Harcourt, William, Bl.

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Jesuit priest and martyr; vere Barrow, alias Waring; b. Weeton-cum-Prees, Kirkham, Lancashire, England, c. 1609; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn (London), June 20, 1679. After completing his studies at the Jesuit college in St-Omer, Flanders, William joined the Society of Jesus at Watten (1632). He was ordained (1641) in Flanders. Upon returning to England (1644), he labored in the environs of London for 35 years. On May 7, 1679, the year after he became superior of the Jesuits in London, Harcourt was arrested and committed to Newgate Prison on the charge of complicity in the fictitious Titus Oates Plot to kill the king. Beginning June 13, 1670, he was tried with fellow Jesuits Thomas whitbread, John fenwick, John gavan, and Antony turner. Although their accusers were demonstrably guilty of perjury, Justice Scroggs was determined that the jury convict the priests of high treason. Harcourt's cause was introduced by papal decree (Dec. 4, 1886) under the name of William Harcourt. He was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England); Dec. 1 (Jesuits).

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). j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 17981.

[k. i. rabenstein]