40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

In so many ways we moderns are pygmies who stand on the shoulders of giants.  One group of giants for all English-speaking Catholics is the 40 martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.   They deserve to be remembered for their heroic deaths for Christ, and here are their names:

3 Carthusians:

  • Augustine Webster  d.1535
  • John Houghton  1486-1535
  • Robert Lawrence   d.1535

1 Augustinian friar:

  • John Stone  d. 1538

1 Brigittine:

  • Richard Reynolds  d. 1535

2 Franciscans:

  • John Jones   d. 1598 (Friar Observant – also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice)
  • John Wall   d. 1679 (Franciscan  – known at Douai and Rome as John Marsh, and by other aliases while on the mission in England)

3 Benedictines:

  • John Roberts   d. 1610
  • Ambrose Barlow  d. 1641
  • Alban Roe   d. 1642

10 Jesuits:

  • Alexander Briant   1556-81
  • Edmund Campion   1540-81
  • Robert Southwell   1561-95
  • Henry Walpole    1558-95
  • Nicholas Owen   1540-1606
  • Thomas Garnet    1575-1608
  • Edmund Arrowsmith  1585–1628
  • Henry Morse   1595-1644
  • Philip Evans   1645-79
  • David Lewis   1616-79

13 Priests of the Secular Clergy:

  • Cuthbert Mayne   1543–77
  • Ralph Sherwin    1558-81
  • Luke Kirby    1549-82
  • John Paine    d. 1582
  • John Almond    d. 1585
  • Polydore Plasden    d. 1591
  • Eustace White   1560-91
  • Edmund G(J)ennings   1567-91
  • John Boste    1544-94
  • John Southworth   1592-1654
  • John Kemble    1599-1679
  • John Lloyd     d. 1679
  • John Plessington   d. 1679

7 members of the laity

4 lay men:

  • Richard Gwyn  1537-84
  • Swithun Wells  1536-91
  • Philip Howard  1557-95
  • John Rigby  1570-1600   and

3 lay women, all of them mothers:

  • Margaret Clitherow  1586
  • Margaret Ward  1588
  • Anne Line  1601

They were torches that God sent to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.  They were representatives of hundreds of martyrs who died for the Faith in England and Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  With the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict perhaps what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said in the Nineteenth Century will come true in the Twenty-First:

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5 Responses to 40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

  • Donald,

    I do not know much about history, but both sides – Protestant and Catholic – had shed more than its fair share of blood. Didn’t Mary I of England (a Catholic) burn at the stake 280 religious dissenters in what are called “The Marian Persecutions?”

    Every time I read little about this time in history, I shudder to think of the atrocities that both sides – Catholic and Protestant – committed against each other.


  • 284. An excellent recent study of the Marian Persecution was written by Eamon Duffy:


    The Tudors were all persecutors. Under Bad Queen Bess some 312 Irish and Catholic martyrs died, although, strangely enough, she has a reputation in history for tolerance, which would have been regarded as a bad joke by almost all of her Catholic subjects, probably the majority of her subjects until well into her reign.

    Saint Peter Canisius, who helped reverse the Reformation in Austria and southern Germany in the Sixteenth Century, regarded the persecutions of his day as against the example of Christ:

    “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

    Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.”

    It was an intolerant age, although what strikes me is how quickly it ended, when viewed through the prism of 2000 years of Christian history. By 1700 the bloodiest of religious persecutions were largely ended, only to be reawakend by the birth of totalitarianism with the French Revolution and the persecution of both Catholics and Protestants by worshipers of the power of the State. Fascism and Communism, when viewed by future historians, may be regarded as variants of the Emperor worship that confronted the earliest Christians.

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  • As an American of partial English descent (and last name Bryant, although no relation to the martyr Briant that I am aware of) I would like to know why this feast day doesn’t seem to be a priority on the U.S. calendar. We take a lot of our culture and obviously language from Britain, plus we are still living here the effects of the Reformation there. Obviously had Henry VIII not acted as he had the U.S. would be a predominantly Cathlic nation. Are we afraid of offending Protestants (or Latinos) ?

  • I doubt if it is concern for offending anyone since we sing Faith of Our Fathers regularly at Mass and that song, although doubtless most singers are unaware of it, directly refers to the persecution of Catholics by the English government. Additionally Irish Catholics, which make up a large proportion of the Church in America, are always ready to point out English persecutions. In England the feast day has been moved to May 4 and now includes an additional 85 martyrs: