dimanche 19 avril 2015

Bienheureux JAMES DUCKETT, martyr

Bienheureux Jacques Duckett, martyr

Marié, Jacques Duckett fut arrêté à Londres pour avoir vendu des livres catholiques. Il fut détenu neuf années durant dans les geôles d'Elisabeth Ière avant d'être pendu en 1602 en confessant sa foi.

Bienheureux Jacques (James) Duckett

martyr à Tyburn ( 1602)

Béatifié en 1929.

Protestant devenu catholique, marié et libraire, il fut dénoncé pour avoir vendu des livres catholiques. Après neuf ans passés en prison, il fut condamné à mort, sous la reine Élisabeth Ière, et soumis au supplice de la pendaison à Tyburn, avec son accusateur, qu’en mourant il invita à une mort catholique.

Martyrologe romain

 James Duckett

Né à Gilfortrigs (Skelsmergh, Westmoreland, Angleterre), James grandit dans le protestantisme. Son parrain fut James Leybourbe de Skelsmergh, qui fut martyrisé lui aussi.

Il semble que James ait trouvé la foi catholique durant les années où il fut apprenti à Londres,  après la lecture de livres catholiques.

Avant-même d’être reçu dans l’Eglise, il subit la prison par deux fois, pour n’avoir pas assisté aux offices protestants. Il fut contraint de transiger pour son apprentissage : son employeur (chez lequel il avait trouvé les livres en question) intercéda à chaque fois pour obtenir sa libération, mais le pria ensuite de changer d’employeur.

Il put enfin entrer dans l’Eglise catholique, grâce à un vénérable prêtre nommé Weekes, lui aussi en prison à Gatehouse (Westminster).

Deux ou trois ans après, vers 1590, James épousa une veuve catholique mais, des douze années que dura cette vie conjugale, il en passa pas moins de neuf en prison, à cause de son zèle pour propager la littérature catholique, tant il était convaincu dans sa nouvelle foi.

C’est son fils John, devenu chartreux, qui put raconter plus tard ce qu’il savait de son père.

Sa dernière arrestation fut le résultat d’une trahison : Peter Bullock, un relieur mis en prison, avait donné son nom pour obtenir sa propre libération. Le 4 mars 1601, la maison de James fut fouillée, on y trouva des livres catholiques, et James fut immédiatement transféré à Newgate.

Durant le procès, Bullock témoigna qu’il avait relié des livres catholiques pour James, qui reconnut le fait. Le barreau ne jugeait pas coupable James, mais le Juge fit remarquer que James Duckett avait fait relier un livre particulièrement odieux aux Anglicans pour son contenu virulent. Le jury modifia alors son verdict, déclara James coupable de crime et le condamna à mort. 

En même temps, on condamna trois prêtres : Francis Page, Thomas Tichborne, Robert Watkinson, qui furent exécutés le lendemain. 

Le traître Bullock ne sauva pas sa peau pour autant : il fut emmené dans la même charrette à Tyburn. En chemin, on tendit un verre de vin à James, qui le but et le tendit à son épouse en lui demandant de boire aussi pour Bullock, en lui pardonnant. L’épouse refusait, mais James la «gronda» gentiment, jusqu’à ce qu’elle acceptât.

Parvenus à la potence, James pensait toujours à son traître : il l’embrassa et le conjura de mourir dans la foi catholique. Malheureusement, il ne semble pas que Bullock ait consenti.

C’était le 19 avril 1601.

James Duckett fut béatifié en 1929.

Ven. James Duckett

Martyr, b. at Gilfortrigs in the parish of Skelsmergh in Westmoreland, England, date uncertain, of an ancient family of that county; d. 9 April, 1601. He was a bookseller and publisher in London. His godfather was the well-known martyr James Leybourbe of Skelsmergh. He seems, however, to have been brought up a Protestant, for he was converted while an apprentice in London by reading a Catholic book lent him by a friend. Before he could be received into the Church, he was twice imprisoned for not attending the Protestant service, and was obliged to compound for his apprenticeship and leave his master. He was finally reconciled by a venerable priest named Weekes who was imprisoned in the Gatehouse at Westminster. After two or three years he married a Catholic widow, but out of his twelve years of married life, no less than nine were spent in prison, owing to his zeal in propagating Catholic literature and his wonderful constancy in his new-found faith. His last apprehension was brought about by Peter Bullock, a bookbinder, who betrayed him in order to obtain his own release from prison. His house was searched on 4 March, 1601, Catholic books were found there, and Duckett was at once thrown into Newgate. At his trial, Bullock testified that he had bound various Catholic books for Duckett, which the martyr acknowledged to be true. The jury found him not guilty, but Judge Popham at once stood up and bade them consider well what they did, for Duckett had had bound for him Bristowe's "motives", a controversial work peculiarly odious to Anglicans on account of its learning and cogency. The jury thereupon reversed its verdict and brought in the prisoner guilty of felony. At the same time three priests, Page, Tichborne, and Watkinson were condemned to death. Bullock did not save himself by his treachery, for he was conveyed in the same cart as Duckett to Tyburn, where both were executed, 19 April, 1601. There is an account, written by his son, the Prior of the English Carthusians at Nieuport (Flanders) of James Duckett's martyrdom. On the way to Tyburn he was given a cup of wine; he drank, and desired his wife to drink to Peter Bullock, and freely to forgive him. At the gallows, his last thoughts were for his betrayer. He kissed him and implored him to die in the Catholic Faith.

Camm, Bede. "Ven. James Duckett." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 18 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05182b.htm>.

Blessed James Duckett M (AC)

Born at Gilfortrigs, Skelsmergh, Westmorland, England; died at Tyburn, England, in 1602; beatified in 1929. James converted to Catholicism and settled in London as a bookseller. After being imprisoned several times (totalling nine years incarceration) for printing and selling Catholic books, James was martyred by hanging (Benedictines).



James Duckett was an Englishman who lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. As a young man he became an apprentice printer in London. This is how he came across a book called The Firm Foundation of the Catholic Religion. He studied it carefully and believed that the Catholic Church was the true Church. In those days, Catholics were persecuted in England. James decided that he wanted to be a Catholic anyway and would face the consequences. The clergyman at his former church came to look for him because James had been a steady church goer. He would not come back. Twice he served short prison terms for his stubbornness. Both times his employer interceded and got him freed. But then the employer asked James to find a job elsewhere.

James Duckett knew there was no turning back. He sought out a disguised Catholic priest in the Gatehouse prison. The old priest, "Mr. Weekes," instructed him. Duckett was received into the Catholic Church. He married a Catholic widow and their son became a Carthusian monk. He recorded much of what we know about his father.

Blessed Duckett never forgot that it was a book that had started him on the road to the Church. He considered it his responsibility to provide his neighbors with Catholic books. He knew these books encouraged and instructed them. So dangerous was this "occupation" that he was in prison for nine out of twelve years of his married life. He was finally brought to trial and condemned to death on the testimony of one man, Peter Bullock, a book binder. He testified that he had bound Catholic books for Blessed Duckett, a "grave offense." Bullock turned traitor because he was in prison for unrelated matters and hoped to be freed.

Both men were condemned to die on the same day. On the scaffold at Tyburn, Blessed Duckett assured Bullock of his forgiveness. He kept encouraging the man as they were dying to accept the Catholic faith. Then the ropes were placed around their necks. Blessed Duckett was martyred in 1602.

We pray today for all those who work in the media of social communication-journalists, TV producers, screenwriters, movie artists, disc jockeys, and webmasters.

Blessed James Duckett, Layman Martyred for His Faith

James Duckett was an English Catholic layman and martyr (died 1601).

Born at Gilfortrigs in the parish of Skelsmergh in Westmorland at an unknown date, he became a bookseller and publisher in London. Brought up a Protestant, he was lent a Catholic book by a friend when serving his apprenticeship in London and decided to become a Catholic. Earlier he had twice been imprisoned for not attending the Protestant services, and was obliged to compound for his apprenticeship and leave his master.

He was received into the Catholic Church by an old priest named Weekes who was imprisoned in the Gatehouse at Westminster. Two or three years later, about 1590, he married a Catholic widow, but out of his twelve years of married life, nine were spent in prison for his new faith.

He was active in propagating Catholic literature. He was finally betrayed by Peter Bullock, a bookbinder, who acted in order to obtain his own release from prison. Duckett's house was searched on 4 March 1601 and Catholic books found. For this he was at once thrown into Newgate.

At the trial, Bullock testified that he had bound various Catholic books for Duckett and he admitted this, but denied other false accusations in a self-possessed manner. The jury found him not guilty; but the judge, Sir John Popham, the Lord Chief Justice, browbeat the jury, which reversed its verdict and Duckett was found guilty of felony. Despite the betrayal of Duckett, Bullock was taken to his death at Tyburn in the same cart as Duckett on 19 April 1601.

James Duckett's son was the John Duckett who later became Prior of the English Carthusians at Nieuwpoort in Flanders. He related that on the way to Tyburn his father was handed a cup of wine, which he drank, and told his wife to drink to Peter Bullock and to forgive him. When she declined, he chided her gently until she did. On arrival at Tyburn Tree James kissed and embraced Bullock, beseeching him to die in the Catholic faith, without success.

At the same trial three priests, Thomas Tichborne, Robert Watkinson, and Francis Page, were condemned to death. For some reason their execution was remanded to the following day.

James Duckett was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

From the accounts I've read, it's not completely clear what he was charged with and found guilty of--was it his conversion (which was an act of treason)? did he have some Papal documents? Catholic books were not in themselves illegal, but pointed to his being Catholic, probably attending Mass illegally, especially since he did not attend Church of England services. He was hung because he was a Catholic, not because of anything he did, at least anything produced as evidence in a court of law. That's why the judge had to browbeat the jury to find Blessed James Duckett guilty of a felony. What happened to Duckett's Catholic wife? She was now twice-widowed and might have been rounded up for recusancy. At least two other lay martyr's I've posted about (St. Swithun Wells, for example) left wives who endured grave troubles with the law because of their recusany. Mrs. Wells (her first name is unknown) died in prison after her death sentence was commuted.

More on the three priests--and several others--tomorrow. April 20 is a big day for executions and martyrs in Tudor England.


London bookseller. Convert to Catholicism. Married and father of one son. Arrested several times for printing and selling Catholic books before finally being executed for the crime. Martyr.

  • at Gilfortrigs, Skelsmergh, Westmorland, England

Blessed James Duckett, 19th April

Blessed James Duckett was a layman who was hanged at Tyburn, London, in the penultimate year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I for felony charges in connection with possessing, publishing and distributing Catholic books and literature.

He was a devoted husband who spent nine of the 12 years his married life in various prisons for helping to spread the Catholic faith by the dissemination of books and he was a father: his Acts were recorded principally by his son, John, who became Prior to the English Carthusians at Nieuwpoort, Flanders.

Blessed James grew up in Gilfortriggs in Westmoreland as a Protestant, although his godfather, James Leyburn, Lord of Skelsmergh (after whom he was named), was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1583 for denying Queen Elizabeth’s supremacy over the English Church.

Not long after James was apprenticed to a printer in London, a fellow northerner called Peter Mauson gave him a book called “The Foundation of the Catholic Religion”, shattering his belief in the reformed Church of England. He ceased going to Protestant services at which he had been a regular attendant and was consequently pursued by the vicar of St Edmund’s Church, Lombard Street. When asked why he had stopped going to the services, James told the minister that he would never return the church until he was convinced by Protestantism.

As a result he was imprisoned at Bridewell but later bailed by his employer. He still refused to go to Protestant services and was again jailed, this time in the Compter. His employer paid for his freedom a second time but, fearing further controversy, ended the contract between them.

James responded to his new freedom by entering the Catholic Church at the hands of an aged priest called Mr Weekes, a prisoner in the Gatehouse. He then married a Catholic widow and began to make a living from dealing in books, particularly Catholic books, a risky enterprise for which he was often imprisoned.

The episode that led to his final arrest, trial and execution began when a bookbinder called Peter Bullock tried to obtain a pardon from a capital punishment he had incurred by accusing James Duckett of publishing 25 copies of “Supplications to the Queen” by St Robert Southwell. His house was searched and no copies of the books were found, although the authorities found other Catholic books in his possession.

In early March 1602 he was brought into a court presided over by Lord Chief Justice John Popham, a brutal anti-Catholic who had presided over the trial of St Robert Southwell and who had been also involved in the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. Also in the room was Robert Watkinson, a priest from Yorkshire. Blessed James, seeing the priest was pale, thought he was afraid (he was in fact sick) and he encouraged him in his faith within earshot of Popham who rounded on him angrily, ordering him to “now speak for thyself”.

The trial ensued and Bullock was brought into the room to accuse Blessed James in front of the court. But the jury refused to convict him. Then Popham urged them to reconsider their verdict and sent the jurors out of the room a second time. When they came back they returned a verdict of guilty for an act of felony and the death sentence was passed against Blessed James. Also sentenced to death were Watkinson and two other priests, Francis Page and Thomas Tichburn.

On Monday April 19, the day of Blessed James’s execution, Mrs Duckett was allowed to visit her husband in his cell but was unable to bring herself to speak to him because she was so distraught, weeping profusely. James told her that he did not fear death. “Keep yourself God’s servant and in the unity of God’s Church,” he told her, “and I shall be able to do you more good, being now to go to the King of kings”.

Bullock, his accuser, had failed in his ruse to escape punishment and the pair were taken to Tyburn together in the same cart.

Upon their arrival at Tyburn, Mrs Duckett brought James a pint of wine and he used it to toast Bullock, telling the crowd he had forgiven him (and urging his wife to do the same), and he also kissed him once the ropes were around their necks. Finally, he urged Bullock to become a Catholic with the words: “Thy life and mine are not long. Wilt thou promise me one thing? If thou wilt, speak: wilt thou die, as I die, a Catholic?”

Bullock replied that he would die “as a Christian should do”. Then the cart was pulled from underneath them.

The three priests convicted with Blessed James Duckett were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn the following day for coming into the country in violation of the Elizabethan statutes.

Blessed James was beatified in December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

(Sources: Memoirs of Missionary Priests by Bishop Richard Challoner and Butler’s Lives of the Saints)

Written by Sherry   

Consider the moving story of Blessed James Duckett.

(d. 1602)

Thursday, 01 November 2007 08:28

Raised as a Protestant and apprenticed to a printer. After reading a book "The Firm Foundation of the Catholic Religion, James stopped attended Anglican services and was sentenced to prison twice. Finally, his employer revoked his contract for apprenticeship upon which James asked a priest, imprisoned in London, to instruct him in the faith and receive him into the Church.

After that, James made his living by printing and deal in Catholic books. He was arrested so often for this daring activity that he spent nine of his twelve years of married life in prison. Betrayed by a fellow Catholic, and sentenced to death for binding a book of Catholic apologetics, James was driven to his execution in the same cart as his accuser, whom he publicly forgave. After the rope was placed around their necks, James kissed his betrayer in a final gesture of forgiveness.

Forty two years later, a Fr. John Duckett, a relative of James, was betrayed at this spot near Wolsingham, and was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.