Cottam, Thomas, Bl.

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Jesuit martyr; b. 1549; d. London, May 1582. He was of an ancient family of some wealth whose seat was at Dilworth in Lancashire. Many of his relatives were Catholic, but his parents were Protestants. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, and took his B.A. in 1568. He became a teacher in London where he met Thomas Pound, to whom he owed his conversion. He resigned his mastership, and crossed to Douai, arriving in May 1577. The following year, after a brief visit to England, Cottam returned to Douai by May 14, 1578, with five young converts from Oxford. He sought admission to the Society of Jesus, and in February 1579 left for Rome, where his health broke down. He was sent to Lyons for rest, but continuing poor health rendered him unfit for the hard life of the society. He returned to Douai, was ordained in May 1580, and left for the English mission the following June. Thanks to the information of Sledd, a noted English priest catcher, whom Cottam had met in Lyons, Cottam was a marked man, and he was arrested as soon as he landed at Dover. The mayor of Dover handed him over to a merchant, himself a secret Catholic, for delivery to Lord Cobham in London. With difficulty, the merchant persuaded him to escape, but when it appeared that the merchant would suffer for his action, Cottam surrendered himself to Lord Cobham. He was confined in the Marshal-sea and the Tower, and brutally tortured. In November 1581 he was tried and condemned with Edmund Campion and others. His execution was delayed until May 1582. While awaiting execution he was received into the Society of Jesus. With three others, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. He was beatified by Leo XIII in 1886.

Bibliography: j. a. myerscough, A Procession of Lancashire Martyrs and Confessors (Glasgow 1958).

[b. c. fisher]