Extracts taken from ‘Historical Details for the use of Parish Guides’

‘By Act of Parliament ordination to the Priesthood constituted treason – all priests, and those associated with them (by aiding them or concealing them) risked being discovered, arrested and then interrogated for the names of other secret Catholics. Trials were usually brief, as all that had to be established was that the accused was a priest, at which point conviction was a certainty. Before the trial, suspects were questioned as to their theology on various subjects – the royal supremacy of the Church of England, the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass, the sacrificial character of the Mass, devotion to Our Lady and so on’.


St. Richard Reynolds: Born in Devon, England, in 1492 and educated at Cambridge. Later a monk of Syon House he was martyred in 1535.

Bl. John Slade: Born near Marnhull, he was a school teacher and apparently regarded as a significant force for converting the local populace, since his name came before the Queen’s Privy Council in London who issued a warrant ‘for the apprehending and sending up of one Slade, a very dangerous Papist lurking in the county of Dorset’. He was martyred in 1583.

Bl. John Adams: Born in Martinstown, just outside Dorchester, and at one time was an Anglican vicar. He was later ordained as a Catholic priest. Martyred in 1586.

V. John Hambly: Born at St. Mabyn Cornwall, brought up a Protestant and converted to Catholicism. After training for the priesthood at Rheims he returned to England in 1585 and settled to work near Beaminster. Later worked as a priest in Wiltshire and was finally convicted of treason and executed at Salisbury, 1587.

Bl. Thomas Pilchard (or Pilcher): A fellow and tutor at Balliol College, Oxford, reported to the college authorities at Oxford as being “grievously suspected of religion”. He converted Bl. William Pyke and was martyred in Dorchester with several other Catholics on 21 March 1587.

Bl. William Way: Born in Exeter and arrested after only a couple of months in London. Martyred in 1588, the year of the Armada.

Bl. William Pyke: A layman and joiner or wheelwright by trade, married and with a family. He lived in or near West Moors in Dorset and was converted by Bl. Thomas Pilchard. Pyke was somewhat outspoken: he was arrested because of his rather indiscrete and public comments in defence of the Catholic faith. He was interrogated in the prison at Dorchester and finally executed on 22 Dec 1591.

Bl. John Cornelius: A priest acting as chaplain to Lady Arundel, he was arrested on 24 April, 1594, at Chideock Castle, by the sheriff of Dorsetshire. Martyred on 4 July 1594 in Dorchester.

Bl. John Carey & Bl. Patrick Salmon: They were servants in the Arundel house at Chideock and arrested with Bl. John Cornelius. Martyred 1594 in Dorchester.

Bl. Thomas Bosgrave: He was related to the Arundels by marriage (so of knightly class) and arrested at the same time as Cornelius, Carey and Salmon: he betrayed his faith by objecting to the rough and tumble rude manner in which Bl. John Cornelius, was handled by the pursuivants when caught. Martyred with Cornelius, Carey and Salmon in Dorchester, 1594.

Ven. Thomas Bullaker O.F.M.: Born in Sussex in the early 1600s. He became a Franciscan whilst studying for the Priesthood at Valladolid in Spain. He was sent on the English mission and for 11 years he worked in rural England before moving to London. Eventually found guilty of treason and executed at Tyburn, 1642.

Bl. Hugh Green: He had lived with the Arundel family at Chideock for thirty years but decided to obey a Parliament issued edict that all priests leave the country immediately, with a limited number of days in which to comply before they would be arrested. Green made his way to Lyme Regis, there to sail for the continent to safety. Unfortunately he arrived in the town two days after the end of the period of grace and was arrested at once, taken to Dorchester and martyred on 19 August 1642.

More information about Catholic Martyrs in the UK can be found on these websites:

Canonization of 40 English and Welsh Martyrs

Chideock Martyrs History