The Examination of William Weston alias William Edmonds,
Superior of the Jesuit Mission in England in 1587.
22 June 1587. Contemporary copy
Folger Shelf Mark: K.b. 1, p. 3.
This manuscript is a fair copy of the examinations of ten priests imprisoned in London, including the Jesuit William Weston. His interrogation begins on the page depicted here. Weston, who was being held in the Clink Prison, was an Oxford friend of Edmund Campion, in whose honor he took one of his aliases. He was an influential figure in the Catholic mission, converting the Earl of Arundel and performing several dramatic exorcisms of devils, polemic accounts of which may later have influenced Shakespeare's King Lear. The last answer in his examination (not shown here) reads: "This Master Edmundes was taken knocking at Master Frauncis Brownes doore dwelling in Hogge Lane, who hath bene with him sence in conference in the Clinke, as Master Iustice younge knoweth and will prooue. Being demaunded towching Campion, he saith he is a Sainte, as he beleeueth."
Almost a year after being arrested, Weston was questioned on 22 June 1587, the date noted at the top of the page. His captors were little interested in his theological positions except those regarding the royal supremacy, but were much concerned with his movements, activities, and associates. The symbol of the gallows near the top of the page is misleading, as Weston was never executed. He was kept in prison and later transferred to Wisbech Castle, where he was a prominent figure in a dispute among the Catholic community as to who had proper spiritual jurisdiction over the Catholics in England. He chose banishment in preference to taking the oath of allegiance to the Crown at the beginning of James I's reign and died in Spain in 1615.
For more information on William Weston/Edmonds, consult the Dictionary of National Biography; The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, edited by Thomas McCoog (Rochester, New York: The Boydell Press, 1996); The Elizabethan Jesuits of Henry More , edited and translated by Francis Edwards (London: Phillimore, 1981); and Weston's autobiography, William Weston: the Autobiography of an Elizabethan, translated by Philip Caraman, S.J. (London: Longmans Green, 1955).
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