Thomas Thwing

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Thomas Thwing (1635–1680) was an English Roman Catholic priest and martyr, executed for his supposed part in the Barnbow Plot, an offshoot of the fabricated Popish Plot invented by Titus Oates. His feast day is October 23. [1]

Popish Plot fictitious anti-Catholic conspiracy in England

The Popish Plot was a conspiracy invented by Titus Oates that between 1678 and 1681 gripped the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in anti-Catholic hysteria. Oates alleged that there was an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, accusations that led to the executions of at least 22 men and precipitated the Exclusion Bill Crisis. Eventually Oates's intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury.


Early life

His father was George Thwing, Esq. of Kilton Castle, Brotton, and Heworth Hall. His mother was Anne, daughter of Sir John Gascoigne and his wife Anne Ingleby, and sister of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, 2nd Baronet, of Barnbow Hall, Barwick in Elmet. Both parents were Yorkshire recusants. The martyr Edward Thwing was his great-uncle.

Brotton village in the United Kingdom

Brotton is a village in the civil parish of Skelton and Brotton in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland in the North East of England. The village lies within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire and is governed by the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland. It is situated approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) south-east of Saltburn-by-the-Sea, 12 miles (19 km) east of Middlesbrough and 14 miles (23 km) north-west of Whitby. In 2011, the village had a population of 5,394.

Sir Thomas Gascoigne, 2nd Baronet English priest

Sir Thomas Gascoigne, 2nd Baronet (1596–1686) was an English Baronet, a prominent member of the Gascoigne family and a survivor of the Popish Plot, or as it was locally known "the Barnbow Plot".

Yorkshire Historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Thomas was born at Heworth Hall, Heworth, York, and educated at St Omer and at the English College (Douai), ordained a priest and sent to minister at the English Mission in 1665, which he did for roughly 14 years. [2] Until April 1668, he was chaplain at Carlton Hall, the seat of his cousins, the Stapleton family. He opened a school at Quosque, the Stapletons' dower-house. He lived on Hepworth Lane, in Carlton, Selby.

Heworth, York village

Heworth is part of the city of York in North Yorkshire, England, about 1 mile (1.6 km) north-east of the centre. No longer in general referred to as a village, "Heworth Village" is now the name of a specific road. The name "Heworth" is Anglo-Saxon and means a "high enclosure".

The English College, was a Catholic seminary in Douai, France, associated with the University of Douai. It was established in about 1561, and was suppressed in 1793. It is known for a Bible translation referred to as the Douay–Rheims Bible. Of over 300 priests from Douai sent on the English mission, about one-third were executed. The dissolution of the college at the time of the French Revolution led to the founding of Crook Hall near Lanchester in County Durham, and St Edmund's College, Ware. It is popularly believed that the indemnification funds paid by the French for the seizure of Douai's property were diverted by the British commissioners to complete the furnishings of George IV's Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

Douai Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Douai is a commune in the Nord département in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. Located on the river Scarpe some 40 kilometres from Lille and 25 km (16 mi) from Arras, Douai is home to one of the region's most impressive belfries. The population of the metropolitan area, including Lens, was 552,682 in 1999.

In 1677 Mary Ward's Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) began its foundation in the house given to the order by Thomas' maternal uncle, Thomas Gascoigne, at Dolebank, where three of Father Thwing's sisters were members. Thwing became chaplain and it was there that he was arrested in early 1679. [3]

Mary Ward (nun) English Venerated Catholic

Mary Ward, I.B.V.M., was a Catholic nun whose activities led to the founding of the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, less well known as the Sisters of Loreto, which have both established schools around the world. Ward was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict on 19 December 2009.

"Barnbow plot"

At the time of the Titus Oates scare, or "Popish Plot", two servants, Bolron and Mowbray, who had been discharged from Sir Thomas Gascoigne's service for dishonesty, sought vengeance and reward by revealing a supposed plot by Gascoigne and others to murder King Charles II. At first the informers made no mention of Thwing. Nevertheless, Gascoigne, his daughter Lady Tempest, Thwing, and others were arrested on the night of 7 July 1679, and removed to London for trial at Newgate. [3]

Titus Oates English perjurer

Titus Oates, also called Titus the Liar, was an English perjurer who fabricated the "Popish Plot", a supposed Catholic conspiracy to kill King Charles II.

Charles II of England King of England, Scotland and Ireland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death.

Gascoigne sensibly demanded to be tried by a Yorkshire jury, whom the judges admitted were better equipped to decide on the credibility of witnesses, most of whom they knew personally, than were the judges themselves. The trial was postponed to the summer assizes. Thwing was brought to the bar on 29 July, and Gascoigne's former servant, Robert Bolron, testified against him. All of the accused were acquitted except Thwing, who was brought back to York, where he was arraigned at York on 17 March 1680, along with, among others, a kinsman, Sir Miles Stapleton. The prosecution played upon a list of Catholics which had been found on the night of the arrest. In reality they were not conspirators but supporters of the new convent at Dolebank which Gascoigne's daughter Lady Tempest had recently founded. At her father's trial the Court had heard much evidence about the convent, but the judges apparently did not regard her actions as treasonable, since at her own trial she was acquitted. Sir Miles Stapleton was also acquitted, as was another alleged conspirator, Mary Pressicks: the judges, showing far more impartiality than in earlier Popish Plot trials, ruled that her statement that "we shall never be at peace till we are all of the Roman Catholic faith" was not treasonable, but a simple expression of opinion.

The courts of assize, or assizes, were periodic courts held around England and Wales until 1972, when together with the quarter sessions they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court. The assizes exercised both civil and criminal jurisdiction, though most of their work was on the criminal side. The assizes heard the most serious cases, which were committed to it by the quarter sessions, while the more minor offences were dealt with summarily by justices of the peace in petty sessions.

Convent Religious community

A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, monks or nuns; or the building used by the community, particularly in the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and the Anglican Communion.

Despite the acquittal of Stapleton and Mrs. Pressicks, Thwing was promptly found guilty on the very same evidence upon which his relatives had been acquitted. Upon hearing the sentence, he humbly bowed his head, saying in Latin, "Innocens ego sum" (I am innocent). [3]

The King at first reprieved him, but owing to a remonstrance of the Commons the death-warrant was issued on the day after the meeting of Parliament. Thwing was hung, drawn, and quartered at the Tyburn in York on October 23, 1680. His friends interred his quartered body. [2]

John Philipps Kenyon observed that Thwing was executed for conspiracy, despite the logical difficulty of a conspiracy without any other conspirators. [4]


Thomas Thwing was declared Venerable by Pope Leo XIII on 9 December 1886 [5] and beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929 and henceforth known as the "Blessed Thomas Thwing".

See also

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  1. Bunson, Matthew et al., "Thwing, Blessed Thomas", Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints, OSV Publishing, 2003 ISBN   9781931709750 Archived 2016-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 Challoner, Richard. "Thomas Thwing, Priest", Memoirs of Missionary Priests, Thomas Jones, 1842 PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. 1 2 3 Whitfield, Joseph Louis. "Ven. Thomas Thwing." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 16 Aug. 2015
  4. Kenyon, J.P., The Popish Plot, 1972
  5. Pollen, John Hungerford. "Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites", Acts of English Martyrs Hitherto Unpublished, Burns and Oates, 1891


Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ven. Thomas Thwing"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.