Blessed Thomas Woodhouse

Blessed Thomas Woodhouse

Thomas Woodhouse


  • Death: 06/29/1573
  • Nationality (place of birth): England

Thomas Woodhouse (1535-1573) was the first Jesuit to die in the conflict between pope and English crown, although he was only admitted to the Society just before his arrest. He was probably ordained a priest during the final year of the reign of Mary Tudor, the Catholic queen. He could not accept Elizabeth I who instituted religious reforms, including a non-Catholic prayer book after she became queen in 1558; even less could he abide the 1559 decree declaring her supreme in religious matters. So Woodhouse resigned his parish position in Lincolnshire in 1560 and became tutor to the children of a wealthy family in Wales. However, he resigned that post as well over religious differences. He continued to celebrate Mass when he could and was arrested on May 14, 1561, while at Mass. He was imprisoned in London's Fleet Prison for 12 years, but was able to develop an apostolate to other prisoners because of his warder's tolerance.

At some point in 1572 he wrote the Jesuit provincial in Paris because the English mission was not yet established, and asked to become a member of the Society. He was accepted, but in his enthusiasm wrote a letter to the queen's treasurer asking him to persuade to accept the pope's authority. Instead of doing what the priest asked, the treasurer, William Cecil, ordered him brought to trial on June 16, 1573 where he was found guilty of treason for speaking unfavorably of the queen. Three days later he was taken to Tyburn to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Other English Martyrs

Originally Collected and edited by: Tom Rochford, SJ