Home Page

Blessed John Who?

Between Tow Law and Wolsingham, stands a stone cross.  It marks a spot where a priest was arrested many years ago.  He was taken away to prison then met his death.  This priest was called JOHN DUCKETT.

John was born in 1613, which is 400 years ago. He lived with his parents, James and Frances, and two brothers. 

The Duckett family were quite well-off and lived on their own land near Sedbergh, in Yorkshire.


Because of this, they had their own coat-of-arms, which you can see opposite.


The Ducketts' were all a Catholic family. You may think nothing is special about this, because many of you who read this story will be Catholic.  BUT you must remember, that after King Henry VIII (he of the six wives!) ended friendship with the Pope, the Catholic religion was forbidden in England.



For many years. Catholics were fined or put into prison. They were not allowed to worship or to have Catholic churches or schools.

Men had to go abroad to be trained as priests. When they returned to England, they had to do so secretly because the punishment for being a Catholic priest was death.


When John was seventeen, his parents sent him to France, to get a Catholic education. He went to a college for English boys, the college was called Douai. After nine years of studies he passed his exams with flying colours and was ordained a priest. After three years in Paris, it was time for John to come home.


John sailed to England, arriving at Newcastle near Christmas, 1643.  From this day, John ministered to Catholics in Durham, and was on his way to baptise two children near Wolsingham when he was arrested by Roundhead soldiers at Redgate Head. 

The date was the 2nd July 1644. 



John would not confess to being a priest immediately so he had to spend a week in Newgate Prison until his trial.


It was on September 4th, the day of John’s trial, that he admitted to being priest.  The jury  decided that his punishment was death by hanging.


John Duckett was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on September 7th, 1644, along with Ralph Corby.  


The story goes that they were both told that there had been a reprieve obtained for one of them.  They each refused it and insisted that the other should be freed, but neither was.


John was 31 years old and had been a priest for only five years.His hand and some of his clothing were recovered as relics, but as they had to be hidden,  no-one knows where they are to be found.



John Duckett and Ralph Corby were both beatified on 15th December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.




Saintdom still awaits!


Moving forward together