Tyburn Martyrs

The word 'Martyr' is of Greek derivation and originally meant "witness'. It soon came to be applied to those who witnessed to their faith in Jesus Christ by laying down their lives for him. In the Martyrs' Shrine at Tyburn Convent we honour more than 350 Catholic Martyrs (of whom there are 105 known Tyburn Martyrs) who witnessed to their faith by dying for it during the Reformation.

  • Edmund Campion: Jesuit, died at Tyburn 1st December 1581. A brilliant scholar at Oxford, Campion became a Catholic, and joined the Jesuits. He worked in Prague until 1580. He returned to England, where he led an adventurous life encouraging and reconciling Catholics and eluding priest-hunters. He was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to die.

  • Oliver Plunkett: The last Tyburn Martyr, died at Tyburn 1st July 1681. Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, he was brought to London for a rigged trial, found guilty of treason and sentenced to die the traitor’s death. He was drawn to Tyburn on a hurdle in his pontifical robes.

  • John Roberts: Benedictine monk and Welshman, died at Tyburn 10th December, 1610. He became a monk at Vallodolid and Compostela and went back to England in 1602. Imprisoned and exiled many times, he always returned. He worked hard for victims of the plague. He was finally arrested when celebrating Mass and taken to prison.

  • Margaret Ward: Was hanged at Tyburn 30th August1588, for assisting and relieving a priest. She smuggled a rope to a priest in Bridewell prison and thus enabled him to escape. The rope was traced to her and she was arrested, hung up by the hands and flogged. Never in her life had she done anything of which she repented less.

  • Ralph Sherwin: Priest who trained at the Venerable English College and died at Tyburn 1st December 1581.  Sentenced to death for allegedly consnpiring to murder the Queen, Elizabeth I, he prayed for her beneath the gallows.  His dying prayer was:  "Jesu, Jesu, be to me a Jesus."

  • John Houghton: Carthusian Prior, the first Tyburn Martyr, died 4th May 1535, because he would not acknowledge the supremacy of King Henry VIII over the Church in England. His last words were, as the executioner prepared to tear out his heart: “Good Jesus, what will you do with my heart?” Seven Carthusians died at Tyburn.