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Ralph Ashley

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Ralph Ashley (executed 7 April 1606) was an English Jesuit lay-brother who became involved with the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1929.


Ashley is first heard of as cook at Douay College, which he left 28 April 1590, for the English College at Valladolid. Here he entered the Society of Jesus, but after a time returned to England because of ill-health.

He fell in with Father Tesimond (Greenway), who eulogizes his courage he had displayed among the Dutch, by whom he had been captured during his journey. He landed in England 9 March 1598, and was sent to serve Edward Oldcorne.

Eight years later, he and Oldcorne were arrested at Hindlip Hall,[1] near Worcester, and were committed to the Tower of London, together with Henry Garnet, and Nicholas Owen, another lay-brother, servant to Garnet. The two servants were tortured, Owen dying. Ashley's confessions is still available.

He was ultimately remanded with Oldcorne to Worcester, where they were tried, condemned and executed together at Red Hill. He accompanied his master to their execution. It is said that as Oldcorne waited on the ladder to die, Ashley kissed his feet and said, "What a happy man am I to follow in the steps of my sweet father". Oldcorne died with the name of St Winifred on his lips.[1] When Ashley came to die he prayed and asked for forgiveness and noted that like Oldcorne he was dying for his religion and not for being a traitor.

Saint Edward Oldcorne and Ashley were canonized in 1929.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lives of the Saints By Alban Butler, Peter Doyle, ISBN 0860122530

This article incorporates text from the entry Ven. Ralph Ashley in Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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