Thomas Felton (martyr)

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Thomas Felton (1566?–1588) was a Franciscan friar, a Roman Catholic martyr and son of the Roman Catholic martyr, John Felton.

Felton was born around 1566 at Bermondsey Abbey, Surrey, and was about four years old when his father was executed.[1] When still young, he served as a page to Lady Lovett. He was then sent to the English College, Rheims, where he received the first tonsure from the hands of the Cardinal de Guise, archbishop of Rheims, in 1583.[2] He then entered the order of Minims, but its austerities undermined his health and he returned to England.[3]

On landing in England, Felton was arrested, brought to London, and committed to the Poultry Compter. About two years later his aunt, Mrs. Blount, obtained his release through the interest of some of her friends at court. He attempted to return to France, but was again intercepted and committed to Bridewell. After some time he regained his liberty, and made a second attempt to get back to Rheims, but was rearrested and recommitted to Bridewell, where he was put into "Little Ease" and otherwise cruelly tortured.[3]

He was brought to trial at Newgate, just after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and was asked whether, if the Spanish forces had landed, he would have taken the part of Queen Elizabeth. His reply was that he would have taken part with God and his country. But he refused to acknowledge the queen to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and was accordingly condemned to death. The next day, 28 August 1588, he and another priest, named James Claxton or Clarkson, were conveyed on horseback from Bridewell to the place of execution, between Brentford and Hounslow, and were there hanged and quartered.[3]


  1. ^ "Martyrs of Southwark", Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, London
  2. ^ Cooper 1889, p. 316 cites: Douay Diaries, p. 199, where he is described as ‘Nordovicen’.
  3. ^ a b c Cooper 1889, p. 316.
  • Cooper, Thompson (1889). "Felton, Thomas" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 18. London: Smith, Elder & Co. Sources:
    • Challoner's Missionary Priests (1741), i. 216;
    • Yepes, Hist. de la Persecucion de la Inglaterra, p. 610;
    • Notes and Queries, 6th ser. v. 163.