Mayne, Cuthbert (DNB00)


MAYNE, CUTHBERT (d. 1577), the first seminary priest executed in England, was a native of Youlston, near Barnstaple, Devonshire. At the age of eighteen or nineteen he was made a protestant minister at the instance of his uncle, a conforming priest, who desired to procure for him the succession to his benefice. Being afterwards sent to the university of Oxford, he studied for a time at St. Alban Hall, but was soon chosen chaplain of St. John's College, where he was admitted B.A. 6 April 1566, and commenced M.A. 10 July 1570 (Oxford Univ. Reg. ed. Boase, i. 260). He became secretly attached to the Roman catholic faith, and on the invitation of Gregory Martin [q. v.], Edmund Campion [q. v.], and other friends, he proceeded to Douay, where he was admitted into the English College in 1573. He was ordained priest in 1575, and graduated B.D. in the university of Douay on 7 Feb. 1575-6 (Records of the English Catholics, i. 5, 7). On 24 April 1576 he was sent with John Paine to the English mission, and he became chaplain to Francis Tregian, esq., of Wolveden or Golden, in St. Probus's parish, Cornwall, passing as that gentleman's steward. In June 1577 Dr. William Bradbridge, bishop of Exeter, being on his visitation at Truro, prevailed on Sir Richard Greville, the high sheriff, to search Golden House, and there, says Tonkin, the Cornish historian, ‘the priest was found concealed under an old tower.’ He was imprisoned at Launceston and tried before Sir Roger Manwood [q. v.], chief baron of the exchequer, at the Michaelmas assizes. The act of parliament which made it high treason to receive holy orders abroad had not yet been passed, and it was found difficult to prefer any capital charge against him. Nevertheless, he was tried and condemned to death for denying the queen's spiritual supremacy, saying mass, possessing a printed copy of a bull for a jubilee, and wearing an Agnus Dei. For harbouring the priest, his patron, Sir Francis Tregian, was, by a sentence of premunire, stripped of all his property, and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. Hallam asserts that Mayne was condemned ‘without any charge against him except his religion’ (Constitutional Hist. ed. 1832, i. 197; cf. English Historical Review, i. 144). He was drawn, hanged, and quartered at Launceston on 29 Nov. 1577. Dr. Oliver states that ‘the skull of the martyr is religiously kept at Lanherne’ in the convent of the Theresian nuns (Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 2). He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 29 Dec. 1886 (Tablet, 15 Jan. 1887, pp. 81, 82). His portrait has been engraved.

[A short account of his life, in English, by Cardinal Allen, was published in 1582; and a Latin life of him, in manuscript, is preserved among the archives of the see of Westminster. See also Aquepontanus, Concertatio Eccl. Catholicæ, ii. 50 b, iii. 291 b; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis, pp. 343, 1278; Camden's Annals, s.a. 1577; Challoner's Missionary Priests, n. 1; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 91–4; Douay Diaries, p. 431; Estcourt's Question of Anglican Ordination, p. 138 and App. p. lxii; Foster's Alumni Oxon. early series, iii. 995; Gilbert's Cornwall, iii. 370; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 5th edit. i. 273; Historia del glorioso Martirio di diciotto Sacerdoti (Macerata, 1585), p. 178; Lansd. MS. 981, f. 136; Lingard's Hist. of England, 1849, vi. 331; Lysons's Cornwall, p. 271; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, i. 64–101; Oliver's Cornwall, pp. 203, 355; Pollen's Acts of English Martyrs, p. 250; Prince's Worthies, 1810, p. 583; Raissius, Catalogus Christi Sacerdotum, p. 7; Records of the English Catholics, ii. 471; Rymer's Fœdera, xv. 791; Simpson's Campion, pp. 49, 73, 93; Stanton's Menology, p. 570; Strype's Works (index); Tablet, 6 Dec. 1890, p. 913; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), i. 185.]

T. C.