John Duckett

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John Duckett
Born 1603, Sedbergh, Yorkshire, England
Died 7 September 1644, Tyburn, Middlesex, England
Means of martyrdom hanged, drawn and quartered
Venerated in Catholic Church
Beatified 15 December 1929, by Pope Pius XI

John Duckett (1603 – 7 September 1644) was an English Catholic priest and martyr.

He was born at Underwinder, in the parish of Sedbergh, in Yorkshire, in 1603, the son of the Protestants James Duckett and his wife Frances Girlington who had been married in the parish on 19 March 1600. The boy was baptized after a long delay on 24 February 1614. The boy was educated at Sedbergh School and brought up a Protestant like his parents but was received into the Catholic Church by the priest Andrew North. At the age of about thirty he entered the English College, Douai, arriving on 1 March 1633; he was ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Cambrai in 1639 and was then sent to study for three years at the College of Arras in Paris.

He is said to have had an extraordinary gift of prayer, and as a student would spend whole nights in contemplation. After Paris it came time to embark on the English mission, but on his way he spent two months in retreat under the direction of his uncle, John Duckett, prior of the Charterhouse at Nieupoort. Once he arrived in England around Christmas 1643, Duckett worked largely in the North and laboured for about a year in Durham. It was in the time of the Civil War and he was seized only a few months later, on 2 July 1644, near Wolsingham in the neighbourhood of Lanchester, County Durham, while on his way to baptize two children. Taken to Sunderland, he was examined by a Parliamentary Committee of sequestrators and placed in irons. He admitted he was a priest and so was taken to London with the Jesuit Ralph Corby, arrested about the same time near Newcastle-on-Tyne. They were both confined in Newgate, where they were the cause of crowds of Catholics gathering. On these and on others who encountered them they made an impression by their cheerfulness and sanctity. He was brought to trial on September 4, and given the inevitable and terrible sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering the day after. It was carried out at Tyburn in London on September 7, 1644. His fate was shared by Ralph Corby.

Both priests were declared Blessed (the last stage prior to sainthood) by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ven. John Duckett". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 
  • Godfrey Anstruther, Seminary Priests, Mayhew-McCrimmond, Great Wakering, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 90, 232.