Richard Fetherston (Fetherstone, Featherstone) (executed at Smithfield, 30 July 1540) was an English Roman Catholic priest. He was chaplain to Catharine of Aragon and tutor to her daughter, Mary Tudor. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII, 29 December, 1886.


He is called sacrae theologiae Doctor by John Pits (De illustribus Angliae scriptoribus, 729). He was one of the theologians appointed to defend Queen Catharine's cause in the divorce proceedings before the papal legates Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio, and is said to have written a treatise Contra divortium Henrici et Catharinae, Liber unus. No copy of this work is known to exist.

He took part in the session of Convocation which began in April, 1529, and was one of the few members who refused to sign the Act declaring Henry VIII's marriage with Catharine to be illegal ab initio, through the pope's inability to grant a dispensation in such a case. In 1534 he was called upon to take the Oath of Supremacy and, on refusing to do so, was committed to the Tower of London, 13 December, 1534. He seems to have remained in prison till 30 July, 1540.

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Smithfield, together with the Catholic theologians, Thomas Abel and Edward Powell, like himself councillors to Queen Catharine in the divorce proceedings, and three others, Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, condemned for teaching Zwinglianism. All six were drawn through the streets upon three hurdles, a Catholic and a heretic on each hurdle. The Protestants were burned, and the three Catholics executed in the usual manner, their limbs being fixed over the gates of the city and their heads being placed upon poles on London Bridge.


  • s:Fetherston, Richard (DNB00)
  • John Pits, De illustribus Angliae scriptoribus (Paris, 1619), 729;
  • Sander, tr. Lewis, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism (London, 1877), 65, 67, 150;
  • Gilbert Burnet, History of the Reformation, ed. Pocock (Oxford, 1865), I, 260, 472, 566-67; IV, 555, 563;
  • Thomas Tanner, Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica (London, 1748), 278;
  • Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation (Parker Society, Cambridge, 1846), I, 209;
  • Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner (London, 1882, 1883, 1885, VI, 311, 1199; VII, 530; VIII, 666, 1001.

This article incorporates text from the entry Bl. Richard Fetherston in Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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