June 19 – More Carthusian monks meet brutal ends

Posted By on June 19, 2022

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.

Transcript:

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.

1 thought on “June 19 – More Carthusian monks meet brutal ends”

  1. Christine says:

    Very sad day indeed, Sebastian Newdigate one would have thought would have been spared because he was once a friend of the kings and sat on the privy chamber, he had signed the oath but refused to accept Henry as Head of the Church, Catholic’s obeyed only the pope he was their master and this made Henry V111 furious, it was now illegal not to recognise the king as head, and many had gone to their deaths including Sir Thomas More and much pressure a year later was to be put on the kings own daughter for refusing to sign, still the Carthusian monks stood their ground and the slaughter of them was to go on for five years, some were starved to death some were hung drawn and quartered the most grisly death of all, a fate which was to be the unfortunate Newdigate’s and his fellow brothers, first he was chained to a pillar in Marshalsea prison and was left for two weeks in that dreadful state and one can only imagine the torture his body was in, some were imprisoned in Newgate in the most appalling conditions, Newgate or ‘Mother Newgate’ as she became known to legend was an old medieval jail and notorious for her brutality and squalor of her unfortunate inmates, the jailers were mostly ruffians themselves and could be bribed to make life more pleasant for those incarcerated there, they were condemned to die on today the 19th June 1535 and they were dragged on hurdles to Tyburn and there executed, a dreadful agonising death for these men were held in high esteem, many had sought spiritual guidance from the Carthusian monks and their sad ending is typical of the brutality of Henry V111’s reign, it is another stain on his memory and the people must have wept and prayed for them, it was said Newdigate had been visited by the king in prison in Marshalsea and later, in the Tower of London, this was uncommon for Henry V111 and he appears sincerely to wish to preserve his old friends life, but Newdigate was not swayed and his firm conviction in his own belief did become an example for his fellow monks to follow, there is a tale also that whilst in prison they were being fed by a woman called Margaret Griggs who smuggled them in meat which soon reached the ears of Cromwell, Margaret had been a resident in the household of Sir Thomas More and they’re plight had moved her, on discovery however she was refused access, and she then tried to remove some tiles from the roof of their cell where she lowered a basket in, many sympathised with the Carthusian’s, in England and Europe, there are indeed beautiful paintings in Spain which Claire describes of these men who became martyrs of the Catholic faith, in Bologna to there are other paintings and they are remembered today as being just one of the many victims of Henry V111’s reign, a memorial plaque to them stands in Charterhouse square, RIP Blessed Sebastian Newdigate Blessed William Exmew Blessed Humphrey Midlemore and the others who perished that bloody summer of 1535 and in the years that followed.

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