White, Richard (d.1584) (DNB00)

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WHITE, RICHARD (d. 1584), Roman Catholic martyr, is said to have belonged to an old Welsh family of the name of Gwyn settled at Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire, where he is reported to have been born. It is further said that ‘he was twenty years of age before he did frame his mind to like of good letters,’ after which he proceeded to Oxford, but left there shortly afterwards for St. John's College, Cambridge, where he lived by the charity of the college. According to this account his friends at the university, discovering ‘Gwyn’ to be the Welsh for ‘White,’ began to call him by the latter name, which he thereafter adopted. He is said to have quitted Cambridge soon after Elizabeth's accession, and acted for some sixteen years as schoolmaster in East Denbighshire and Flintshire. There seems reason to believe, however, that the martyr was not the Richard Gwyn of St. John's College, but a younger Richard White of Christ's College, Cambridge, who matriculated as a pensioner in May 1571, graduating B.A. and M.A. (1578). Falling under the influence of a Douay missioner, the future martyr was arrested in July 1580 for absenting himself from church, and was committed to Ruthin gaol by Judge Puleston. During the next four years he was kept a close prisoner, and was eventually indicted for high treason in denying the queen's supremacy. With two other fellow prisoners he is said to have been sent before the council of the marches at Bewdley (?Ludlow), where he was tortured with the view of eliciting information to incriminate others; but to no effect. He was finally brought up at the Wrexham assizes, on 9 Oct. 1584, before Sir George Bromley, Simon Thelwall, and others. The jury, after being locked up in the church all night, returned a verdict of ‘guilty,’ and Thelwall, in Bromley's absence, pronounced the usual sentence, which was carried out in all its barbarity on 15 Oct. His head and one of his quarters were set up on Denbigh Castle, and the other quarters were exposed at Wrexham, Ruthin, and Holt.

White left behind him a widow (who was a native of Overton) and three children.

[There are two contemporary accounts of White's martyrdom, one printed (at ff. 172 b to 203 a) in the Concertatio Ecclesiæ Catholicæ (3rd edit. London, 1589) of Dr. J. Bridgewater, or ‘Aquipontanus.’ This (which gives the dates of White's trial and execution as 11 and 17 Oct. respectively) has been followed in Challoner's Catholic Martyrs, 1877, pp. 109–11. The other account, which is much fuller and contains a copy of a letter by White describing one of his trials, is from a contemporary manuscript preserved at the Catholic Mission House, Holywell; it was printed in full by Richard Simpson in the Rambler, new ser. 1860, iii. 233, 366, and by Chevalier Lloyd in his History of Powys Fadog, iii. 128–64. See also Williams's Montgomeryshire Worthies, p. 85; A. N. Palmer's Wrexham Church, pp. 36, 62, 71, 119, and his Town, Fields, and Folk of Wrexham, pp. 9, 10. A pedigree of the Gwyns of Llanidloes (from Harl. MS. 9864) is given in Lloyd's Powys Fadog, v. 59–62; cf. Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations, i. 310.]

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