Thomas Whitbread (alias Harcourt) (born in Essex, 1618; executed at Tyburn, 30 June 1679) was an English Jesuit missionary, wrongly convicted of conspiracy to murder Charles II of England. He was beatified in 1929.


He was educated at St. Omer's, and entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus on 7 September, 1635. Coming upon the English mission in 1647, he worked for more than thirty years, mostly in the eastern counties. On 8 December, 1652, he was professed of the four vows. Twice he was superior of the Suffolk District, once of the Lincolnshire District, and finally in 1678 he was declared provincial. In this capacity he refused to admit Titus Oates as member of the Society, and shortly afterwards the Popish Plot was fabricated.

Whitbread was arrested in London on Michaelmas Day, 1678, but was so ill that he could not be moved to Newgate till three months later. He was first indicted at the Old Bailey, 17 December, 1678, but, the evidence against him and his companions breaking down, he was remanded and kept in prison till 13 June, 1679; later, he was again indicted, and with four others was found guilty on the perjured evidence of Oates, William Bedloe, and Stephen Dugdale; the others were John Fenwick, John Gavan, William Harcourt and Anthony TurnerTemplate:Mnl. After the execution his remains were buried in St. Giles's in the Fields.


Whitbread wrote "Devout Elevation of the Soul to God" and two short poems, "To Death" and "To his Soul", which are printed in "The Remonstrance of Piety and Innocence".


  • The Remonstrance of Piety and Innocence (London, 1683);
  • Matthias Tanner, Brevis relatio felicis agonis (Prague, 1683);
  • Florus Anglo-Bavaricus (Liège, 1685);
  • Tryals and condemnation of Thomas White alias Whitbread (London, 1879);
  • Smith in Corbett, State Trials, VII;
  • Foley, Coll. Eng. Prov. S. J. V, VII (London, 1879-1883), ii, and all works dealing with the Oates Plot;
  • Cooper in Dict. Nat. Biog., s. v. Harcourt, Thomas.

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

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