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William Knight (martyr)

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The Blessed William Knight (1572– 29 November 1596) was an Englishman put to death for his Roman Catholic faith at York, England. With him also suffered the Venerable George Errington of Herst, Northumberland; the Venerable William Gibson of Ripon; and the Venerable William Abbot of Howden, Yorkshire.

Knight was the son of a Leonard Knight and lived at South Duffield, Hemington. On coming of age, he claimed from his uncle some property which had been left to him by his father, an Anglican, and his uncle who denounced him to the authorities for being a Roman Catholic; he was at once seized and committed to the custody of a pursuivant named Colyer who treated him with indignity and severity.

He was sent in October, 1593, to York Castle, where William Gibson and George Errington were already confined, the latter having been arrested some years before for participation in a rising in the North.

A Church of England clergyman was among the prisoners at York. To gain his freedom, he had recourse to an act of treachery: feigning a desire to convert to the Roman Church, he won the confidence of Knight 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 Roman Catholicism — an act of treason under the penal laws. They were found guilty, and were hanged, drawn, and quartered at York, on 29 November 1596.

Knight was one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.

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

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