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which were owing to his needy and afflicted father,

1 Jardine, p. 27.

2 Ibid. p. 8r. It is also given in Pollen's Acts of English Martyrs,
pp. 13, 14.


as if the pieces themselves were guilty of high
treason and denial of the Supremacy. In the
prison Sherwood suffered very grievous things with
a constancy worthy of all praise. . . . To begin
with, the holy youth was harassed by repeated
torturings, in order that overcome with pain, he
might confess where he had heard Mass, to the
intent that any he might name, might be punished
with like plunder of goods and bodily injury. But
he was brave beyond his years, no racking, no cross-
examination could make him name any one. Thus
baulked, his barbarous torturers changed their
proceedings and cast the martyr, who had now lost
the use of his limbs, into a very dark and fetid
dungeon. Here he was left without necessary
clothing, in order that the terrors of darkness, the
stench, and most of all, the shameful nakedness,
might break his resolution, which no torture could
move. As to food, it is easy to conjecture of what
sort it was, seeing that he was not allowed to buy
anything to sustain life nay, more, what calls for
the utmost commiseration is that when a certain
good man, 1 touched by the report of the extreme
hunger which the blessed youth was suffering, sent
him some money, and by means of a prisoner con-
veyed it to Sherwood's own keeper (this everyone in
the Tower has), the keeper returned it next day,
because the Lieutenant would not allow him to have

1 Father Persons has added in a note: " Mr. Roper, son-in-law
to Thomas More." William Roper died January 4, 1577-8, not in
1573, as Cresacre More, Life of Sir Thomas More, p. 119, Edition
of 1725, erroneously says.


the benefit of any alms. The martyr's friend asked
whether the keeper himself would not expend it for
his benefit, but he was told it was impossible. All
that the most earnest prayers could effect was to
induce him to take sixpence to buy straw for the
youth to lie on, so great was the inhumanity of the
Lieutenant towards his starving prisoner."

Blessed Thomas's brother gives us some more
precious details.

" He was of small learning, scarcely understand-
ing the Latin tongue, but had much read books of
controversies and devotion, and had used much to
converse among Catholic priests, and by reason
thereof, having a good wit and judgment, and
withal being very devout and religious, he was
able to give good counsel, as he did to many of
the more ignorant sort, being much esteemed for
his virtuous life and humble and modest behaviour :
besides God did give a special grace in his [con-
versation] , whereby together with his good example
of life, he much moved and edified others. He was
a man of little stature of body, yet of a healthful
and good constitution, and very temperate in his

" After his first racking in the Tower (which was
said to be rigorous), being visited by a Catholic
gentlewoman, he showed himself of that joyful and
comfortable spirit as she was astonished thereat.
As also his keeper with compassion giving him
warning that he was to be racked again, he was


so little moved therewith, as merrily and with a
cheerful countenance he said these words : ' I am
very little, and you are very tall ; you may hide me
in your great hose and so they shall not find me ; '
which the keeper did afterwards report to divers,
much marvelling at his great fortitude and courage.
He was about the age of twenty-seven years when
he was martyred." 1

Our martyr was brought to trial on Saturday,
the ist of February, 1577-8. The official record of
his trial still exists. 2 It took place in the Court of
the Queen's Bench at Westminster. The martyr

1 Hallam states that the Blessed Thomas was only fourteen
years of age, and the mistake has been repeated by more than one
recent writer. Hallam makes the statement on the authority of
Ribadeneyra (Continuatio Sanderi et Rishtoni, chap, xxvi.), writing
many years later. The brother's witness conclusively shows that
Ribadeneyra was mistaken. The following conjecture is offered to
the reader as a possible explanation of the error. The Philopater
of Father Persons appeared at Lyons in 1592 ; Ribadeneyra's
Appendix, or Continuation of Sander and Rishton, which refers to the
former work, was published probably with an edition of the History
of the English Schism in 1594 (Dodd says 1595). Whoever will
compare the passage of Ribadeneyra about Blessed Thomas
Sherwood (chap, xxvi.) with that of Persons (sect. iv. 266) will
see that the former is taken almost textually from the latter. Now
Persons begins his passage with the words, Quid . . . causes fuit
cur annis abliinc quatuordecim,juvenempr<zclarum, &c. Ribadeneyra (in
the Latin translation of 1610), Adolescens, imo puer quatuordecim
annorum, liberalis admodum forma, &c. Is it fanciful to suppose that
from an imperfect recollection of Persons' book, or badly written
notes, he mistook the passage from Philopater for annos natum quatuor-
decim ? It may be added that he probably was boyish-looking and
young for his age as well as small of stature, as all the authorities
dwell so much on his youth.

'^ Coram Rege Roll. (20 Elizabeth, rot. 3.)


was accused in the indictment of having on
November the 2Oth last " diabolically, maliciously,
and traitorously ... of his own perverse and
treacherous mind and imagination, ... in the
presence and hearing of divers faithful subjects of
the said Lady our Queen " uttered, answered,
published, and said "these false traitorous English
words following, . . . falsely, maliciously, advisedly,
directly, and treacherously to wit, ' that for so much
as our Queen Elizabeth . . . doth expressly disassent
in Religion from the Catholic faith, of which Catholic
faith, he sayeth that the Pope Gregory the thirteenth that
now is, is conserver, because he is God's General Vicar
in earth : and therefore he affirmeth by express words
that our said Queen Elizabeth . . . is a schismatic and
an heretic:' to the very great scandal and deroga-
tion of the person of our said Lady the Queen,
and the subversion of the state of this realm of
England," &c.

The other words of which he was accused (for
we may spare the reader any more of the redundant
adjectives and adverbs which besprinkle the report
so lavishly), were those which we have already
quoted as having been extorted from him by
Fleetwood, and again by the Attorney-General, as to
the excommunication of the Queen.

The martyr having pleaded not guilty, the trial
was fixed for the following Monday, "the morrow of
the Purification of Blessed Mary the Virgin," on which
day he was speedily found guilty and condemned
to death in the usual form, i.e., " that the aforesaid
Thomas Sherwood be led by the aforesaid Lieutenant


unto the Tower of London, and thence be dragged
through the midst of the city of London, directly
unto the gallows of Tyburn, and upon the gallows
there be hanged, and thrown living to the earth,
and that his bowels be taken from his belly, and
whilst he is alive be burnt, and that his head be
cut off, and that his body be divided into four
parts, and that his head and quarters be placed
where our Lady the Queen shall please to assign

There is no account preserved of the martyrdom.
It took place on Friday, February the 7th, at
Tyburn ; l and the Acts expressly mention that after
the hanging, the other barbarous details of the
execution were inflicted on him while still alive and

Three weeks later one who arrived at Douay
from England brought the news that " for the
profession of the Catholic faith a certain youth
named Thomas Sherwood had endured not prisons
only but even death : and that in all his torments
his cry had been, ' Lord Jesus, I am not worthy to
suffer these things for Thee, much less to receive
those rewards which Thou hast promised to such as
confess Thee.' "

Can we conclude this sketch of the life and
sufferings of this bright and heroic soul better than

1 The writs to the Lieutenant of the Tower to deliver up
Sherwood to the Sheriffs, and that to the Sheriffs of London to
conduct him to execution, are in the Controlment Roll (20 Elizabeth,
rot. 29). See Pollen, Acts of English Martyrs, p. 19. Stow records
the execution in his Chronicle.


in the words of his ancient biographer ? " Farewell,
most holy martyr, and help with your patronage
me, a most unworthy sinner, who am labouring to
increase your honour here on earth. Amen."


AUTHORITIES. Briefe Historic, p. 158. Concertatio (1589),
if. 79 B 80 A. Yepes, pp. 360, 361. Raissius, Catalogus
Sacerdotum Anglo- Duacenorum. Champney's Annals (in West-
minster Archives), p. 740. Challoner (1874), i. pp. 23, 24.
Pollen, Acts of English Martyrs, pp. i 20. Dasent, Acts of the
Privy Council.


Tyburn, 31 July, 1581.

Two opposite currents were becoming stronger day
by day in England. On the one hand, the labours
of the new missionaries, in spite of the heat of
persecution, brought a great many into the Church.
But on the other hand, among large numbers, there
was a cruel and growing eagerness, fostered and
rewarded by the Government, and stimulated by
every art of calumny and misrepresentation, to
track down the devoted priests and hunt them to
death as if they were a natural prey. It was thus
that the Blessed Everard Hanse obtained the crown
of martyrdom. He was visiting some prisoners for
the Faith in the Marshalsea Prison, an every-day
event in the prison discipline of the day, when the
gaoler noticed the foreign make of his boots. This
was enough to awaken suspicion in the excitement
of the time, roused, as it was, to the highest pitch
by the search for Father Campion, and his capture
which had just been effected. Hanse was at once
brought before a magistrate and required to give


an account of himself. He made no attempt to
evade the inquiry, but with fearless openness declared
that he was a priest, and was immediately com-
mitted to Newgate, and as if he were a most
dangerous and degraded criminal, heavily ironed
and placed amongst the felons there.

He was born in Northamptonshire. His father
and mother were both followers of the new religion,
and Everard was sent to Cambridge. His abilities
attracted attention, and having received heretical
Orders he was presented to a rich living. His MS.
Acts 1 speak of him as surrounded by an admiring
crowd when he preached, and as much carried away
by his success. Meantime his elder brother, William,
had obeyed the call of divine grace and left England
to prepare himself for the priesthood. The Seminary
had been shortly before obliged to leave Douay,
largely owing to the intrigues of Elizabeth against
it, and in March, 1578, had found a refuge at Rheims
under the protection of the Cardinal Archbishop,
Louis of Guise. William Hanse arrived there on
November the nth following the transfer, and in
the course of the next spring was ordained, said his
first Mass on April the 28th, and was sent on the
perilous English Mission on the 23rd of May, 1579.

The two brothers had many discussions about
religion, but Everard remained unmoved. God's
mercy, however, had singled him out not only for
the grace of conversion, but for the glory of martyr-
dom. In the midst of his prosperity he was struck
down by a dangerous illness. As he lay long in

1 Westminster Archives, vol. ii. p. 175.


extreme suffering, hovering between life and death,
things began to appear to him in a new aspect, and
God completed His work by some supernatural
light, the nature of which his Acts do not specify.
He did not delay. His brother was summoned to
his sick-bed, and had the consolation of instructing
him in the Faith, and receiving him into the unity
of the Church.

Everard did not give himself to God by halves.
As soon as he was recovered and had resigned his
living, he set out for Rheims, with the desire of
becoming a teacher of the truth amongst his
countrymen to whom he had been a preacher of
error. He was admitted to the Seminary on the
nth of June, 1580, just four days after the Blessed
Edmund Campion and Father Persons had left for

At this time the College was more than ever
like a busy hive, priests or students were con-
tinually arriving from or setting out for England,
Rome and Paris; the lectures in Theology, Philo-
sophy, Scripture, the Classics, and Hebrew, were in
full activity ; the version of the New Testament
was nearing completion, and controversial works
succeeded each other rapidly. So far from the
migration to Rheims having injured its work, there
were this year no fewer than one hundred and twelve
members in residence, besides others living in the
town, and joining in the studies. Such was the life
in which the new convert found himself. He lost
no time in applying himself with his whole energy
to theology, especially moral theology, and the


practical duties of a missionary priest, and rapidly
acquired a sufficient knowledge to warrant his
Superiors in presenting him for ordination. The
English fields were ripe for the harvest, labourers
were urgently needed, and no time was to be lost.
Besides all this, our martyr, we are told, was
filled with an " unspeakable desire to gain others,
but especially some of his dearest friends into the
unity of the Church." On the 2ist of the February
following his arrival, he was ordained subdeacon,
and on Holy Saturday, which in 1581 was March
the 25th, he was raised to the priesthood in the
Church of our Blessed Lady at Rheims, by the
Bishop of Chalons, being one of thirteen, of whom
four besides himself were afterwards martyrs. He
said his first Mass on April the 4th, and on the 24th
set out for England, with three other priests.

During the latter months of his residence at
Rheims, the College diaries record again and again
harrowing accounts of the seizures, imprisonments,
and torturings of the missionaries of which the
news reached the Seminary from England. 1

But so far from being terrified by these horrors
or hesitating in their purpose, the students were
only more eager for the combat. Two years later
(the i4th of April, 1583), Dr. Barrett wrote 2 from
Rheims to Father Agazzari :

" There is among all a great fervour of charity,
and an exceeding desire to aid our country. They

1 Knox, Douay Diaries (Diarium Secundum), September 18,
October 9, December 22, 1580; January 25, January 31, 1581.

2 Ibid. Introduction, p. Ixxxii.


seem to me like men striving with all their might
to put out a conflagration. They cannot in any
way be kept back from England."

Allen wrote of the very period under discussion : l

"These late terrors (thanks be to God)
trouble them so little, that divers straight upon the
arrival here in Rheims of the late proclamation of
January (1581), came to their Superiors to desire
leave to go in ; and being answered that the times
were not seasonable, they said it was no God-a-
mercy for a priest to enter in at other times, but
that they were brought up and made specially for
such days, and nineteen persons the same week
following took Holy Orders."

That ordination would seem by the Diary 2 to
have been the very one in which Blessed Everard
Hanse was made subdeacon. We may well suppose
that he returned to England, anticipating, even
by the light of common sense, but a short
apostolate. He took the precaution of adopting a
feigned name, and passed as Evans Duckett. From
this time the practice was usually adopted by the
missionaries. It was unfortunately only a slight
protection against the ubiquitous spies of Cecil

1 Allen, Apology for the English Seminaries (Mounts in Renault,
1581), f. 85 v.

2 Knox, Douay Diaries (Diarium Secundum), February 21, 1581.
This entry follows immediately that of February 12, which records
the news of the January Proclamation


and Walsingham, who penetrated even into the
seminaries and supplied their employers with
minute particulars of the names, appearance, and
movements of the priests and students.

And in fact Blessed Everard had laboured but
three months in the vineyard when he was seized, as
we have seen. He had gone to give alms and con-
solation to the prisoners for Jesus Christ ; and he
received at once the recompense of being made a
prisoner for Jesus Christ himself.

From a paper in the Ambrosian library at Milan,
consisting of extracts from the correspondence of
Allen and others in the following month, we learn
that various efforts were made to prevail on him to
acknowledge the Royal Supremacy, and also that he
was beaten, and for a long time hung up by his
feet. This must have been immediately after his
committal ; for the Newgate gaol delivery took
place a few days after the holy priest's committal,
and he was accordingly brought to trial on Friday,
July the 28th, at the Old Bailey, before the Recorder
of London, Fleetwood, a bitter enemy of Catholics.
As in the case of the Blessed John Nelson and the
Blessed Thomas Sherwood, there was literally no
offence to charge him with, for though he had
declared himself a priest, the famous statute by
which it was made high treason for a priest
ordained abroad to be in England was not as yet
passed. The judge had therefore first to make his
victim commit a capital offence before he could
charge him. This did not, however, require much
skill, for the martyr answered all his questions with


as much readiness and frankness as if they were on
indifferent topics instead of involving his life.

The Recorder first asked him where he was
ordained and for what purpose he had come into
England. He answered that he was ordained at
Rheims and that he had come back in order to gain
erring souls to the unity of the Christian Church.

Recorder. "Then you are subject to the Pope?"

Blessed Everard. " So I am, Sir."

Recorder. "Then the Pope has some authority
over you ? "

Blessed Everard. " The most just authority."

Recorder. " What ! now in England ? "

Blessed Everard. " Most assuredly. He hath
as much authority and right in spiritual government
in this realm as ever he had, and as much as he
hath in any other country, or in Rome itself."

The judge now proceeded to extract from him
matter against another statute. He was asked
whether he thought the Pope could err. He
answered as any Catholic would answer now,
that in his own life and conduct he was liable to
error, or even in his writings as a private doctor,
but not in his "judicial definitions of controverted

They were warily bringing him nearer to the
snare, a most needless ingenuity and asked
whether Pius V. had not acted judicially in the
Bull of Excommunication against the Queen, and
then reading out the part in which she is declared
to be a heretic and a supporter of heretics, and
therefore deprived of her royal crown and dignity,


required the prisoner to say if the Pope had not
erred in this. He answered, " I hope not," using
this expression because the act of the Pope was not
a doctrinal definition but a question of fact and of

This answer served to bring him within the reach
of the statute of 1571, which made it high treason
to declare the Queen a heretic or schismatic. But
Fleetwood seems to have had an artistic sense of
completeness in judicial persecution, and went on
to secure against his prisoner an accusation under
a new statute passed this very year, 1581, which
extended the ever-widening embrace of high treason
to the act (among many others) of persuading any
subject of the Queen to leave the established religion
for that of the Catholic Church. So as a final
question he asked, " Have you given the answers
we have heard with a design to persuade those
who are present to embrace the same opinions ? "

"I know not," said the open-hearted priest,
"what you mean by the word persuade, but I would
fain that all believed the Catholic Faith from their
hearts as I do."

The offence had now been obtained, and a lawyer
in the court was directed then and there to draw up
the indictment, the charge being to this effect : that
Everard Hanse, a scholar of the Pope, and made
priest beyond the seas, had come back into England
to withdraw the Queen's subjects from their
obedience ; that he had asserted that the Pope was
his Superior, and had in England the same
authority as heretofore ; and likewise that he had


declared that he hoped Pius V. had not erred in
pronouncing the Queen a heretic and depriving her
of her kingdom, and that he had said these things
to persuade others to follow his opinions.

The indictment having been read out, the martyr
was ordered to hold up his hand, as is usual when
pleading, on which the judge took the opportunity
to browbeat him, because his right hand being
occupied in holding up his heavy chains, he had held
up the left. When asked if he was guilty of what
was charged against him, he answered with his
usual frankness that though the indictment was not
xact in every particular, yet he quite acknowledged
its substantial truth. And upon this, sentence of
death was pronounced as in cases of high treason.
Such was the degradation of English justice under
Elizabeth, at least where Catholics were concerned.
Such a sentence would have been iniquitous and
illegal, even apart from the cruelty and injustice of
the statutes it professed to apply.

The account of the martyr's trial which has been
given from his Acts is briefly confirmed by the
honest Stow. " Everard Hanse," he writes, "a
seminary priest, was in the Sessions Hall in the Old
Bailey, arraigned ; where he affirmed that he was
subject to the Pope in ecclesiastical causes, and that
the Pope had now the same authority here in
England that he had a hundred years past ; with
other traitorous speeches ; for which he was
condemned and executed." 1

1 Stow's Chronicle (1581). The heretics declared he was as
foolish as he was false ; and that it was impossible he could have


Blessed Everard's martyrdom was consummated
three days after his sentence, on the 3ist of July,
1581, at Tyburn, "about eight of the clock in the
morning." On the day before, he wrote from his
prison a letter to his brother which has happily
been preserved. 1 It is as follows :

" Brother,

" I pray you be careful for my parents ;
see them instructed in the way of truth ; so that
you be careful for your own state also. What you
shall take in hand that way, think no other but that
God will send good success. My prayers shall
not be wanting to aid you by God's grace. Give
thanks to God for all that He hath sent. Cast not
yourself into dangers wilfully, but pray to God when
occasion is offered you may take it with patience.

" The comforts at the present instant are
unspeakable ; the dignity too high for a sinner ; but
God is merciful. Bestow my things you find
ungiven away upon my poor kinsfolk. A pair of
pantofBes I leave with M. N. for my mother.
Twenty shillings I would have you bestow on them
from me, if you can make so much conveniently ;
some I have left with M. N. I owe ten shillings
and two shillings ; I pray you see it paid ; M. N.
will let you understand how and to whom. If you
want money to discharge it, send to my friends, you

got enough learning in two years to be fit to be ordained priest,
which as the writer of the Briefe Historic remarks was a strange
thing for them to say, as they had thought him learned enough
to be one of their own ministers four or five years before.
1 It is printed in the Briefe Historie.


know where, in my name. Summa Conciliorum, I
pray you restore to M. B[lackwell ?] ; the other
books you know to whom.

" Have me commended to my friends : let them
think I will not forget them. The day and hour of my
birth is at hand, and my Master saith ' Tolle crucem
tuam et sequere Me.' Vale in Domino.
" Yours,


" Pridie obitus."

Beneath the gallows he appeared with the same
bright, frank, untroubled manner which had always
been the faithful expression of his character. He
told the people he was a Catholic priest, and was

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