Blessed John Adams
Born c. 1543, Winterborne St Martin in Dorset
Died October 8, 1586, Tyburn in London
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified November 22, 1987 by John Paul II

John Adams was a Catholic priest and martyr.

He was born at Winterborne St Martin in Dorset at an unknown date (c. 1543?) and became a Protestant minister. He later entered the Catholic Church and travelled to the English College then at Rheims, arriving on December 7, 1579. He was ordained a priest at Soissons on December 17, 1580. He set out for the mission in England on March 29, 1581. He is known to have worked in Hampshire but details of his later, as of his earlier life are patchy. It may be that he was taken prisoner at Rye only a short time after landing in England and that he escaped. In 1583 he was described as a man of "about forty years of age, of average height, with a dark beard, a sprightly look and black eyes. He was a very good controversialist, straightforward, very pious, and pre-eminently a man of hard work. He laboured very strenuously at Winchester and in Hampshire, where he helped many, especially of the poorer classes." Captured at Winchester, he was brought to London and arrived at the Marshalsea prison on March 7, 1584. His sentence this time was banishment and he was expelled with some seventy-two other priests. He arrived at Rheims on November 14, 1585 but then set out again and was again captured, being taken to the Clink in London on December 19 the same year. This time, as was to be expected, he was not treated so lightly, especially since that year the Act had been passed making it a capital offence to be a Catholic priest in England. The sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering was completed at Tyburn, London on October 8, 1586. His fate was shared by two fellow priests, John Lowe and Robert Dibdale, and maybe his own brother, a layman. This latter fact is not certain and the forename is not in any case known. All three priests were declared Blessed (the last stage prior to sainthood) by Pope John Paul II on November 22, 1987.


  • The most reliable compact source is Godfrey Anstruther, Seminary Priests, St Edmund's College, Ware, vol. 1, 1968, pp. 1–2.
  • This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain., with corrections and adaptations.

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