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MATTHEW FLATHERS-GEORGE GERVASE.
MATTHEW, (ALIAS MAJOR) FLATHERS, PRIEST.-1608.*
MR. FLATHERS was born at Weston, in Yorkshire, and educated in the English college or seminary of Douay. I find by the records of the college, that he was presented to the holy order of priesthood, and ordained at Arras, March 25, 1606, and that he was sent with proper faculties upon the English mission, in the company of Mr. Thomas Somers, on the last day of June of the same year. It seems he fell very soon into the hands of the adversaries of his faith and character, for I have seen his name in a catalogue of priests banished this same year, 1606. However, he quickly returned to the work of his Lord, and after labouring some time in Yorkshire, his native country, he was again apprehended and prosecuted at York for his priestly character. For this, and for his functions only, (no other treason being so much as objected to him, he was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He refused to save his life by taking the new oath of allegiance, as it was called, and being drawn to the common place of execution, without Mickle Bar, (a gate of York so called) he was butchered in a most barbarous manner,t for he was no sooner turned off the ladder, but immediately cut down, and rising upon his feet, attempted to walk, as one hall stunned, but one of the sheriff's men quickly stopped his journey, by giving him a desperate cut on the head with his halberd ; another violently Aung him down, and held him fast whilst the executioner ripped up his breast, pulled out his heart, and so completed the butchery. He suffered at York, March 21, 1607-8.
GEORGE GERVASE, PRIEST, 0. S. B.I.
GEORGE GERVASE, or Jarvis, was born at Boseham, in Sussex. His father was a gentleman of a noted family in that country, his mother was of the ancient family of the Shelleys. He was left an orphan when he was twelve years of age, and not long after was kidnapped by a pirate, and carried away to the Indies, with two others of his brethren; where he continued for about twelve years, and quite lost his religion ; at length he found means to return into England. His eldest brother, Henry, a catholic, was at this time abroad in Flanders, probably for the security of his conscience, and that he might there enjoy the free exercise of his religion.. Mr. George, soon after his return, went over to make him a visit, and by his religious example, and the conversation of
• From the Douay diary, and the printed catalogues of Dr. Worthington, p. 48, and Arnoldus Raissius, p. 70.
+ Slatim abscisao fune in terram dejectus, ipse in pedes se erexit, et ambulare attentabat ; at ex lictoribus unus telo ei capitis partem abscidit; alter eum vi magna in terram prostravit, et retinuit, dum carnisex ventrem secaret et erueret, T. W. in catalogo, p. 48. Raissius, p. 71. * From the Douay diary, T. W. in his catalogue, p. 45, and Raissius, p. 94.
a learned catholic divine, was reconciled to the catholic faith, and soon after became a student in the English seminary at Douay.
Here he employed about eight years in the study of virtue and learning, and being judged by his superiors duly qualified for the sacred functions, he was presented to holy orders, and passing through the usual degrees, was ordained priest in 1603 ; and was sent upon the Eng. lish mission, August 26, 1604. Here he laboured with great benefit to the souls of his neighbours, for about two years; and then being apprehended, was, with many other priests, sent from prison into banishment, in June, 1606. In his banishment he called at Douay, and after a short refreshment there, he made a journey of devotion to Rome, to visit the tombs of the apostles. He petitioned, whilst he was at Rome, to be admitted amongst the jesuits. But this not succeeding, he returned to Douay, and there staid some months at his mother college. His brother designed to have him kept in Flanders, and had provided for him a comfortable subsistence in the city of Lisle, where he might live remote from the dangers that visibly threatened him, if he ventured to return to England; but as Mr. Gervase was under an engagement to serve the mission, and his heart and affections were there, he was not to be kept from it, either by the importunity of his friends, or the fear of dangers.
So to England he returned, and landed safe there, but was soon after apprehended and committed to prison. Here the new oath of allegiance was tendered to hiin, which he refused. After a few weeks he was brought upon his trial, and was condemned to be hanged, bowelled, and quartered, barely on account of his being a priest, and having exercised his priestly functions in England; which sentence was accordingly executed upon him at Tyburn, April 11, 1608, where he suffered with the faith, devotion, and courage of the primitive martyrs. At the place of execution he prayed in secret to himself, upon which some that were there desired him to pray aloud, that the people might join in prayer with him ; to whom he is said to have made answer, I want not the prayers of heretics, but if there be any catholics here I earnestly beg that they would pray to God for me. He suffered in the thirtyseventh year of his age, and is said a little before his death to have privately received the habit of saint Bennet, at the hands of father Augustin Bradshaw.
Mr. Gervase's execution is mentioned by Howes upon Stow, in his chronicle, and by Mr. Salmon in his history, who calls him Sir George Jarvis.
THOMAS GARNET, PRIEST, S. J.*
THOMAS GARNET, was son of Richard Garnet, a constant professor and great sufferer for the catholic faith, and nephew or near kinsman to father Henry Garnet, who suffered in St. Paul's church-yard,
From father Barton's history of the English Jesuits, I. vi. chap. xiv, and father More's history of the English province, I. viii. n. 8.
May 3, 1606. After a pious education at home, under the care of his father, who, from his very birth, had vowed and dedicated him to God and his church, he was sent abroad when he was sixteen or seventeen years of age, to the seminary just then erected at St. Omer's, under the care of the fathers of the society of Jesus ; and having, there, finished his humanity, he passed, in the year 1595, into Spain, to the English college of Valladolid, where he learned philosophy and divinity, and was made priest. He was sent upon the mission, in the company of Mr. Mark Barkworth, of whose glorious exit we have trealed in the first part of these memoirs, and laboured with zeal in the vineyard of his Lord, for about six years, being remarkably industrious in endea. vouring to bring the souls that were under his care, lo a thorough sense of solid piety, and to ground them strongly in virtue.
Having been a long time desirous of entering into the society of Jesus, he was admitted by father Henry Garnet, his kinsman, ihen superior of the English jesuits; but before he could go beyond the seas to make his noviceship, he was apprehended and committed prisoner to the Gatehouse, and from thence was translated to the Tower. His being a kinsinan of father Garnet, and having received a letter from him, was the occasion of his being strictly examined by secretary Cecil, (not without severe threats of the rack) concerning the gunpowder ploi, then lately discovered; but as they could not find any manner of grounds for a suspicion of his being any way conscious of that execrable conspiracy, these threats proceeded no farther than the keeping him for eight or nine months in a close confinement, where, with lying on the bare ground, and that in the severest season of the winter, he contracted rheumatic pains, and a kind of a sciatica, which stuck by him for the remainder of his life.
From prison, he was, with many other priests, sent into banishment, in 1606; and then repaired to Louvain, where, at that time, the English jesuits had lately procured an establishment for a novitiate. Here he remained some months, giving great edification to his fellow novices, and then was sent back upon the mission; where being betrayed by one Rouse, an apostate priest, he sell again into the hands of the pursuivants. At this second apprehension, he was brought before Thomas Ravis, bishop of London; by whom, and by Sir William Wade, he was several times examined. In his examination, he neither owned nor denied himself to be a priest, but refused to take the new oath; adding, that he was of opinion, if any catholics had taken it, they did it out of fear, which he hoped would never prevail with him to act any thing against his conscience.
He was committed to Newgate, and not long asier, brought upon his trial at the Old Bailey, upon an indictment of high treason, for having been made priest, by authority derived from Rome, anil remaining in England contrary to the statute of Elizabeth 27. Three witnesses appeared against him, who deposed that whilst he was prisoner in the Tower, he had written in several places, Thomas Garnet, priest: upon this slender evidence, he was found guilty by his jury, and received the sentence of death with great joy : apprehending nothing so much as, Jest by the interest of friends, or by any other means, he should be de
prived of that crown, which he had now so near a prospect of, as he often professed with tears, to those who had access to him. And when some suggested to him liow he might have an opportunity of making his escape, he would not make use of it; choosing rather to obey a voice within, which said to him, noli fugere, don't run away.
When he was called forth to the hurdle, he obeyed the summons with a remarkable courage and cheerfulness : and laid himself down, more like one that was going to his marriage-feast, than to suffer a cruel and ignominious death. There was a great concourse of people, and many of the nobility and gentry at the place of execution ; amongst the rest, the earl of Exeter, one of the privy-council: who endeavoured to persuade the confessor to save his life, by taking the oath ; alledging that several priests had taken it, and that many more looked upon it a disputable matter, in which faith was not concerned; why, therefore, should he be so stiff, and not rather embrace the offer of the king's clemency, by conforming as others had done. Father Thomas replied, My lord, if the case be so doubtful and disputable, how can I, in conscience, swear to what is doubtful, as if it were certain ? No, I will not take the oath, though I might have a thousand lives.
Upon this, being ordered to get up into the cart, he cheerfully complied, and kissed the gallows, as the happy instrument which was to send him to heaven. He then professed that he was a priest, and a member of the Society of Jesus, though the least and most unworthy : that he had not indeed acknowledged this at his trial, not out of any fear of death, but that he might not be his own accuser, or put his judges under a necessity of condemning him against their conscience : that he had spent the nine years of his missionary labours in assisting and comforting the persecuted catholics, and in bringing back the sheep that were gone astray, to the fold of Christ; but as for any treasonable designs against the king or kingdom, he had never entertained any, nor ever been conscious to any. A minister that was there, asked him, If there was no equivocation in what he said? The confessor replied, No, sir; for if I had been minded to use equivocations, I might bave taken the oath and saved my life : which oath I did not decline out of any unwillingness to profess my allegiance to the king, which I offered to do, and for that end, produced at my trial, a form of an oath of allegiance, drawn up according to what was looked upon satisfactory in the days of our forefathers, to which I was willing 10 swear: but this new oath is so worded, as to contain things quite foreign to allegiance, to which in my opinion, no catholic can, with a sase conscience, swear.
Then crossing his hands before his breast, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, He looked upon this as the most happy day of his life, and himself most happy in being to die in so good a cause: and heartily prayed to God, that he would turn away his wrath from this nation, and not lay his death to their charge : and, in particular, that he would forgive all those who had any ways concurred to his condemnation, and that he might one day see them happy with him in heaven. After which, he recited the Lord's prayer, the Hail Mary, and the creed. Then having begun the hymn Veni Creator, when he came to those
words, sermone ditans guttura, the cart was drawn away, and he was left hanging, till he had given up his pious soul into the hands of his Creator. For the people that were present, and my lord Exeter, in particular, would not permit the rope to be cut, till he was quite dead. He suffered at Tyburn, June 23, 1608, Anno Ætatis 34. His execution is mentioned by Howes upon Stow, Collier, Salmon, &c.
The year 1609, passed without the shedding of any catholic blood for religious matters : a thing the more to be remarked, because the like had not happened since the year 1580.
1610.–In February, 1610, I find in B. W's. manuscript, concerning the English Benedictine congregation, that F. Sigebert Buckley, the last surviving monk of the abbey of Westminster, departed this life, in the 93d year of his age : after having endured forty years persecution for the catholic faith, always shut up in one prison or another.
ROGER CADWALLADOR, PRIEST.*
This gentleman, who was commonly known upon the mission by the name of Rogers, was born at Siretton, near Sugeres, “ Sugwas, in Herefordshire. His father was a yeoman, a man of substance, and Roger was his eldest son and heir ; but yet he could by no means, be brought to follow the world, but even from a boy, was very assiduous in serving God, and learning his book, wherein, he surpassed most of his school-fellows. His desire of improving himself in religion and study, carried him beyond the seas, where he entered himself a student in Douay college, at that time residing at Rhemes. of this college, he was an Alumnus, and having made great progress in learning and virtue, he received there most of his orders. For I find him in the Douay diary, ordained sub-deacon at Rhemes, Sept. 21, 1591, and deacon, Feb. 24, 1592. In the August following, he was sent into Spain, to the college lately erected at Valladolid, where he finished his studies, and was made priest; and from thence, returned home, to labour in the vineyard of his Lord, about the year 1594.
He is taken notice of by Dr. Pits, for his rare genius for learning, and great knowledge in the Greek tongue, out of which, he translated Theodoret's Philotheus, or the lives of the fathers of the Syrian deserts, which work of his is extant in print. He had also, a great talent for controversy. His labours in England, were employed in his own country of Herefordshire, where, he deservedly gained the character of a pious, prudent, and zealous missioner: and God was pleased to bless his labours with great success, in winning over many souls to Christ and his church ; especially among the poorer sort, for whose comfort, and spiritual assistance, he spared no pains, night or day; usually per
* From two manuscript relations sent me from Douay; gathered partly out of his own letters, partly from the testimony of the reverend Mr. John Stevens, a neighbouring missioner, and other unexceptionable witnesses. Item, from the Douay diary, and from Dr. Pits, de scriptoribus, &c., in Rog. Cadwallador.