Dictionary of National Biography – John Fenwick

Blessed John FenwickArticle

Fenwick, vere Caldwell, John (1628-1679), Jesuit, was born in 1628 in the county of Durham, of protestant parents, who disowned him when on arriving at mature age he embraced the Roman catholic faith. He made his humanity studies in the college at Saint Omer; was sent to Liège for his theology; and entered the Society of Jesus at Watten on 28 September 1660. Having completed his studies, he was ordained priest, and spent several years, from 1662, as procurator or agent at the College of Saint Omer. He was made a professed father in 1676, and was sent to England the same year. He resided in London as procurator of Saint Omer’s College, and was also one of the missionary fathers in the metropolis. In the fourth year of his ministerial labours he was summoned, on the information of Titus Oates, to appear before the privy council, and committed to Newgate. While in prison he suffered so much from his chains and bolts, that once it was under deliberation whether one of his legs should not be amputated. After a long confinement he was tried for high treason with Father Ireland, but as the evidence was insufficient, he was remanded back to prison. He was arraigned a second time at the Old Bailey on 13 June 1679, before all the judges of England, together with four other Jesuit fathers. Oates and Dugdale were witnesses against them, and in accordance with the direction of Lord-chief-justice Scroggs the jury found the prisoners guilty. They suffered death at Tyburn on 20 June 1679. Fenwick’s remains were buried in the churchyard of Saint Giles-in-the-Fields.

An account of the trial and condemnation of the five Jesuits ‘for High Treason, in conspiring the Death of the King, the Subversion of the Government and Protestant Religion’ was published by authority at London, 1679, fol.

A portrait of Fenwick engraved by Martin Bouche at Antwerp is inserted in Matthias Tanner’s ‘Brevis Relatio felicis Agonis quem pro religione Catholica gloriosè subierunt aliquot è Societate Jesu sacerdotes,’ Prague, 1683. A photograph of the print is in Foley’s ‘Records.’ Fenwick is also represented in the print of Titus Oates in the pillory.

MLA Citation

  • “John Fenwick”. Dictionary of National Biography. Saints.SQPN.com. 9 June 2013. Web. 10 July 2014. <>