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Humphrey Berisford

Confessor (ca. 1588)

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Berisford, HUMPHREY, Confessor (c. 1588) of whom the only extant account occurs in the MS. marked “F”, compiled during the seventeenth century by Father Christopher Grene. This MS. which is now at the English College in Rome has been partly printed in Foley’s “Records” (III). Of Humphrey Berisford it states that he was a gentleman of the county of Derby, whose father, an esquire, was a Protestant. The account continues: “He studied at Douay about two years. Returning from thence, his father employed him about his suit in law, and having once a suit against one, who fearing to be cast by his means, accused him before the judge for a recusant. When the cause should have been heard the judge examined him. He constantly professed his faith. Then the judge offered both favor to his cause and liberty if he would but only say he would go to their church; which he utterly refused. Therefore he was committed to prison where he remained seven [blank in original] then died a prisoner”. Gillow conjectures that the missing word was years and states that he died in Derby Gaol about 1588. To this account nothing can with certainty be added. The “Douay Diaries” mention one “Beresfordus” among other “sons of men of position” (nobilium filii) as leaving the college in November, 1576. On May 31, 1577, he is spoken of a returning from Paris and is then alluded to as clarus adolescens. But this young man cannot be certainly identified with Humphrey Berisford as there were at this time other Catholics of the same name, three of whom, James, Oswald, and Frederick Beresford, were prisoners in the Poultry Counter in London, in this very year.

EDWIN BURTON


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