John Bodey

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Blessed John Bodey (1549 – 2 November 1583)[1][2] was an English Roman Catholic academic jurist and lay theologian. He was martyred in 1583, and beatified in 1929.


John Bodey was born in Wells, Somerset, in 1549. His father was a wealthy merchant.[3] He studied at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow in 1568 and took an M.A. degree in February 1576. In June 1576, he and seven others were deprived of their fellowships by the visitor, Robert Horne, Bishop of Winchester, and expelled.[4][5]

The following year he went to Douay College to study civil law, but returned to England in February 1578. Upon his return, he became a schoolmaster in Hampshire. Arrested in 1580, he was kept in iron shackles in Winchester gaol, and was condemned in April, 1583, together with John Slade, a schoolmaster, for high treason by denying the Royal Supremacy. There was apparently a feeling that this sentence was unjust and illegal, and they were retried—and condemned again—at Andover, Hampshire, in August 1583.[5]

Bodey had a controversy with Lawrence Humphrey, Dean of Winchester, on the Nicene Council, and his notes from Eusebius still exist. After his second trial, he wrote from prison to Dr. Humphrey Ely, "We consider that iron for this cause borne on earth shall surmount gold and, precious stones in Heaven. That is our mark, that is our desire. In the mean season we are threatened daily, and do look still when the hurdle shall be brought to the door. I beseech you, for God's sake, that we want not the good prayers of you all for our strength, our joy, and our perseverance unto the end. ... From our school of patience the 16th September, 1583."[5]

Bodey was hanged, drawn and quartered at Andover on 2 November 1583. At his execution, he said:[6]


  1. ^ "B. John Bodey". Recusant History. Catholic Record Society. 1–2: 234. 1951. ISSN 0034-1932. 
  2. ^ Butler, Alban (1997). Fawcett Thomas, Sarah, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints: November (New Full ed.). Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0-814-62387-9. 
  3. ^ Wainewright, John Bannerman. "Venerable John Body, Layman", Lives of the English Martyrs, (Edwin H. Burton and J. H. Pollen eds.), London. Longmans, Green and Co., 1914
  4. ^ Levin, Carole (2008). Dreaming the English Renaissance: Politics and Desire in Court and Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-230-60261-8. 
  5. ^ a b c Camm, Bede. "Ven. John Bodey." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 26 March 2016
  6. ^ Chapman, John H. "The Persecution under Elizabeth" Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Old Series Vol. 9 (1881), pp. 21-43. Retrieved 2011-10-17.