Alfield, Thomas, Bl.

views updated


Priest martyr; name also given as Aufield, Alphilde, Hawfield, Offeldus; alias Badger; b. Gloucestershire, England; hanged at Tyburn (London), July 6, 1585. Thomas and his brother Robert, who was St. Edmund campion's servant and betrayer, were born into a Protestant family. Thomas was educated at Eton and Cambridge. Following his conversion to Catholicism, he studied at Douai and Rheims, where he was ordained (1581). While working in the north of England, he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, May 2, 1582. Although he remained resolute even under torture, he was released. Captured a second time, he apostatized in prison. Repenting of his lapse, he lived for a time in Rheims before returning to the English mission to circulate Dr. Allen's booklet, True and modest Defence (August 1584), in response to Burghley's Execution of Justice. For this he was arrested with Ven. Thomas Webley, a dyer's apprentice, and a man named Crabbe. They were imprisoned in the Tower of London, then at Newgate. Crabbe was released after renouncing allegiance to the pope; Alfield and Webley were executed together. Both were beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891).

[k. i. rabenstein]