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Richard Fetherston, Blessed

Priest and martyr. d. at Smithfield, July 30, 1540

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Richard Fetherston, BLESSED, priest and martyr. d. at Smithfield, July 30, 1540. He was chaplain to Catharine of Aragon and schoolmaster to her daughter, Princess Mary, afterwards queen. He is called sacrce theologise Doctor by Pits (De illustribus Anglia scriptoribus, 729). He was one of the theologians appointed to defend Queen Catharine's cause in the divorce proceedings before the legates Wolsey and Campeggio, and is said to have written a treatise "Contra divortium Henrici et Catharin, Liber unus". No copy of this work is known to exist. He took part in the session of Convocation which began in April, 1529, and was one of the few members who refused to sign the Act declaring Henry's marriage with Catharine to be illegal ab initio, through the pope's inability to grant a dispensation in such a case. In 1534 he was called upon to take the Oath of Supremacy and, on refusing to do so, was committed to the Tower, December 13, 1534. He seems to have remained in prison till July 30, 1540, when he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Smithfield, together with the Catholic theologians, Thomas Abel and Edward Powell, who like himself had been councillors to Queen Catharine in the divorce proceedings, and three heretics, Barnes, Garret, and Jerome, condemned for teaching Zwinglianism. All six were drawn through the streets upon three hurdles, a Catholic and a heretic on each hurdle. The Protestants were burned, and the three Catholics executed in the usual manner, their limbs being fixed over the gates of the city and their heads being placed upon poles on London Bridge. Richard was beatified by Leo XIII, December 29, 1886.

G. ROGER HUDLESTON


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