Blessed George Haydock is an English
martyr, he was born in 1556 and was the youngest son of Evan Haydock of
Cottam Hall, Lancashire, and Helen, daughter of William Westby of
Mowbreck Hall, Lancashire, was educated at the English Colleges at Douai
and Rome and ordained priest (apparently at Reims) on the 21st December,
Soon after landing in London he was
arrested and spent fifteen months in the strictest confinement in the
Tower while still suffering from the effects of a severe malarial fever
first contracted in the early summer of 1581 when visiting the seven
churches of Rome.
About May, 1583, though he remained in
the Tower, his imprisonment was relaxed to "free custody", and he was
able to administer the Sacraments to his fellow prisoners.
During the first period of his
captivity he was accustomed to decorate his cell with the name and arms
of the pope scratched or drawn in charcoal on the door or walls and
throughout his career his devotion to the papacy amounted to a passion.
It therefore gave him particular pleasure that on the feast of St.
Peter's Chair at Rome (16th January) he and other priests imprisoned in
the Tower were examined at the Guildhall by the recorder about their
beliefs though he frankly confesses it was with reluctance that he was
eventually obliged to declare that the queen was a heretic and so seal
On 5 February, 1584, he was indicted
for having conspired against the queen but although he pleaded not
guilty he was sentenced to death and executed at Tyburn on the 12th
An eyewitness gave an account of the
martyrdom which Father Pollen, S.J., has printed in the fifth volume of
the Catholic Record Society where George Haydock is described as "A man
of complexion fayre, of countenance milde and in professing of his faith
passing stoute". He had been reciting prayers all the way and, as
he mounted the cart, said aloud the last verse of "Te lucis ante
terminum". He acknowledged Elizabeth as his rightful queen but
confessed that he had called her a heretic. He then recited
secretly a Latin hymn, refused to pray in English with the people but
desired that all Catholics would pray for him and his country.
At this point, one bystander cried
"Here be noe Catholicks" and another "We be all Catholicks" whereupon
George Haydock explained "I meane Catholicks of the Catholick Roman
Church and I pray God that my bloud may encrease the Catholick faith in
England". Then the cart was driven away, and though "the officer
strock at the rope sundry times before he fell downe", Haydock was alive
when he was disembowelled.
Haydock was the first of five priests to be executed on the same day.