth volume of the Catholic Record Society:
He describes Haydock as "a man of complexion fayre, of countenance milde, and in professing of his faith passing stoute". He had been reciting prayers all the way, and as he mounted the cart said aloud the last verse of "Te lucis ante terminum". He acknowledged Elizabeth as his rightful queen, but confessed that he had called her a heretic. He then recited secretly a Latin hymn, refused to pray in English with the people, but desired that all Catholics would pray for him and his country. Whereupon one bystander cried "Here be noe Catholicks", and another "We be all Catholicks"; Haydock explained "I meane Catholicks of the Catholick Roman Church, and I pray God that my bloud may encrease the Catholick faith in England". Then the cart was driven away, and though "the officer strock at the rope sundry times before he fell downe", Haydock was alive when he was disembowelled. So was Hemerford, who suffered second. The unknown eyewitness says, "when the tormentor did cutt off his members, he did cry, `Oh! A!'; I heard myself standing under the gibbet". As for Fenn, "before the cart was driven away, he was stripped of all his apparell saving his shirt only, and presently after the cart was driven away his shirt was pulled of his back, so that he hung stark naked, whereat the people muttered greatly". He also was cut down alive, though one of the sheriffs was for mercy. Nutter and Munden were the last to suffer. They made speeches and prayers similar to those uttered by their predecessors. Unlike them they were allowed to hang longer, if not till they were dead, at any rate until they were quite unconscious. Haydock was twenty-eight, Munden about forty, Fenn, a widower, with two children, was probably also about forty, Hemerford was probably about Haydock's age; Nutter's age is quite unknown.
Blessed martyrs, pray for us!