Adrian Fortescue (martyr)

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Blessed Adrian Fortescue
Sir Adrian Fortescue.jpg
A painting of Fortescue located at the Collegio di San Paolo in Rabat, Malta
Hertfordshire, England
Died9 July 1539(1539-07-09) (aged 62)
Tower Hill, London, England
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified13 May 1895 by Pope Leo XIII
Feast9 July

Sir Adrian Fortescue (1476 – 9 July 1539) was a courtier at the court of King Henry VIII of England who was executed in 1539 and later beatified as a Roman Catholic martyr.


Adrian Fortescue was the son of Sir John Fortescue of Ponsbourne Park at Newgate Street Village in Hertfordshire. He descended from Richard Fortescue, younger brother of Sir Henry Fortescue (fl. 1426), Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland and of Sir John Fortescue (ca. 1394 – ca. 1480), Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, all sons of Sir John Fortescue (fl.1422), of Whympston in the parish of Modbury, Devon, appointed in 1422 Captain of the captured Castle of Meaux, 25 miles NE of Paris.[1] His mother Alice was the daughter of Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London, and great aunt to Anne Boleyn.

He was made a Knight of the Bath in 1503. He spent most of his time in the country, busy with his lands and with county affairs. He lived at his wife's family seat at Stonor Park in Oxfordshire, where he served as a Justice of the Peace.[2] Fortescue participated in England's wars against France in 1513 and 1523 and was present at the meeting in l520 between Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

He was made a Knight of the Order of St. John in 1532 and the following year became a Dominican Tertiary of the Blackfriars of Oxford. He attended the coronation of Anne Boleyn in June of that year.[3]

On 29 August 1534, he was arrested without any stated reason and taken to Woodstock, where he was questioned. He was freed after a period of months.[4] In February 1539 he was again arrested and in April, he was among those condemned for treason without a trial by Parliament for unspecified acts presumably relating to hostility to Henry VIII's church policies.[5] He was beheaded at the Tower of London on 9 July 1539. His servants were also killed for treason on the same day but were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.[2]


Fortescue was twice married:

  • first to Anne, daughter of Sir William Stonor; she died in 1518. By his first wife Fortescue had two daughters:
  • secondly to Anne, daughter of Sir William Rede, of Boarstall, Buckinghamshire and widow of Sir Giles Greville. By his second wife he had three sons and two daughters. Anne survived her husband, and afterwards married Sir Thomas Parry, comptroller of Queen Elizabeth's household.


The Order of St. John of Jerusalem has advocated devotion to Blessed Adrian as a martyr since the 17th century and Pope Leo XIII beatified him on 13 May 1895.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vivian, Heralds' Visitation of Devon, 1895, p.353
  2. ^ a b "Blessed Adrian Fortescue", Dominican Friars -England & Scotland
  3. ^ "The Blessed Adrian Fortescue", The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
  4. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Pollen, John Hungerford (1913). "Bl. Adrian Fortescue" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  5. ^ Camm OSB, Bede. Lives of the English Martyrs, Longmans, Green and Co., 1914, p. 379 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

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