On Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 the political and religious situation changed again. Elizabeth was eager to make peace with the Protestant Scots and was concerned about the loyalty of the Catholic Earls. She therefore forced Neville and Percy to give up their positions of power in the North and replaced them with Sir John Forster and Sir George Bowes.
These actions by Elizabeth had the effect of decreasing the political status of the two earls and causing them a considerable loss of income. This could be seen as a major reason why they felt that they had no option but to rebel in 1569 but both earls were reluctant rebels and Thomas Markenfield and Richard Norton were perhaps more relevant in explaining the move to rebel.
The political & Religious background
The Tudor monarchy, after gaining the throne in 1485 at Bosworth, consolidated their new regime by placing men who owed allegiance to them in positions of power. The north of England was critically important as the first point of defence against the Scots. The defence of the borders had been dominated by the Percy Earls of Northumberland and the Neville Earls of Westmoreland who could raise large armies at short notice, but the feud between them had been a contributory factor to the Wars of the Roses, the Nevilles supported the Yorkist cause whilst the Percys fought with the Lancastrians.
The new Tudor regime sought to prevent further wars by decreasing their power. New men, loyal to the Tudor king were raised to high office. The Clifford family of Skipton were raised to the Earldom of Cumberland and given power over much of the border frontier with Scotland. This brought about conflict with the Markenfields and Nortons over land rights and authority in Rhylstone in Craven and the manor of Kirkby Malzeard in the 1530s, and these arguments continued into the 1560s. The Percy estates had been forfeit to the Crown in 1537 as a consequence of their part in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 and had been taken over by the Forster family.
Religious instability occurred as a direct result of Henry Vlll’s Reformation and the creation of the Church of England together with a new Treason Act which defined treason as treasonable words as well as treasonable deeds. Every Tudor monarch brought in a new treason act to defend their regime and their religious changes. (Elizabeth brought in another treason act in 1571 as a direct result of the rebellion of 1569 which made any written or verbal statement that Elizabeth was a heretic or schismatic, or not the legitimate Queen, high treason and punishable by death.)
With the accession of Mary Tudor the Percys and Nevilles regained most of their previous power so creating tensions between those who had lost and those who had gained power in the North, in particular between the Forsters and the Percys and between the Nevilles and the Bowes family who had gained considerable power in the Borders.
Richard Norton had been involved in Catholic plots against Elizabeth from the early 1560s. Richard was steward of the Earl of Lennox’s properties in Yorkshire and Lady Margaret Lennox, niece of Henry VIII and cousin of Elizabeth I, was a staunch Catholic and had a claim to be considered as Elizabeth’s heir. In 1561-2 Richard Norton promised to support the Earls if they rebelled against Elizabeth, to support Lady Lennox and her son Henry Lord Darnley’s claims to the throne. Nothing came of this. In 1564 Darnley married Mary Queen of Scots so uniting the two claims to the English throne making Elizabeth ‘incandescent with rage’.
A year later, in 1565, Richard Norton again promised 700 of his men and the help of the Scots if the Earl of Northumberland would rebel in support of Darnley and Mary – his plans came to nothing.
In May 1568 a Scottish rebellion forced Mary to flee to England and seek Elizabeth’s help to regain her throne. Seeing her as a threat to her own throne, Elizabeth replied by placing her in the custody of Lord Scroope of Bolton Castle.
The Markenfields & The Nortons
Richard Norton had inherited the Norton-Clifford disputes over lands and rights in Kirkby Malzeard and Rhylstone. He had been brought up in the household of the Percy Earl of Northumberland and his first wife Susan was a relative of the Neville Earls. There is some evidence that he too had suffered economic pressure. As a staunch Catholic, Richard had also been involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 but had been pardoned by Henry VIII.
Thomas Markenfield was only 17 on his father’s death in 1550 and it is highly likely that his uncle Richard was his guardian. Thomas’s father had led the men of Ripon from Markenfield Hall to join the Pilgrimage of Grace, and his aunt Eleanor had married Robert Aske, nephew of Robert Aske the leader of the Pilgrimage. However Thomas’s father did not suffer for his actions and Thomas inherited the Markenfield estates in 1550.
Thomas shared a strong Catholic faith with his uncle and in June 1566 Thomas left the country on a pilgrimage to the Holy lands where he was made a knight of the Order of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He returned home in 1568 in the company of Dr Nicholas Morton, a Catholic priest, who had been sent to England to assess Catholic support in the North, this at a time when the Pope was considering excommunicating Elizabeth. Morton’s presence may well have encouraged the mood to revolt.
The presence of Mary in England became a new focal point for discontented Catholics and within three weeks of her arrival at Bolton Castle in 1568 a plan to rescue her involved Christopher Norton, Richard’s son. Christopher was a member of the Scroope household helping to guard Mary, but the plot failed when Christopher was removed from the household.
In January 1569 Richard Norton, his son Francis and Thomas Markenfield plotted to free Mary from captivity in York but when Mary learnt of their plans she warned them off, as she did for their next proposal to free her on her move from Bolton Castle to Tutbury Castle in early 1569. Their plotting continued over the summer of 1569.
Despite all the political upheaval and the power struggles perhaps the main driving force behind the rebellion was the severe restrictions placed upon the devout Catholic community by a staunchly Protestant monarch.
Some historians have suggested that Elizabeth had initially demonstrated tolerance towards Catholics. The term ‘tolerant confusion’ has been used to describe the slow progress of the religious settlement of the Church of England in the years following her accession. But in the mid- to late-1560’s, Catholics began to see changes in this policy:
Arrests of those secretly attending Mass increased.
Fines for those not attending established church services increased.
More and more Catholics went into exile and soon a seminary was established in Douai for those who fled from England.
The Court of High Commission and the bishops’ visitations demonstrated increased vigour in detecting and correcting recalcitrant priests.
Iconoclasm and punishment of those who had protected religious imagery offended and humiliated Catholics.
The Inns of Court expelled Catholics and barred them from commons and court.
The time of ‘tolerant confusion’ was over the Elizabethan Privy Council had a policy of ensuring religious uniformity in England.
On 6th October 1569 the Earls were planning to rise in revolt but they abandoned this venture because they thought that Elizabeth had uncovered the full extent of their plotting. Their fears seemed to be justified when they received a summons to attend the Council of the North in York. They persuaded the Duke of Sussex that they were not involved in any plot and denied any rumours of a rising that may have come to the Queen’s ears. Sussex advised the Queen that a rebellion was not feasible during the winter months for logistical reasons.
The Earls were requested three more times to attend court and each time they refused, heightening Elizabeth’s suspicions. By now the only decision was to rebel or flee. Both Earls were still reluctant to commit themselves to rebellion. Charles Neville was finally persuaded to lead a rebellion by his two uncles and his wife Jane. Jane was the eldest daughter of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey who was beheaded in 1547 at the age of 29. He had been found guilty of treason on the 13th January 1547, where evidence was given “which concerned overt conspiracy as well as the usurpation of the royal arms”. It was alleged that “he had on 7 October 1546 at Kenninghall displayed in his own heraldry the royal arms and insignia, with three labels silver, thereby threatening the king’s title to the throne and the prince’s inheritance” Clearly Jane had good reason to oppose the Tudor cause.
Only when he thought he was about to be arrested did Thomas Percy flee from his home at Topcliffe to join Neville and other plotters at Brancepeth Castle.
Despite plotting for many years, the rebels looked for justification for their actions. If the Pope had already excommunicated Elizabeth in the autumn of 1569, they could have claimed that she was no longer their queen and they could have considered that they had papal permission to rebel and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. Thomas Markenfield found a solution to their problem. He argued that as Elizabeth had refused to allow a papal ambassador into England she had effectively excommunicated herself.
Not all were convinced by his arguments and they wrote to the Pope requesting his help. However Pius V did not issue a bull of excommunication until 1570, too late to ease the minds of the rebels.
The pertinent section of the bull, in translation from the Latin is as follows:
Therefore, resting upon the Authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and a favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.
And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatever.
And also declare the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordship, fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents, so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the above said matters. We charge and command all and singular nobles, subjects, peoples and others aforesaid that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the life sentence of excommunication.
So it seems that the Earls would not have been exactly commanded to rebel, but certainly to disobey.
Before finally committing themselves to rebellion, the Earls issued a proclamation saying:
We, Thomas, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles, Earl of Westmoreland, the Queen’s true and faithful subjects, to all that came of the old Catholic Religion, know ye that we, with many other well-disposed persons, as well of the Nobility as others, have promised our Faith to the Furtherance of this our good manning. Forasmuch as divers disordered and well-disposed persons about the Queen’s Majesty, have, by their subtle and crafty dealings to advance themselves, overcome this Realm, the true and Catholic Religion towards God, and by the same abused the Queen, disordered the Realm, and now lastly seek and procure the destruction of the nobility; We, therefore, have gathered ourselves together to resist by force, and the rather by the help of God and you good people, to see redress of these things amiss, with the restoring of all ancient customs and liberties to God’s Church, and this noble Realm; lest if we should not do it ourselves, we might be reformed by strangers, to the great hazard of the state of this our country, whereunto we are all bound. God save the Queen.
They then asked that all men between the ages of 16 and 60 muster with arms and armour to support their cause.
The proclamation ‘lest if we should not do it ourselves, we might be reformed by strangers’ may suggest that the rebels were expecting help from Spain which never materialised.
Some who may have been expected to join the rebellion did not commit themselves. These included Leonard Dacre, William Ingleby and Francis Slingsby. Many gentry families were divided in choosing between the rebels and the Queen.
During November 1569 both the rebels and the Queen’s supporters were gathering men and arms. On November 7th the Neville tenants started to gather at Bracepeth and the royalists at Barnard Castle with Sir George Bowes and in York with the Earl of Sussex. Bowes reported regularly to Sussex and identified both Richard Norton and Thomas Markenfield as being prominent among the rebel leaders.
On 14th November 1569 the great gates of Branspeth (1) were flung open and Richard Norton was seen advancing holding the standard, a gleaming crucifix. His white hair streamed in the wind and his face was fired with high enthusiasm for what he deemed a holy and sacred cause. The rebels marched to Durham Cathedral (2), tore down Protestant images, overturned the communion table and celebrated a Catholic mass.
The rebels left a watch of 24 townsmen to guard the city and they then marched south through Darlington, Northallerton and Richmond (7), celebrating mass in each town whilst gathering more troops Four days later, with an army of 6000 men, they reached Ripon (3) having marched 70 miles.
On November 20th Thomas Markenfield gathered the leaders in the courtyard of Markenfield Hall and after hearing a Catholic mass in the chapel marched with his uncle Richard Norton to Ripon Cathedral where they destroyed the communion table, burned Protestant prayer books and celebrated a Catholic High Mass. Richard Norton is described as mounted on a battle stallion, leading the rebels through the Gatehouse, his white hair streaming in the wind, and holding aloft the banner of the Five Wounds of Christ to show that it was a Catholic rebellion. [A copy of this banner hangs on the west wall of the chapel at Markenfield].
The rebels then gathered at Boroughbridge (4) to determine their plan of action. They could have attacked York but considered it too well defended, or they could have marched south to engage with the royal troops moving north to support those in York but they were likely to be significantly outnumbered. However the main objective may have been to release Mary Queen of Scots from captivity in Tutbury Castle where she had been held since September 2nd of that year.
On 22nd November the rebels mustered on Bramham Moor (5) near Leeds, 90 miles from Tutbury which they could have reached before the royal reinforcements arrived. There is some evidence that a small body of troops may have reached Doncaster on 24th November, just 40 miles from Tutbury and two or three days march away. If that had been the plan they would have been disappointed since on November 22nd Mary had been moved south to Coventry, some 80 miles from Doncaster, evidence that Elizabeth had a very good intelligence network.
Realising that their plans had been thwarted the Earls turned back towards Knaresborough (6) with the royal army of over 20,000 on their tail. To add to their problems, Elizabeth had issued a pardon to all those who returned to their lands within three days, resulting in considerable desertion from the rebel band. Significantly, the pardon did not cover the leaders including the two Earls, Richard Norton, his son Francis and Thomas Markenfield.
By November 30th the main body of rebels were back at Branspeth. Still hopeful, Christopher Norton had taken 300 men to capture Hartlepool (9) to prepare for supporting troops arriving from Spain. This never happened.
On December 2nd, as a final act of rebellion, the Earls took 1,500 cavalry and 3,200 foot soldiers to lay siege to Barnard Castle (8), the home of Sir George Bowes. The siege ended with the capture of the castle on December 14th and Sir George Bowes and his small army of supporters were allowed to march to join the Earl of Sussex’s men in York. Then the rebel army headed north.
By December 13th 12,000 royal troops had arrived in Wetherby (10) to supplement the 7,000 raised by Sussex and Bowes. By 16th December the royalists had reached Darlington.
Also on December 16th the rebels had reached Hexham (11) where the leaders decided that their cause was lost and they abandoned their foot soldiers and fled to Alnwick (12). By December 19th they had fled to Naworth Castle and a day later they were in Scotland.
Some of the rebels were captured by the Scots and handed back to the royalists while others were supported by their Scottish hosts. This lead to raids across the border into England and in February 1570 there were some 2000 English rebels in the Borders supported by their Scottish hosts. On April 10th 1570 Elizabeth retaliated and ordered an armed invasion of Scotland. These raids were vicious and between April 17th and June 2nd the English had burnt or levelled 90 castles and fortified homes and 300 towns and villages. Most of these belonged to those supporters of Mary Queen of Scots who were suspected of protecting the English rebels.
Thomas Markenfield, his sister Anne, his uncle Richard Norton and three of Norton’s eleven sons (Francis, Sampson and George) escaped by boat from a Scottish port to Flanders in 1570. Thomas was granted a pension from Philip II of Spain, allegedly receiving £720 from November 1st 1573 to 30th June 1574. However he was reported to be in great want in December 1574. In 1575, Thomas, along with other English Catholics were expelled from Flanders and lost their pensions causing great hardship. In 1576 Cardinal Como requested that Thomas be given refuge in a Liege monastery and that his sister Anne be taken in by a College of Canonesses near Liege. Both were clearly in financial distress but only Anne received help.
On 22nd August 1592 it was recorded that
‘Sir Thomas Markenfield died last week in Bruxells in very extreme want, in a most miserable poore cottage. He was ‘found dead, lying on the bear flower of his chamber, noe creature being present at his death’.
In 1585 Richard Norton was injured while being taken prisoner by English soldiers in Flanders. He later died of his wounds on board ship on 9th April 1585 aged 87 while being taken back to England. In a way Richard was lucky to die aboard ship since had he arrived alive in London he would have been given a quick show-trial, found guilty and been hanged, drawn and quartered.
All Thomas’s estates were forfeit to the Crown but his wife Isabel was allowed to stay close to the Hall probably in the village of Markenfield close by. Isabel received a small pension of £20.10s.8d a year from her brother Sir William Ingleby. He was required to pay this from the income he received from the issues of the manor of Romanby, a manor that had previously belonged to Isabel’s husband. Her son Ninian and his uncle William (Thomas’s brother) were pardoned in 1570.
No record of Isabel’s death or burial has been found but Ninian was buried in Ripon Minster on 25th September 1587. The records of Ripon Cathedral show that Ninian’s wife, Elizabeth Markenfield was given a pauper’s burial in 1600.
Of the Norton family, Richard’s brother Thomas, and three of his sons namely Christopher, William and Marmaduke were arrested and charged with treason. Elizabeth pardoned William and Marmaduke but Thomas and Christopher were arraigned at Westminster and pleaded guilty to the charges against them.
On May 27th 1570 Thomas and Christopher were drawn on a hurdle from the Tower of London to Tyburn. Thomas refused to repent for his offenses against Elizabeth and insisted in saying the Lord’s Prayer in Latin. He then recited the Ave Maria and requested that all the saints in heaven should pray for him. Thomas and Christopher were then both hanged, drawn and quartered. Their quartered bodies were distributed around the city for display as a warning to all those who may have been considering further rebellion. (Tyburn was close to what is now Marble Arch.)
Charles Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, escaped to Scotland and succeeded in avoiding capture. In the autumn of 1570 he embarked at Aberdeen and landed in Flanders. Philip of Spain granted him a pension of 50 crowns per month. In 1581 his name appears amongst the pilgrims at Rome, in the records of the English College. He died in Nieuport (now Nieuwpoort) a town in the Province of West Flanders on 16th November 1601, having never returned home since his flight into exile.
Thomas Percy also escaped to Scotland and took refuge in the house of Hector Armstrong but he was betrayed and sold to the Scottish Regent (the Earl of Moray) who immediately carried him to Edinburgh (30th December 1569) and had him imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. His wife , who had escaped to the continent, raised funds for his release and in January 1572 had raised the total amount but her efforts were to no avail. Elizabeth had negotiated his release for £2000 and he returned to England in August 1572. Thomas was attainted by an Act of Parliament and his life was already forfeit. He was taken to the Pavement in York on 22nd August 1572 and executed. His head was set on the Mickelgate Bar for years until it was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Goodramgate, York. His body is said to have been buried without any memorial in ’Crux church’ in St Thomas’s quire by two of his servants and three women.
Elizabeth was determined to ensure that the yeomen and artisans who had joined the rebellion paid a heavy price for their involvement. Sir George Bowes was ordered ‘to invade, resist, subdue, slay, kill and put to execution of death by all ways and means.’ Men seem to have been selected at random from each ward to be hanged. Of the 794 known rebels identified in Durham, 308 were selected to die.
It is also said that 200 (some sources say 300) men were hanged at Gallows Hill in Ripon during January 1570 as a warning against further rebellion.
The letter below gives the instructions from the Earl of Sussex to Sir George Bowes to hang 200 men.
Sir George Bowes, I have sett the numbers to be executed in every towne, under the name of every towne, as I did in your other book, which draweth nere to two hundred; wheryn you maye use your dyscretyion in taking more or lesse in every towne as you shall see juste cause for the offences and fitness for example, so as in the hole you passe not of all kind of such, the number of two hundred: amongst whom you maye not execute eny that hathe freeholds, or noted welthye; for so is the Quenes Majesties plesier, by her specyall comandment. 10th January, 1569 (1570 new calendar)
This list gives the numbers of men in each village in the Darlington Ward that joined the rebellion and the number that were required to be executed by hanging.
We know something of the form of the Markenfield Hall from the commissioners’ survey of 21st April 1570 after Thomas Markenfield had been attainted and the family expelled from the Hall, as follows:
As Norton’s house lies two miles from Ripon, N.E., Mr Markenfield’s is one [sic] mile S.W. An ancient house, built all in stone, to the outward show fair and stately; the hall and the lodging side embattled, more in length than breadth, and three* sides environed with an evil moat; but the house is served with a conduit very plentifully. Against the entry of the court is built the hall and kitchen, on the right of the court the lodgings, and the left the stables, brewhouses, and offices.
The hall and lodgings arte all vaults and were first built all about one high room. Besides the vaults the walls are of a great height, without order, whereof part is divided at the mid-transom of the window, so that the rooms are all out of order.
The house is placed in a park of the like quality with Mr Norton’s, but better ground, and well planted with large timber. There is a demesne adjoining of 800 acres, with no quantity of water meadow, but much hay is made in seasonable years.
*A moat on three sides could hardly have been intended for defence. The fourth side, most likely that to the west of the Hall, was presumably dug out later, accounting for the bank of earth that runs most of its length. Alternatively, the fourth side could have been filled in sometime after 1310.
Most of the history of Markenfield Hall before the Norton ownership is unknown due to the lack of any archival evidence. The known history has been gathered from secondary sources. We lack primary evidence such as estate papers and accounts, maps and the daily more mundane details of the running of the house and estate.
All that is known of any written records is that in around 1601:
‘A Mr Johnson of Ripon removed from Markenfield 79 boxes of evidence, 1 little coffer and 2 littell bagges by commission (and to deliver) the same to the Exchequer’
t was thought that these boxes may be held in the National Archive at Kew but as yet such searches have proved to be in vain.
The erroneous assumption that the Markenfield estates were given to Elizabeth’s Chancellor, Thomas Egerton, has now been conclusively disproven by the unexpected discovery of the Letter Patent sealed by Elizabeth I found in the library of the School of Law at The University of California , Berkeley, U.S.A., the first of three sections (rotulets) of parchment is shown below.
All property which had been forfeited to the Sovereign during the Rising of the North was disposed of to various loyal and trusted advisers to the Queen. In the case of Markenfield Hall, the Letter Patent shows that the estate was one of several properties gifted first for a fixed term to Laurence Meres and then, in perpetuity, to Sir Henry Gates. Both these gentlemen were prominent members of the Council in the North (the body responsible for enforcement of the laws and for advising the Monarch on actions to take in the rebellious Northern counties), with Henry Gates also serving at various times as MP for Scarborough, High Sheriff of Yorkshire and Constable of Scarborough Castle.
Gates was held in such high regard by Queen Elizabeth and her closest advisers that he was entrusted with £3,000 in gold which was to be taken to the Scottish Regent in exchange for the Regent handing over rebel leaders who had fled North in 1569.
Henry Gates had eight children and one of his two daughters, Katherine, received Markenfield as part of her marriage settlement to Charles Egerton – an army commander who had served in Ireland, ending his military career as Constable of Carrickfergus Castle. Charles Egerton was knighted; becoming Sir Charles Egerton of Knockfergus and in addition to his wife’s dowry of Markenfield, he had purchased estates in Newborough, Staffordshire to provide for his life after retirement from the army.
Sir Charles and Lady Katherine had a son in 1585, also Charles, who subsequently married Griselda Bawtree and Charles and Griselda became the new owners of Markenfield. In 1622, Sir Charles, the elder, formally transferred ownership of his Newborough (and other) properties to his son, Sir Charles, the younger, who at that time was living at ‘Markenfield Hall in the County of Yorkshire’.
Charles, the younger, who had served as MP for Ripon in 1645, died without issue in 1662 and directed in his will that his widow – Griselda Egerton – should enjoy the use and fruits of his properties in Yorkshire and Staffordshire until her death; and that following various financial and other settlements the estates were to pass on the death of Griselda to his distant cousin, John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater. Also in his Will, Charles Egerton, the younger, directed that the sum of £5 be paid to “the keeper of my park at Markenfield in Yorkshire”.
The Bridgewater line of Egertons were raised further in the peerage with John’s grandson, Scroop Egerton being created 1st Duke of Bridgewater in 1720 and during his ownership of Markenfield John Raggett became a tenant farmer on the estate. Scroop’s sons were however less than healthy with John, the 2nd Duke, dying in 1748 of tuberculosis aged 20 – and with three of his elder brothers having already pre-deceased him.
Markenfield then passed in 1748 to the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, Francis Egerton, when he was 12, as one of many country estates built up by the Dukes of Bridgewater. Francis eventually died unmarried having endured a failed engagement to Elizabeth Gunning (the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton) in 1758/9. Following his unsuccessful affair, the 3rd Duke embarked on a remarkable change of direction, resulting in the sale of many of the Bridgewater estates – including in 1761 Markenfield Hall. The proceeds of these sales he reinvested in his impressive canal building and engineering projects (e.g. The Bridgewater Canal), which he continued up to his death in 1803.
Markenfield was about to enter a further major change in its fortunes in the hands of its 1761 purchaser, Fletcher Norton, who paid £9,400 for the Markenfield estate.
The Confession of Thomas Norton which he made at his Death, in form as hereafter followeth.
On Saturday, being the 27th day of May, Thomas Norton, and Christopher Norton, of Yorkshire, being both condemned of High-Treason against the Queen’s Majesty’s person, were delivered, by the lieutenant of the Tower, to the sheriffs of London: and were both laid on a hurdle, and so drawn from the Tower, through the city of London, to Tyburn (the place of execution) having besides many officers, and a multitude of others, a godly preacher riding beside them, always comforting, and earnestly exhorting them, all the way, to acknowledge their fact, to discharge their conscience, and to be truly repentant, and heartily sorry for the same.
And, being come to the place of Execution, proclamation was made of the cause of their death. Thomas Norton, the elder man, was first executed, who took his death in this wise. He being come up, and standing upon the cart, with the rope about his neck, the preacher requested him, earnestly, to acknowledge his offence, in rebelling against God and his prince, and to ask God mercy for his sins, and of the queen’s majesty forgiveness for his disobedience.
He answered; That for the offence made and committed towards the queen’s majesty, he had the law for it, and therefore must suffer death, and to that end he was come thither, and so asked God for forgiveness for his offences. Then, he being requested by the preacher, to say the Lord’s prayer, he immediately began to say the same in Latin. And, being disturbed by the preacher, who willed him to say it as God hath commanded, and, as every true churchman ought to do (that is to say) in the vulgar tongue, that all the audience might bear witness how he died a true Christian. Sir, (quoth he) and answered very obstinately, that he would pray in Latin, and therefore prayed him that he would not molest his conscience. Then the Secondary bad him, if he would needs say it in Latin, to say it then secretly to himself; and so he did.
His Latin prayers being ended, the preacher, not neglecting his duty, exhorted him very earnestly, to say the Lord’s prayer and the Belief in English, from the bottom of his heart, as every true Christian ought to do. At last, after much exhortation, he granted to say it in English; and so said the Lord’s prayer in English, whereunto he added the Ave-Maria, and then the Belief. And then he desired , not only the audience, but also all the Saints in Heaven, to pray for him, both then, and at all times, as well as after his death, as then he being alive.
Then the preacher bade him put his whole hope and trust in the death and blood-shedding for Christ our Saviour, and by him only hope to be saved. With that the cart was drawn away, and there he hung a certain space, and then was taken down, and quartered, in the presence of his nephew, Christopher Norton, who then presently must drink of the same cup.
The End and Confession of Christopher Norton, who, as it seemed, died more repentant and more Christian-like, than his Uncle did.
Christopher Norton, the younger son, after he beheld the death of his uncle, as well as his quartering, as otherwise, knowing, and being well assured, that he himself must follow the same way, seemed very repentant, and heartily sorry for his offence, and immediately kneeled down on the ground, before he came to the cart, with his face Eastward, and his prayers unto God: and afterward, stepping up to the cart and then being asked by the preacher, Whether he did believe, and hope to be saved by Christ’s death, and blood-shedding? he made Answer; That he did verily so believe, and hoped to be saved by no other means; and, therefore, besought all the audience, who then were present, to bear witness, that he there died a true Christian. And being asked, Whether he did acknowledge and confess that he had deserved to die? And whether he had not both offended God, and the queen’s majesty; he made answer, That he had worthily deserved that death, and therefore besought God, and all men to forgive him, for committing the like.
And immediately he did inquire; Whether any there did know one Philip Shurley, who now is captain in Scotland? There were some made Answer; that they did know him. Then he declared, how he was the causer of his death, nevertheless, he did forgive him; and when he and the people had said the Lord’s Prayer together, then he made his Confession to God in thiswise: –
‘I Christopher Norton, who am come hither to take my death, being justly condemned, by the laws of the realm, being sound of body, and of perfect remembrance, do here acknowledge and confess, my good Lord and Saviour, before the Throne of thy majesty, my heinous offence, by me committed between God and my prince; desiring thee, good Lord, from the very bottom of my heart, to have mercy on me, miserable and wretched sinner, who am now coming to thee, being here now ready to die. O most merciful Lord receive me, a sinful wretch, and refuse me not, but hearken to my voice’ –
With that, the hangman executed his office: and, being hanged a little while, and then cut down, the butcher opened him, and as he took out his bowels, he cried and said, ‘Oh Lord, Lord, have mercy upon me!’ and so yielded up the ghost. Then being, likewise , quartered as the other was, and their bowels burned, as the manner is, their quarters were put into a basket, provided for the purpose, and so carried to Newgate, where they were parboiled; and afterwards, their heads set on London-Bridge, and their quarters set upon sundry gates of the city of London, for an example to all Traitors and Rebels, for committing High-Treason against God and their prince.
God grant it may be a special warning for all men; and God turn the hearts of all those who are maliciously bent against Elizabeth, our queen and sovereign of this realm, and send her a triumphant victory over all her enemies. Amen. God save the Queen.
[The punctuation and spelling have been retained from the original document]
In February 1570, Pope Pius V declared that Elizabeth was a heretic and, as such, she was excommunicated by way of a Papal Bull (order). The Bull released Catholics from any loyalty to Elizabeth and called upon them to remove her from the throne.
The Pope was trying to capitalise on the discontent caused by the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots in England, as well as the recent rebellion of the Northern Earls. This was a danger to the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and could provide a reason for a Catholic uprising, possibly supported by a foreign power.
However, the Pope had miscalculated. English and Welsh Catholics preferred to keep quiet about their religious beliefs and remained loyal to Elizabeth. The Pope had seriously overestimated his power over Catholics in these countries. They wanted to continue to live and worship as Catholics but most did not want the Pope to have political power.
Despite this, Parliament took no chances and in 1571 passed a series of Acts designed to protect Elizabeth from any consequences of the Papal Bull. [taken from the BBC website]. A translation of the Papal Bull can be found below.
Pius Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.
He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter’s successor, the pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.
1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God’s goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children’s faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England together with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom- which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits- to a miserable ruin.
2. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who preserved in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorius among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.
3. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth -and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of justice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn, upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.
4. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.
5. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordship, fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these present, so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the above-said matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.
6. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibited or shown.
Given at St. Peter’s at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation; in the fifth year of our pontificate.