Maxfield, Thomas, Bl.

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Priest and martyr; vere Macclesfield; b. Enville, Staffordshire, England, c. 1590; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn (London), July 1, 1616. Maxfield was the son of William Macclesfield and Ursula Roos, recusant Catholics who suffered persecution for their faith. Thomas studied at the English College of Douai (160210 and 1614) prior to his ordination (1614). He was captured in London within three months of landing in his homeland (1615) and imprisoned at the Gatehouse, Westminster. He unsuccessfully attempted to escape during the night of June 14, 1616, after which he was placed in stocks for 70 hours. While awaiting trial on June 26, he converted two hardened criminals. He was convicted and condemned the following day under 27 Eliz., c, 2. The Spanish ambassador intervened, seeking a pardon or reprieve. When that failed he supported the future martyr by solemnly exposing the Blessed Sacrament during the night before Thomas's execution and providing him with an honor guard en route to Tyburn, where they found the gallows decorated with flowers and the ground strewn with sweet herbs. The sentiment of the crowd of witnesses was such that the executioner delayed Thomas's disembowelment until he was senseless. Some of his relics were taken to Downside Abbey near Bath, England. 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). The William Salt Archeological Society's Collections for a History of Staffordshire (London, 18821909), III, iii; V, ii, 207; new series, V, 128; XII, 248.

[k. i. rabenstein]