Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sherwin, Ralph (1550-1581)

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SHERWIN, RALPH (1550–1581), Roman catholic divine, born at Radesley, near Langford, Derbyshire, in 1550, was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. on 22 Nov. 1571, and M.A. on 2 July 1574. He was made senior of the act celebrated in the latter year, ‘being then accounted an acute philosopher and an excellent Græcian and Hebrician’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 478). He left the university in 1575, and, proceeding to the English College at Douay, was ordained priest on 23 March 1576–7 (Records of the English Catholics, i. 8). Afterwards he proceeded to Rome, and his name stands as No. 1 in the diary of the English College in that city on 23 April 1579. He left it on 18 April 1580 for the English mission, in company with other priests, including Robert Parsons [q. v.] and Edmund Campion [q. v.], the first jesuits who came to this country. After exercising his priestly functions in London for a short time, he was arrested, and committed prisoner to the Marshalsea, being subsequently removed to the Tower, where he was several times examined and twice racked. He was a close prisoner for nearly a year, and during that time held several conferences with protestant ministers, sometimes in private, and at other times in public audience. In November 1581 he was arraigned before the queen's bench, with several other ecclesiastics, and charged with having conspired to procure the queen's deposition and death, and to promote rebellion at home and invasion of the realm from abroad. He was condemned to death, and executed at Tyburn, with Campion and Alexander Brian, on 1 Dec. 1581 (Stow, Annales, 1614, p. 694). He was beatified by Leo XIII on 29 Dec. 1886 (Tablet, 15 Jan. 1887, pp. 81, 82).

Peter White wrote ‘A Discouerie of the Jesuiticall opinion of Justification, guilefully vttered by Sherwyne at the time of his Execution,’ London, 1582, 8vo. To Sherwin has been erroneously attributed ‘An Account of the Disputations in Wisbech Castle between William Fulke of Cambridge and certain Roman Priests who were Prisoners there,’ a manuscript formerly in the possession of Richard Stanihurst (Dodd, Church Hist. ii. 131).

[Soon after his execution there appeared A true report of the death and martyrdome of M. Campion, Jesuite, & M. Sherwin & M. Bryan, preistes. … Observid and written by a Catholike preist which was present thereat [Douay? 1582], 8vo; another account was published by A[nthony] M[unday] [q. v.] , London, 1582, 8vo. See also Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), ii. 1171; Aquepontanus [Bridgewater] Concert. Eccl. Cathol. lib. ii. f. 87b; Catholic Spectator, 1824, i. 229; Challoner's Missionary Priests; Foley's Records, vi. 785; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, iv. 1349; Historia del Glorioso Martirio di diciotto Sacerdoti (Macerata, 1585); Lansdowne MS. 982, f. 25; Oxford Univ. Reg. i. 282; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 778; Records of the English Catholics, i. 440, ii. 477; Stanton's Menology, p. 577; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 667.]

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