Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – John Jessop, Layman, 1587


He was Venerable Pilchard’s faithful and loving companion, and before and after his imprisonment his chief instrument in saving souls. He was with Pilchard when the latter was captured in Fleet Street, and, being unable to conceal his grief, and known to be Pilchard’s companion elsewhere, he was apprehended and suffered to linger in prison, and at length died, either from grief or the filth of the place, though he was a man in the flower of his age, being less than forty years old. In his will he gave special directions that his body should not be buried in a graveyard, but as closely as possible to the body of Pilchard in the fields by the place of his execution. When his friends and his wife asked him to consult in this matter the honour of his family, and not to make light of consecrated ground, he replied that all graveyards were now profaned by the bodies of heretics, and that he felt assured the blood and members of so great a Martyr would abundantly sanctify the place he had chosen. This was shown by the fact that till Pilchard’s limbs were taken down from the walls, where they had been hung, the whole surrounding country was swept with the most terrific storms and lightnings.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “John Jessop, Layman, 1587”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable Thomas Pilchard, Priest, 1587

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A fellow of Balliol, he was made priest at Rheims and returned to England in 1583. He was of most gentle, courteous manners and an indefatigable missioner. His work lay in the western counties, and when apprehended he was cast into Dorchester jail. There he converted many of his fellow-prisoners, and from all parts his counsel was sought. At length he was tried and sentenced to death. Sentences of this sort were, however, rare in Dorchester, and an executioner could hardly be found until at length a cook, or rather a butcher, was hired at a great cost. But after the rope was cut and the priest, being still alive, stood on his feet under the scaffold, the fellow held back struck with fear. At length, compelled by the officials to finish his work, he drove his knife, hardly knowing what he did, into the body of the priest, and leaving it there he again hung back horror-stricken amidst the groans of the spectators. This lasted so long that Mr. Pilchard, coming completely to himself, naked and horribly wounded, inclining his head to the sheriff, said: “Is this, then, your justice, Mr. sheriff?” At last he was brutally despatched. He suffered at Dorchester, 21 March 1587.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable Thomas Pilchard, Priest, 1587”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable Henry Heath, O.S.F., 1643

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Born at Peterborough, 1600, a Protestant, educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, as librarian of that college he studied religious questions. In comparing the Patristic quotations of the Protestant Whitaker with those of the Catholic Bellarmine, he found the latter so much more true and correct that he was drawn to the faith. He now exposed the errors of Protestantism with such publicity and force that the College authorities resolved on his expulsion and imprisonment. He fled therefore to the Spanish embassy in London, then the asylum of distressed Catholics, but was refused admittance. He next applied to Mr. George Jerningham, a well-known Catholic, who, taking him for a spy, rejected him with bitter reproaches. Thus destitute of friends and repulsed on all sides, he bethought him of the devotion of Catholics to our Blessed Lady, in whom he had hitherto but little faith. Turning to her as the Morning Star of the wanderer and the hope of the afflicted, he besought her to take pity on him, and vowed in return to devote himself to her service. When on a sudden the same Mr. Jerningham, who had rejected him, came up and accosted him with kindness, took him to a priest, Father Muscot, who confessed him and reconciled him to the Church.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable Henry Heath, O.S.F., 1643”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable Roger Wrenno, Layman, 1616

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Wrenno, a weaver, was condemned with Venerable Thulis for assisting priests. After he was turned off the ladder, the rope broke with the weight of his body, and he fell down to the ground. After a short space he came perfectly to him self, and, going upon his knees, began to pray very devoutly, his eyes and hands lifted up to Heaven. Upon this the minister Lee came to him and extolled the mercies of God in his regard and likewise the King’s clemency, who would give him his life if he would but take the oath. The good man at this arose, saying, “I am the same man I was, and in the same mind; use your pleasure with me,” and with that he ran to the ladder, and went up it as fast as he could. “How now,” says the sheriff, “what does the man mean, that he is in such haste?” “Oh!” says the good man, “if you had seen that which I have just now seen you would be as much in haste to die as I now am.” And so the executioner, putting a stronger rope about his neck, turned the ladder, and quickly sent him to see the good things of which before he had had a glimpse. He suffered at Lancaster, 18 March 1616.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable Roger Wrenno, Layman, 1616”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable John Thulis, Priest, 1616

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Born at Up-Holland in Lancashire, he studied at Rheims and was ordained priest at Rome. Soon after his return to England he was arrested and imprisoned at Wisbeach, whence he escaped or was released, for he subsequently laboured as a missioner in his own county and was there arrested by order of Lord Derby and cast into Lancaster jail. In the same prison with him was a weaver by trade, Roger Wrenno, a zealous and devout soul. Together before the Lent Assizes in 1616 they found the means of escape about five in the evening, and walked fast the whole night for, as they thought, some thirty miles, when on the sun rising they found themselves again under the very walls of Lancaster jail. Nothing daunted, they saw in this mishap God’s will for their martyrdom. Arrested again, they were both offered their lives if they would take the oath of allegiance, but they steadfastly refused. Special efforts were made on behalf of Thulis, who was much loved for his marvelous patience and charity. In many sicknesses, when nigh to death, in controversies with ministers, under insults and calumny, he had never lost his gentleness of manner or evenness of mind. His last words to his fellow-priests in prison were an exhortation to mutual charity. He suffered at Lancaster, 18 March 1616.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable John Thulis, Priest, 1616”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable Robert Daly, Priest, 1589

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Born in the county of Durham and brought up a Protestant, he was a minister of the Established religion when a Catholic chanced to admonish him on the danger of his state. Reflecting on this and on his past life he fell into such despair that he tried to kill himself with a knife. The stroke, however, was not mortal, and as he fell a boy who was by called for help and brought the neighbours to his assistance. During his process of recovery he was brought by a priest to a repentant state of mind and was reconciled. He now went to Rheims, was ordained priest, and, returning to England, was arrested at Scarborough, where he landed in 1589. At his trial he answered the judges with much boldness, and openly confessed himself a priest, and the judges declared that they found him guilty on his own admission. He was led to execution with John Amias, also a secular priest, and both went with much joy, and, having kissed and blessed the hurdle, they lay down on it and would not suffer themselves to be bound. This cheerful courage they maintained to the end. Thus Father Dalby washed out with his own blood the stains of his former life. They suffered at Gloucester, 16 March 1589.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable Robert Daly, Priest, 1589”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable Thomas Atkinson, Priest, 1616

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Born in the East Riding of Yorkshire, he was educated at Rheims, ordained, and went on the English Mission in 1588. For some twenty-eight years he toiled in his own country with Apostolic zeal, taking great pains in serving the poor, whom he supplied with food and comforts, which they greatly needed. For many years he travelled on foot, whatever the weather, and often after a weary and wet day he would be obliged to remain in some outhouse or corner, even in the frost or snow, till the owners of the house could receive him with safety. During the severe frost he fell and broke his leg, and suffered much in its setting through the unskillfulness of the surgeon. After this he journeyed mostly on horseback. In 1616, when in the house of Mr. Vavasour of Willitoft, he was arrested, together with his host and his wife and children, conveyed to York, and there without proof or witness sentenced to death. After he was ironed, the fetters fell off of themselves when the holy old man began to pray, as the keeper attested before Lord Sheffield, the President of the North, who inquired into the matter. At the scaffold he was offered his life if he would take the oath, but he refused, and suffered with joy a most cruel martyrdom, York, 17 March 1616.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable Thomas Atkinson, Priest, 1616”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Blessed William Hart, Priest, 1583

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The Apostle of Yorkshire

Born in Wells, Somerset, of Lincoln College, Oxford, a brilliant scholar, he turned his back on the world and embraced the faith. At Douay he was a model to the future martyrs there by his fortitude under the most acute and almost continual pain from the stone. After trying the Spa waters in vain, during a four days journey on foot from Douay to Rheims he underwent violent paroxysms of the disease. Without anaesthetics he now endured a terrible operation, which he bore unmoved, and the result was a perfect cure. In England, Yorkshire was the field of his priestly labours, and, though they were for little over a year, their success was such as to earn for him the title of Apostle of that county. His special devotion was to the Catholic prisoners in their fetid dungeons, and he visited them daily at this period of his life. Betrayed by an apostate, he was imprisoned underground in York Castle and doubly fettered, as he seemed so elated. He triumphantly refuted the Protestant ministers at his trial before he suffered. He begged his spiritual children to remain indoors on the day of his execution unless they could assist at it with a joyous face and a tranquil mien. He was hanged at York, 15 March 1583.

The Motive of a Missioner

The judge asked him why he had left his native country to go beyond the seas. He answered: “For no other reason, my Lord, than to acquire virtue and learning, and whereas I found religion and virtue flourishing in those countries, I took Holy Orders (to which I perceived myself called by a Divine vocation) to the end that renouncing the world I might be more at liberty to serve my Master.”

They asked him how he had employed his time since he had returned to England. He answered: “Everywhere I have been I have tried, as far as I could, to instruct the ignorant, in order that they might be more prepared to give an account of the faith that is in them. I have also fed them with heavenly food, in order that, being confirmed in good, they might strive to keep their conscience pure, and by their pious and religious life stop the mouths of those who calumniate us.”

Being found guilty of treason for leaving the country without the Queen’s leave, and for seducing her subjects by reconciling them to the Church, he replied that “the obedience which he taught men to give to the Sovereign Pontiff increased the allegiance due to their Prince.”

Blessed William Addressing Catholic Prisoners –

“You are a holy nation, a people specially dedicated to God, that you maybe partakers of His eternal inheritance; ye are safe in the Ark of Noe, in a most happy condition, placed on a mountain which is subject to no evil chance. Therefore proceed as ye have begun in the ranks of God’s army, remain firm in your holy vocation, fight to the very end; and heaven heaven, I say, in which is joy and bliss never to be put into words shall be yours for ever. Let this be your one and only study, to worship God and to fear Him, and nothing will be wanting to you. He is Almighty who will defend you; merciful who will rule over you; rich who will feed you; sweet and loving who will console and strengthen you. You will find Him in your doubts a skillful doctor, in danger a faithful guide, in labours an ever present help, in all other troubles whatsoever a speedy Comforter. You then who are in bonds for Christ and separated from the world are not subject to these temptations by which the children of this world are harassed. Take account of time and do not let a day pass without fruit.

“Let all your thoughts and meditations be on Heaven and heavenly things. Let your prayers be ardent, but your actions discreet and well considered; bear trials with patience. I pray you, for Christ’s sake, that you so live and so bear yourselves in all things that the enemies of the faith may be forced to account you, not as relaxed, but as modest and religious. But before all things, carefully preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, loving each other with fraternal charity; let there be no dissensions among you, no discords; for thus will God embrace you with His love, and the angels proclaim your praises. And I beseech you, for Christ’s sake, most beloved brethren, daily, nay, every hour, to pray for me, a wretched sinner, that I may finish my course to God’s glory, and I will pray for you here and in Heaven, if God grant me that grace. Fare well, my most beloved sons, I beseech you to pardon me whatsoever wrong by chance or negligence I may have done you. This I have written to you in the greatest haste, when almost overcome with sleep and greatly wearied.”

Before leaving Rome he made the following address to Gregory XIII, March 1583:

“Of all the monuments which your virtues have raised to themselves throughout Christendom, none are more glorious than the provision made by you for the salvation of the souls of our country men who are being dragged down to perdition. By your fatherly tenderness and care those who were children of wrath have now become heirs of God, fellow-heirs with Jesus Christ. You have opened up the way of return to the faith and practice of our ancestral religion by opposing to the barbarous rage of the heretics those schools of virtue and learning, the Seminaries of Rome and Rheims. Remit not, most Blessed Father, your efforts to aid the afflicted and comfort the wretched, nor withhold that fostering care for our dear England, which spontaneously was yours, though events prove contrary and the times evil. This is the prayer addressed to you by the cries of helpless infants, the moanings of mothers, the tears of our nobles, the earnest en treaties of the clergy, the loyalty to this Holy See of which so many of our countrymen have given proof. What they, being absent, are unable to say may not be suppressed by us who are privileged to behold your fatherly countenance.”

Writing to Afflicted Catholics

“This is the first, the last, the only request I make, and have yet made or ever shall. Fulfill these my desires, hear my voice, keep to my counsel. But why do I, a miserable and unhappy sinner, beg of you, that in this age, most poisoned and most dangerous to the good, you should persevere firm and constant in your confession, where angels, archangels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, the whole world beseech it, when the salvation of your souls and the good God Himself make the same entreaty, that you. should remain firm in the faith you have once received and in your confession of the truth? May God of His infinite mercy help you to do so, and I, your spiritual father, though weak and loaded with sins innumerable, will never cease to pray for you, both in this life and the next. Wherefore I entreat you, in every way I can, to be mindful of me as often as you offer your devout prayers to God, lest I be like a melting candle, which gives light to others and itself consumes. Again and again farewell, my much desired ones. The servant of all and every one of you.”

Writing to Afflicted Catholics

“Stand fast, brethren, stand steadfast, I say, in that faith which Christ planted, the Apostles preached, the Martyrs confirmed, the whole world approved and embraced. Stand firm in that faith which, as it is the oldest, is also the truest and most sure, and which is most in harmony with the Holy Scriptures and with all antiquity. Stand constant in that faith which has a worship worthy of all honour and reverence, Sacraments most holy, abounding in spiritual consolation. For if ye have remained constant in this faith, that is, in the Catholic Church, in the Ark of Noe, in the house of Rahab, with what joy and consolation of the soul will ye not be flooded: yours will be the Sacrament of penance for the cleansing of your souls; yours the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Saviour for the refreshing of your souls; you will be partakers of all the satisfaction and merits of Christ, of the fellowship of the Saints, of the suffrages, prayers, fasts, and alms-deeds of all the just whom the Catholic Church throughout the world holds in her bosom. O blessed they, yea, and thrice blessed, who in this deplorable world stand firm in the faith of Christ.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Blessed William Hart, Priest, 1583”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Blessed John Larke, Priest, 1544

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In 1504 he was presented to the small Rectory of Saint Ethelburga, Bishopsgate, a benefice which he retained till a few years before his death. In 1526 he was presented to the Rectory of Woodford in Essex, which he resigned when Sir Thomas More appointed him to that of Chelsea in 1531. Sir Thomas was at that time Lord Chancellor, and in that capacity he had the right of appointment by a grant from the Abbot and Canons of Westmister. Little as is known of the life and ministry of the future martyr, the patronage of the Blessed Thomas is a sufficient proof of his merits, for he would never have promoted one whom he did not feel was worthy of the office. It was Larke’s Mass at Chelsea that More served daily, and priest and server held each other in mutual esteem, and their holy friendship strengthened them for the coming sacrifice. More was martyred on 6 July 1535, but it was not till nine years later that Larke was tried with Blessed Germain Gardiner, a layman, and Blessed John Ireland, a priest, for refusing to take the oath. Fortified by More’s example, he stood firm in the hour of trial, and suffered at Tyburn, 7 March 1544.

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Blessed John Larke, Priest, 1544”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>

Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Venerable James Bird, Layman, 1593

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Born at Winchester of a gentleman’s family and brought up a Protestant, he became a Catholic and went to study at Rheims. On his return he was apprehended and charged with being reconciled to the Roman Church, and maintaining the Pope under Christ to be the Head of the Church. Brought to the bar he acknowledged the indictment and received sentence of death as for high treason, though both life and liberty were offered him if he would but once go to the Protestant Church. When his father solicited him to save his life by complying, he modestly answered that, as he had always been obedient to him, so he would obey him now could he do so without offending God. After a long imprisonment he was hanged and quartered at Winchester, 25 March 1593. He suffered with wonderful constancy and cheerfulness, being but nineteen years old. His head was set upon a pole upon one of the gates of the city. His father one day passing by thought that the head bowing down made him a reverence, and cried out: “Oh, Jemmy my son, ever obedient in life, even when dead thou payest reverence to thy father. How far from thy heart was all treason or other wickedness.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Venerable James Bird, Layman, 1593”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2019. Web. 18 August 2019. <>