Thomas Atkinson, of Yorkshire, England, studied for the priesthood
in Reims, France, where he was subsequently ordained in 1588 around the age of forty-two. Returning to England, he traveled about on foot to minister
to his fellow Catholics, becoming a special friend of the poor among them. It was only after breaking a leg that the indefatigable priest
resorted to traveling by horse instead. His labors in the service of persecuted Catholics became so well known that, to escape arrest by the Protestant authorities, he could only journey safely by night. In the end, he was betrayed by an informer and captured while staying at the home of a Catholic
family. Then about seventy, Father Atkinson was led to prison together with the couple that had hosted him, and their children. The "incriminating evidence" found by the government officials in the priest's possession consisted of Rosary
beads and the text of an indulgence. Condemned to death by drawing and quartering, Father Atkinson is said to have faced death "with wonderful patience, courage, and constancy, and signs of great comfort."