Adrian Fortescue (martyr)

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Blessed Adrian Fortescue
Sir Adrian Fortescue.jpg
A painting of Fortescue located at the Collegio di San Paolo in Rabat, Malta
Born 1476
Hertfordshire, England
Died 9 July 1539(1539-07-09) (aged 62)
Tower Hill, London, England
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 13 May 1895 by Pope Leo XIII
Feast 9 July

Sir Adrian Fortescue (1476 – 9 July 1539) was a courtier at the court of King Henry VIII of England who was executed in 1539 and later beatified as a Roman Catholic martyr.


Adrian Fortescue was the son of Sir John Fortescue of Ponsbourne Park at Newgate Street Village in Hertfordshire, and a cousin of Anne Boleyn's father. He descended from Richard Fortescue, younger brother of Sir Henry Fortescue (fl. 1426), Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland and of Sir John Fortescue (ca. 1394 – ca. 1480), Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, all sons of Sir John Fortescue (fl.1422), of Whympston in the parish of Modbury, Devon, appointed in 1422 Captain of the captured Castle of Meaux, 25 miles NE of Paris.[1]

He was made a Knight of the Bath in 1503 and participated in England's wars against France in 1513 and 1523. He was made a Knight of the Order of St. John in 1532. Sir Adrian was also a Dominican Tertiary.

On 29 August 1534, he was arrested without any stated reason but was freed after a period of months.[2] In 1539, he was one of sixteen people condemned for treason without a trial by Parliament for unspecified acts presumably relating to hostility to Henry VIII's church policies. He was beheaded at the Tower of London on 9 July 1539.

Fortescue was twice married: first to Anne, daughter of Sir William Stonor, who died in 1518; and secondly to Anne, daughter of Sir William Rede, of Boarstall, Buckinghamshire and widow of Sir Giles Greville. Anne survived her husband, and afterwards married Sir Thomas Parry, comptroller of Queen Elizabeth's household. By his first wife Fortescue had two daughters: Margaret, married to Thomas Wentworth, 1st baron Wentworth; and Frances, married to Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th earl of Kildare. By his second wife he had three sons and two daughters: Sir John Fortescue of Salden, Chancellor of the Exchequer [q. v.]; Sir Thomas Fortescue, MP Wallingford; Sir Anthony Fortescue [q. v.]; Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Bromley [q. v.], lord chancellor of England; and Mary, whose son was Thomas Cavendish the circumnavigator.


The Order of St. John of Jerusalem has advocated devotion to Blessed Adrian as a martyr since the 17th century and Pope Leo XIII beatified him on 13 May 1895.[2]


  1. ^ Vivian, Heralds' Visitation of Devon, 1895, p.353
  2. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Pollen, John Hungerford (1913). "Bl. Adrian Fortescue". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 

External links

  •  "Fortescue, Adrian". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  • Memorial to The Blessed Adrian Fortescue, Martyr of the Order of Malta [1]
  • Morris SJ, Fr. John, The Venerable Sir Adrian Fortescue, Burns & Oates, Ltd., London, 1887
  • Löwe, J. Andreas, Sir John Fortescue (1533-1607) administrator, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004-14(c)
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