Tuesday 30 August 2016

Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward, 30th August

Margaret Middleton was born in 1556, one of five children of Jane and Thomas Middleton a respected businessman and Sheriff of York in 1564. She married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher of the Shambles, York and a chamberlain of the city, in 1571 and bore him three children. In 1574 Margaret converted to Roman Catholicism and despite being of the Anglican Church her husband was supportive of  her, because his brother William was a roman catholic priest; John paid her fines for not attending church services and stood by her even when she was arrested and served three periods in the York prison. Margaret had risked  her life by offering hospitality to catholic priests, Her oldest son, Henry, attended the English college in Rheims to train for the priesthood. In March 1586 the Clitherow house was searched and a priest hole for the hiding of clergy was discovered.  Margaret was arrested and came before the York Assizes.  She was found guilty of harboring roman catholic priests and sentenced to death; Margaret died by being crushed  on the Ouse Bridge on Good Friday 1586.

This day is also shared by two other English martyrs: Anne Lines and Margaret Ward.  Margaret Ward's date of birth is unknown, but she was born in Congleton, Cheshire. She was lived in London in service to a noble woman. Margaret heard about the ill treatment of a catholic priest, Fr. Richard Watson in Bridewell prison. Having obtained permission to visit him which she did on several occassions. Although searched she became known and the guards were lax in their duties.  This enabled her to smuggle a rope into Fr. Watson which he then used to escape.  Fr. Watson escaped, but Roche the boatman who helped him escape was arrested along with Margaret Wardy visitor, was also arrested. After being tortured by hanging by her hands for eight days, during which she refused to disclose any priests identities, Margaret Ward was hanged at Newgate on 30th August 1588 along with five others.

Anne Line is believed to have been born Alice Higham, the eldest daughter of the Puritan William Higham of Jenkyn Maldon. She was born around the early 1560s, and at some point, probably in the early 1580s, converted to Catholicism with her brother William, and Roger Line her husband. Among Catholics the married "Alice" became known as "Anne" Line: presumably a name she took on her conversion. After the death of her husband Roger Anne became very active in sheltering clandestine Catholic priests which was illegal in the reign of Elizabeth I. Finally arrested on 2nd February 1601 and she was condemned to death and executed for harbouring a priest on 27th February 1601.
Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward are numbered among the 40 English Martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI on 25th October 1970

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