20 April 1534 – The Hanging of the Nun of Kent

Elizabeth BartonOn 20th April 1534, Elizabeth Barton, a Benedictine nun who became known as ‘the Nun of Kent’ or ‘the Holy Maid of Kent’, was hanged for treason at the gallows at Tyburn along with her spiritual adviser, Father Edward Bocking; Richard Risby, Warden of the Observant Friary at Canterbury; and Hugh Rich, Warden of the Observant Friary at Richmond.

They had all been attainted of high treason in January 1534 after Barton had prophesied that if Henry proceeded with his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn, then he would lose his kingdom within a month and “should die a villain’s death”.

You can read all about Elizabeth Barton in my article Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent.

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6 thoughts on “20 April 1534 – The Hanging of the Nun of Kent”
  1. The Holy Nun of Kent was a true visionary and I believe that she was a threat because she spoke the truth. I have a book about her, an old one, and sadly packed away so I cannot visit the story again for now as the box is sealed for our home move; but in the biography the author believed that Elizabeth was not guilty of anything more than upsetting the King by telling the truth. Of course she did predict that Anne would come to a nasty end and she did predict stuff that Henry saw as a threat but Henry was causing his own undoing; not the nun and her followers; he chose to marry Anne, he broke from Rome, he divorced the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, he made laws that did not sit right with a lot of people on a spiritual level and he was playing a dangerous game by alienating Charles V and King Francis. Just what did he think would happen? That no-one would raise a voice in protest; even his own council; his wisest friend Thomas More and his own sister did not support him. More had the good sense to tell Elizabeth Barton not to meddle and he found that there was nothing to blame her for when he examined her earlier; but it seems that she believed in her visions. She only said they were false after being put in prison and interrogated. It is not clear if she was tortured, but there were other forms of brow beating, depriving her of sleep for example: that could make her admit to anything.

    1. I agree. Do you know the book’s name or author? I’m looking for information on her. Somehow I am related to her based on a church book that is in my family.

      1. Hello Michelle,

        I have packed the book away but I will try to find it for you over the weekend and let you know the full title and the author.

      2. Hello Michelle: I decided it would be quicker to look it up on Amazon and have found the correct book.

        The Holy Nun of Kent: The Life of Elizabeth Barton 1506-1534 by Alan Neame Stodder and Holden 1971 It is available on Amazon Marketplace 18 sellers from £7.90 with some very good hardback copies for about £12.99. I did say it was an old book and the only other one I know of was written in 1925 but is very rare and hard to get hold off. I got mine from a sale of the local library after a clear out. It has 309 pages and is a very good book.

        Hope you find a good copy.


        Lyn-Marie (BanditQueen)

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