Marian Priests

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Although the term strictly applies to priests beneficed during the reign of mary (155358), it is usually applied to all holding ecclesiastical preferments during her reign, including those ordained under henry viii and Edward VI. In law, Marian priests suffered less than seminary priests. The former came only under the law that inflicted penalties on all who maintained the spiritual jurisdiction of any foreign prelate, or that made it high treason to maintain the authority of the bishop of Rome or to refuse the Oath of Supremacy. Because of this, fewer Marian priests lost their lives for religion. Those who did so are Bl. Thomas Plumtree, rector of Stubton, Lincoln-shire (d. Durham, 1570), Bl. James bell (d. Lancaster, 1584), and Ven. Richard Williams (d. Tyburn, 1592). As late as 1596, there were 50 Marian priests still working on the English Mission, among them William Ely, who died in a Hereford jail in 1609. It has been reckoned that, in the early years of elizabeth i, about 2,000 priests were either deprived, ejected, or resigned their ecclesiastical offices for the sake of conscience.

Bibliography: h. gee, The Elizabethan Clergy and the Settlement of Religion, 15581564 (Oxford 1898). h. n. birt, The Elizabethan Religious Settlement (London 1907). The First and Second Diaries of the English College, Douay (Publications of the Catholic Record Society 1; London 1878). g. r. elton, ed., The Tudor Constitution (Cambridge, Eng. 1960).

[c. w. fields]