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Ven. Thomas Whitaker

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Born at Burnley, Lancashire, 1614; martyred at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. Son of Thomas Whitaker, schoolmaster, and Helen, his wife, he was educated first at his father's school. By the influence of the Towneley family he was then sent to Valladolid, where he studied for the priesthood. After ordination (1638) he returned to England, and for five years laboured in Lancashire. On one occasion he was arrested, but escaped while being conducted to Lancaster Castle. He was again seized at Place Hall in Goosenargh, and committed to Lancaster Castle, 7 August, 1643, being treated with unusual severity and undergoing solitary confinement for six weeks. For three years he remained in prison, remarkable for his spirit of continual prayer and charity to his fellow-captives. Before his trial he made a month's retreat in preparation for death. Though naturally timorous, and suffering much from the anticipation of his execution, he steadfastly declined all attempts made to induce him to conform to Anglicanism by the offer of his life. He suffered with Ven. Edward Bamber and Ven. John Woodcock, O.S.F., saying to the sheriff: "Use your pleasure with me, a reprieve or even a pardon upon your conditions I utterly refuse".

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