According to one – harsh – contemporary account, on this day in 1535:
“On the xix day of June, three monks of the London Charterhouse were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn – their quarters set up about London for denying the king to be supreme head of the Church (*). Their names were William Exmewe, Humphrey Middlemore and Sebastian Newdigate (**). These men were arraigned at Westminster and had behaved themselves very stiffly and stubbornly. When they heard their indictment read about how traitorously they had spoken against the King’s Majesty, his crown and dignity, they neither blushed nor bashed at it, but very foolishly and hypocritically acknowledged their treason which maliciously they announced, having no learning for their defence, but rather being asked many questions, they used a malicious silence, thinking as by their examinations afterward in the Tower of London it did appear for they said they thought those men, which was Lord Cromwell and others that there sat upon them in judgement, to be heretics and not of the Church of God, and therefore not worthy to be either answered or spoken unto. And therefore as they deserved they received as you have heard before”.
(*) See also May 4th posting on “The martyrdom of John Houghton, the Prior of the London Charterhouse”.
(**) Newdigate was a personal friend of the King, Henry VIII, but refused to take the oath acknowledging him as the supreme head of the church, despite being implored by him to do so, on two separate occasions.
And on this day in 1610, the Roman Catholic Priest – and since 1970 Saint – John Roberts was taken to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn for contravening the “Act Forbidding Priests to Minister in England”. In the event, the crowd, who revered him for the work he had done among them during an outbreak of the plague in 1603, saw to it that he died by hanging and was spared the suffering of drawing and quartering. What could be salvaged of his body was taken to the Benedictine priory he had founded at Douai in northern France. One of his finger bones is preserved as a holy relic in Tyburn Convent.
On this day in 1535, John Houghton, the Prior of the London Charterhouse, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, for refusing to take an oath acknowledging the King – Henry VIII – as the Supreme Head of the Church in England (*). His last words are reported to have been as follows:
“I beseech all here present to attest for me on the dreadful day of judgement that being about to die I declare that I have refused to comply with the will of His Majesty the King, not from obstinacy, malice or a rebellious spirit, but solely for fear of offending the Supreme Majesty of God”.
Previously, from the window of his cell in the Tower of London, Thomas More had witnessed Houghton, together with two other Carthusian priors, a Bridgettine monk and a secular priest, being taken to Tyburn, and remarked to his daughter Meg [Roper]: “These blessed Fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage” (**).