Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Richard Hurst

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(Or HERST.)

Layman and martyr, b. probably at Broughton, near Preston, Lancashire, England, date unknown; d. at Lancaster, 29 August, 1628. He was a well-to-do yeoman, farming his own land near Preston. As he was a recusant, Norcross, a pursuivant, was sent by the Bishop of Chester to arrest him. The pursuivants had a slight fracas with Hurst's servants, in the course of which one of the pursuivant's men, by name Dewhurst, in running over a ploughed field, fell and broke his leg; but this accident was not in any wise caused by Hurst or his servants. The wound mortified and proved fatal, but before his death Dewhurst of his own free will made a solemn oath that his injury was the result of an accident. Nevertheless Hurst was indicted for murder, as the Government wished at that time to make some severe examples of recusants. Through Hurst's friends a petition was sent to King Charles I, which petition was also supported by Queen Henrietta Maria. But the Government was successful in procuring the judicial murder of Hurst, by grossly tampering with the very palladium of English liberties. No evidence controverting that of the dying Dewhurst having been adduced, the jury were unwilling to convict; but the foreman of the jury was actually told by the judge, in the house of the latter, that the Government was determined to get a conviction, that a foul murder had been committed, and that the jury must bring in a verdict of guilty. Hurst was accordingly convicted and sentenced to death; on the next day, being commanded to hear a sermon at the Protestant church, he refused and was dragged by the legs for some distance along a rough road to the church, where he, however, put his fingers in his ears so as not to hear the sermon. At the gallows he was informed that his life would be spared if he would swear allegiance to the king, but as the oath contained passages attacking the Catholic Faith he refused and was at once executed.

GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v.; IDEM, Lancashire Recusants in MS.; CHALLOWER, Memoirs, II (Edinburgh, 1878) 97-101; A true and Exact Relation of the Death of Two Catholiks at Lancaster, 1628 (London, 1737), a very rare tract; FOLEY in Stonyhurst Mag. No. XX, 112; DODD-TIERNEY, Cath. Hist.

C. F. Wemyss Brown.