On this day in Tudor history, 28th May 1582, Roman Catholic priests Thomas Forde, John Shert and Robert Johnson suffered full traitors’ deaths at Tyburn.
The three men had been condemned for their alleged implication in the Rome and Reims Plot of 1580, but many believe that this plot wasn’t actually real.
In today’s video, I explain exactly what led to these men’s executions in 1582, why Roman Catholic priests were persecuted in this manner, and what the plot was all about.
On 28th May 1582, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Roman Catholic priests Thomas Forde, John Shert and Robert Johnson were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.
In his Memoirs of Missionary Priests, Bishop Richard Challoner gives a biography of each of these Catholic martyrs. You can read it online at archive.org/details/memoirsofmission01, but here are a few details about these men and what led to their horrific ends.
Thomas Forde was a Devonshire man who was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he graduated MA in 1567 before becoming a fellow there. He resigned his fellowship due to the college’s Protestant stance and in 1571 he travelled to the English College, a Catholic seminary, at Douai in France, to study divinity. In 1573, Forde entered the priesthood and in 1576 he attained his degree in divinity. He then returned to England to evangelise, i.e. spread the Catholic faith. He was arrested on 17th July 1581 with Edmund Campion in Berkshire and taken to London. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and condemned to death on 21st November 1581 for being involved in what Challoner describes as “the pretended conspiracy of the Rhemes [Rheims] and Rome”, although, as Challoner points out “he had never been in his life either at Rhemes or Rome; nor had the witnesses that appeared against him […] ever so much as seen Mr Forde before his imprisonment.