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William Gibson (martyr)

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Blessed William Gibson (1548 – 29 November 1596) was martyred by Anglicans at York for professing the Roman Catholic faith. He was from Ripon, in Yorkshire.

With him also suffered the Venerable George Errington of Herst, Northumberland; the Venerable William Knight of South Duffield; and the Venerable William Abbot of Howden, Yorkshire.


A member of a rich family, Gibson was the son of a George Gibson of Goldingstones, Fife, and the grandson of Thomas, Lord Gibson, also of Goldingstones, Fife, a free baron under charter by King James IV of Scotland. He was accused of heresy and denounced to the authorities for being a Catholic. He was at once seized and committed to the custody of Colyer, a pursuivant, who treated him with indignity and severity.

Gibson was sent in August, 1593, to York Castle, where he was joined shortly thereafter by fellow martyrs William Knight and George Errington, both arrested for participation in a rising.

A certain Anglican clergyman chanced to be among their fellow prisoners. To gain his freedom he had recourse to an act of treachery: feigning a desire to become a Roman Catholic, he won the confidence of Gibson and his two companions, who explained their faith to him. With the connivance of the authorities, he was directed to one Henry Abbot, then at liberty, who endeavoured to procure a priest to reconcile him to the Church. Thereupon Abbot was arrested and, together with Knight and his two comrades, accused of persuading the Anglican clergyman to embrace Catholicism — an act of treason under the penal laws. They were all found guilty, before being hanged, drawn, and quartered at York, on 29 November 1596.

The Blessed and Venerable William Gibson was one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.


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