Carthusian monksOn this day in history, 19th June 1535, Sebastian Newdigate, William Exmew and Humphrey Middlemore, monks of the Carthusian Order of London Charterhouse, were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Their crime: refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church.

In Letters and Papers, there is a report regarding “The Charter House Moncks”:-

“In 1535 eighteen of the Charterhouse were condemned for defending the liberty of the Church. Seven of them, viz., John Houghton, Robt. Lawrence, Austen Webster, Humfrey Middellmore, Wm. Exmeu, Sebastian Newdegate, and Wm. Horne, were drawn on hurdles through the city of London to the open place of execution, and there hanged, quartered, &c. Three of them, Humfrey, William, and Sebastian, had stood in prison upright, chained from their necks to their arms, and their legs fettered with locks and chains for 13 days. Their quarters were hanged on the gates and walls of the city and on the gate of the Charterhouse. Two of the eighteen, John Rochester and James Walwercke, remained hanging. The other nine died in prison with stink and miserably smothered, “the which were these that follow.”…”

The London Charterhouse’s Cathusian Order was an order known for its sanctity so their support for the King’s supremacy would have been a real coup for Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, but, after praying about the matter for three days, the Order’s Prior, John Houghton, stated that he could not take the King to be Supreme Head of the Church. This was a huge blow for the King and their resistance had to be punished as an example to other order.

18 Cathusian monks in all were killed between May 1535 and August 1540. Some were hanged, drawn and quartered, some were hanged in chains and others were starved to death. All 18 have been recognised by the Catholic Church as martyrs.

One of the men executed today in 1535, Sebastian Newdigate, was a close friend of the King and a former Privy Councillor. Newdigate went as far as signing the Oath of Succession, in June 1534, but would not accept his friend’s supremacy. He was arrested on the 25th May 1535 and taken to Marshalsea Prison, where he spent two weeks chained in an upright position to a pillar before appearing before the King’s Council and then being taken to the Tower of London. The King visited him at Marshalsea and at the Tower, trying to convince his friend to accept him as Supreme Head of the Church but Newdigate refused. He was condemned to death at his trial on the 11th June 1535 and was executed 8 days later.

These men were men of God and were known for their austerity and sanctity and executing them had to be one of the most brutal acts of Henry VIII’s reign.

Also on this day in history – The birth of James VI of Scotland (James I of England) in 1566, son of Mary Queen of Scots.

Notes and Sources

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14 thoughts on “19 June 1535 – 3 Carthusian Monks Hanged, Drawn and Quartered”
  1. This was only one of the many acts of inhumanity carried out under Henry’s command.
    Those poor God fearing men were slaughtered for no bigger crime than saying No to their King.
    There is nothing more to add really, except lets hope they found the peace and loving kindness in the next world, which they couldn’t find in this.

  2. It is hard for me to believe Henry ordered these deaths, having been declared Defender of the Faith just a few years earlier. It is the beginning of his extreme tyranny, I think. All of the executions he did to marry Anne must have weighed on him if only at a subconscious level–he really was a murderer of anyone who crossed him. Yet, he seemed to think his own will was God’s will–all that Great Chain of Being philosophy…foreign to us these days but I do believe back then, the King was considered God’s chosen one. Elizabeth I certainly felt herself to be that. Thanks, Claire!

    1. Henry getting the title defender of the faith, which was a coveted title at the time- was am obvious mistake by the same papacy[ Clement i believe ] that took < 6 years!!!! to deal with the " King" and the King's great matter- errors beget errors……. justice delayed is justice denied ; what a tyrant this fat, gluttonous, murdering scoundrel must have been- and to think real people followed and became members in his church, the great Anglican communion……. makes one wonder…..

      1. Anne Boleyn was not Henry VIII’s daughter, that was just a rumour and historians believe it was due to a mix-up between the names Elizabeth Boleyn and Elizabeth Blount (pronounced Blunt) and also rumours put about by those who were against Henry’s marriage to Anne. When Henry was asked about rumours of his affairs with Anne’s sister and her mother, he said “never with the mother”. There is no way that Henry VIII would have considered incest when he was worried about his first marriage being incestuous due to Catherine having been married to his brother. He could not risk a potential child having deformities or problems due to sexual sin. The idea of incest would have horrified him.

  3. I never could understand how you could think that God had chosen you to be the ruler and therefore you can kill anyone who disagrees with you. Seems like a twisted way of thinking. I suppose lawyers have been around since the beginning of time of try to make a case for their leader’s behavior.

  4. Henry was named by Pope Clement VI Defender of the Faith” on the “Field of the Cloth of Gold’ in 1520 nine years or so before Henry’s request for dispensation for his divorce from Pope Clement VI was denied (Pope Clement VI was illegitimate uncle of Cathreine de Medici and also refused his request for dispensation after King Charles V of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor aftere he had sacked Rome and Clement had to basically what Charles wanted). His breaking with Rome also took place and named himself under the “Act of Supremacy” and Head of the Church of Englad to marry Queen Anne. Under Cromwell and by Henry’s orders, most (if not all) the monestaries and nunneries were sacked for further wealth of the state. His friend, and also Fischer, and Sir Thomas More (author of the classic Utopia who was beheaed in 1536 by Queen Anne’s approval in 1536, and Henry was not at all happy about this one at all), it was now law in England to recognize as such (Mary I, did the same in 1553, and under her five year rule had over 300 Protestants burned at the stake), and, yes, Elizabeth (even after 19 years of putting up with numerous underhanded attempts on her life had trouble with putting another anointed Queen put to death by her order so, I agree with Anne Barnhill] had Babbington of the Babbington Plot, Anthony (sp?) Babbington, hanged, castrated, bowels but out while he was hanged, and when brought down from hanging barely alive, was drawn and quarted was a terrible way for a person to dies and the people even thought that that was too gruesome – signed the order for the execution of Mary, then had to face the invincible, but England won, great Spanish Armada in 1588.

    The point being that as long as Henry, and he grew very sick as discussed on a comment earlier on another article, and too long to state here, was to become “sick” with his power. A person could not serve both the Pope and King, but had to choose, and since there was now a law that made him the one the one everyone must choose (as they had NO choice) was subject to this during his reign.

    I feel awful about the monks, and the Roman Catholic Church deserves some kind of responsiblitly with the sacking and all to protect their believeres, and in this case the monks, friars, nuns, etc. and not relocate them.

    The Tudor dynasty was not one where someone wanted to cross any law, but it wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Anne’s gift to England that things started to turn for the better.

    It was Henry’s way or the punishment advised him, and advised he must have been, to these horrible and just awful things. I am truly sorry for all of them, and many more, and it bothers me very much to thnk of all who dies merciless deaths, under his reign. Thank you, WilesWales

    1. Forgive me, “The Act of Supremacy”, also known as “The Act of Supremacy of 1534,” was passed as a Act of Parliament in November, 1534. So this article of Claire’s is even more horrible as it the beginning of June 1535 was very fast, considering. This was such a short time that now I am even more horrified! Thank you, WilesWales

    2. More than 300 Catholics were killed for their faith under Elizabeth, so how is she any better than any Tudor or Stuart monarch? Thousands more died in prison. Sorry, no things are not starting to get better under either Mary or Elizabeth, nor the Stuarts and not even under the Hanoverians. They start to get better in (sorry cannot recall either 1829 or 1849) the Catholic Emancipation Act. That was the first time that we had freedom of religion and beliefs. Until then anyone could be fined or imprisoned or even killed under old laws against various religious groups. Nothing changed over the next 300 years!

    3. Henry wasn’t named Defender of the Faith by Clement Vii. He was named Defender of the Faith by Pope Leo x in 1522,_for his book Defence of the Seven Sacraments which defended Catholic Church against Martin Luther. His title had nothing to do with the Supremacy or his divorce or anything else. Ironically the present Queen has the audacity to use the same title, which isn’t defending the Church of England but the traditional Catholic Faith. The title wasn’t meant to be handed down but it was so every monarch since has used it.

  5. I pray for the poor souls of Henry’s wrath,however there was one program and that was the Kings program, thats it and thats all ,under know uncertain terms was the King to be crossed.What puzzles me is these people new this weather high or low,if you were’nt on Henry’s page, you did face certain death.

  6. Actually it was Pope Leo who named Henry VIII Fide Defensi (Defender of the Faith) in 1521 in response to his writing the Defense of the Seven Sacraments against Luther. He obviously did not forsee breaking with Rome in 1521 and it was some 14 years later that he did so. A lot happened in that time.

    It was Clement VII who refused Henry his divorce or rather kept putting it off and his curia did not decide until 1533 and then that the marriage was valid. By then in 1532 Henry had declared himself Head of the Church in England and formally broke with Rome. He was excommunicated the following year but it was delayed by several months and enacted in 1534/5 in reaction to these deaths and the refusal to go back to Catherine. This was by Paul III.

    The Henry of 1521 was a different person than the Henry of 1533 onwards. He slowly over the next seven years turned into the fat and tyrannical Henry of legend. Yes we have these deaths in 1534 and 1535 after the three Acts, Succession, Supremacy and Treason are enacted by Parliament and made denial of any of the Kings titles punishable by death. They also made it treason to write, say, do, and so on anything against the King, the marriage and his heirs. This was in spite of the marriage to Catherine of Aragon being declared legal by the Pope. In England it was his marriage to Anne Boleyn that was legal and his marriage to Catherine illegal. Confused? Well, yes, most people probably were.

    It was the deaths of these brave men that made some people question that they had consented to the marriage of Henry and Anne or agreed he was supreme head of the English Church. If Sir Thomas More questioned something, then it had to be wrong. That was to call forth more people to question these acts and to more people opposing them and off course to more deaths.

    Henry had turned England upside down to marry Anne Boleyn. No matter what he was not going to stand for any opposition now. What changed him at this stage is unclear, but I am sure than many blamed Anne for the change. Had Henry become bitter due to the many delays in his having his desire with Anne? Was Cromwell the chief architect of his wrath? Cromwell it was that pushed these acts through Parliament or had Henry simply had enough of being advised on what to do? Was he finally realizing that he was only answerable to God and that he could indeed act as he pleased? Certainly no other monarch took or claimed so much personal power before or since. Then there is the personality change.

    Henry was to get far worse over the years; after the death of Anne Boleyn and the fall that damaged his temporal lobes. He was to execute people once very close to him and he was to purge all rivals to the succession. There are rare glimpses of the merciful King of former years but they are very rare indeed. Henry personally intervened in heresy and treason trials to ensure they were to end up with a guilty verdict and an execution. Brutal as these religious executions of the mid 1530s are, they are without doubt the tip of the iceberg. From 1540 onwards the execution rate escalates and the last seven years of his reign are the bloodiest of them all.

  7. Interesting article and thought provoking. Sebastian Newdigate is interesting as he was close to the King. I have read a book recently about John Houghton, who was also an influential figure with connections to the King and Cromwell. Like Thomas More, such affiliations could not save you, no matter what your past service. Henry did try to save his friends, but in the end it was sign or die. Henry was not the Tyrant of 1538 onwards but that he allowed or ordered Cromwell to prepare such draconian legislation in the first place means that he was hardening towards the continued criticism of his marriage and new royal title. Even Cromwell was acutely aware that the people were not just going to blindly accept the removal of a much beloved Queen for a knights daughter, a lady whose reputation had been seriously smeared ( wrongly), whom they only knew because of her association with the divorce and through tittle tattle, that the King’s own reputation had suffered and that the people could not accept the break from Rome just like that. He did a great PR campaign with many pamphlets giving the positive arguments for the New Monarchy which included the Supremacy, from so called ancient texts, hoping people would buy into the King’s vision. The majority of people probably did sign as most people don’t want to be harassed and persecuted, they want to be left alone. The friars on the other hand, all well educated, knew the ancient texts, the law, the church history, well researched these things, they were not so easily challenged by the Acts. In addition to their educational advantages, these men also owed an oath to be faithful to the Catholic Church, to His Holiness the Pope, and to God, which meant that they could not accept the Supremacy. Henry should have been aware of this, as he tried to use arguments first, but once Parliament had passed and ratified the Act, the death penalty was part of the legislation, so anyone saying no could not be spared. Henry had changed over the last few years, but the legislation was a result of his marriage to Anne, not because of Anne or anyone else, to protect his position and succession.

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