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|Died||30 June 1679
|Alma mater||College of St. Omer|
Blessed Thomas Whitbread (alias Harcourt) (born in Essex, 1618; executed at Tyburn, 30 June 1679) was an English Jesuit missionary, wrongly convicted of conspiracy to murder Charles II of England. He was beatified in 1929.
He was educated at St. Omer's, and entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1635. Coming upon the English mission in 1647, he worked for more than thirty years, mostly in the eastern counties. On 8 December 1652, he was professed of the four vows. Twice he was superior of the Suffolk District, once of the Lincolnshire District, and finally in 1678 he was declared provincial. In this capacity he refused to admit Titus Oates as member of the Society, and shortly afterwards Titus attempted to carry out the Popish Plot.
Whitbread was arrested in London on Michaelmas Day, 1678, but was so ill that he could not be moved to Newgate till three months later. He was first indicted at the Old Bailey, 17 December 1678, but, the evidence against him and his companions breaking down, he was remanded and kept in prison till 13 June 1679; later, he was again indicted, and with four others was found guilty on the perjured evidence of Oates, William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. The others executed with him were John Fenwick, John Gavan, William Harcourt and Anthony Turner. After the execution his remains were buried in St. Giles's in the Fields.
Whitbread wrote "Devout Elevation of the Soul to God" and two short poems, "To Death" and "To his Soul", which are printed in "The Remonstrance of Piety and Innocence".
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cooper, Thompson (1890). "Harcourt, Thomas". In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 24. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ven. Thomas Whitbread". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. The entry cites:
- The Remonstrance of Piety and Innocence (London, 1683);
- Matthias Tanner, Brevis relatio felicis agonis (Prague, 1683);
- Florus Anglo-Bavaricus (Liège, 1685);
- Tryals and condemnation of Thomas White alias Whitbread (London, 1879);
- Smith in Corbett, State Trials, VII;
- Foley, Coll. Eng. Prov. S. J. V, VII (London, 1879–1883), ii, and all works dealing with the Oates Plot;
- Thompson Cooper in Dictionary of National Biography, s. v. Harcourt, Thomas.