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Ven. William Way

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( Alias MAY, alias FLOWER).

English priest and martyr, born in Exeter Diocese (Challoner says in Cornwall, but earlier authorities say in Devonshire); hanged, bowelled, and quartered at Kingston-on-Thames, 23 September, 1588. He is frequently confused with the martyred layman Richard Flower, alias Lloyd, who suffered at Tyburn, 30 September, 1588 (as to whom see LEIGH, RICHARD), with the priest William Wiggs, alias Way, M.A., a notable prisoner at Wisbech, and with William Wyggs, M.A., of New College, Oxford. Our martyr William Way received the first tonsure in the Cathedral of Reims from the Cardinal of Guise on 31 March, 1584, and was ordained subdeacon, 22 March, deacon 5 April, and priest 18 September, 1586, at Laon, probably by Bishop Valentine Douglas, O.S.B. He set out for England 9 December, 1586, and in June 1587, had been committed to the Clink. He was indicted at Newgate in September, 1588, merely for being a priest. He declined to be tried by a secular judge, whereupon the Bishop of London was sent for; but the martyr, refusing to acknowledge him as a bishop or the queen as head of the Church, was immediately condemned. He was much given to abstinence and austerity. When he was not among the first of those to be tried at the Sessions in August, he wept and, fearing he had offended God, went at once to confession, "but when he himself was sent for, he had so much joy that he seemed past himself".

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