Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ven. Eustace White

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108041Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) — Ven. Eustace WhiteJoseph Louis Whitfield

Martyr, born at Louth, Lincolnshire, in 1560; suffered at the London Tyburn, 10 December, 1591. His parents were heretics, and his conversion resulted in a curse from his father. He was educated at Reims (1584) and at Rome (1586), where he was ordained. He came on the mission in November, 1588, and laboured in the west of England. On 1 Sept., 1591, he was betrayed at Blandford, Dorset, by a lawyer with whom he had conversed upon religion. For two days he held public discussion with a minister, and greatly impressed the Protestants present. He was then sent to London, and lodged in Bridwell, 18 September, where for forty-six days he was kept lying on straw with his hands closely manacled. On 25 October the Privy Council gave orders for his examination under torture, and on seven occasions he was kept hanging by his manacled hands for hours together; he also suffered deprivation of food and clothing. On 6 December together with Edmund Gennings and Polydore Plasden, priests, and Sydney Hodgson (q.v.), Swithin Wells, and John Mason, laymen, he was tried before the King's Bench, and condemned for coming into England contrary to law. He forgave Topcliffe his cruelties, and prayed for him, and at his execution, telling the people that his only treason was his priesthood, he thanked God for the happy crown to his labours. Being cut down alive, he rose to his feet, but was tripped up and dragged to the fire where two men stood upon his arms while the executioner butchered him. With him suffered Polydore Plasden and three laymen.

Ven. Polydore Plasden

Venerable Polydore Plasden, alias Oliver Palmer, born in 1563, was the son of a London horner. He was educated at Reims and at Rome, where he was ordained priest on 7 December, 1586. He remained at Rome for more than a year, and then was at Reims from 8 April till 2 September, 1588, when he was sent on the mission. While at Rome he had signed a petition for the retention of the Jesuits as superiors of the English College, but in England he was considered to have suffered injury through their agency. He was captured on 8 Nov., 1591, in London, at Swithin Wells's house in Gray's Inn Fields, where Ven. Edmund Gennings was celebrating Mass. At his execution he acknowledged Elizabeth as his lawful queen, whom he would defend to the best of his power against all her enemies, and he prayed for her and the whole realm, but said that he would rather forfeit a thousand lives than deny or fight against his religion. By the orders of Sir Walter Raleigh, he was allowed to hang till he was dead, and the sentence was carried out upon his body.

Ven. John Mason

Venerable John Mason was a servant to Mr. Owen of Oxfordshire. When Topcliffe endeavoured to obtained entry in to the room where Father Gennings was saying Mass, Mason seized him, and in the struggle both fell down the stairs together. Mason was therefore cited as an aider and abettor of priests and condemned accordingly.

Ven. Brian Lacey

At the same time suffered another layman, Venerable Brian Lacey, cousin and companion of Venerable Montford Scott, with whom he was apprehended in 1591. Lacey was committed to Bridewell where he was cruelly tortured by Topcliffe in the vain endeavour to elicit at whose houses he had been with Scott. He was arraigned before the lord mayor at the Old Bailey and condemned to be hanged for aiding and abetting priests. Five years previously Lacey had suffered imprisonment in Newgate for religion, and he was then three times examined by Justice Young. Information against him as a distributor and dispenser of letters to Catholics and against Montford Scott had been given by his own brother, Richard Lacey, gentleman, of Brockdish, Norfolk.

KIRK, Douay Diaries; POLLEN, Acts of Eng. Martyrs (London, 1891); IDEM in Cath. Record Soc., II; V; MORRIS, Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, III (London, 1906-08); IDEM, Life of Gerard (London, 1881); CHALLONER, Memoirs of Missionary Priests; FOLLEY, Records of the English Province of the Soc. of Jesus, VI.

J. L. Whitfield.