On this day in Tudor history, 19th June 1535, in the reign of King Henry VIII, three monks of the Carthusian Order of London Charterhouse were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
Their names were Sebastian Newdigate, William Exmew and Humphrey Middlemore and they were executed for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church in England.
They were three of eighteen Carthusian monks executed in 1535 and 1536.
Sebastian Newdigate was a close friend of Henry VIII, but friendship and loyal service didn’t seem to matter if you were viewed as being at all defiant or disobedient.
In this video (or transcript below), I share details about Sebastian Newdigate and how he came to be executed in 1535.
On this day in Tudor 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.
You might remember by video from the 11th May about the Carthusian monks who were martyred in Henry VIII’s reign. In that video, I explained that 18 Carthusian monks were put to death between May 1535 and August 1540. Their crime was refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church. 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 on this day in 1535, thirty-five-year-old Sebastian Newdigate, had been brought up at court and had become a close friend of the king and served in his privy chamber. After the death of his wife Katherine, with whom he had two daughters, Newdigate joined the London Charterhouse and was ordained as a deacon on 3rd June 1531 and then subsequently as a priest. In the 1520s, he was active in confiscating heretical books and reporting on heretics.
Newdigate went as far as signing the “Oath of Succession”, in June 1534, but would not accept the king’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. He was then taken to the Tower of London.
It is said that the king himself visited Newdigate 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 11th June 1535, and was executed eight days later.
The Carthusian monks were men of God, known for their austerity and sanctity. Executing them had to be one of the most brutal acts of Henry VIII’s reign. Newdigate would be pleased to know, though, that his courage and conviction led others to keep to their Catholic faith.
All of the Carthusian martyrs of Henry VIII’s reign were beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.