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Richard Herst (Hurst) (b. probably at Broughton, near Preston, Lancashire, England, date unknown; executed at Lancaster, 29 August, 1628) was an English Roman Catholic recusant layman, convicted of murder. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1929.
He was a well-to-do yeoman, farming his own land near Preston. As he was a recusant, Norcross, a pursuivant, was sent by the Bishop of Chester to arrest him. The pursuivants had a fracas with Hurst's servants, in the course of which one of the pursuivant's men, by name Dewhurst, in running over a ploughed field, fell and broke his leg. The wound mortified and proved fatal, but before his death Dewhurst made an oath that his injury was the result of an accident. Nevertheless Hurst was indicted for murder, as the Government wished at that time to make some severe examples of recusants.
Through Hurst's friends a petition was sent to King Charles I of England, also supported by Queen Henrietta Maria. No evidence controverting that of the dying Dewhurst having been adduced, the jury were unwilling to convict; but the foreman of the jury was told by the judge, in the house of the latter, that the Government was determined to get a conviction, that a murder had been committed, and that the jury must bring in a verdict of guilty. Hurst was convicted and sentenced to death; on the next day, being commanded to hear a sermon at the Protestant church, he refused and was dragged by the legs for some distance to the church, where he, however, put his fingers in his ears so as not to hear the sermon.
At the gallows he was informed that his life would be spared if he would swear allegiance to the king, but as the oath contained passages to which he objected, he refused and was at once executed.
- Joseph Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v.;
- ____, Lancashire Recusants, in manuscript;
- Richard Challoner, Memoirs, II (Edinburgh, 1878) 97-101;
- A True and Exact Relation of the Death of Two Catholiks at Lancaster, 1628 (London, 1737), a rare tract;
- Henry Foley in Stonyhurst Magazine No. XX, 112;
- Charles Dodd-Tierney, Cath. Hist.