Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ven. John Hambley

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 7
Ven. John Hambley

by John Hungerford Pollen (1858-1925)


English martyr (suffered 1587), born and educated in Cornwall, and converted by reading one of Father Persons' books in 1582. After his course at Reims (1583-1585), he returned and worked for a year in the Western Counties. Betrayed and captured about Easter, 1586, he was tried and condemned at Taunton. He saved his life for the moment by denying his faith, then managed to break prison, and fled to Salisbury. Next August, however, the Protestant bishop there, in his hatred of the ancient Faith, resolved to search the houses of Catholics on the eve of the Assumption, suspecting that he might thus catch a priest, and in fact Hambley was recaptured. Being now in a worse plight that ever, his fears increased; he again offered conformity, and this time he gave up the names of most of his Catholic friends. Next Easter he was tried again, and again made offers of conformity. Yet after this third fall he managed to recover himself, and suffered near Salisbury "standing to it manfully, and inveighing much against his former fault". How he got the grace of final perseverance was a matter of much speculation. One contemporary, Father Warford, believed it was due to his guardian angel, but another, Father Gerard, with great probability, tells us that his strength came from a fellow-prisoner, Thomas Pilchard, afterwards himself a martyr.

J.H. POLLEN