The Venerable James Duckett was born in Westmoreland, and after finishing his schooling was sent to London and bound apprentice to a tradesman. He was brought up a Protestant, and was very zealous in the cause, till one day a friend lent him a book, entitled The Foundation of the Catholic Religion. The perusal of this work made a great impression on his mind, and after a time he became convinced of the falsehood of his former belief and ceased to attend the church. This change was noticed by some of his acquaintance, who went to inform the minister of the parish of it. This man sent for Duckett, and endeavoured, but in vain, to reclaim him to his own flock; and on his refusal he was committed to Bridewell. His master procured his release, as also from a second imprisonment in the Compter, but, seeing that these proceedings were likely to involve him trouble, agreed to break the articles of his apprenticeship, and left him free. Duckett then sought how to obtain instruction in the Catholic doctrine, and within two months was reconciled by Mr. Weeks, a venerable priest, then a prisoner in the Gatehouse. His life was ever most exemplary and devout, and after about three years he married a good Catholic widow, with whom he lived the rest of his days, as far as his frequent imprisonments allowed. Mr. Duckett maintained himself principally by dealing in books, with which he contrived to supply many Catholics, to their great spiritual benefit. This exposed him to many prosecutions and penalties, and it is said that, out of the twelve years of his married life, nine were spent in gaol. At length a certain bookbinder, who had been employed by him, and was now condemned to death for some offence against the laws, informed against him, in hope, it is supposed, of receiving his own pardon. Justice Popham thereupon ordered Duckett’s house to be searched, and the result was the discovery of certain religious books. The charge against him was that of felony, but the jury at first acquitted him, until Popham insisted that they should reconsider the verdict, which they did, and reluctantly brought him in guilty. Before his execution, the Martyr spoke to his wife in the most pious and touching manner, and exhorted her to thank God for the grace conferred on him of being reckoned among thieves, as his Lord and Master had been. It so happened, that the wretched man who had informed against him, so far from receiving his own pardon, was sentenced to die at the same time with his victim. They were taken to Tyburn in the same cart, and Duckett not only freely forgave him, but expressed his perfect charity, and exhorted him to die a Catholic. Even when the ropes were about their necks, he gave him a cordial embrace, and with this heroic act submitted to his sentence.
- Father Richard Stanton. “Venerable James Duckett”. , 1887. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 April 2015. Web. 8 December 2016. <>