Friday, March 16, 2012

Blessed John Amias and Blessed Robert Dalby

On March 16, 1589, these two priests suffered being hung, drawn and quartered in York.

Robert Dalby was from Hemingbrough in the East Riding of Yorkshire and lived at first as a Protestant minister. Becoming a Catholic, he entered the English College at Rheims on 30 September 1586 to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest at Châlons on 16 April 1588. It was on 25 August that year that he set out for England. He was arrested almost immediately upon landing at Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast and imprisoned in York Castle.

There is some doubt about the early life of Blessed John Amias. One story is that he was indeed John Amias or Amyas, born at Wakefield in Yorkshire, England, where he married and raised a family, exercising the trade of cloth-merchant. On the death of his wife, he divided his property among his children and left for the Continent to become a priest. There is also a possibility that he was really William Anne (surname), youngest son of John and Katherine Anne, of Frickley near Wakefield.

Regardless of his actual name, on 22 June 1580, a widower calling himself "John Amias" entered the English College at Rheims to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Rheim Cathedral on 25 March 1581. On 5 June of that year Amias set out for Paris and then England, as a missionary, in the company of another priest, Edmund Sykes. Of his missionary life we know little. Towards the end of 1588 he was seized at the house of a Mr. Murton at Melling in Lancashire and imprisoned in York Castle.

Yorkshire, as I've commented before on this blog and in Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, was one of those districts of England where recusancy and Catholicism was particularly strong. This History of York describes the Catholic Resistance during Elizabeth I's reign, providing some details of the trouble the queen had in asserting her authority.

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