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WILLIAM FREEMAN, PRIEST,
MR. FREEMAN, who was sometime known by the name of Mason, was born in Yorkshire, and performed his studies in Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes. Here he was ordained priest, in 1587, and from hence he was sent upon the English mission in the beginning of 1589. The particulars of his missionary labours I have not been able to learn, nor could I any where meet with the account of his life and martyrdom, quoted by the bishop of Chalcedon to his catalogue. Dr. Champney, who, in all probability, had seen it, relates that Mr. Freeman having intelligence that a neighbouring justice of peace had a design to make a strict inquisition after priests in that neighbourhood, to withdraw himself further from the danger, went into another county. But as God would have it, he met the danger he sought to fly, and was there taken up upon suspicion, and committed to prison; and afterwards prosecuted and condemned, on account of his priesthood, at the instance chiefly of the archbishop of Canterbury, Whitgift. When he heard the sentence pronounced against him, he sung Te Deum, Sc. When he was drawn to the place of execution, he carried a crucifix on his breast, protesting aloud, That if he had many lives, he would most willingly lay them down for the sake of him, who had been pleased to die upon a cross for his redemption. When he came to the place of execution, where some others, for divers crimes, were also appointed to die that day, he petitioned that he might be the first to go up the ladder: but this was refused, the sheriff being in hopes that the sight of their death might terrify him, and bring him to a compliance, in which case his life was to be saved: but this sight, as he declared, had a contrary effect upon him, and only served to give him a more ardent desire of dying for Christ. So that, with the royal prophet, he cried out, As the hart desires after the fountains of water, so does my soul after thee my God. O! when shall I come and appear before thy face ! and so great was the joy of his heart, that it manifestly discovered itself in the serenity and cheerfulness of his countenance, to the admiration and edification of the beholders.
He was hanged, drawn, and quartered, at Warwick, the 13th of August, 1595. Bishop Yepez says in September, 1595.
Molanus, in his catalogue, signifies, that he suffered most cruel torments at, or before his death, p. 31. Gulielmus Freemannus Collegii Duaceni Presbyter, post varios cruciatus, et belluinam immanitatem heroice superatam, &c. William Freeman, priest of the college of Douay, died, after having heroically overcome divers torments, and the brutal cruelty of the persecutors.
1596.—This year is the first, since 1580, that passed without the execution of any priest in this kingdom ; and yet even this year could
* From the catalogue of the bishop of Chalcedon; from Dr. Champney's manuscript history, and from bishop Yepez, 1.5.c. 9.
his name with a note, that at that time his was a secular priest. How, or when he got out of Wisbich castle, I cannot tell ; but certain it is, that after this time, he was received into the order of St. Francis, either at Rome, as father Garnet insinuates, or at Pontoise, as Dr. Champney expressly affirms.
Returning into England about the year 1593, he laboured there for three years with great fruit, and then, fell again into the hands of the persecutors, and was kept in prison, for about two years more, where, many resorting to him, received great benefit to their souls from his conversation, till Topliffe, the arch-persecutor, caused him to be arraigned, (together with Mr. Barnet, and Mrs. Wiseman, who had been aiding and assisting to him,) in the beginning of July, 1598. Father Jones, pleaded that he had never been guilty of any treason against his queen or country; and desired, that his case should rather be referred to the conscience of the judges, than to an ignorant jury. Judge Clinch told him, they were sensible he was no plotter against the queen, but that he was a Romish priest, and being such, had returned into England contrary to the statute of Elizabeth 27, which was high treason by the laws. If this be a crime, said the confessor, I must own myself guilty: for I am a priest, and came over into England to gain as many souls as I could to Christ. Upon this, he was condemned, and when sentence was pronounced upon him according to the usual form, as in cases of high treason, falling upon his knees, with a loud voice, he gave thanks to God. Mr. Barnet and Mrs. Wiseman were also condemned to die, but were not executed.
On the 12th of July, in the forenoon, Mr. Jones was drawn to St. Thomas's Waterings, the place designed for his execution, where, being taken off the sled, and set up into the cart, he declared, that he had never spoken a word, or entertained a thought, in his whole life, against the queen or his country, but daily prayed for their welfare. He stood there for about an hour, (for it seems, the hangman had forgot to bring the rope with him,) sometimes speaking to God in prayer; sometimes preaching to the people ; till, at length a rope being brought, and fitted to his neck, the cart was drawn away, and he was permitted to hang till he was quite dead. His body aftewards was bowelled and quartered, and his quarters were set up on poles in the ways to Newington and Lambeth, and his head in Southwark. His execution is mentioned by Mr. Stow in his chronicle. Dr. Champney adds, that both his head and quarters, were afterwards taken down by the catholics, though not without great danger : and that he knew two young gentlemen, of considerable families, who were apprehended and committed to prison for attempting it. He also informs us, that one of his fore-quarters is kept at Pontoise, in the convent of the Franciscans, where he was professed.
He suffered, July the 12th, 1598; and father Garnet, who calls him, Godofredus Mauricius, wrote his account of his death, the 15th of the same month and year.
CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON-RICHARD HORNER.
CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON, PRIEST. *
MR. ROBINSON was born at Woodside, in the county of Cumberland, and was a priest of Douay college, during its residence at Rhemes. He was ordained, and sent upon the English mission in 1592. His missionary labours seem to have been in his own country ; where, at length, he was apprehended, and committed to prison. During his confinement, he had some conferences with the then bishop of Carlise, whose name also was Robinson. This protestant prelate, expressed a great deal of good nature, in regard to his namesake, and spared no pains to bring him over to the new religion, by persuasions and promises ; but this generous soul was proof against all his allurements and fair speeches, and remained constant in his faith. He was sentenced to die, as in cases of high treason, barely on account of his being a Roman catholic priest, and exercising his functions in this nation. His meek behaviour at the place of execution, the sweetness of his words, and of his countenance, and the constancy and cheerfulness with which he died, touched the hearts of many of the spectators, and was the occasion of many conversions.
He suffered at Carlisle, August the 19th, 1598.
RICHARD HORNER, PRIEST. +
Richard HORNER was born at Bolton-Bridge in Yorkshire, and was educated in Douay college ; where he was made priest, soon after the return of that community from Rhemes to Douay, viz: in' 1595 ; and from thence, was sent, that same year, upon the English mission ; where, falling into the hands of the adversaries of his faith, he was arraigned and condemned, merely as a catholic priest; and after having suffered much in prison, was executed at York, as in cases of high treason.
He suffered with great courage and constancy, September 4, 1598.
1599.-In this year, most of our catalogues of martyrs, place the death of Matthias Harrison, priest, who by some, is confounded with Mr. Harrison, who suffered at York, in 1602: but the lists of the priests ordained and sent from Douay college distinguishes them, and call the latter, James Harrison, of the diocese of Litchfield, ordained in 1583, and sent from Rhemes upon the mission in 1584 ; whereas the former, is there called Matthias Harrison, of the diocese of York, and was ordained, after the return of the college to Douay, in 1597 ; and from thence sent, the same year, upon the mission. Dr. Champney, in his manuscript, also distinguishes them, and tells us, that Mr. Matthias was • From Dr. Champney's manuscript, and the bishop of Chalcedon's catalogue. From the same manuscript and catalogue.
this year hanged, bowelled, and quartered, at York, barely on account of his priestly character.
This year, also, I find two of the laity executed for religious matters, viz: Mr. John Lion, who was hanged, bowellęd, and quartered, at Okeham, in Rutland, July 16, for denying the queen's spiritual supremacy. “ Catalog. Chalced. citans acta martirii ejus, and relationes fide dignorum ex certa scientia." And Mr. James Doudal, an Irish merchant, native of Wexford, who, for the same cause, was hanged, bowelled, and quartered, at Exeter, August 13. Whose burying place, says his countryman, John Mullen, of Cork, is said to be illustrated with divine miracles to this day, p. 93. Appendix to his Idea togatæ constantiæ.
CHRISTOPHER WHARTON, PRIEST. 1600.*
CHRISTOPHER Wharton was born at Middleton, in Yorkshire, and brought up in Trinity College, Oxon; of which college, he was some time fellow; and there also took the degree of master of arts : but preferring the old religion before the new, he left Oxford, and went over to Rhemes, where the English college then resided ; and, after some time, he was made priest by the Cardinal de Guise, then archbishop of that city, March 31, 1584 ; and from thence was sent upon the English mission, in 1586. He is much commended by Dr. Worthington, in his account of sixteen Martyrs, p. 81, for his humility, charity, and other great virtues, which God was pleased to reward with the crown of martyrdom. When, or how, he was apprehended, I have not learnt; but that he was taken in the house of Mrs. Eleanore Hunt, widow ; who for harbouring him, was also committed prisoner to York Castle, where I find them both, in 1599.
Mr. Wharton was brought upon his trial in the Lent Assizes, 1600, and indicted for being a seminary priest, and returning into the realm contrary to the statute of Elizabeth 27. He acknowledged himself to be a priest ; but added, that he was so, as indeed he was, before that statute was made, leaving it to his accusers to prove when he was ordained priest: for, considering his age, he might, for ought they knew, have been ordained before the first year of queen Elizabeth, and consequently be out of the danger of that statute. At his trial, many odious things were objected against the pope, cardinals, missionary priests, and catholics in general ; whom they were pleased to charge with idolatry, superstition, treasons, and what not. All which charges
* From a printed relation of sixteen martyrs, published by Dr. Thomas Worthington, in 1601; from the Douay diaries and catalogues, and from Dr. Champney's manuscript.
Mr. Wharton assured them, were unjust slanders; and withal, quite impertinent to the indictment, and the question upon which his life depended, which was to know the time when he was made priest. And, as to the dissentions between the jesuits and the seminary priests, which they also objected and amplified, he answered briefly, that in the catholic Roman religion, (which he professed, and for which he was ready to die,) there is neither idolatry, nor superstition, nor falsehood, nor contrariety of doctrine : and though there are dissentions sometimes amongst the catholics, either priests or others, yet these differences are not in articles of their faith, but in other matters ; as of some particular jurisdiction, right or title, spiritual or temporal, and the like : and that, for his own part, he had no such controversy with any catholic, nor breach of charity with any person whatever.'
As to the point concerning the time of his ordination, after a few conjectures which proved nothing, Mr. Saville, baron of the exchequer, (who was also his judge,) affirming that he knew him in Oxford some years after the time mentioned in the statute, and that he was not then taken for a priest, the jury was directed to find him guilty of the indictment; and he was condemned of high treason. Mrs. Hunt also was condemned of felony, for receiving him into her house ; as if she also had known him in Oxford to have been nó priest, and to have been made priest afterwards, whereas, indeed, she knew not at all, till a little time before he was apprehended in her house. She utterly refused to save her life by going to the protestant church ; but though she was sentenced to die, and lost all her worldly substance, yet she did not suffer, as was expected, but was permitied to linger away in prison, under the benefit, as it was called, of a reprieve.
Mr. Wharton had also the usual baits offered him of life, liberty, and promotion, if he would conform, which he generously rejecting, suffered death according to sentence, with great constancy, at York, the 28th of March, being Easter-Week, 1600.
JOHN RIGBY, GENTLEMAN.*
John Rigby was a younger son of Nicholas Rigby, a gentleman of an ancient family, of Harrock, in the parish of Eccleston, in Lancashire, whose circumstances being narrow, obliged him to take to service, where, through human frailty, (though he was always a catholic in his heart,) he sometimes went to the protestant church ; for which he afterwards heartily repented, and confessing himself to Mr. Jones, alias
From Dr. Worthington's printed account of his martyrdom, published the following year.