William Carter (martyr)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Blessed William Carter
Born 1548
London, England
Died 1584
Tyburn, London, England
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast January 11

Blessed William Carter (c. 1548 – 11 January 1584) was a Roman Catholic English printer and martyr.


William was born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn on 11 January 1584. Son of John Carter, a draper, and Agnes, his wife, he was apprenticed to John Cawood, queen's printer, on Candlemas Day, 1563, for ten years, and afterwards acted as secretary to Nicholas Harpsfield, last Catholic archdeacon of Canterbury, then a prisoner.

On the latter's death he married and set up a press on Tower Hill. Among other Catholic books he printed a new edition (1000 copies) of Dr. Gregory Martin's "A Treatise of Schisme", in 1580, for which he was at once arrested and imprisoned in the Gatehouse. Before this he had been in the Poultry Compter—a small prison run by a Sheriff in the City of London—from 23 September to 28 October 1578. He was transferred to the Tower, 1582, and paid for his own diet there down to midsummer, 1583.

Having been tortured on the rack, he was indicted at the Old Bailey—the central criminal court in England—on 10 January 1584, for having printed Dr. Martin's book, in which was a paragraph where confidence was expressed that the Catholic Hope would triumph, and pious Judith would slay Holofernes. This was interpreted as an incitement to slay the Queen. He was executed on the following day.

At this time, with increasing tensions between Queen Elisabeth I of England and King Philip II of Spain, which would culminate with the sailing of the Spanish Armada four years later, manifestations of Catholic faith in England were often interpreted as a treasonable taking the side of the Spanish enemy and punished accordingly.