Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Felton, Thomas (1567?-1588)

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FELTON, THOMAS (1567?–1588), Franciscan friar, son of John Felton (d 1570) [q. v.], born about 1567 at Bermondsey Abbey, Surrey, was in his youth page to Lady Lovett. Afterwards he was sent to the English College at Rheims, where he received the first tonsure from the hands of the Cardinal de Guise, archbishop of Rheims, in 1583 (Douay Diaries, p. 199, where he is described as ‘Nordovicen’). He then entered the order of Minims, but being unable to endure its austerities he returned to England. On landing he was arrested, brought to London, and committed to the Poultry Compter. About two years later his aunt, Mrs. Blount, obtained his release through the interest of some of her friends at court. He attempted to return to France, but was again intercepted and committed to Bridewell. After some time he regained his liberty, and made a second attempt to get back to Rheims, but was rearrested and recommitted to Bridewell, where he was put into ‘Little Ease’ and otherwise cruelly tortured. He was brought to trial at Newgate, just after the defeat of the Armada, and was asked whether, if the Spanish forces had landed, he would have taken the part of the queen. His reply was that he would have taken part with God and his country. But he refused to acknowledge the queen to be the supreme head of the church of England, and was accordingly condemned to death. The next day, 28 Aug. 1588, he and another priest, named James Claxton or Clarkson, were conveyed on horseback from Bridewell to the place of execution, between Brentford and Hounslow, and were there hanged and quartered.

[Challoner's Missionary Priests (1741), i. 216; Yepes, Hist. de la Persecucion de la Inglaterra, p. 610; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. v. 163.]

T. C.