Page 7, 20th March 1987

20th March 1987
Page 7
Page 7, 20th March 1987 — Cobblers and cooks to martyrdom

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Cobblers and cooks to martyrdom

The zeal of the faithful in the 16th century led them to face, unflinching, to the scaffold, as Elizabeth and Stephen Usherwood write.

from, northern England usually sailed in one of the colliers which traded between the Continent and Newcastle, where Roger Highcliffe, the post officer, was sympathetic, having a Catholic wife. In the surrounding country were wealthy Catholic families, notably the Goodericks, Harecliffes, Grimshaws and NeviIles, who were willing to shelter priests, and to obtain for them English style clothes.

Fr Taylor, arrested and imprisoned in York soon after landing, was brought before the Council of the North. Its President, the Earl of Huntingdon, who had been roused to fury by the skill with which the laity concealed their priests, pronounced the death sentence on a Friday; Fr Hugh not only greeted it with joy, but added that he wished he could die on the same day of the week as his Saviour. He was immediately led out to the scaffold and a traitor's death.

The next day a married man, Ven Marmaduke Bowes, was executed, it being presumed he had harboured Taylor at Ingram Grange near Welbury, Yorkshire, because, on hearing of the arrest, he had ridden at once to the Castle to speak on the priest's behalf.

On evidence obtained under torture from Martin Harrison, a Catholic schoolmaster to the Bowes children, the parents were questioned. No charge was made against Mrs Bowes, but, without a proper trial, the Earl inflicted the death penalty on her husband.

A Sussex gentleman of the Shelley family, seeing what a storm of hatred was hanging over Catholics, approached the Queen in Greenwich Park and presented a petition against such cruelty. For having done so without the Privy Council's permission, he was confined in the Marshalsea until his death.

Continued persecution by the Council of the North resulted in execution at York in 1586 of three Yorkshire priests, Ven. Francis Ingleby. Ven John Fingley, and Ven Alexander Crow.

Fr Ingleby's parents, whose ancestral home was Ripley Castle, had six sons and eight daughters. Francis, their fourth son, who studied at Brasenose College, was ordained at Laon in 1583 when about 33.

Returning in April 1584, he was harboured by St Margaret Clitherow, and was one of the priests named in the charges against her. In the spring of 1586 he left York accompanied by a Catholic gentleman, William Lacey. Outside the city walls they parted, without realising that they had been seen from the Bishop's palace. Two chaplains there had noticed the deference with which Ingleby, though poorly dressed, was treated by his companion.

Tried before judges who constantly interrupted his attempts to defend himself, he was condemned to death.

John Fingley of Barmby near Howden, Yorkshire, won a sizarship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambrige, entitling him to free lodging and tuition in return for domestic duties, but never attended Anglican services. From Cambridge, where he was accused of being "a pernicious papist", he went to Douai College, and, after being ordained at Rheims in 1581, returned to York, travelling with Ven Thomas Belson.

Four years later, a captive in the Cathedral prison, York, he was befriended by Frances Webster, a Catholic girl in the cell above, who lifted a grill to give light and passed down a warm gown. Among the charges against him was that of hearing her confession. Fr Fingley's mother, who lived until 1632, was present at her son's execution on August 8. Both Frances Webster and her mother died in prison.

Alexander Crow, a York shoemaker, on first reaching Douai College, followed his trade, then became assistant cook, before studying for the priesthood. Ordained in 1583, he served in Yorkshire for about two years, usually travelling on foot, until one night, when Christening a child at South Dronfield, he was arrested and imprisoned in York Castle.

On the day appointed for the trial he was weak with fever, but this merely moved the judge to mockery. Sentenced to death with him was Richard Langley, a country gentleman, condemned for harbouring two priests, although no proof was offered that he knew them to be priests. At the scaffold, on November 30, Fr Crow was driven up the ladder with blows, causing him to fall back exhausted; the crowd jeered, calling it an attempted suicide, BI Richard Langley was executed next day.

Fr John Sandys, a Lancastrian, sentenced for priesthood at Gloucester Assizes, graduated at Oriel College, Oxford in 1573, and became tutor to the children of Sir William Winter (an Admiral in the Armada campaign) at Lydney in Gloucester. After conversion to Catholicism and ordination at Rheims, he worked in Gloucestershire until the summer of 1586, when, in laymen's clothes, he visited an old friend, the Anglican Dean of Lydney.

Enemies seeking the overthrow of the Dean, reported him for harbouring a priest. The Dean's explanation that he knew Sandys only as a gentleman of Sir William's household, was accepted, but the authorities, having condemned the priest, could not find a hangman, until a fellow who had disguised himself came forward; the only knife available was blunt; and the execution was carried out so brutally that, the following year, the crowd insisted Ven Stephen Rowsham should hang until dead.

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