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THOMAS TICHBURN AND ROBERT WATKINSON,
Thomas TICHBURN was born of an ancient family, at Hartley in Hampshire. His education abroad, was first in the college of Rhemes, and afterwards in that of Rome; to which he was sent from Rhemes, September 2, 1587. At Rome he was made priest, and from thence was sent upon the English Mission. Here, he fell into the hands of the adversaries of his faith, and suffered bands and prisons for some years, till, as we have seen above, he was rescued by that bold youth, who lost his own life upon that account. It was not long, before he was again apprehended, by the means of one Atkinson, a fallen priest, who meeting him in the streets, and knowing him, ceased not to cry out, a priest, a priest, stop the priest, till he was seized upon; though Mr. Tichburn, to stop his mouth, and carry off the matter, told him, (which was very true,) that he was no more a priest than himself. Thus, he was again committed to prison, and soon after arraigned, condemned, and executed, merely on account of his priesthood. He was far gone in a hectic fever, and naturally could have lived but a very short time longer; so that his apprehension and condemnation at this time was a more particular favour of divine providence, which had chosen for him, this more glorious and happy death.
He suffered at Tyburn, April 20, 1601
Robert Watkinson was born at Hemingborough, in Yorkshire, and had his education abroad, partly in the college of Douay, and partly in that of Rome: he went through his course of philosophy in the laiter; but was obliged, for his health, to return to Douay to study his divinity: but the change of air made no great alteration in the state of his health; so that his superiors thought it best to present him to holy orders, and send him over into England. He was ordained priest at Arras, March 25, 1602, and on the third of April following, began his journey for England. Whilst he was at London, under the care of a physician, he was betrayed by one John Fewether, a false brother, apprehended, arraigned and condemned, on the 17th of April, and executed on the 20th of the same month. He suffered with great constancy, at Tyburn, in the company of Mr. Tichburn and Mr. Page.
There is a very remarkably story, concerning this Mr. Watkinson in the Douay diary ; which is, that the day before he was apprehended, as he was walking in London streets, with another catholic, he met a stranger, who appeared to be a venerable old man, who saluted him with these words ; Jesus bless you, you seem to be sick and troubled with many infirmities ; but be of good cheer; for within these four days, you shall be cured of all, which happened accordingly; for the next day he was apprehended, tried and condemned, which was on Saturday;
* From the Douay diary, Dr. Champney's manuscript, and the catalogues of Chalcedon and Raissius.
and on the Tuesday following, he received his crown. The same diary adds, that Mr. Watkinson having found means to celebrate mass in prison the morning before he went out to execution ; they that were present, “and in particular, says Dr. Champney, Mr. Henry Owen, a prisoner for his conscience, who then served at the mass,” perceived about his head, sometimes on the one side, sometimes on the other, a most bright light, like a ray of glory ; which, from the consecration till after the communion, rested directly over his head, and then disappeared.
FRANCIS PAGE, PRIEST. S. J.*
He was born, according to the bishop of Chalcedon's catalogue, of a gentleman's family, at Harrow on the Hill, in the county of Middlesex; or as some others say, at Antwerp; which it seems, he pleaded at his trial, but was not regarded. He was brought up in the protestant religion, and to the study of the law; and was, for some time, clerk to a noted lawyer in town. Here he fell in love with a young gentlewoman, a catholic; and partly upon her account, partly by the persuasion of a catholic companion, was induced to make a more serious inquiry into matters of religion. His friend brought him to father Gerard Thomson, his own confessor, who gave him full satisfaction in his doubts, and reconciled him to the church. But this was not all ; Mr. Page not only become a catholic, but, by degrees, was quite weaned from earthly affections, and his heart was set upon better things ; so that father Gerard being, not long after, apprehended, and committed close prisoner to the Tower, Mr. Page, renouncing the advantageous match, of which he had so near a prospect, resolved upon a more perfect state of life ; and going over to Douay, there entered himself an alumnus, in the English college of the secular clergy; and after having employed some time, in this seminary of martyrs, in the study of divinity, and in the practice of all christian virtues, he was, by his superiors, presented to holy orders, and ordained priest; and, not long after, was sent upon the English mission, viz: June the 10th, 1600.
He had not been long in England, when he narrowly escaped the pursuivant's hands, in the house of Mrs. Line; when, he being at the altar in his vestments, on Candlemas-day, they broke into the house, as we have seen in the account of that holy widow. However, as his time was not yet come, he made a shift to unvest himself, before they could come into the chamber, where he was; and to step aside to a private
* From the Douay diary, and from father Moor's history of the English province of the Society of Jesus.
place, where they could not find him. After this escape he diligently applied himself to his missionary functions, till he was apprehended in the following manner: going out one night to the duties of his calling, he perceived a woman coming after him whom he knew; who had for some time professed herself a catholic, but now made it her business, for the sake of a little lucre, to betray, and take up priests. The sight of this woman, made him mend his pace ; but she knowing him, made no less haste after him ; calling out, Mr. Page, I want to speak to you. He would not seem to hear her, but stepped into the first open house, and shutting the door after him, desired the master of the house, who was a protestant, to let him out by a back door: which he was going to do, when, this wicked woman coming up, knocked violently at the door, crying out, a traitor, a traitor, a seminary priest; and raised a mob about the door, so that the man of the house, being afraid of the consequences, would not suffer Mr. Page to go further, but delivered him up into the hands of the constables. He was carried before the lord chief justice Popham, a cruel enemy of the catholics; the same, as before condemned Mrs. Line : who, understanding that this was the priest who had escaped from that widow's house, after having examined him, sent him to Newgate, where he was put down into Limbo; and, at the next sessions, which came on within a few days, he was brought to the bar, together with Mr. Tichburn and Mr. Watkinson ; and with them, condemned, barely upon account of his priesthood, by the same lord chief justice Popham.
There was, at that same time, in Newgate, one Mr. Henry Floyd, a priest, who, when Mr. Page was broughi back to prison, after his condemnation, falling upon his knees, testified the greatness of his grief by the tears, which plentifully flowed from him ; Mr. Page, lifting him up, spoke to him in this manner ; what is the meaning of this, sir ? do you weep at my condition, which is most happy? you ought rather to rejoice, and congratulate with me, for so happy a lot, which opens to me a way to eternal bliss : and so great was the joy, that Mr. Page found in himself, at the approach of his martyrdom, that, after having made a general confession of his whole life, to the same Mr. Floyd, and assisted at his mass, he was in a doubt, whether he should venture to celebrate mass himself, for fear that he should not be able to contaihimself during the sacred mysteries, from discovering the extraordinary motions of his heart, by such outward gestures and words, as would be taken notice of, and be heard by the other prisoners, and by the keepers.
The day before execution, the keeper desired Mr. Floyd to acquaint Mr. Page, that he was to die on the morrow; adding, that, for his own part, he could not endure to be the bearer of such tidings. Mr. Page received this message, as coming from heaven ; and having obtained leave of the keeper, to stay that day and night with Mr. Floyd, and having celebrated with him, the tremendous mysteries, with wondersul sentiments of joy and devotion ; he declared to this holy man, some part of the favours which God was pleased to show him that night, which had filled his soul with such wonderful lights, and so high a knowledge of the divine greatness, as he could never have obtained by books, or
study; so that he thought nothing could ever more separate him from the love of so great a Lord.
But that he might, experimentally know, that these extraordinary sentiments of devotion, are a gratuit gift of God, which he gives, and takes away, where he pleases; and that he might have some experience also, of the great anguish and agony of Mount Olivet, as well as of the sweets of Mount Thabor : he was, all on a sudden, deprived of these extraordinary gusts, and of all manner of sensible devotion ; and, like his Saviour in the garden of Gethsamane, became sad and sorrowful, even unlo death; so that in this extremity of fear, grief, and anguish, he earnestly desired Mr. Floyd's prayers ; showing, by the paleness of his countenance, and other outward signs, the inward conflicts of his soul. This storm continued, till the sheriff sent to him, to prepare himself for execution, for that the hour was now drawing on, which message, in a moment, restored a calm to his soul, and filled him with a new joy; so that he went out to meet death with as much cheerfulness, as if he was going to a feast.
When he came forth to the hurdle, which was prepared for him, seeing a vast crowd of people, who were come thither to accompany him to Tyburn, he took that occasion to declare to them, with a loud voice, the sanctity of the catholic faith, and the necessity of holding this faith, in order to eternal salvation. Then, he laid himself down upon the hurdle; and, whilst he was tied down upon it, as well as during the whole way to Tyburn, he employed his soul in prayer. When he was taken off the hurdle, and put into the cart, a minister offered to trouble him with some questions about religion ; but the confessor of Christ would not hearken to him. But, after having made a profession of his faith, he declared he was most willing to die for so good a cause, viz: for his faith, and priesthood, and for aiding and assisting by his priestly functions, the souls of his neighbours. He also, upon that occasion, declared, the promise, * or vow, that he had lately made, to enter into the Society of Jesus, as father Moor, expresses it; or that he was a novice of that Society, as Tannerus words it. And at the pronouncing of that holy name of Jesus, the cart was drawn away, and he hanged till he expired. He was afterwards cut down, bowelled, and quartered.
He suffered, April 20, 1602.
1603.—In the beginning of this year, one bishop of Ireland, four fathers of the Society of Jesus, sixteen other priests, and four catholic laymen, prisoners in Framingham castle, were transported into perpetual banishment. The names of the four jesuits, were, Christopher Holiwood, Roger Floyd, Edward Coffin, and Ralph Brickly. The sixteen priests of the secular clergy, were, Lewis Barlow, (the first missioner from the seminaries,) Edward Hughs, Christopher Driland, Leonard Hide, Robert Woodruff, William Chaddock, Thomas Haberley, William Clarjenet, Francis Robinson, Thomas Thursley, (these ten went to Douay, to visit their old mother-house, and made some stay
* Sponsionem professus qua se nuper Societati Jesu devoverat. Morus Historia Societ. Provinciæ Anglicane. Se Societatis Jesu Novitium palam professus. Tannerus, Historia Martyrum Societatis. Pragæ, 1675, in Pagio.
there,) Thomas Bramston, John Colton, N. Tillotson, John Gray, Robert Barns, and N. Knight. This same year, also, were banished, father William Weston, S. J. after many years imprisonment. Father John Roberts, O. S. B. Father Andrew Bayly, 0. S. D. Father Bennet Canfield, O. Cap. Mr. Anthony Wright, and Mr. James West, priests.
WILLIAM RICHARDSON, ALIAS, ANDERSON, PRIEST.
This gentleman was the last that suffered death, on account of his priestly character in this reign. Of whom thus writes the protestant historian Howes upon Stow, p. 812—William Anderson, a seminary priest, was drawn to Tyburn, upon the 17th of February, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered, for being found in England, contrary to the statute of the 27th of Elizabeth. He was born at Vales, in Yorkshire ; had his education abroad, first in Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes ; from whence he was sent into Spain, in 1592 ; and then in the colleges of Valladolid and Seville, in the latter of which he was made priest. Other particulars of his apprehension, trial, and death, I have not found.
Five weeks after Mr. Richardson's death, the queen herself was called to the bar, to take her trial, before the Great Judge. She died on the 24th of March, after having reigned forty-four years, four months and seven days.