Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Woodhouse, Thomas

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WOODHOUSE, THOMAS (d. 1573), Roman catholic martyr, was a native of Lincolnshire. He was ordained priest shortly before the death of Mary in 1558, and was presented to a parsonage in Lincolnshire. In 1560 he resigned his living on account of the changes introduced in the English church, and, retiring to Wales, became tutor in a gentleman's family. This situation he also resigned soon afterwards on religious grounds, and shortly after was arrested while celebrating mass and committed on 14 May 1561 as ‘a pore prist’ to the Fleet prison, where he lived on charity like other pauper prisoners (cf. Harl. MS. 360, f. 7). In 1563, during a severe visitation of the plague in London, he was removed to Cambridgeshire for a short time with the other prisoners in the custody of Tyrrel, the warder of the Fleet. At his urgent request Woodhouse was admitted to the Society of Jesus in 1572. He was so animated by his admission that on 19 Nov. 1572 he wrote to Cecil exhorting him to persuade Elizabeth to submit to the pope. The original is preserved in the British Museum (Lansdowne MS. 99, f. 1). He also wrote papers ‘persuading men to the true faith and obedience,’ which he signed with his name, tied to stones, and threw out of the prison window into the street. On 16 June 1573 he was tried for high treason in the Guildhall, London. He distinguished himself by his intrepid bearing and the frankness of his answers, was found guilty, and was executed at Tyburn on 19 June. Woodhouse was the first priest who suffered in Elizabeth's reign, and the first Roman catholic, with the exceptions of John Felton (d. 1570) [q. v.] and John Story [q. v.]

Two narratives of his life and martyrdom exist. The earlier, dated 1574, is contained in a small quarto volume of manuscripts, entitled ‘Anglia, Necrol. 1573–1651,’ in the archives of the Society of Jesus at Rome. In this account, which is written in Latin, he is called William Woodhouse. Three hundred and thirty verses are appended, written by him in prison. The second and fuller account is in English, and was sent to Rome by Henry Garnett [q. v.] It is now among the Stonyhurst manuscripts.

Woodhouse was included in the representation of the ‘Sufferings of the Holy Martyrs’ in England, painted by Nicholas Circiniani, in the English Church of the Most Holy Trinity at Rome, by order of Gregory XIII. The original painting was destroyed about the end of the eighteenth century, but engravings of it still exist (Pollen, Acts of English Martyrs, 1891, pp. 370–2).

[Foley's Records of the English Province, 1883, vii. 859–61, 967, 1257–67; Berselli's Vita del Beato Edmundo Campion, Rome, 1889, pp. 218–33; Stow's Annales, 1615, p. 676; Rambler, 1858, x. 207–12; Parsons's Elizabethæ Angliæ Reginæ hæresim Calvinianam propugnantis sævissimum in Catholicos sui regni edictum, 1592, p. 189.]

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