Thomas Sherwood, BLESSED, martyr, b. in London, 1551; d. at Tyburn, London, February 7, 1578. His parents also suffered for their conscience, both enduring imprisonment for the Faith. After leaving school in 1566, Thomas assisted his father, a London woollen draper, for about ten years; then, feeling that his vocation was to the priesthood, he made arrangements to go to Douay College and was in London settling his affairs, and obtaining the means for his support and education. While so engaged he was recognized in Chancery Lane and betrayed by George Marten, son of Lady Tregonwell. Being examined before the Recorder as to his opinion of the Bull of Pius V and as to whether an excommunicated queen held lawful sovereignty, he denied all knowledge of both Bull and excommunication, but expressed his opinion that if the queen were indeed excommunicated her rule could not be lawful. He was detained at Westminster, where the attorney-general visited him and found him constant in that opinion. On November 17, 1577, he was committed to the Tower by the Privy Council to be retained close prisoner, from conference with any person, and if he did not willingly confess such things as were demanded of him, he was to be committed to the dungeon amongst the rats. He was repeatedly examined, and twice racked in order to elicit where he had heard Mass and who had been present thereat, but his constancy was unshaken. After being racked, he was cast into a dark and fetid dungeon, where he was kept absolutely without clothes, without food, and with nothing but the bare earth to lie upon. His friends were not allowed to supply his needs, and the utmost concession that William Romper could obtain was permission to supply him with straw to lie upon. He was brought to trial on February 3, and pronounced guilty of high treason for denying the queen’s supremacy; four days later he was executed. He was a man of good wit and judgment and, being well instructed in religious matters, was very helpful to many poor Catholics. Small in stature, he was of healthy constitution and of a cheerful disposition, which he maintained even amidst his torture.
J. L. WHITFIELD