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MONFORD SCOT, AND GEORGE BEESLEY, PRIESTS.*
Monford, or Montford Scot, was born of a gentleman's family, in the Diocese of Norwich, and was far advanced in his studies before he left England, which was in the year 1574. At which time he was admitted, by Dr. Allen, into the college lately instituted at Douay, and there applied himself to the study of divinity. He was one of the eldest sons of that fruitful mother, and stands the nineteenth in the list of her priests, according to the order of their ordination, and the thirty-first in the list of the missioners sent from thence into England. He was made priest in 1575, and sent upon the mission in 1577, before the removal of the college to Rhemes. Dr. Champney gives him this character:— * He was,' says he, 'a man of wonderful meekness, and of so great abstinence and devotion, that his diet, on common days, was bread and water, and he would take but little more on Sundays, and holidays; and so addicted was he to prayer, that he spent whole days and nights almost in this exercise, insomuch, that his knees were grown hard by the assiduity of his prayers, as it is related of St. James; which, when one of the standers by perceived, whilst his body was quartered, he said aloud; I should be glad to see any one of our ministers, with their knees as much hardened by constant prayer, as we see this man's knees are. And so great and so general was the veneration that this holy priest had acquired, that TopcliflF, that noted persecutor, loudly boasted, that the queen and kingdom were highly obliged to him, for having apprehended aud brought to the gallows a priest, so devout and so mortified. He was prosecuted and condemned, barely upon account of his character, and was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, on the 2d of July, 1591, in Fleet-street. He suffered with wonderful constancy, and no less modesty and spiritual joy, to the great edification of the spectators, and the admiration even of the greatest enemies of his faith and character.'
George Beesley, priest, suffered at the same time and place, and with the like constancy and alacrity, and edification of the faithful. He was born at a place called the Mount, in Goosenor parish, in Lancashire, and was an alumnus and priest of Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes: he was ordained priest, in 1587, and sent upon the English mission in 1588. He was a man of singular courage, young, strong, and robust, before he fell into the hands of the persecutors ; but whilst he was in their hands, he was so frequently and cruelly tortured by the unhappy Topcliff, in order to oblige him to confess what catholics he had conversed with, and by whom he had been harboured or relieved, that he was reduced to a mere skeleton; insomuch, that they, who were before acquainted with him, could scarce know him to be the same man, when they saw him drawn to execution. Yet all these tormenu; he endured with invincible courage and patience, and would not be induced to name any one, or bring any one into danger on his account.
* From the Douay Diary and Catalogues, from father Ribadaneira, chap. 7., and from Dr. Champney'a manuscript history.
He was condemned, merely for his priestly character, and remaining in England contrary to the statute of Elizabeth, 27; and was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, in Fleet-street, July 2. Some say, that the servant of the inn, where he was apprehended, was executed at the same time, for aiding and assisting him. Mr. Beesley left behind him, a brother of the same character, who, for many years after, laboured in the Lord's vineyard.
ROGER DICONSON, OR DICKINSON, PRIEST. •
Roger Diconson, (whom Ribadaneira calls de Kinsonio, from which, some have given him the name of Kinson,) was born at Lincoln, and was an alumnus and priest of the English college, then residing at Rhemes. He was ordained priest at Laon, in April, 1583, and sent upon the mission, the 4th of May, the same year. The particulars of his missionary labours, apprehension, and trial, I have not found ; only, that he was condemned, merely on account of his priesthood, and suffered, as in cases of high treason, by hanging, drawing, and quartering, with a constancy worthy of the cause for which he died.
He was executed at Winchester, July 7, 1591.
Ralph Milner, layman, suffered at the same time and place, for relieving the said Mr. Diconson. He was bora at Flacsted, in Hampshire; and had a wife and eight children living, at the time of his condemnation. The judge, as it were, out of pity, advised him to go but once to church, that by this condescension he might escape the ignominious death of the gallows, and live for the good of his family : but Mr. Milner answered with true christian fortitude, would your lordship then advise me, for the perishing trifles of this world, or for a wife and children, to lose my God? No, my lord, I cannot approve or embrace a counsel so disagreeable to the maxims of the gospel. He was executed, therefore, according to sentence; and suffered with extraordinary courage and constancy.
At the same assizes, were also condemned, t seven maiden gentlewomen, of good families, for having received Mr. Diconson into their houses to say mass to them. But the judge, who thought they would be sufficiently terrified by the sentence of death, gave them a reprieve, and so ordered them back to prison; at which, they all burst out into tears, and begged that the sentence of death pronounced against them, might be put in execution; and that they might die, with their ghostly father and pastor; it being just, that as they had a share in his supposed guilt, so they should be also sharers in his punishment; adding withal, that they trusted in God, that he who had given them the grace to do
* From the Douay diary and catalogues, from Dr. Champney's manuscript, and from a relation sent over to England, recorded by father Ribadaneira. c . 7. t Septem nobilee virgines. Champney in MSS. Ribadaneira in Appendice, c 7. what they had done, would also strengthen them to suffer death with courage and constancy for the holy catholic faith.
Some time this year, 1591, (the particular day or month, I hare not found,) William Pikes, a layman, suffered at Dorchester, as in cases of high treason, for being reconciled to the church of Rome, and denying the queen's spiritual supremacy. He was, as I learn, from a written relation of the reverend Mr. Manger's, born in Dorsetshire, and dwelt in a village called Moors, in the parish of Parley, four or five miles from Christ's church, in Hampshire. He was hanged, cut down alive, bowelled, and quartered. Being cut down all alive, says a manuscript relation, in my hands, 'and being a very able, strong man, when the executioner came to throw him on the block to quarter him, he stood upon his feet; whereupon the sheriff's meu over-mastering him, threw him down, and pinned his hnnds fast to the ground with their halberts; and so the butchery was perfected.'
This year, on the 29th of November, a new proclamation was published against the catholics, as if the laws hitherto made, and all the fines, imprisonments, banishments, and deaths suffered in consequence of those laws, had not been sufficient . Of this proclamation, Cecil, Lord Burleigh, was supposed to be the author.
EDMUND GENINGS, ALIAS IRONMONGER, PRDZST.*
Edward Genings, (whom Stow, in his chronicle, calls Ironmonger, from the name under which he concealed himself upon the mission,) was born at Lichfield, in Staffordshire, in the year 1567, and was brought up in the protestant religion. From his very infancy he was wonderfully grave, and took no delight in the childish plays of those of his age, 'but greatly loved,' says his brother, p. 17, 'to behold the heavens, and therefore, he usually went forth in the evening to delight himself with the sight of the skies bedecked with stars. And, on a time, in these his tender years, going forth at night, according to his custom, this strange spectacle appeared to him in the air; he saw, as it were, armed men with weapons, killing and murdering others that were disarmed, and great store of blood running every where about them.
'This strange sight put him into a great fear, which caused him to run in hastily to tell his mother, who was then a widow, what he had seen, and she presently went forth with three or four of her neighbours, and they were all eye-witnesses of the same spectacle. Thus much I myself have heard them report, who also affirmed that myself was then present; but being very young, I cannot remember it. This happened in the beginning of our chiefest persecution, not long before the glorious death of father Campion and the rest.'
* From the Douay diary; but principally from hin life, written by hi* brother. John Geninga, and published at St. Omer'a, in 1614.
When he was about the age of sixteen, he was recommended by his schoolmaster (wonderfully taken with his docility and modesty,) to Mr. Richard Sherwood, a catholic gentleman, to serve him in quality of his page. In this service he learned from his master, who was a gentleman much persecuted for his conscience, the catholic religion; and not long after, when he was little more than seventeen years of age, Mr. Sherwood having determined to cross the seas and consecrate himself to God in an ecclesiastical state, (as he afterwards did, being made priest at Rhemes, as appears by the college diary, in 1584, and sent upon the mission the 2d of August, that same year, with Mr. Robert Dibdale,) Mr. Genings, finding in himself a strong call to the same kind of life, with earnest and repeated entreaties, obtained to be sent over to Rhemes, where the college then resided, with recommendations to Dr. Allen, then president there, afterwards cardinal.
No sooner was he received into the college, but, with all diligence and alacrity, he applied himself to his studies; but, above all, to the study of the science of the saints, the fear and love of God, in which he made great progress, to the satisfaction of his superiors, one of whom has given him in writing a character to this effect: 'Edmund Genings was provident and wise in counsel, humble in obedience, devout in Christ, strong in faith, prompt in good works, most true and sincere in his words, remarkable in his goodness, excellent in charity. He was often afflicted and sick; he suffered all patiently; there was ever in him a discretion in all his actions, and a love towards all, worthy of imitation.'
He was of a very weak constitution of body, and by the extraordinary pains he took, partly in his studies, and partly in his spiritual exercises, he fell into a great sickness, which was followed by a continual ague, and other infirmities, which at length brought him into a most dangerous consumption, insomuch that the physicians despaired of his recovery. This determined the president to send him into England, to try if the change of air might do him any service. He left Rhemes not without great regret, and went on his journey as far as Havre de Grace, in Normandy, being recommended to two or three banished English priests who were there; who, after one fortnight of his stay in that place, procured him a passage in a ship bound for London, and provided him all things necessary for his journey. When, behold! on a sudden, Mr. Genings, who was very unwilling to risk himself amongst his protestant relations, not having yet finished his studies, and attained to the order of priesthood, which he was so desirous of, and therefore had heartily prayed to God for the recovery of his health, desires of these good gentlemen, (who had been witnesses, during his abode with them, of the divers grievous assaults of his illness which he had suffered,) to have a little longer patience with him, and not to insist, as they did, upon his going on board, for that he felt himself very much better, and almost as well as ever he was in his life. They condescended to his desires, and found him, in effect, so suddenly and so wonderfully changed, that, on the very next day, he was not only able to eat his meat with a good appetite, but also to go a good long walk, and give such other tokens of health, as appeared not a little extraordinary. This sudden recovery of his was esteemed miraculous; upon which he returned to Rhemes, and there took up again, though with a greater fervour than ever, the course of life which his sickness had obliged him to interrupt, ever aspiring to the sacred order of priesthood, by which he might be qualified to assist the souls of his neighbours, and return to his own country to meet there with the crown of martyrdom. His common expression (as his brother relates from the testimony of his fellow collegians,) as often as occasion was offered of talking of England, and martyrdom there, being this, vivamus in spe, vivamus in spe, let us live in hope, let us live in hope.
The superiors of the college considering his fervour, procured a dispensation from Rome, that he might be made priest before his time, being but twenty-three years of age. The preparation he made for worthily receiving this holy order was very great, and the impression which his meditations on the dignity of the priesthood, and the greatness of the charge, &c., made upon his mind, was so strong, that it produced a wonderful effect, in his very body, of a shaking, as it were a palsy, which continued with him to his dying day. At this time, for his greater exercise of humility, patience, and charity, he was made prefect of the infirmary: in which office, he so laboured about the sick students, even in the meanest services, that he was called the very pattern of piety and humility. He was ordained priest, extra tempora (by an indult grained to the college by Gregory, XIII.,) at Soissons, March 18, 1590, together with Mr. Alexander Rawlins, who suffered at York, in 1595; and he was sent upon the English mission, by Dr. Barret, then president of the college, on the 9th of April following, in the company of the same Mr. Rawlins, and Mr. Hugo Sewel. In thenway they met with a party of Hugonots, belonging to the garrison of Crippy, who robbed them, and stripped them, and carried them into that town. The governor of which, as Mr. Genings writes to Dr. Barret, April 17, from Abbeville, treated them very ill, threatened them with death, and thrust them into a dark dungeon, where they remained front Tuesday till Thursday night. 'But we,' says he, * despised their threats, rejoicing that we suffered these cruelties from them, for the self-same causes, for which we shall suffer death in England, if God gives us strength: so that neither the prison, nor the want cf meat, clothes, or beds, any ways terrified us. On Thursday, in the evening, after wc had oat nothing that day but a little black bread, we had our papers restored to us. and we were put out of the town, and about ten o cluck at night, we arrived at the suberbs of La Fere, God Almighty showing us the way, which we knew not. When we had here rested our wearied bodies, the next day, the Governor of La Fere, gave us a crown, and sent us away in peace , and now we are at Abbeville.* So far. Mr. Genings. in his letter to Mr. Barret, recorded in the Douay diary.
He and his companions embarked at Treport, on the coast of Normandy, in a French vessel, the master of which, promised to set them ashore, in the night, on the English coast. They landed near Whitby, in Yorkshire, on the side of a high cliff, with great danger of their lives: and when they came into the town to refresh themselves, they found in