William Barrow (alias Waring, alias Harcourt) (1609 – 30 June, 1679) was an English Jesuit, executed as a result of the Popish Plot, a fabricated story. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1929.[1] By a papal decree of 4 December, 1886, this martyr's cause was introduced, but under the name of "William Harcourt". This is the official name of beatification.


He was born in Lancashire. He made his studies at the Jesuit College, St. Omer's, and entered the Society of Jesus at Watten in 1632. He was sent to the English mission in 1644 and worked on the London district for thirty-five years, becoming, in the beginning of 1678, its superior.

In May of that year he was arrested and committed to Newgate on the charge of complicity in the plot alleged by Titus Oates. The trial, in which he had as fellow-prisons his colleagues, Father Thomas Whitebread, John Fenwick, John Gavan, and Anthony Turner,Template:MisleadingNameLink commenced 13 June 1670.

Lord Chief Justice Scroggs presided, and Oates, William Bedloe, and Stephen Dugdale were the principal witnesses for the Crown. The prisoners were charged with having conspired to kill the king Charles II and subvert the Protestant religion. They defended themselves by the testimony of their own witnesses and their cross-examinations of their accusers, who were wholesale perjurers.

Scroggs laid down principles that

  • as the witnesses against them had recently received the royal pardon, none of the undeniable previous misdemeanors could be legally admitted as impairing the value of their testimony; and
  • that no Catholic witness was to be believed, as it was presumable that he had received a dispensation to lie.

He obstructed the defense by his interruptions.

Father Barrow and the others were found guilty, and condemned to undergo the punishment for high treason. They were executed together at Tyburn, 20 June, 1679.


  • Corbett, State Trials, VII;
  • Tanner, Brevis Relatio (Prague, 1883);
  • Florus Anglo-Bavaricus (Liege, 1685);
  • Henry Foley, Records of the English Province S.J., V;
  • Joseph Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v. Barrow;
  • ____, Lancashire Recusants.


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

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.