The Lincolnshire Rising and Pilgrimage of Grace



The list below is of people from Tudor Lincolnshire who gave their lives for the Catholic Faith as a consequence of the Lincolnshire Rising.


The Lincolnshire Rising was a righteous stand by Roman Catholics, from Louth and the surrounding Lincolnshire towns of Caistor, Market Rasen and Horncastle against the dissolution of the monasteries. Before the reformation everyone in England was Catholic. The dissolution was set in motion by Thomas Cromwell's suggested plan of asserting the nation's religious autonomy and the king's supremacy over religious matters after the Vatican would not grant Henry VIII a divorce from Anne Boleyn.

The Rising began on 1st October 1536 at St. James Catholic Church (now Anglican) in Louth after vespers. This was shortly after the dissolution of Louth Park Abbey the same year.

The catalyst was a fervent homily given at solemn vespers by the Catholic priest Thomas Kendall (not to be confused with the New Zealand missionary also from Lincolnshire).

The 1st of October is now known as Lincolnshire Day.

The stated aim of the uprising was against the attempt to suppress Catholic religious houses, and was not against Henry VIII himself. It quickly gained support in Horncastle, Market Rasen, Caistor and other nearby towns. 

Map of the route of the Lincolnshire Rising & Pilgrimage of Grace

Angered by the actions of commissioners, the Louth, Market Rasen, Caistor, & Horncastle towns folk demanded the end of the collection of a subsidy, the end of the Ten Articles, an end to the dissolution, an end to taxes in peacetime, a purge of heretics in government, and the repeal of the Statute of Uses.  It was led by a shoemaker called Nicolas Melton, also known as Captain Cobbler, and involved 22,000 people.

The Lincolnshire Rising had no banner unlike the Pilgrimage of Grace in Yorkshire. Though we now know that at one point they got a piece of white cloth and attached a parchment painting of the Holy Trinity to it. Below is what  it 'may' have looked like, but no one is sure.

However, by the time the group walking to Lincoln reached Market Rasen, at a place called Hambleton Hill (now Willingham Woods), there were c.50,000 Catholics camping that evening.

With support from local gentry, a force of demonstrators, estimated at up to 50,000, marched on Lincoln and by 14 October occupied Lincoln Cathedral. They demanded the freedom to continue worshipping as Catholics, and protection for the treasures of Lincolnshire churches.

The moratorium effectively ended on 4 October 1536, when the King sent word for the occupiers to disperse or face the forces of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, which had already been mobilised. By 14 October few remained in Lincoln. 

Following the rising, the vicar of Louth and Captain Cobbler, two of the main leaders, were captured and hung at Tyburn. Many of the others  met the same fate over the next twelve days, including William Moreland, or Borrowby, one of the former Louth Park Abbey monks, with a lawyer from Willingham being hanged, drawn and quartered for his involvement. 

Soon, however, the Lincolnshire Rising helped inspire the more widespread Pilgrimage of Grace in Yorkshire.


The original Pilgrimage of Grace badge worn by Sir Thomas Constable of West Rasen, Lincolnshire which was kept at West Rasen Chapel until the 1920's. It can now be seen at Arundel Castle. We know that Sir Thomas wore this badge during the Pilgrimage of Grace, but we are not sure if he wore it during the Lincolnshire Rising. We do know however that he was present at the Lincolnshire Rising.

Michael Voris' Church Militant TV
This Day in History

The Pilgrimage of Grace

The portrayal of the Pilgrimage of Grace from 

The Tudors



Two important notes.

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church states that acts of an unrighteous rebellious nature are sinful and it is without doubt that many at the Lincolnshire Rising went beyond the legitimate call to Defend the Faith. It is believed that the list below is of those who were deemed righteous in their acts and had a level of piety in their Defence of the Faith.

& please also note that... martyr at the Lincolnshire Rising has been beatified, or is recognised officially as a Martyr of England & Wales, as is so often assumed.

The following list was originally sent to the Apostolic See of Rome, for Holy blessing and to be ‘officially’ considered as martyrs to the Catholic cause. Of course, not every person that died as a result of the Rising is on the list. 

They are all from Lincolnshire. If they passed Papal approval then these martyrs would first be made Servants of God, then Venerable, then Blessed, and finally Canonised as 

Saints and Martyrs.

Thomas Watson, Bishop of Lincoln, 

died a prisoner in Wisbeach Castle, September 2nd, 1584. 
Henry Anderson, Secular Priest, Vicar of Morton.
John Flassher, Priest of Scartho
Ralph Grey, of Louth, Priest of Croft
William Holton, of Louth, Priest of Cockerington
John Kingston, cleric, of Louth, Priest of Tetney. 
(But, query, executed ?)
John Lyon, Priest, of Biscathorpe
Thomas Retforthe, or Redforth, Parson of Snelland
Robert Singleton, clericus, Stamford.
Thomas J. Smith, Priest of Horbelyn 
(but, query, executed ?)
William Smythe, Parson of Donnington

Bardney Abbey

William Cooper, Benedictine

William Gregory, Benedictine
John Ambrose Francis, Benedictine
John Heron, Benedictine, Benedictine. 
(But, query, was he executed?)
Hugh Lansdale or Londysdale, or Lednam, Benedictine
Richard Philip Laynton, Benedictine
John Jerome Tenant, Benedictine

Barlings Abbey

Mackerell, Matthew, Norbertine, Abbot of Barlings and Bishop. of Chalcedon

Thomas Bradley, Norbertine, sub-prior
William Brygges, alias Kendal, Norbertine
Richard Catton, alias Warryn, Norbertine
William Holme, Norbertine
James Wharton, or Hodgeson, Norbertine

Kirkstead Abbey

Harrison, Richard, Cistercian, Abbot of Kirkstead Abbey, 

executed at Lincoln
Henry Jenkinson, Cistercian (professed of Vaudey). feudal, Thos., S.T.B.,  & Priest of Louth.
Reginald Kirbye, or Wade, Cistercian 
(professed of Vaudey).
William Swale, alias Ripon, Cistercian.

Louth Park Abbey.

William Burraby, alias Moreland, Cistercian

Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

Thomas Foster, S,J., died in Lincoln prison, 1648.
John Hudd, John, S.J., died prisoner at Lincoln, 1649.

Lay People

Lord John Hussey, of Sleaford, 

hanged at Lincoln, July, 1537.
Robert Hudson of Louth
Robert Cotman of Spilsby
Edward Leche, yeoman, of Fullaby
Robert Leeche, husbandman, March, 1537
William Leeche, yeoman, of Lincolnshire, 
executed, July 8th, 1539, at St. Thomas Waterings
John or Thomas Manbye of Louthe
Roger Neve, saddler, Lincolnshire, 
executed at Tyburn, 27th March, 1537.
Thomas Noble of Louth
William Nixon [Nycson] of Alford
Richard Phelipson of Alford
William Smith of Louth
John Wade of Boston
James Willson of Alford
Thomas Yolk of Louth

This post was inspired by the Lincolnshire Photographer Rod Collins. His original post, and his site, can be found HERE. It is a great resource for all those interested in Lincolnshire.


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