Great Britain’s Martyrs – Part I – The Carthusian Monks

There is a dark part of Britain’s history that we were not taught much about. Why? Because we are still under the successive reign of those who launched the significant change in Britain’s history and are still in charge of education and the writing of history.

Until 1533, England was an entirely Catholic country. But there came a time when this faith was taken by force, along with property and people’s lives. When King Henry VIII disobeyed the pope, in regards to the annulation of his legitimate marriage, a massive persecution of everything Catholic was unleashed. An example is the dissolution of 800 monasteries and the persecution and execution of faithful Catholics who were denied religious freedom and, as a consequence, died for their faith.

Tens of thousands of Catholics were executed in the persecutions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Forty of the martyrs have been canonised by Pope Paul VI and eight-five have been beautified by Pope John Paul II. See the full list of British canonised martyrs here—and a chronological list of canonised martyrs here.

In a new series of articles, we will take a closer look at the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales. Stay tuned.

The First of the Forty Martyrs – 40 Martyrs of England & Wales – Trailer  (Shalom World/YT):

Watch the full episode here:

The Carthusian Monks – Martyred for their Faith

Between May 1535 and August 1540 eighteen monks from the Carthusian order were put to death for the same crime, for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church.

In Letters and Papers, there is a report regarding “The Charter House Moncks” taken from the collections of Camden and Stow:

“In 1535 eighteen of the Charterhouse were condemned for defending the liberty of the Church. Seven of them, viz., John Houghton, Robt. Lawrence, Austen Webster, Humfrey Middellmore, Wm. Exmeu, Sebastian Newdegate, and Wm. Horne, were drawn on hurdles through the city of London to the open place of execution, and there hanged, quartered, &c. Three of them, Humfrey, William, and Sebastian, had stood in prison upright, chained from their necks to their arms, and their legs fettered with locks and chains for 13 days. Their quarters were hanged on the gates and walls of the city and on the gate of the Charterhouse. Two of the eighteen, John Rochester and James Walwercke, remained hanging. The other nine died in prison with stink and miserably smothered, “the which were these that follow.”…”

As you can see from that account, the monks died in very different ways, all of them involving awful suffering.

All eighteen Carthusian monks have been recognised by the Catholic Church as martyrs. Here is a list of their names and how they died:

  • 4 May 1535 – John Houghton, prior of the London Charterhouse; Robert Lawrence, prior of Beauvale Charterhouse; and Augustine Webster, prior of Axholme Charterhouse, were executed along with a Bridgettine monk, Richard Reynolds of Syon Abbey. They were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
  • 19 June 1535 – Sebastian Newdigate,choir monk; William Exmew, procurator; and Humphrey Middlemore, vicar – all Carthusian monks from the London Charterhouse – were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
  • 11 May 1537 – Blessed John Rochester, choir monk, and Blessed James Walworth, choir monk, both from the London Charterhouse, were hanged in chains from the battlements of York. They had been tried in the city for treason for denying the King’s supremacy following the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion.
  • 6 June 1537 – Blessed William Greenwood, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 8 June 1537 – Blessed John Davy, deacon and choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 9 June 1537 – Blessed Robert Salt, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 10 June 1537 – Blessed Thomas Green, choir monk, and Blessed Walter Pierson, laybrother, both of the London Charterhouse, died from starvation in Newgate Prison. They were two of nine monks who were purposely starved to death for refusing to accept the royal supremacy.
  • 15 June 1537 – Blessed Thomas Scryven, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 16 June 1537 – Blessed Thomas Redyng, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 9 August 1537 – Blessed Richard Bere, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 20 September 1537 – Blessed Thomas Johnson, choir monk of the London Charterhouse, died of starvation at Newgate Prison.
  • 4 August 1540 – Brother William Horne, laybrother of the London Charterhouse, was hanged, disembowelled and quartered at Tyburn.


One of the monks executed in 1535, Sebastian Newdigate, was a close friend of the King and a former Privy Councillor. Newdigate went as far as signing the Oath of Succession, in June 1534, but would not accept his friend’s supremacy. He was arrested on the 25th May 1535 and taken to Marshalsea Prison, where he spent two weeks chained in an upright position to a pillar before appearing before the King’s Council and then being taken to the Tower of London. The King visited him at Marshalsea and at the Tower, trying to convince his friend to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church but Newdigate refused. He was condemned to death at his trial on the 11th June 1535 and was executed 8 days later.

These men were men of God and were known for their austerity and sanctity and executing them had to be one of the most brutal acts of Henry VIII’s reign.

(Source: The Tudor Society)

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