19 June 1535 – The Executions of Sebastian Newdigate, William Exmew and Humphrey Middlemore

Carthusian martyrsOn 19 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 was refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church after his marriage to Anne Boleyn and subsequent break with Rome.

Between May 1535 and August 1540, 18 Cathusian monks were put to death for this crime, some being hanged, drawn and quartered, some being hanged in chains and others being starved to death. All 18 are recognised as martyrs by the Catholic Church.

Trivia: George Boleyn and Thomas Boleyn, along with the Duke of Norfolk, Henry Fitzroy and Henry Norris, were present at the executions of three Carthusian monks on 4 May 1535.

You can read more about the Carthusian monks in my article from last year – click here.

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3 thoughts on “19 June 1535 – The Executions of Sebastian Newdigate, William Exmew and Humphrey Middlemore”
  1. Those poor men, how they suffered.
    I can never comprehend how such a barbaric form of execution as hung drawn and quartering could ever be thought up, what did they have going on in their head/s!!
    Apparently it was devised in 1241 to punish William Maurice who was convicted of piracy, but I can’t find out the name/s of the inventor/s to take the ‘credit’!!

    It was employed a lot under Edward I, in his efforts to bring Wales, Scotland and Ireland under English rule. One of the more noteworthy victim’s of this horrific death, under Edward’s rule in 1283, was the last Prince of Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffydd (David) who was found guilty of treason…he was drawn to the gallows for being a traitor to the King who had made him a Knight , hanged for the crime of the Murder of a Gentleman, his limbs burnt because he had violated the solemnity of Christ’s Passion through his act of murder, and his quarters to be dispersed through the country where he had in different places plotted the King’s death. His head was then placed on the Tower of London, next to his brother’s, Llewellyn.

    It was under the rule of George III that the last full gruesome act of this punishment was carried out on a Scotsman, David Tyrie, in 1782 on Southsea Common. He was a clerk at Portsmouth Naval Office, who was caught in ‘treacherous correspondence’ with the French. His only ‘blessing’ being he was hung until dead before the full extremity of the execution was carried out.

    In 1867, under Queen Victoria, that 2 Irish Fenians, Burke and O’Brian were sentenced to this execution, but it wasn’t carried out, that same year it was abolished for good…not that long ago in the grand scheme of thing was it…less than a 150year ago!!

    Whether guilty of a crime, or not, as definitely in the case of these Monks, no one deserved to have that inflicted on them.

  2. a reign famous mostly for kangaroo court justice and judicial murders, which were the fruit of the king’s ego and frustrated personal desires. oh what a defender of the faith he turned out to be!

  3. When I read these more emotionally challenging posts, sad terrible deaths of individuals who did nothing wrong save have another idea of God than that of the King (ideas he used to share before his desire for a divorce and marriage to Anne) and for wanting to cleave to the old faith; to the mother church in Rome; I find it hard to find anything new to say,having already commented last year or before this. But reading the article is just as harrowing, just as terrible and just as tragically sad. Edward I indeed did think this terrible punishment up and it had evolved in a few forms since his first Act of Treason. It is hard to imagine just what a terrible death this was, prolongued and painful. What sort of mind could have contrived such a brutal punishment? Why did some Kings use it more than others and still others shy away from its use altogether? Many of those killed for treason or rebellion by Henry VII; our Kings father were hung or beheaded but not disembowelled at the same time; the body was sometimes quartered after death. It also amazes me that this was a major piece of entertainment in Tudor and later times; huge crowds went to Tyburn or up to Tower hill. Even in the case of public hanging for murder it attracted huge crowds during Victorian times. Human beings are terrible things to watch the suffering of another person in such a manner. Yes, some would also go to support and comfort the persons; others as followers to witness their last words and the official witnesses from the council; but most were there simply to be entertained; executions have in fact been compared to the FA cup final today!

    These men and women were brave souls; who just wanted to be left alone to mind their own business and get on with worshipping the Lord in their own way. I saw a quote today on Catholic on Line that stated that when we persecute people we attack peace; not just the person, but the peace and justice of the community, rather than encouraging the participation of the community. We attack the peace of the person and the peace of the family they come from, the peace of the house they are from, the town or place they live and the entire community as we create a status of suspician and fear. Why do we persecute others when we are commanded to love and how can we as Christians justify our actions? Religion is a destructive force; faith is not. Faith is about seeking mercy and changing our hearts. By faith we grow as new humans and our outlook is different; we should in theory become changed; more like Our Lord, but if we hide behind religion as our way of thinking then we move in the opposite direction and become as enemies to each other. Henry was meant to be a religious man; but could he be called a man of faith? Would a man of faith attack the beliefs he had once radically defended even for the woman he loved; knowing it would destroy his own peace and tear his kingdom in two?

    Did anyone when they saw the simple faith of the martrys of either side of the Christian debate; as they bravely faced such terrible deaths; ever stop to ask themselves what it was they were really dying for and did they have one ounce of the faith of those people if asked to do the same?

    Martyrs of Christendom from both Catholic and Protestant or other communities; rest in peace to create harmony in the church you leave behind. Amen.

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