William Barrow, Venerable

English Jesuit martyr (1609-1679)

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.

Barrow, WILLIAM, VENERABLE (alias WARING, alias HARCOURT), an English Jesuit martyr, b. in Lancashire, in 1609; d. June 30, 1679. He made his studies at the Jesuit College, St. Omers, and entered the Society at Watten in 1632. He was sent to the English mission in 1644 and worked on the London District for thirty-five years, becoming, in the beginning of 1678, its superior. In May of that year he was arrested and committed to Newgate on the charge of complicity in the Oates Plot. The trial, in which he had as fellow-prisoners his colleagues, Fathers Thomas Whitbread, John Fenwick, John Gavan, and Anthony Turner, commenced June 13, 1679, and is famous, or rather infamous, in history. Lord Chief Justice Scroggs presided, and Oates, Bedloe, and Dugdale were the principal witnesses for the Crown. The prisoners were charged with having conspired to kill the king and subvert the Protestant religion. They made a brave defense, and by the testimony of their own witnesses and their cross-examinations of their accusers proved clearly that the latter were guilty of wholesale perjury. But Scroggs laid down the two monstrous principles that (I) as the witnesses against them had recently received the royal pardon, none of their undeniable previous misdemeanors could be legally admitted as impairing the value of their testimony; and (2) that no Catholic witness was to be believed, as it was presumable that he had received a dispensation to lie. Moreover, he obstructed the defense in every way by his brutal and constant interruptions. Accordingly, Father Barrow and the others, though manifestly innocent, were found guilty, and condemned to undergo the punishment of high treason. They suffered together at Tyburn, June 20, 1679. By the papal decree of December 4, 1886, this martyr's cause was introduced under the name of "William Harcourt".

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Henry Barrowe

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Henry Barrowe (c. 1550 – 6 April 1593), English Puritan and Separatist, was born about 1550, in Norfolk, of a family related by marriage to Nicholas Bacon, and probably to John AylmerBishop of London. He matriculated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, in November 1566, and graduated BA in 1569–1570. Afterwards he "followed the court" for some time, leading a frivolous if not licentious life. He was a member of Gray's Inn for a few years from 1576, but was never called to the bar.
In about 1580 or 1581 he was deeply impressed by a sermon, whereupon he retired to the country, and was led by study and meditation to the strictest form of Puritanism. Subsequently, in what manner is not known, he came into intimate relations with John Greenwood, the Separatist leader, whose views he adopted without reserve. Though not strictly resident in London at this time, he was associated with "the brethren of the Separation" there, in whose secret meetings his natural earnestness and eloquence made him conspicuous.
Greenwood having been imprisoned in The Clink, Barrowe came from the country to visit him, and on 19 November 1586 was detained by the gaoler and brought before Archbishop John Whitgift. He insisted on the illegality of this arrest, refused either to take the ex officio oath or to give bail for future appearance, and was committed to the Gatehouse. After nearly six months detention and several irregular examinations before the high commissioners, he and Greenwood were formally indicted (May 1587) for recusancy under an act originally directed against Roman Catholics. They were ordered to find heavy bail for conformity, and to remain in the Fleet Prison until it was forthcoming. Barrowe continued a prisoner for the remainder of his life, nearly six years, sometimes in close confinement, sometimes having "the liberty of the prison." He was subjected to several more examinations, once before the Privy Council at Whitehall on 18 March 1588, as a result of petition to the Queen. On these occasions he vigorously maintained the principle of separatism, denouncing the prescribed ritual of the Church as "a false worship," and the bishops as oppressors and persecutors.
During his imprisonments he was engaged in written controversy with Robert Browne (down to 1588), who had yielded a partial submission to the established order, and whom he therefore accounted a renegade. He also wrote several vigorous treatises in defence of separatism and congregational independency, the most important being:—
  • A True Description of the Visible Congregation of the Saints, &c. (1589)
  • A Plain Refutation of Mr Gifford’s Booke, intituled A Short Treatise Gainst the Donatistes of England (1590–1591)
  • A Brief Discovery of the False Church (1590).
Others were written in conjunction with his fellow-prisoner, Greenwood. These writings were taken charge of by friends and mostly printed in the Netherlands. By 1590 the bishops thought it advisable to try other means of convincing or silencing these controversialists, and sent several conforming Puritan ministers to confer with them, but without effect. At length it was resolved to proceed on a capital charge of "devising and circulating seditious books," for which, as the law then stood, it was easy to secure a conviction. They were tried and sentenced to death on 23 March 1593. The day after sentence they were brought out as if for execution and respited. On 31 March they were taken to the gallows, and after the ropes had been placed about their necks were again respited. Finally they werehanged early on the morning of 6 April. The motive of all this is obscure, but there is some evidence that the Lord Treasurer Burghley endeavoured to save their lives, and was frustrated by Whitgift and other bishops.
The opinions of Browne and Barrowe had much in common, but were not identical. Both maintained the right and duty of the Church to carry out necessary reforms without awaiting the permission of the civil power; and both advocated congregational independency. But the ideal of Browne was a spiritual democracy, towards which separation was only a means. Barrowe, on the other hand, regarded the whole established church order as polluted by the relics of Roman Catholicism, and insisted on separation as essential to pure worship and discipline (see further Congregationalism). Barrowe has been credited by H. M. Dexter and others with being the author of the "Marprelate Tracts"; but this is improbable.


  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Barrowe, Henry". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. which in turn cites:
    • H. M. Dexter, The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years.
    • F. J. Powicke, Henry Barrowe is hispanic