St. Augustine Webster


One of the 40 Martyrs of England & Wales


Prior of Our Lady of Melwood, a Carthusian house at Epworth, on the Isle of Axholme, in north Lincolnshire, in 1531.

Hanged, beheaded and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535.

Canonised by Pope Paul VI, 1970
One of the 40 Martyrs of England & Wales

The following statements by Prior Augustine are recorded in the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vol. 8. Therein, on four occasions of being interrogated, he refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy.

'Augustine Webster says that he cannot take the King, our sovereign lord, to be supreme head of the Church, by him that is by the doctors of the Church taken head of the Church, that is, the Bishop of Rome.' 

'[he] could not agree that the King is supreme head of the Church of England, according to the statute'. 

"The King our sovereign lord is not supreme head in earth of the Church of England."

Augustine Webster ..... denies the supremacy

Cranmer to Cromwell
30th April 1535

Whereas the prior of Axholme, named Webster, and Master Raynald, of Syon, are attainted of high treason for offending against the late statute made for suppressing the usurped power of the bishop of Rome, I marvel at both, as they are learned men, and Webster promised he would never support that opinion. If there is no other offence alleged against them, it will much more tend to the conversion of others to convert their consciences by sincere doctrine, and so for them to publish it than to suffer the penalty of the law.


At the outbreak of the English Reformation, England had ten of these hermitage-monasteries. They were commonly called "Charterhouses," a corruption of the French name "Chartreuse". The hermits were held in the highest esteem. The government was at first anxious to secure the public acquiescence of the monks of the London Charterhouse regarding royal supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, since for the austerity and sincerity of their mode of life they enjoyed great prestige. That is one reason why King Henry VIII set out to win them over or destroy them.


Sometime around the middle of April 1535, Webster, and fellow Carthusians John Houghton and Robert Lawrence were imprisoned in the Tower on the orders of Thomas Cromwell for refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. They were soon joined by Bridgettine Richard Reynolds. All four were examined together and charged for their denial of the royal supremacy. The trial took place April 28. They pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of treason and were led back to prison. The jury deliberated all day, and when Cromwell sent to inquire the cause of the delay, it was intimated that they would find the men innocent. Despite threats, the jury refused to return a guilty verdict until Cromwell appeared before them in person.

All four were hanged, beheaded and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535.

Augustine Webster was canonised in 1971 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

The painting known as the Breaking of the Storm depicts the three Carthusians heading to their martyrdom. They were the very first English Martyrs to be killed for the Catholic Faith, hence the title.

This is a scene from the Carthusian martyrdoms at Tyburn. The three Carthusians were the first Catholics to be martyred in England, all on the 4th May, 1535, hence the choice of the 4th May for the Feast Day of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales. This painting can be seen at the Carthusian Chapter House in Parkminster.

Many thanks to Brother John and Brother Simon of Parkminster for helping to find the last recorded words of St. Augustine Webster.


The local church of Holy Souls in Scunthorpe organises an annual pilgrimage in honour of St. Augustine Webster where around 100 Catholics attend from local churches. 
The group process with a statue of Saint Augustine and a church banner. It is well supported. Click here for the news story. Fr. Edward Jarosz is the priest.


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