David Lewis (Jesuit)

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St. David Lewis, S.J.
Saint David Lewis, engraving 1683.jpg
David Lewis, portrait engraving (1683)
Martyr, Priest
Born 1616
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales
Died 1679 (aged 62–63)
Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales
Honored in Catholic Church
Beatified 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized 25 October 1970, Vatican City, by Pope Paul VI
Feast 27 August
Oil painting after the engraving, Llantarnam Abbey

David Lewis (1616 – 27 August 1679) was a Jesuit Catholic priest and martyr who was also known as Charles Baker.[1] Lewis was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales and is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Early life[edit]

Lewis was born at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, in 1616 and raised as a Protestant.

At 16 years of age, while visiting Paris, he converted to Catholicism and subsequently went to study in Rome, where in 1642 he was ordained as a Catholic priest. Three years later, he joined the Society of Jesus.

Arrest and execution[edit]

He was arrested on 17 November 1678, at St Michael's Church, Llantarnam, then in Monmouthshire, and condemned at the Assizes in Monmouth in March 1679 as a Catholic priest and for saying Catholic Masses. Like John Wall and John Kemble, he was then sent to London to be examined by Titus Oates (the originator of the Popish Plot) and others.

He was brought for trial at the Lenten Assizes in Monmouth on 16 March 1679. He was brought to the bar on a charge of high treason – for having become a Catholic priest and then remaining in England.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge of being an accessory to the Popish Plot, but five or six witnesses claimed they had seen him say Mass and perform other priestly duties. For this Lewis was found guilty and sentenced to death by Sir Robert Atkins. The condemned priest was brought to Newgate Prison in London with John Kemble (Herefordshire) and questioned about the "plot". Oates, William Bedloe, Dugdale and Prace were unable to prove anything against him. Lord Shaftesbury advised him that if he gave evidence about the "plot" or renounced his Catholic faith, that his life would be spared and he would be greatly rewarded. Lewis said in his dying speech, "discover the plot I could not, as I knew of none; and conform I would not, for it was against my conscience".

He was finally brought back to Usk in Monmouthshire for his execution by John Arnold of Monmouthshire, and was hanged on 27 August 1679. After the Titus Oates affair (1679–80), the remaining Welsh-speaking Catholic clergy were either executed or exiled.


Together with John Wall, John Kemble and 37 other martyrs, David Lewis was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 - the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


  1. ^ "alias used to hide from anti-Catholic authorities in Wales" (Patron Saints: Saint David Lewis)

 "Baker, Charles (1617-1679)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Baker, Charles (1617-1679)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ven. Charles Baker". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.