Protomartyr of the persecution under Henry VIII (1487-1535)
John Houghton, BLESSED, protomartyr of the persecution under Henry VIII, b. in Essex, 1487; d. at Tyburn, May 4, 1535. He was educated at Cambridge, graduating LL.B. about 1497, and later LL.D. and D.D.; he was ordained priest in 1501 and entered the Carthusian novitiate at the London Charterhouse in 1505, where he was professed in 1516. He filled the office of sacristan, 1523-28; of procurator, 1528-31; of prior of Beauvale, Nottinghamshire, from June to November, 1531; of prior of the London Charterhouse, 1531-35; and of provincial visitor, 1532-35. He was imprisoned in the Tower for about a month, with the procurator, Blessed Humphrey Middlemore, for refusing to swear that the king's marriage with Queen Catharine was invalid, but took the oath of succession under the condition quatenus licitum esset, with some of his monks, May 29, 1534, the others being sworn June 6. On or about April 13, 1535, he was committed again to the Tower for refusing the oath of supremacy.
With him were sent Blessed Robert Laurence, who had succeeded him as prior of Beauvale, and had previously been chaplain to the Duke of Norfolk and then a monk of the London Charterhouse; and Blessed Augustine Webster, prior of Axholme, Lincolnshire, formerly a monk of Sheen. These priors, who were on a visit to the London Charterhouse, had not had the oath tendered to them, but were brought before the Rolls for that purpose on April 20, and, on refusing it were sent back to the Tower. There they were joined by Blessed Richard Reynolds, a Brigittine of Syon, born about 1492, educated at Christ's and Corpus Christi colleges, Cambridge, Fellow of Corpus Christi, 1510, B.D. 1513, subsequently D.D. He became a Brigittine in 1513, and was considered one of the foremost scholars of his day. All four were indicted April 28, 1535, under 26 Henry VIII, c. 1, for refusing the oath of supremacy. The jury at first refused to find them guilty, but were intimidated by Cromwell into doing so the next day. All were hanged in their habits without being previously degraded, and all were disembowelled while fully conscious, Houghton being the first to suffer and Reynolds the last.
With them died a secular priest, Blessed John Hale, LL.B., Fellow of King's Hall, Cambridge, and Vicar of Isleworth, Middlesex, since August 13, 1521. He took this living in exchange for the Rectory of Cranford, Middlesex, which he had held since September 11, 1505. There is nothing to identify him with the Rector of Chelmsford of 1492. He may possibly be the person of this name who became scholar of Eton in 1485. He was indicted April 20, 1535, with the perpetual curate of Teddington, Middlesex, named Robert Feron, for offenses against 25 Henry VIII, c. 22. Both pleaded guilty and were condemned; but Feron was pardoned. Hale was the fourth to suffer.
JOHN B. WAINEWRIGHT