Egton, North Yorkshire
|Died||7 August 1679
Cause of death
|Hanged, disembowelled and quartered|
|various: Egton Bridge, Ampleforth Abbey, Pickering|
|Education||English College, Douai, France|
|Known for||17th century Catholic martyr|
Blessed Nicholas Postgate (1596 or 1597 – 7 August 1679) was an English Catholic priest. He is one of the 85 English Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales, beatified by Pope John Paul II, in November 1987.
He was born at Kirkdale House, Egton, Yorkshire, England. He entered Douay College, in France, 11 July 1621. Further to that, he took the college oath, 12 March 1623, received minor orders, 23 December 1624, the subdiaconate, 18 December 1627, the diaconate, 18 March 1628, and the priesthood two days later. He was sent to the mission, 29 June 1630, and laboured in England for the Catholic religion, finally settling back to Ugthorpe, not far from his birthplace, in the 1660s. Thomas Ward, who later wrote about him, knew him well.
Background to arrest
Although anti-Catholic feeling in England had subsided a good deal at that time, it flared up again due to the fake Popish Plot of 1678; this followed a false testimony from Titus Oates in which he claimed there was a conspiracy to install a Catholic king, and he managed to ferment a renewed and fierce persecution of English Catholics. It was to be the last time that Catholics were put to death in England for their faith; one of the last victims - but not the very last - was Nicholas Postgate.
During the panic engineered by Oates, a prominent Protestant magistrate in London, Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, was murdered and Oates loudly blamed the Catholics; Sir Edmund's manservant, John Reeves, set out to get his revenge. For reasons which are not clear, he decided to base his actions in the Whitby area, possibly because he knew that priests arrived there from France.
The arrest and execution of Nicholas Postgate
Nicholas Postgate was apprehended by the exciseman Reeves, while carrying out a baptism at the house of Matthew Lyth, Little Beck, near Whitby. Reeves, with a colleague called William Cockerill, raided the house during the ceremony and caught the priest, then aged 82. Father Postgate was condemned under 27 Elizabeth, c. 2, for being a priest. He was hanged, disembowelled and quartered at York, His quarters were given to his friends and interred. One of the hands was sent to Douay College.
Nicholas Postgate's legacy
Every year since 1974 an open air service has been held – alternately in Egton Bridge and Ugthorpe – in honour of Fr Postgate.
- Gazette & Herald, Newsquest York - In Father Postgate's steps
- St Joseph's, Pickering, Where the lamp is flickering (website): History
- "Campaign for sainthood - Malton and Pickering Mercury". www.maltonmercury.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- Ward England's Reformation (London, 1747), 200
- Challoner, Missionary Priests, II, no. 204
- Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath.
- "Ven. Nicholas Postgate". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- In Father Postgate's steps - Gazette & Herald