10 December – A priest was tortured and executed by a priestfinder, and the execution of THomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham

On this day in Tudor history, 10th December 1591, Roman Catholic priest Edmund Gennings and Catholic Swithin Wells were executed on a scaffold set up outside Wells’ house at Holborn.

Gennings had been caught celebrating mass at Wells’ home by the famous Elizabethan priestfinder and torturer, Richard Topcliffe, who punished him by throwing him into the Little Ease.

Find out more about St Edmund Gennings and St Swithin Wells, and their sad ends, in this talk…

Also on this day in Tudor history, 10th December 1541, Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham were executed at Tyburn.

They had been found guilty of high treason for intending to do ill with Queen Catherine Howard, i..e intending to commit adultery with her, and had been sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Dereham suffered the full traitors’ death, while Culpeper was beheaded.

Find out more about what happened in this video…

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One thought on “10 December – A priest was tortured and executed by a priestfinder, and the execution of THomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham”
  1. Today 10th December 1541 the brutal execution of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper.

    It wasn’t automatic that nobles and gentlemen where spared the full horror of the male punishment for treason, hanging, drawing and quartered. One might add disemboweled and beheaded. That depended on the mercy of the Sovereign. It was, however, a usual privilege of those high enough born to be beheaded instead. However, plenty of toffs were given the full amount of the law, certainly several gentlemen where to suffer fully in 1586 after the Babington Plot and a few Cromwellian Regicides of noble standing suffered the same fate. It was, however, a usual thing for nobles to be beheaded instead, just as it was common practice to hang nobles who committed murder with a silk rope.

    Thomas Culpepper was spared due to his status and his closeness to King Henry. Francis Dereham it was decreed would suffer the full force of the terrible sentence because he had spoiled Kathryn for Henry. I already commented on this on the wrong place, as you do. Francis was a horrible man and Culpepper wasn’t much better if tales about them are correct. However, it is doubted as to whether or not Culpepper committed adultery with Kathryn. He admitted only that they kissed and held hands. He also said that they wanted to go further. Maybe they wanted to marry some day. Henry was getting old and was frail. It’s not unreasonable that Kathryn might not think of her future. As for Francis, well, yes, he did want to claim Kathryn but she wanted nothing to do with him. Nasty piece of work that he was, he probably didn’t actually commit adultery but might have tried to ruin her reputation.

    RiP Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper.

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