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Woodhouse, Thomas, Bl.


Elizabethan clerical protomartyr; b. c. 1535, place unknown; d. Tyburn, June 19, 1573. Woodhouse, ordained shortly before 1558, was dissatisfied with the Elizabethan religious settlement. He resigned his pastorate in Lincolnshire and took a position as tutor to the children of a Welsh gentleman. Religious beliefs again proved a source of difficulty, and Woodhouse soon resigned from his post. Arrested while celebrating Mass, he was imprisoned on May 14, 1561. In Fleet prison from 1561 to 1563, he continued to say Mass and to seek converts. A plague in 1563 forced the jailers to move the Fleet prisoners to Cambridgeshire. Sometime after returning to his London prison, Woodhouse requested entrance into the Jesuit Society (1572). His acceptance into the society seems to have partially inspired his appeal to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, that he advise Elizabeth I to submit to the pope. Woodhouse also wrote a number of pamphlets urging Englishmen to adhere to the true faith. His novel way of distributing them was to attach them to stones that he threw from his prison window. Cecil ordered his trial, and on June 16, 1573, Woodhouse was tried and convicted of high treason at the Guildhall, London. Three days later he was taken from Newgate prison to Tyburn, where he became the first priest executed for high treason on strictly religious grounds during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was beatified by Leo XIII on Dec. 9, 1886.

Feast: Dec. 1 (Jesuits).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: e. i. carlyle, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 21:873874. b. camm, ed., Lives of the English Martyrs Declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and 1895, 2 v. (New York 190414). h. foley, ed., Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 v. (London 187782) 7.3:859861, 967; 7.4:125767. j. h. pollen, Acts of the English Martyrs (London 1891). j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998), 18990.

[p. s. mcgarry]

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