Freeman, William, Bl.

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Priest, martyr; alias Mason; b. Menthorpe or Manthorp (?), East Riding, Yorkshire, England, c. 1558; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Warwick, Aug. 13, 1595. Freeman was born into a recusant Catholic family, but he outwardly conformed to the Anglican Church. After receiving his baccalaureate degree from Magdalen College, Oxford (1581), he lived in London, where he witnessed the martyrdom of Bl. Edward stransham (1586). Freeman was so impressed by Stansham's example that he converted, studied at Rheims, and was himself ordained priest in 1587. For six years following his return to England, Freeman ministered in Warwickshire, where his life was interconnected with that of William Shakespeare. He was arrested in January 1595 in the home of Mrs. Heaths, whose son Freeman was tutoring, and executed as a traitor seven months later despite his protest of loyalty. He was 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]