The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 18 February 1594

Venerable William Harrington, secular priest

He was born in Yorkshire. Before being led forth to the hurdle on the morning of his triumph, he gave his blessing to some poor Catholic women who found means to come to him. At Tyburn he was offered his life if he would promise to go once to the church by law established. He said: “See, then, all my treason is that I will not go to church!” Topcliffe then bade him tell all he knew of the Catholics in the west country, as it was known that he had friends there and it was in the power of the Sheriff to show mercy and save him. The Martyr replied he had nothing to disclose, and Topcliffe’s mercy was worse than the Turk’s who, having the body in subjection, sought not to destroy the soul. Yet he prayed God to forgive him though he was a tyrant and a bloodsucker. “No doubt you shall have blood enough,” he added, “so long as you have hands and a halter to hang us, you shall not want priests; we were three hundred in England; you have put to death one hundred; other two hundred are left. When they are gone, two hundred more are ready to come in their place. For my part, I hope my death will do more good than ever my life would have done.”

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