Life and times of Bl. William Way, the Kingston Martyr


William Way probably was baptised at St Petrock’s church in Exeter on 21 May 1561. His father, also called William Way, was a man of substance who was a churchwarden at St Petrock’s, which would have followed the Anglican rite of the time.  William Way the younger underwent a short course at the English College at Rheims to become a missionary-priest in England. He left on 9 December 1586 fully aware of the great risks that he faced under the various anti-Catholic Acts then in force in England and of the sufferings there of former students of the College.  Fr. Way was a hunted man until the time of his arrest in Lambeth around 29 June 1587.  Thereafter he was held in the Clink prison in Southwark. On 16 September 1588, after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, he was tried at Newgate Sessions, convicted of high treason and sentenced to death. On 23 September 1588, probably in the market place at Kingston upon Thames, he was hung, drawn and quartered with great cruelty. The signs were that he welcomed martyrdom. He was beatified in 1929.  A shrine to the Bl. William Way was unveiled at St Agatha’s Catholic Church, Kingston, on 15 August 1971.

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The Author

David A. Kennedy, PhD

About 20 years ago, I accompanied my late wife to some talks on the use of computers in historical research and began to help her with her genealogical studies. Later, I took part in a project, organised by the Centre for Local History Studies at Kingston University, to digitise the Enumerators’ Books for the Kingston Census of 1851-1891. This rekindled my interest in history, especially that of Kingston upon Thames, where I live. This website has been set up so that I can share my research findings, some based on digitised material, with others who may be interested in them.

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