The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 11 January 1584

Venerable William Carter

Layman. He was a Londoner, and a Printer and Bookseller by profession. Zeal for the dissemination of Catholic truth was the cause of his martyrdom. A series of imprisonments interrupted his work, but as soon as he recovered liberty he returned to the task of spreading literature for the exhortation and comfort of his fellow Catholics. This he achieved with great difficulty owing to the extreme danger of the times, and it is said that his Printing Press was so small that he could hardly print more than one page at a time, while some books he copied entirely by hand. He was held in high esteem by his friends, and one of the reasons why he was so cruelly racked when finally arrested, was that he had been entrusted with the custody of Chalices and Vestments whose owners he refused to betray. At the trial, the chief accusation against him was that he had instigated the Queen’s enemies (Catholic Englishwomen) to murder their Sovereign. A Treatise on Schism, the book for the printing of which he was condemned, contained a paragraph about Judith and “Holofernes, the master heretic,” and this it was affirmed was only a paraphrase indicating Elizabeth. While the jury retired to confer on the verdict, Carter availed himself of the opportunity of confessing to a priest who was waiting like him for the death sentence. The day following his trial, William Carter was dragged to Tyburn and there hanged and quartered.

– from The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn, by The Nuns of the Convent of Tyburn, 1917