The end and Confession of Iohn Felton


The end and Confession of Iohn Felton


who suffred in Paules Churcheyeard in London, the . viii. of August, for high Treason. I570.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Huntington Library - Britwell, no. 43/ HEH18304; EBBA 32268


The end and Confession of John Felton who suffred in Paules Churcheyeard in London, the .viii. of August, for high Treason. 1570.

EChe man desiers to haue reporte,
of newes both strange and rare:
And couits for to know those thinges,
whereby they may be ware.
For to avoyde those doynges greate,
that might on them befall:
For by example are they taught to do,
and what they shall
Receiue for their malicious mindes,
and wicked Treasons greate:
As now of late it hath been seen
through Iustice iudgements seate.
That holdes the sworde to do the right,
and strike where blowes should fall:
And punish for their wicked liues,
eche one whom she doth call.
The poore, the ritche, the learnd, ye wise
the begger and the snudge:
The Kynge somtime too hath it felt,
aswell as hath the drudge.
Wherefore be lawes decreed and made
but for to punish those,
That will not by theyr Prince be rewld
but seemes to be theyr foes.
As now is seene by Felton lo,
that lately here did die,
In Paules Churchyarde he left his life,
on Galows taule and hie.
Who from the prison where he lay,
was drawne on Hardell there:
For good example of all such,
that they might take the feare.
For to beware of suche like facte,
as well in worde as deede:
Least they for theyr like hier at last
no better like to speede.
* Now marke his ende and what I shall
reporte here of his death:
For why these eares of mine did here,
and iyes while that his breath
Remained in his wicked corps,
which stubbornly did die:
As one me thought somthing best raught
through Treasons crueltie.
His Gowne of Grograin he put of,
which on his backe he had:
And eke his Doublet which was made
of Sattin somwhat sad.
Into his Shirte he then was stript,
and vp the Ladder he
Did mount, for to receaue that death,
that eche man there might se.
These wordes he spake, and said alowde
my Maisters all and some:
One thinge I haue to say to you,
now that I here am come.
That is, I pray you all with me
beare recorde what I say:
I here protest before you all
, this present dieyng day,
That I was neuer Traytour sure,
nor Treason to my Queene
Did neuer do, nor neuer thought,
that euer hath been seene.
And for the facte wherefore I die,
I can it not denie:
But at the Gate where as the Bull
was hanged, there was I,
In company, on more with me,
did hange it vp together:
And though in place, I had not bin,
it had not scaped euer.
From hanging vp, for suredly,
for that same present day:
It had bin hanged, in that place,
though I had been away.
Then sayde the Shreue, vnto him,
Oh Felton do remember:
That thou hast bin, a Traytour great
and to the Queene offender.
And surely thou moste Trayterously,
and stubbornly hast thou sought,
The best thou couldst to go aboute,
thy Prince to bringe to nought.
And eke the Realme and all the rest,
as mutche as in thee lay,
Thou soughst by thy Traiterous harte,
to bringe vnto decay.
Therfore call vnto God the Lord,
and pray him from thy hart:
That he receaue thy soule to rest,
when thou from hence shalt part.
Well so I do, and here I craue,
you all good people pray
For me, that ready is to dye,
and then began to say,
Into thy hands, Oh Lord my God,
I yeeld my Soule and Breath:
For thou hast me redeemd, I say,
with thy most precious death.
In manus tuas Domine,
and so the rest he sayde,
The Hangman then did throwe him of,
and so his breath was staide.
He hanged theare vpon the Tree,
and in a litle space:
They cut him downe incontinent,
that Iustice might take place.
Wher as he quartred shoulde be,
according to the Lawe:
And to the Iudgement that he had,
to make those stande in awe.
That be of his affinitie:
and surely there be some,
That thinkes that he deserude not death
in all that he hath don.
He then dismembred was straight way,
when he had ended that:
His Belly ripped open wide,
his Bowels all he gat.
And to the fire he straight them threwe,
which ready there was made:
And there consumed all to dust,
as is the fiers trade.
His Head cut of, the Hangman then,
did take it vp in hand:
And vp alofte he did it showe,
to all that there did stand.
And then his body in Fowre partes,
was quartred in that place:
More pitty that his Traytorous Hart,
could take no better grace.
And thus he had his iust desarte,
as well he had deserued:
I would the rest that not repents,
were likewise also serued.
Beware you Papists all beware,
be true vnto your Queene:
Let not your Traiterous hartes be bent
as here tofore hath been.
Stand not against the liuing God,
spurne not against his Law:
Kicke not against the Pricke I say,
but haue him still in awe.
Be not ashamde to torne in time,
set shamefastnesse aside:
No shame it is to turne to God,
though you haue gon far wide,
The farther you haue gon astray,
and wicked wayes hath led,
The ernester you should returne,
from that most wicked Bed,
Wherin you lay a sleape long while,
forgetting of his grace:
Now call the refore vnto the Lord,
to set you in that place,
Where you may haue eternall rest,
and liue in heauen hie:
And rest in Abrahams bosome too,
when that you needes must dye.
And for that grace that God may geue,
as I haue sayde before:
I humbly pray continually,
both now and euermore.
Our Prince, our Queene Elizabeth,
a happy state to haue:
Let vs all pray with one accord,
her noble grace to saue.
And hir to keepe from all hir foes,
and sheild eternally:
From wicked wights that go about,
to s_eke continually:
Hir whole decay: the Lord defend,
hir noble royall hart:
From yeelding to those Foes of hirs,
that daily plaies their parte.
For to be reeue her of her right,
and of hir stately Crowne:
All those (I say) that so doth seke,
God shortly throw them downe.
Thus here I end, and once againe,
the liuing God I pray:
Our noble Qu_ene Elizabeth,
preserue both night and day.
({quod}) F. G.


Œ_ Imprinted at London, in Fleetstreete, by VVilliam Hovv: for William Pickering: and are to be solde at his shop at S. Magnus corner.

Composer of Ballad


Method of Punishment

hanging, quartering


high treason



Execution Location

St Paul's Churchyard, London

Printing Location

London, in Fleetstreete, by VVilliam Hovv: for William Pickering: and are to be solde at his shop at S. Magnus corner.


Wikipedia:  Blessed John Felton (died 8 August 1570) was an English Catholic martyr, who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Almost all of what is known about Felton's background comes from the narrative of his daughter, Frances Salisbury. The manuscript that holds her story has a blank where his age should be, but it does say that he was a wealthy man of Norfolk ancestry, who lived at Bermondsey Abbey near Southwark. He "was a man of stature little and of complexion black". His wife had been a playmate of Elizabeth I, a maid-of-honour to Queen Mary and the widow of one of Mary's auditors (a legal official of the papal court). He was the father of Blessed Thomas Felton. Felton was arrested for fixing a copy of Pope Pius V's Bull Regnans in Excelsis ("reigning on high"), excommunicating Queen Elizabeth, to the gates of the Bishop of London's palace near St. Paul's. This was a significant act of treason as the document, which released Elizabeth's subjects from their allegiance, needed to be promulgated in England before it could take legal effect. The deed brought about the end of the previous policy of tolerance towards those Catholics who were content occasionally to attend their parish church while keeping their true beliefs to themselves.

The reaction seemed soon to be justified: it was the publication in England of Pius's exhortation that gave the impetus to the Ridolfi plot, in which the Duke of Norfolk was to kidnap or murder Queen Elizabeth, install Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne and then become de facto king by marrying her. The law records say that the act was committed around eleven at night on 24 May 1570, but Salisbury claims it happened between two and three in the morning of the following day, the Feast of Corpus Christi. Felton had received the bulls in Calais and given one to a friend, William Mellowes of Lincoln's Inn. This copy was discovered on 25 May and after being racked, Mellowes implicated Felton, who was arrested on 26 May. Felton immediately confessed and glorified in his deed, "treasonably declar[ing] that the queen... ought not to be the queen of England", but he was still racked as the authorities were seeking, through his testimony, to implicate Guerau de Spes, the Ambassador of Spain, in the action. He was condemned on 4 August and executed by hanging four days later in St. Paul's Churchyard, London. He was cut down alive for quartering, and his daughter says that he uttered the holy name of Jesus once or twice when the hangman had his heart in his hand. He was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.




“The end and Confession of Iohn Felton,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024,

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