the See of Rome ; to which he answered that the
Sacraments and Articles of Religion were no part
of civil allegiance, and that obedience to the Church
could not be esteemed disobedience to the prince.
As in the previous martyrdoms, the answers to
the " six articles " were read out, with a preface
1 Munday says he had two crosses. He adds that the martyr
was asked if he would acknowledge the Queen's Majesty his
sovereign princess and supreme head under Christ of the Church of
England. "No," quoth he, "I will acknowledge no other head
of the Church than the Pope only."
2 William Charke had been a Fellow of Peterhouse, Camb., but
was expelled in 1572 for declaring in a sermon that the episcopal
system was introduced by Satan. He published several tracts
against Campion and the Catholics, which were ably answered by
Father Persons. The first is entitled, An answer to a seditioiis Pamphlet
lately cast abroad by a Jesuit, with a discovery of that blasphemous sect,
1580. He was one of the Protestant divines who disputed with
Blessed Edmund Campion in the Tower (September 18, 23, and
27, 1581). In 1581 he was elected preacher to the Society of
Lincoln's Inn, but was suspended by Archbishop Whitgift in
1593 for puritanism.
4 g8 BLESSED WILLIAM FILBY
published by the Government to raise odium
against the martyrs. At the last answer, someone
asked him " whether Sanders did well in that
business in Ireland." He replied : " I know not.
I was not privy to his doings. I never saw or
spoke with him. Let him answer for himself."
Sheriff Martin now had his turn. Having made
the hangman put the rope about the martyr's neck,
he said, " Filby, the Queen is merciful unto you,
and we have authority from her to carry you back,
if you will ask her mercy and confess your fault.
Do not refuse mercy offered. Ask the Queen
forgiveness." " I never offended her," answered
the martyr. " Well then," said the Sheriff, " make
an end." And this sort of public disputation being
at length over, Blessed William had time to say
aloud a Pater and Ave, and In manus tuas, Domine,
commendo spiritual meum, and was pronouncing the
words " Lord, receive my soul," as the cart was
drawn away. Several times, as he hung, he struck
his breast, until someone pulled down his hands,
and so his brave and gentle soul won its victory.
E. S. K.
AUTHORITIES. Brief e Historic, pp. in 113. Concertatio
(1588), ff. 90, 91.
RELICS. At Stonyhurst is a piece of frayed rope labelled
ex laqueo B. Philbei.
There are also some small particles in a paper at
Archbishop's House, Westminster, bearing the inscription
It is indeed extraordinary that there are not more relics
of Blessed William and his companions, for in a volume of
BLESSED WILLIAM FILBY 499
MSS. preserved by the Jesuits at Rome we find a letter from
William Gifford, Professor of Theology at Rheims, dated
October 28, 1582, which informs us that the bodies of
these four martyrs who suffered on May 30 did not
endure the usual fate. It was thought that the people might
murmur at seeing so many limbs exposed on the City gates,
and so the bodies were buried under the gallows, as was
usually done in the case of felons. Some Catholic gentlemen
from the Inns of Court however came by night and stole
away the sacred relics. "Jamque per totam Angliam," con-
tinues the writer, " imo Franciam et Italiam thesaurus iste
The same writer adds a story that the death-warrant of
these seven holy priests was brought for the signature of the
Queen while she was engaged in dancing. She at once
signed it, and then took to dancing again. Quid crudelitati
cum deliciis ? quid cum funeribus voluptati ?
THE BLESSED LUKE KIRBY,
Tyburn, 30 May, 1582.
WHILST Blessed William Filby was still hanging,
the officers brought the next martyr, Blessed
Luke Kirby, from the hurdle, on which he lay
bound, to witness his holy companion's death and
the butchery that was to follow.
This holy priest was perhaps born near Richmond, 1
in Yorkshire, and from his age as entered in the
Diary of the English College at Rome, when he
took the oath, his birth must have been about the
He is said to have taken his Master's degree in
one of the Universities, presumably at Cambridge,
as he is not mentioned by Wood nor in the Oxford
Register. Of his conversion we learn incidentally,
from his examination printed below, that he was
1 The Douay Diaries enter him as " Cestriensis ; " the Diary of
the English College, Rome, as of the diocese of Durham. Dodd
says Richmond. Though the three statements cannot be recon-
ciled, the difference between them may amount to very little.
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY 501
" reconciled at Louvain, by Father Laurentius, a
In 1576 he entered the College at Douay. In
August of the next year he is mentioned in the
Diary as making a journey to Cambrai on the eve
of the Assumption and returning the day after the
feast. The diarist calls him a deacon at the time.
He was ordained priest at Cambrai on the Ember
Saturday of the next month, but out of devotion
to his patron saint did not say his first Mass until
St. Luke's feast, October the i8th. He started
from Rheims for the English Mission on a fitting
day for a martyr, the Invention of the Holy Cross,
the 3rd of May, 1578. What led to a change in
his designs we have no means of knowing, but on
July the i5th he was back at the College at Rheims,
where he remained over the feast of the Assumption,
and started on August the I7th for Rome, of course
with the approval of Dr. Allen, " partly for devotion,
and partly for further improvement in learning,"
as Challoner says. He entered the English College,
and amongst the other students who were there
when the Jesuit Fathers took over its government,
is registered as taking the College oath on the 23rd
of April, 1579. During his stay at the College he
practised great charity towards his countrymen in
Rome who needed help, Catholic and non-Catholic.
He helped them from his slender purse, he won
friends for them among members of the Pope's
Court, he gave away the shirt off his own back, and
once went forty miles out of Rome to see some
safe on their way. We have these facts from his
502 BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
own avowal, wrung from him at the moment of
his martyrdom, by the treacherous ingratitude of
his accuser, Munday, to whom he had shown
especial kindness in Rome, though, even at the
time, he saw through his insincerity.
This holy priest was chosen to be the companion
of Blessed Edmund Campion and Blessed Ralph
Sherwin on their way to England, and the three
future martyrs travelled together to Rheims, with
the rest of the party enumerated in Blessed Ralph
Sherwin's Life, leaving Rome on the i4th of
April, 1580, and arriving at Rheims on the last
day of May. In Father Persons' Life of Campion
we read that the Blessed Luke had shown such
fervour in preparing himself during Lent for the
mission to England " as was a matter of edification
to all Rome." Also that he had been one of
those, who, with an ardour characteristic of the
Elizabethans, challenged Beza to dispute, on the
condition that the losers should suffer death.
On June the i6th he set out from Rheims for
England once more, together with the Ven.
William Hartley. His companion was to follow
him a few years later in the glorious path of
martyrdom, his mother looking on at his death
and thanking God that she had brought forth a son
to die for Him. They made the journey to the
coast, by Douay and Dunkirk, after the apostolic
fashion, on foot.
On landing in England the martyr was imme-
diately seized, for, as we shall see, he was arrested
at Dover, and had been re-examined (probably as
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY 503
soon as he was sent up to the court) on July the
i6th. A list of prisoners among the State Papers 1
shows where he was at first confined. He is
thus referred to : " Gatehouse ; Lucas Kirky, priest,
now in the Tower." The Gatehouse at Westminster
was, at this time, a comparatively comfortable
prison, and the martyr would perhaps be allowed to
enjoy the society of the venerable Father Lawrence
Vaux, who was seized and committed to the
Gatehouse about the same time, and of the many
good Catholics whom it held captive. 2 It must have
been during this imprisonment that the following
paper was drawn up from examinations, which are
now no longer forthcoming.
" Lucas Kirby chargeable with,
" Departing out of the realm without licence
upon misliking of religion here established. (In answer
to the four first interrogatories.)
" Refusing to answer the sixth interrogatory, of
the lawfulness of the oath of obedience.
" With being reconciled at Louvain to the Church
of Rome by one Father Laurentius, a Norman. (In
answer of the i8th.)
1 R.O. Domestic, Elizabeth, vol. cxlix. n. 83. Printed by Foley in
Records, S.J., vol. iii. p. 290.
1 "Ad carcerem igitur Westmonasteriensem bonus Senex (Vaux) cum
Tichboyne mittitur, qiti captivis abundat et multis et bonis, quorum primus
Townlius est, vir sc. nobilis, deinde M ra Heth, fcemina nobilis, ejusque
filia, multi praterea gravissimi et optimi sacerdotes, multi valde pii laid."
(Douay Diaries, p. 171.) One cannot help wondering whether this
Father Lawrence may not be the same as he who (though described
in the following examination as " a Norman ") reconciled our
martyr to the Church at Louvain.
504 BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
"With confession that he heard of an excom-
munication being in Paris a month since, lately
gotten out by a Cardinal at Rome. (Answer to the
" He cannot answer whether the Pope's excom-
munication be lawful and according to the word of
God. (To the 2$th.)
" Confession of advice received at Rome (sic) of
the Rector of the English Seminary there, to do
what he could at his coming into England for stay
or persuasion of others (meaning in the Pope's
religion). (In a re-examination on the i6th of July,
" Confession that he thinketh the Pope only hath
power in ecclesiastical causes, and none other. (In
his examination taken at Dover.")-
At the beginning of December, as we have
already seen, the Privy Council resolved to send
some priests to the Tower, where they might be
tortured " for the terror of the rest," and Kirby,
being chargeable with the above-mentioned crimes
against their persecuting laws, was selected, with
Sherwin, Cottam, and the rest, to be one of the
first victims. He was conducted thither on the 4th of
December, and at the same time the following inter-
rogatories were drawn up to assist the Protestant
inquisitors in their wicked work.
1 Cardinal Alessandrino is said to have reprinted the Bull of
Excommunication about this time, to show at Paris, where
Catherine de Medicis was negotiating a marriage between Elizabeth
and the Duke of Anjou.
9 R.O. Domestic, Elizabeth, vol. cxl. n. 43.
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY 505
"Articles to be ministered to Cottam, Kirby, and others
of late committed to the Tower.
" i. What was the principal cause why you were
sent into this realm by the Pope or by some [other]
minister of his ?
" 2. To whom were you specially directed to
repair unto within this realm ?
"3. What hope before your departure were you
put in, of somewhat to be attempted both against
Ireland and England ?
"4. Upon what comfort did the late B. of
St.Asaph, D. Morton and the rest of the principal
persons, that remained before at Rome, repair
upon a sudden to Paris with intent to have come
into England, and upon what cause did stay to
repair hither ?
" 5. What relief have you received since you were
committed to prison, and from whence and by
whom came the same relief?
" 6. Whether was there not some relief delivered
you as sent from the Scottish Queen, and by whom
was the same delivered ?
" [7.] How many have you reconciled to the
Church of Rome since your imprisonment, and
what be their names ?
" [8.] How many have you heard of late to have
been reconciled to the Church of Rome by others,
what be their names, and by whom were they
" [9-] What conference have you had with
Campion, since his coming over, or what message
or letters have you received from him ?
506 BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
" [10.] Where do you know, or have heard, that
Campion is ?
" [n.] Whether have you not heard of some
Catalogues of names of the principal favourers of
the Romish religion within this realm have been
delivered to the Pope, and what principal persons
do you remember to have been contained in the
said catalogue ?
" [12.] What acquaintance have you with the
Bishop of Ross, or what letters or messages have
you received from him since your return into this
" [ I 3-J What letters or messages have you
received from D. Saunders in Ireland ?
" [14.] What principal persons in Ireland are
noted to be favourers of the rebellion there, and
have given their promise to join with such persons
as should be sent from the Pope?" 1
It is unnecessary to comment on the animus
that inspired these questions. It is reckoned a
crime, forsooth, to reconcile a man to the Church,
a crime to supply poor prisoners with alms, a crime
to withhold the names of Catholics from their perse-
cutors, a crime for a Catholic Bishop to come to
England, a crime to carry or receive a message
from a Catholic missionary. It is taken for granted
that Catholic priests are in connection with the
insurgents of Ireland. No priest could in conscience
answer these questions, and the next thing that we
1 R.O. Domestic, Elizabeth, vol. cxlvii. n. 97. Printed also by
Foley, Records S.J., vol. v. p. 348.
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY 5 o 7
hear about Kirby is that five days after his arrival in
the Tower he was subjected to the cruel torture of
"The Scavenger's Daughter." 1 This horrible instru-
ment Lingard describes as " a broad hoop of iron
. . . consisting of two parts, fastened to each other
by a hinge. The prisoner was made to kneel on the
pavement and to contract himself into as small a
compass as he could. Then the executioner, kneeling
on his shoulders, and having introduced the hoop
under his legs, compressed the victim close together,
till he was able to fasten the extremities over the
small of the back. The time allotted to this kind
of torture was an hour and a half, during which time
it commonly happened that from excess of compres-
sion the blood started from the nostrils ; sometimes,
it was believed, from the extremities of the hands
and feet." 2 The martyr underwent this cruel inflic-
tion for more than an hour. As we afterwards hear
no more of tortures inflicted on the martyr, we
may hope that his courage under his dreadful ordeal,
warned the persecutors that it was no use harassing
him by further violence.
From the 5th of February 1581, to Pentecost,
May the i4th, he was, with the rest of the Catholic
1 The invention of Sir William Skevington, Lieutenant of the
Tower in the reign of Henry VIII., and called Skevington's Irons,
then Skevington's Daughters, and by degrees The Scavenger's
2 History of England, vol. vi. note U. Hart, in his "Diary,"
writes briefly, "The Scavenger's Daughter a name derived, as I
think, from its inventor consists of a hoop of iron, which fastens
together hands, feet, and head into one ball." The implement now
shown under this name at the Tower must be a later and more
humane form of this instrument of torture.
5o8 BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
prisoners, " dragged by the hands of the keepers and
soldiers," as the diarist says, to hear the sermons
of John Nichols, a Calvinist minister, who had been
converted at Rome, and then relapsed. We shall
meet him again. The sermons were full of invec-
tives against the Faith and abuse of the confessors,
who were called rebels, seditious men, idolaters, and
traitors; while they on their part interrupted, exposed
his false assertions, challenged him to disputation,
and after the discourse hissed him away, in spite of
the threats of Hopton, who was present. Blessed
Thomas Cottam distinguished himself especially on
Blessed Luke was arraigned with Campion
and the rest, on Tuesday, November the i4th,
and tried on Thursday the i6th. In the report
of the trial printed in Cobbett's State Trials, 1 it is
recorded that " Kirbie, in his examination for the
Supremacy and the Pope's authority, was of no
other opinion than was Campion."
" Sledd, a witness, deposed against Kirbie, that
being sick beyond the seas, this Kirbie came unto
his bedside and counselled him to beware how he
dealt with any matters in England, for there would
come a great day wherein the Pope, the King of
Spain, and the Duke of Florence should make as
great an alteration as ever was. He deposed that
Kirbie was at a sermon of Dr. Allen's, who then
persuaded the priests and Seminary men to take
1 Cobbett, State Trials, vol. i. p. 1069 ; Harleian MSS. 6,265,
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY 509
their journey into England to remove the English-
men from their obedience to her highness, and to
persuade them to aid the Pope and his confederates.
He deposed moreover that beyond the seas he spake
with one Tedder, a familiar friend of Kirbie's, of whom
he, deponent, demanded whether he were of kin to
her Majesty, for that his name was Tedder. Where-
unto he answered that if he knew himself to be kin
to that whore of Babylon, that Jezebel of England,
he would think the worse of himself, as long as he
lived. But one day he would make a journey into
England, and if it were possible despatch her out
of the way.
" Kirbie. ' As I hope to be saved at the last
doom, there is not one word of this deposition that
concerneth me, either true or credible. Neither
at any time made I the least mention of that
alleged day : neither was I present at any sermon
so preached ; but I always bore as true and faithful
a heart to her Majesty as any subject whatsoever
did in England ; insomuch that I never heard her
Majesty evil spoken of but I defended her cause, and
always spake the best of her highness. It is not
unknown that I saved English mariners from
hanging only for the duty I bore to her Majesty,
with the love and good-will which I bore to my
country. But you that have thus deposed, when
was this sermon that you talk of, so preached ?
at what time of the day ? '
" The witness answered that the same day there
were three philosophical disputations, after the which
the sermon was preached."
5 io BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
Though the holy priest was declared guilty of
high treason and received sentence, his martyrdom
was delayed, as in the case of many of his com-
panions, for several months. On the 2gth of
April, 1582, the Diary of the Tower states that he
was put into irons, and so continued till his execu-
tion. It was during this time that he was required
to answer the "six articles" of the Council, which
he did as follows :
" Luke Kirbye's Answere. 1
" Luke Kirbye, to the first saith, that the resolu-
tion of this article dependeth upon the general
question whether the Pope ma}', for any cause,
depose a Prince ; wherein his opinion is that for
some causes he may lawfully depose a Prince, and
that such sentence ought to be obeyed.
" To the second he thinketh that in some cases,
as infidelitie or such like, her Majestic is not to be
obeyed against the Pope's bull and sentence ; for so
he saith he hath read that the Pope hath done,
de facto, against other Princes.
" To the third he saith he cannot answer it.
" To the fourth that the Pope, for infide-
litie, hath such power as is mentioned in this
"To the fifth he thinketh that doctour Saunders
and doctour Bristowe might be deceived in these
points of their bookes. But whether they were
deceived or not he referreth to God.
1 Tierney-Dodd, vol. Hi. p. xii. (Appendix.) For the questions,
vide supra, p. 451.
BLESSED LUKE KIR BY 5 n
" To the last, he sayeth that when the case shall
happen, he must then take counsel what were best
for him to doe.
" LUKE KIRBYE.
"JOHN POPHAM. DA. LEWIS.
"THOMAS EGERTON. JOHN HAMMOND."
Whilst Elizabeth's Ministers were thus intent
on casting new odium upon the martyrs, one of
their miserable instruments was seized with remorse
for his share in this very work. John Nichols, a
Welshman by birth, scholar of Brasenose, Oxford,
a curate in Somersetshire, went abroad in 1579, was
converted, but, so he afterwards said, was not fully
convinced. He was admitted as a student at the
English College at Rome, and afterwards at Rheims,
and returned to England in 1581, where he was
arrested at the end of a week, and sent to the
Tower. There, partly from want of principle,
partly through fear of torture, partly through the
flatteries of the Lieutenant, Sir Owen Hopton, he
made a solemn recantation of Popery, and wrote,
under the inspiration of his host, and with the help
of the Puritans Stubbs and Wilkinson, three books,
his Pilgrimage, his Recantation, and his pretended
Oration and Sermon before the Pope and Cardinals.
These three publications were rilled with vile
slanders against the Pope, the Cardinals, Bishops,
clergy, and Seminarists, and helped to foment the
persecuting spirit, by representing them as busied
with nothing but hatred and machinations against
the Queen. For a time Nichols was made much of
5 i2 BLESSED LUKE KIRDY
and subsidized. But an exposure, immediately
printed and circulated by Father Persons, effectually
pricked this windbag. 1 It is noticeable that he kept
out of the way during the trials of Campion and the
rest in November. He declared afterwards that he
did so purposely, that he might not bear false
witness against any of them individually. Then
in the first days of January, 1582, that is a month
after the martyrdoms of December the ist, he came
to Blessed Luke Kirby's cell under the pressure of
remorse. The martyr describes the interview in a
letter written three or four days later, January the
"A true copy of a letter sent by Mr. Kirby to some of
" My most hearty commendations to you and
the rest of my dearest friends. If you send any-
1 A correspondent of Father Agazzari, who, as was shown before,
must be Father Persons himself, though he is named in the third
person, writes: "It can scarce be believed what praises are lavished
on this gull. He is the most learned Jesuit of them all, the Pope's
scholar, the Cardinals' preacher, a theologian, philosopher, Grecian,
Hebraist, Chaldaist, a perfect master of all languages and every
science. He has printed his renunciation of the faith in which he
tells enormous lies about Rome, the Pope, your College, the Jesuits,
the scholars, and all orders of monks and priests. The book was
received and distributed by the heretics with mighty triumph ; but
next month or so there came out another book, A Discovery of Nichols,
proving clearly that he was neither Jesuit nor priest, theologian nor
philosopher; that he had never preached before Pope or Cardinals,
except when he abjured the heresy of Calvin before the Inquisitors ;
that he knew nothing of any learned language or science, but was
merely a relapsed minister, an ignorant grammarian, a vagabond
tramp, and an egregious liar." (Persons' edition of Sander's De
Schismate Anglicano, Cologne, 1610, p. 397, translated in Simpson's
Life of Campion, p. 204.)
BLESSED LUKE KIRBY
thing to me, you must make haste, because we look
to suffer death very shortly, as already it is signified
to us. Yet I much fear least our unworthiness of
that excellent perfection and crown of martyrdom
shall procure us a longer life.
" Within these few days John Nichols came to
my chamber window with humble submission, to
crave mercy and pardon for all his wickedness and
treacheries committed against us, and to acknow-
ledge his books, sermons and infamous speeches to
our infamy and discredit, to be wicked, false and
most execrable before God and man : which for
preferment, promotion, hope of living, and favour
of the nobility, he committed to writing and to the
view of the world. Whereof being very penitent
and sorrowful from his heart, rather than he would
commit the like offence again, he wisheth to suffer
a thousand deaths. For being pricked in con-
science with our unjust condemnation, which hath
happened contrary to his expectation, albeit he
offered matter sufficient in his first book of recanta-
tion for our adversaries to make a bill of indictment
against us, yet he minded [expected] then nothing
less, as now he protesteth. He knoweth in con-