Richard Fetherston

For the Australian politician and doctor, see Richard Fetherston (politician).

Richard Fetherston (Fetherstone, Featherstone) (died 30 July 1540) was an English Roman Catholic priest. He was chaplain to Catharine of Aragon and tutor to her daughter, Mary Tudor. He was executed in 1540 and beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 29 December 1886.


He is called sacrae theologiae Doctor by John Pits (De illustribus Angliae scriptoribus, 729). He was one of the theologians appointed to defend Queen Catharine's cause in the divorce proceedings before the papal legates Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio, and is said to have written a treatise Contra divortium Henrici et Catharinae, Liber unus. No copy of this work is known to exist.[1]

He took part in the session of Convocation which began in April 1529, and was one of the few members who refused to sign the Act declaring Henry VIII's marriage with Catharine to be illegal ab initio, through the pope's inability to grant a dispensation in such a case. In 1534 he was called upon to take the Oath of Supremacy and, on refusing to do so, was committed to the Tower of London on 13 December 1534. He seems to have remained in prison until 1540.[1]

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Smithfield on 30 July 1540, together with the Catholic theologians Thomas Abel and Edward Powell, like himself councillors to Queen Catharine in the divorce proceedings, and three others, Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, condemned for teaching Zwinglianism. All six were drawn through the streets upon three hurdles, a Catholic and a heretic on each hurdle. The Protestants were burned, and the three Catholics executed in the usual manner, their limbs being fixed over the gates of the city and their heads being placed upon poles on London Bridge.[1]



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