Ward, Margaret, St.

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English martyr; b. Congleton, Cheshire, date unknown; d. Tyburn, Aug. 30, 1588. Nothing is known of her early life except that she was in the service of the Whittles, a Catholic family living in London at the time of her arrest. There is much divergence in the contemporary accounts of the episode that led up to it. It seems that after several visits to William Watson, confined in Bridewell prison, she succeeded in smuggling a rope into his cell. At 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., Margaret together with an Irish boatman, John Roche (alias Neale), waited in the street below, while the priest made his escape over the tiles of the roof. Misjudging the distance, Watson doubled the rope and was forced to jump before he was half way down. Though injured he was concealed by Roche and escaped. The rope, left dangling from a cornice of the roof, was traced to Margaret, who was arrested the following day. Robert southwell wrote to the Jesuit General, Claudius acquaviva, "She was flogged and hung up by the wrists, the tips of her toes just touching the ground, for so long a time that she was crippled and paralyzed ." She refused to reveal Watson's whereabouts when charged with assisting at his escape. She also refused the liberty offered to her if she would attend a Protestant service. On August 29 she was tried at the Old Bailey and executed the following day. With her suffered four Catholic laymen, including John Roche, and Richard Leigh, a secular priest. She was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929 and and canonized by Paul VI on Oct. 25, 1970 (see england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of).

Feast: Aug. 20.

Bibliography: l. e. whatmore, Blessed Margaret Ward (Postulation pamphlet; London 1961). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:437438.

[g. fitzherbert]