Jones ~ 1574/5 – 12.7.1598
His real name was Griffith Jones but he was variously known as John Jones, John
Buckley, John Griffith or Godfrey Maurice. He was born
in the ancient parish of Clynnog into a staunch Welsh
Catholic family who stayed true to their faith even
after the Protestant Reformation.
entered the Observant Franciscan convent at Greenwich
as a youth. On the
accession of Queen Elizabeth in
1558, Catholicism was banned again so he went to
the Continent and was ordained at the Franciscan monastery
at Pontoise, France. He studied at the English College
at Douai. After his ordination at Rheims in 1585
returned to the English mission but was captured
and imprisoned in Wisbech Castle. He either escaped
was released and about 1592 made his profession as
a Franciscan at the Convent of Ara Coeli in Rome,
taking the name Godfrey.
‘Mission to England’ was approved by Pope Clement VIII
and he returned in 1592,
fully aware of the
gruesome punishments inflicted on Catholic priests.
After two years he was arrested in Staffordshire. In 1596 the priest-catcher
Topcliffe had been informed by a spy that John Jones
had visited two Catholics and said Mass in their house,
but it was afterwards shown that these people were
in prison when the alleged offence took place. However,
he was promptly arrested and severely tortured. He
was also cruelly scourged, and Topcliffe took him to
his house and practised unspeakable barbarities upon
him, all of which he endured with great fortitude.
He was then imprisoned for nearly two years in the
Marshalsea Prison and on 3rd July, 1598, was tried
on the charge of "going over the seas in the first year of Her Majesty's reign (1558) and there
being made a priest by the authority from Rome and
then returning to England contrary to statute" (27 Eliz. c. 2) and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
He was executed on 12th
July 1598, some two miles outside of London. By this
time the people had grown tired of these hateful spectacles,
and as the authorities were keen to avoid a riot, the
execution was arranged for the early morning. Despite
this, a large crowd gathered. The executioner, called
untimely from his bed, forgot his ropes. During the
delay while he went for them, the condemned man preached
to the crowd, and explained he was being martyred for
his faith, not for disloyalty to his country. The place
was St. Thomas's Watering, in what is now the Old Kent
Road, at the site of the junction of the old Roman
road to London with the main line of Watling Street.
The usual atrocities were
carried out; his dismembered remains were fixed on
the poles on the roads to Newington and Lambeth (now
represented by Tabard Street and Lambeth Road respectively);
some were removed by young Catholics, one of whom suffered
long imprisonment for this. One of these relics eventually
reached the monastery of Pontoise, where the martyr
had been ordained.
He was declared venerable
by Pope Leo XIII, beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI
and canonized on 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI.