Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/James Dowdall

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
James Dowdall

by William Henry Grattan Flood


Martyr, date of birth unknown; executed for his faith at Exeter, England, 20 September, 1600.

He was a merchant of Drogheda, Ireland, though several authorities, including Challoner, describe him as a native of Wexford. Further confusion is added by reason of the fact that another contemporary, James Dowdall, died a confessor. According to Rothe, however, the martyr belonged to Drogheda, and traded with England and the Continent.

In the summer of 1598, when returning from France, his ship was driven by stress of weather onto the coast of Devonshire, and he was arrested by William Bourchier, Earl of Bath, who had him under examination. Dowdall publicly avowed that he rejected the queen's supremacy, and only recognized that of the Roman pontiff. The earl forwarded the examination to Sir Robert Cecil, and had Dowdall committed to Exeter jail. Whilst in prison he was tortured and put to the rack, but continued unchanged in his fidelity to the ancient faith. On 18 June, 1599, the Earl of Bath wrote to Sir Robert Cecil for instructions in regard to James Dowdall, who had been detained in prison almost a year. Accordingly he was tried at the Exeter assizes, and was ordered to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. His name is included in the Apostolic Process of the Irish Martyrs whose cause is at present before the Congregation of Sacred Rites.

W. H. Grattan-Flood.