William Lampley

Nothing is known of William Lampley's early life.  At the time of his arrest he was living and working in Gloucester.  Father Christopher Grene writing in 1592, states that he was 'a poore man by occupation a Glover' who was taken for 'persuading some of his kyn to the Catholic Religion'.  To do this was counted as high treason and punishable by death.  Other contemporary writers give the reasons for his arrest as 'refusing to attend Protestant Church Services' (though this was not a capital offence) and 'for relieving a priest of the Roman Communion'.

The ordinary folk of Gloucester proved unwilling to testify at his trial and only one could be found to speak against him.  This was a man 'that had before denounced his own wife for her conscience, (i.e. for not conforming to the established religion of the State) and caused her to be imprisoned and so indebted as not to show his face.'  This man was placed under the protection of the court for his own safety.

The judge was Sir Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer.  He was a judge of the Oxford Circuit which at that time included Gloucester.  Sir Roger is recorded as not wishing to condemn William Lampley to death and offered him pardon if he would only go to church.  He also commanded William's kinsmen, friends and Officers and Preachers to try to persuade him to conform.  Their efforts were fruitless and the judge ordered that the passing bell should be tolled in the hope that the ominous sound would cause the martyr to weaken in his resolve.  This, and other last minute offers of pardon, proved to be in vain.

It was recorded that he 'most willingly yielded himself to them and their torments and they therefore ended him as butcherlye as they did any'.  The traditional date of his execution is 7th December 1588.

When a layperson was martyred with a priest, the facts were often noted and documented; poor folk like the glover, without standing, goods or land and who died alone, were remembered only by their immediate friends and relatives.  Their death made little impact on the world at large.

The promotion of the cause for the beatification of William Lampley depends largely on the evidence of Father Christopher Grene who wrote in 1592 that 'only three martyrs were executed in Gloucester, two priests – John Sandys in 1586 and Stephen Rowsham in 1587 – and one Layman by occupation a poor glover'.  Only William Lampley the poor glover fits this description and he is treated as a martyr in contemporary Catholic accounts of his death and by two writers on English Martyrs, Dr. Anthony Chapman and Bishop Richard Challoner.

D Cottam – transcribed from Gethen Sept 2013.