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Thomas Sherwood (martyr)

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Blessed Thomas Sherwood (c. 1552 – 1579) was a Catholic layman and martyr.


Sherwood was born in London of Catholic parents and began his adult life as a woollen draper. Eventually deciding to travel to the new English College at Douai and study for the priesthood. He was studying at Douai in 1576. Before compleation, he decided to return to London to settle his affairs and find money to support his further studies. In the city he was a visitor to the house of the Catholic Lady Tregonwell, where it seems that Mass was secretly offered. The woman's son, by her first marriage, Protestant George Marten, resented this. Happening to see Sherwood in the street in Chancery Lane, he began to cry "Stop the traitor" aloud. In this way he managed to have Thomas brought before a judge.

Although there was no proof of any kind against him, he implicated himself by answering openly on the issue of the Queen's supremacy. Once he had been imprisoned in the Tower of London, and at the orders of the Privy Council, his lodgings were searched and a large sum of money, aprox. 20-30 pounds, which Thomas had borrowed to help his sick father, was removed.


Racked with a view to extracting details of houses where Mass was celebrated, Thomas kept silent. As a result he was then thrown into a dungeon to rot. All attempts by St Thomas More's son-in-law, William Roper, to smuggle money to him were unsuccessful. His story then finished with a hasty trial, and the inevitable sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering, carried out at Tyburn on 7 February 1578/9, when he was 27 years of age.


He is said to have been a small man, witty and cheerful. He was beatified "equipollently" by Pope Leo XIII, by means of a decree of 29 December 1886.


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

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