Robert Nutter

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Robert Nutter (c. 1550 – 26 July 1600) was an English Catholic priest and martyr. He was beatified in 1987.


Throughout the religious upheavals following the English Reformation the vast majority of English Catholics, many of whom lived in Lancashire, remained staunchly loyal to the throne.[1]

Nutter was born at Burnley, Lancashire. He entered Brasenose College, Oxford in 1564 or 1565, and, with his brother John Nutter, also a Catholic martyr, became a student of the English College, Reims. He was ordained at Soissons, on 21 December 1581 along with Venerable William Dean and George Haydock.[2]

Returning to England, he was committed to the Tower of London, along with his brother, also a priest, on 2 February 1584. He remained in the pit forty-seven days, wearing irons for forty-three days, and twice was subjected to the tortures of "the scavenger's daughter". On 10 November 1584, he was again consigned to the pit. Robert witnessed his older brother’s execution before being released. The authorities hoped that he might inadvertently lead them to Catholic safe houses.[3] He was again arrested and transported to France on 21 January 1585, with twenty other priests and one layman, aboard the Mary Martin of Colchester, from Tower Wharf.[2]

Landing at Boulogne, 2 February, he revisited Rome in July, but, returned then to England as escort to newly ordained priests. When the party was brought ashore at Gravesend, Nutter gave his name as Rowley, but was recognised and on 30 November 1585 again committed to prison in London, this time to Newgate Prison. In 1587 he was removed to the Marshalsea Prison, and thence, in 1590, was sent to Wisbech Castle, Cambridgeshire.[2] While in prison he joined the Dominican Order.[3]

There, in 1597, he signed a petition to Father Henry Garnet in favour of having a Jesuit superior, but, on 8 November 1598, he and his fellow martyr, Edward Thwing, with others, besought the Pope to institute an archpriest. On 10 March 1600, the keeper having left the gate unlocked, Nutter and his companions made their escape. Some were never recaptured, but those who headed south were taken, and Nutter was sent to Lancaster, where he was executed on 26 July 1600.[1]


Robert Nutter was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.[1] It was said of Blessed Robert Nutter that, "[H]e was a man of a strong body but of a stronger soul, who rather despised and conquered death."[4]