Maxfield, Thomas (d.1616) (DNB00)

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MAXFIELD, THOMAS (d. 1616), Roman catholic priest, born at Chesterton Hall, of an old Staffordshire family, was son of William Maxfield, mentioned in the 'Hatfield MSS.' (i. 576, iv. 272) as a recusant in Staffordshire who was at liberty in 1592; at the time of his birth his mother and father were both prisoners for recusancy. In early youth he was sent to the English seminary at Douay, where he arrived on 16 March 1603. He was compelled to return to England in 1610 on account of ill-health, but recovered, and in 1614 was again at Douay, where he was ordained on the presentation of Dr. Matthew Kellison [q. v.], the president of the college. He was sent on a. mission to England in 1615, but had not landed three months before he was arrested, on a visit to Gatehouse prison, where, after examination, he was confined for some months. On 24 June 1616 he attempted to escape by means of a cord from his window, but on reaching the ground was seized and placed in a more secure and disagreeable cell. On 26 June he was tried at Newgate, and offered pardon if he would take the oath of allegiance; he refused, and, in spite of the intercession of the Spanish ambassador, was executed on 1 July. A few days before his trial he wrote a letter to Dr. Kellison; it is still preserved in Douay College, and was printed in Challoner's 'Martyrs.'

Challoner supplies a somewhat fanciful picture of Maxfield in prison. Granger (i. 376) supposes him to be one of the 'Jesuits and priests in counci!' depicted in a print in the second volume of the 'Vox Populi' by Thomas Scott.

[Douai Diaries, i. 21, 35; Coppie d'une lettre envoyée d'Angleterre au Seminaire des Anglois à Douai, Douay, 1616; Vita et Martyrium D. Thomæ Maxfildæi, Douay, 1617; Brevis Narratio Martyrii Thomæ Maxfeildii, printed in vol. i. of the Miscellany of the Abbotsford Club from the Balfour MSS. in the Advocates' Library; Hist. MSS. Comm., Hatfield House MSS. iv. 272; Challoner's Martyrs to the Roman Catholic Faith, ii. 68-77, and Modern British Martyrology, iii. 57-64; Granger's Biog. Hist. i. 376; Dod's Church Hist. ii. 378.]

A. F. P.