May 11 – Martyr of the House of Rochester

May 9, 2024

Blessed John Rochester

The Martyrdom of the Carthusians.

The Martyrdom of the Carthusians. Blessed John Rochester was one of the many English Carthusians that were martyred during this time.

Priest and martyr, born probably at Terling, Essex, England, about 1498; died at York, 11 May, 1537. He was the third son of John Rochester, of Terling, and Grisold, daughter of Walter Writtle, of Bobbingworth. He joined the Carthusians, was a choir monk of the Charterhouse in London, and strenuously opposed the new doctrine of the royal supremacy. He was arrested and sent a prisoner to the Carthusian convent at Hull. From there he was removed to York, where he was hung in chains. With him there suffered one James Walworth (?Wannert; Walwerke), Carthusian priest and martyr, concerning whom little or nothing is known. He may have been the “Jacobus Walwerke” who signed the Oath of Succession of 1534. John Rochester was beatified in 1888 by Leo XIII.

His elder brother, Sir Robert Rochester, K.G. (b. about 1494; d. 28 Nov., 1557), was a zealous Catholic. Before 1551 he had received the appointment of comptroller of the household to Princess Mary Tudor. In that year the Privy Council ordered him to prevent any priest saying Mass in the princess’s household, but he refused to interfere in any way with her private devotions, and was accordingly sent to the Tower. The next year he was allowed to retire to the country on account of his health, and was soon permitted to take up the post of comptroller once more. When the princess ascended the throne as Mary I, she remembered Rochester’s faithful service. He was made chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and he entered the inner circle of the Privy Council. He was one of the parliamentary representatives of Essex, 1553-5. He was buried at the Charterhouse at Sheen.


Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s. v. Rochester, John; Chauncy, Hist. aliquot Martyrum Anglorum . . . Cartusianorum (Montreuil and London, 1888); Morris, The Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers (1st series, London, 1872); Pollard, in Dict. Nat. Biog.., s.v. Rochester, Sir Robert.

C. F. WEMYSS BROWN (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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