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Ven. Thomas Alfield



(AUFIELD, ALPHILDE, HAWFIELD, OFFELDUS; alias BADGER).

Priest, born at Gloucestershire; martyred at Tyburn, 6 July, 1585. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge (1568). He was afterwards converted and came to Douai College in 1576, but the troubles there compelled him to intermit his studies for four years, and he was eventually ordained and sent forth from Reims in 1581. Here he was associated with the celebrated mission of Blessed Edmund Campion and Father Persons, and he persuaded the latter to take as his servant his brother Robert Alfield, then recently converted, but who afterwards became a traitor of note. Thomas seems to have laboured chiefly in the north, where after a time he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, 2 May, 1582. Here he at first made a "glorious" confession, and even endured torture; but being afterwards sent back to the north, he fell, and went to the Protestant Church. Upon regaining liberty he was deeply penitent for his fall, and returned to Dr. Allen at Reims to gather new resolution. Returning again to England he was induced by the famous seaman John Davis (about March, 1584) to make for him offers — presumably insincere on Davis's part — of services to Spain. In August of the same year Dr. Allen's celebrated "True and modest Defence" appeared in answer to Burghley's "Execution of Justice". To circulate such books as Allen's was of the greatest service to the Faith. Alfield undertook the dangerous task with the help of a dyer by the name of Thomas Webley, and of one Crabbe. After some months he was again arrested, and again sent to the Tower, whence he was removed to Newgate and tried. Crabbe renounced the pope and thereby saved his life; the other two were hanged. A reprieve had, for some unknown reason, been granted for Alfield, but it arrived too late.

CHALLONER, Missionary Priests (Edinburgh, 1877); GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v. Alfield, Thomas; KNOX, Letters of Cardinal Allen (London, 1882); there are also several references to Alfield in the Record Office, London, many of which are given by SIMPSON in The Rambler, new ser., VII, 420-431.

PATRICK RYAN








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