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James Duckett

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James Duckett
Born unknown, Gilfortrigs, Westmorland, England
Died 1601, London, England
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 15 December 1929
Major shrine
Feast 19 April
Patronage Booksellers, Publishers

James Duckett was an English Catholic layman and martyr (d.1601).

Born at Gilfortrigs in the parish of Skelsmergh in Westmorland at a date unknown, he became a bookseller and publisher in London. Brought up a Protestant, he was lent a Catholic book by a friend when serving his apprenticeship in London and decided to become a Catholic. Earlier he had twice been imprisoned for not attending the Protestant services, and was obliged to compound for his apprenticeship and leave his master.

He was received into the Catholic Church by an old priest named Weekes who was imprisoned in the Gatehouse at Westminster. Two or three years later, about 1590, he married a Catholic widow, but out of his twelve years of married life, nine were spent in prison for his new faith.

He was active in propagating Catholic literature. He was finally betrayed by Peter Bullock, a bookbinder, who acted in order to obtain his own release from prison. Duckett's house was searched on 4 March 1601 and Catholic books found. For this he was at once thrown into Newgate.

At the trial, Bullock testified that he had bound various Catholic books for Duckett and he admitted this, but denied other false accusations in a self-possessed manner. The jury found him not guilty; but the judge, Sir John Popham, the Lord Chief Justice, browbeat the jury, which reversed its verdict and Duckett was found guilty of felony. Despite the betrayal of Duckett, Bullock was taken to his death at Tyburn in the same cart as Duckett on 19 April 1601.

James Duckett's son was the John Duckett who later became Prior of the English Carthusians at Nieuwpoort in Flanders. He related that on the way to Tyburn his father was handed a cup of wine, which he drank, and told his wife to drink to Peter Bullock and to forgive him. When she declined, he chided her gently until she did. On arrival at Tyburn Tree James kissed and embraced Bullock, beseeching him to die in the Catholic faith, without success.

At the same trial three priests, Thomas Tichborne, Robert Watkinson, and Francis Page, were condemned to death. For some reason their execution was remanded to the following day.

James Duckett was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.


  • This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain., with considerable reworking.
  • See also Godfrey Anstruther, Seminary Priests, Mayhew-McCrimmond, Great Wakering, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 89–90.


James Duckett, M.M. Merrick, (Douglas Organ, London 1947)

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