The Carthusian Martyrs of London were monks of the London Charterhouse who were executed by King Henry VIII. During the King’s divorce to Katherine of Aragon the Privy Council were eager to secure the support of the Carthusian Monks who were known for their austerity and sincerity in their way of life. If the King could secure their approval then it would give the divorce some credible support. However, the monks were unwilling to support the King’s divorce and instead opposed the proceedings and refused to see Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church.
As a result a small group of monks were sent to their death in May 1535, this would be the first of four groups who were be executed for their opposition to the divorce.
On 19th June 1535 a further three monks were led to Tyburn these were Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew and Sebastian Newdigate, all leading monks of the chapter. Newdigate himself was a friend of King Henry VIII and Henry even visited him in Marshalsea prison and later the Tower of London to persuade him to change his mind and support the divorce, although he had signed the Oath of Succession but would not recognise Henry’s authority as Head of the Church. The three monks were hung, drawn and quartered.
In Letters and Papers a report was included regarding ‘The Charter House Moncks’;
“In 1535 eighteen of the Charterhouse were condemned for defending the liberty of the Church. Seven of the, viz., John Houghton, Robt. Lawrence, Austen Webster, Humfrey Middellmore, Wm. Exmeu, Sebastian Newdegate, and Wm. Horne, were drawn on hurdles through the city of London to the open place of execution and there hanged, quartered, &c. Three of them, Humfrey, William, and Sebastian, had stood in prison upright, chained from their necks to their arms, and their legs gettered with locks and chains for 13 days. Their quarters were hanged on the gates and walls of the city and on the gate of the Charterhouse. Two of the eighteen, John Rochester and James Walwerche, remained hanging. The other nine died in prison with stink and miserably smothered.”
All the monks executed at Tyburn during this period were formally recognized by the Catholic Church at true martyrs.