William Davies (b. in North Wales, probably Croes yn Eirias, Denbighshire, date uncertain; executed at Beaumaris Castle, 27 July 1593) was a Welsh Roman Catholic priest. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1987.[1] There is a chapel in Anglesey built as a memorial to him.


He studied at Reims, where he arrived 6 April 1582 just in time to assist at the first Mass of Nicholas Garlick. He received tonsure and minor orders 23 September, 1583, together with seventy-three other English students. Ordained priest in April, 1585, he worked as missionary in Wales. With his patron Robert Pugh, he secretly produced the book Y Drych Christianogawl, said to be the first book printed in Wales.[2]

In March 1592, he was arrested at Holyhead, with four students whom he was sending via Ireland to the English College at Valladolid. Pugh escaped arrest.

He was imprisoned in a dungeon in Beaumaris Castle and separated from his companions, having confessed that he was a priest. After a month he was able to join the students for an hour in the day, and even to celebrate Mass. The jailor became lax, and they might have escaped had they so willed. Catholics from all parts to came consult him, and Protestant ministers came to dispute with him.

At the assizes he and his companions were condemned to death, on which the Davies intoned the Te Deum, which the others took up. The judge reprieved the condemned till the Queen's pleasure be known.

Sent to Ludlow, to be examined by the Council of the Marches, Davies encountered more Protestant ministers. They took him to church under pretext of a disputation, and then began the Protestant service. He recited the Latin Vespers in a loud voice.

From Ludlow he was sent to Bewdley, where he had to share his prison with felons, and from thence to other jails. He was sent back to Beaumaris, and rejoined his young companions. For some six months he lived with them the life of a religious community, dividing the time between prayer and study.

At the summer assizes it was decided that the priest must die as a traitor, though he was offered his life if he would go but once to church. In spite of local opposition, the sentence was carried out and he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Beaumaris.

His cassock was preserved as a relic by his companions. They, though condemned to imprisonment for life, managed in time to escape. The youngest found his way to Valladolid, where he recounted the whole story to Bishop Yepes, who wrote it in his "Historia particular de la Persecucion en Inglaterra".


  • Richard Challoner, Missionary Priests (London, 1741);
  • Joseph Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., II, s v.;
  • Douay Diaries (London, 1878);
  • Diego de Yepes, Hist. de la Persecucion en Inglaterra;
  • Bede Camm, In the Brave Days of Old (London, 1899).


  1. Blesseds Beatified by John Paul II (1987-1988)
  2. Saints of North Wales - Saint Tudno and Blessed William Davies

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

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