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Ven. William Ireland



(Alias Ironmonger.)

Jesuit martyr, born in Lincolnshire, 1636; executed at Tyburn, 24 Jan. (not 3 Feb.), 1679; eldest son of William Ireland of Crofton Hall, Yorkshire, by Barbara, a daughter of Ralph Eure, of Washingborough, Lincolnshire (who is to be distinguished from the last Lord Eure) by his first wife. He was educated at the English College, St. Omer; admitted to the Society of Jesus at Watten, 1655; professed, 1673; and was for several years confessor to the Poor Clares at Gravelines. In 1677 he was sent on the English Mission and appointed procurator of the province. On the night of 28 September, 1678, he was arrested by Titus Oates in person, and amongst others who shared his fate was John Grove, a layman, the nominal occupier of that part of Wild House, London, occupied by the Jesuits, the Spanish ambassador living under the same roof. After rigorous confinement in Newgate they were both sentenced to death on 17 December following, together with Thomas Pickering, for having, in the rooms of William Harcourt, the Jesuit, on the previous 19 August, planned to assassinate the king. Oates and Bedloe swore that Grove was to have £1500 for the job, and Pickering 30,000 Masses. Ireland, in a journal written in Newgate, accounted for every day of his absence from London between 3 August and 14 September, but a woman having sworn that she saw him in Fetter Lane, on 20 August, all three were found guilty, and after two reprieves Ireland and Grove were executed together, Grove saying: "We are innocent, we lose our lives wrongfully, we pray God to forgive them that are the causes of it."

Dict. Nat. Biog., s. v.; GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s. v.; G.E.C(OKAYNE), Peerage of England, III (London, 1890), 294; Harleian Soc. Publ., L (London, 1902), 338; CHALLONER, Missionary Priests, II (London and Derby, s. d.), 361; POLLOCK, The Popish Plot (London, 1903).

John B. Wainewright








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