20 April 1534 – Execution of Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent

The Imposture of the Holy Maid of Kent

On this day in history, 20th April 1534, Elizabeth Barton, an English Catholic nun known as the “Holy Maid of Kent” or the “Nun of Kent”, was hanged at Tyburn with her spiritual adviser, Father Edward Bocking, her parish priest, Richard Risby, warden of the Observant Friary at Canterbury, and Hugh Rich, warden of the Observant Friary at Richmond.

They were hanged for treason and you can read their story in my article “Elizabeth Barton the Nun of Kent”.

Also on this same day in 1534, prominent citizens of London were required to swear the Oath of the Act of Succession.

1578: Death of Lady Mary Keys (née Grey), sister of Lady Jane Grey.

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4 thoughts on “20 April 1534 – Execution of Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent”
  1. I have just read last years post on this poor lady. It was very interesting Claire, I also think that she suffered from some underlying medical problem, and to tell you the truth I am suprised she wasn’t burnt as a witch!!

    It was only when she started to use these ‘Visions’ to speak out against the King and the annulment that she started to play a very dangerous game indeed, and it makes me wonder if the people around her were abusing her mental/physical condition, to manipulate and groom her into saying what they were to scared to say themselves…

  2. The usual sentance would have been burning but it seems to have been reduced to the quicker, less painful hanging. It was the King who decided on the method of execution but there is no evidence as to why this happened.

    1. A thankful mercy for her not to have to endure the stake, I wonder if it was commuted because of her being a nun, or Henry wanting to appear merciful, at a time of unrest…a good publicity stun maybe! Poor Lady.

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