St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd were two Welsh priests who shared a cell in Cardiff Castle in 1678/79. They were executed on the same day, 22nd July 1679, at Gallows Field, Cardiff. Most accounts of St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd are joint accounts but, although they shared so much, I think that each man’s story deserves a separate telling. On this 333rd anniversary of their martyrdom I will endeavour to do just that. Of course there will be similarities and crossovers but I will do my best to give a brief account of their individual stories. (LINK HERE)
|St John Lloyd|
ST JOHN LLOYD, a secular priest, was one of the many itinerant priests of South Wales who was caught up in the horror of the fabricated Popish Plot. I say “fabricated” because today historians agree that the plot existed only in the warped psyche of Titus Oates and his perverted fellows.
John Lloyd was the son of Walter Lloyd. He was born into a devout Catholic family in Brecon around 1630. John entered the Royal College of St Alban at Valladolid in 1649 and took the customary oath to return to the English Mission. He was ordained on 7th June 1653. The following April he left for his homeland. Fr Lloyd spent the next twenty-four years labouring among the Catholics of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
He was known to frequent the home of John Turberville at Penllyn. He also stayed at the home of Walter James at Trivor near St Maughans. At Trivor one can still see the room once used as a chapel. There is a niche in the wall where a statue or crucifix would have been placed, probably above the altar. Finding shelter at these and other Catholic recusant homes, the intrepid priest did not spare himself in celebrating Mass, administering the sacraments and caring for the needs of his oppressed flock. At this very dangerous time, John Lloyd’s brother, Fr William Lloyd, was also working among the Catholics of South Wales. Fr William Lloyd was head of the secular clergy in South Wales.
|The niche in the wall of the secret chapel at Trivor|
In 1678 the first rumblings of the Oates Plot/Popish Plot crept across the country. It was a time when fear and suspicion lurked in the hearts of ordinary decent people for the safety of every man depended on who was in power at any given time. Protestants had suffered much under Catholic Queen Mary. There had been Catholic plots and rumours of Catholic plots so it was easy for Titus Oates and his iniquitous ilk to foment the horror that was unleashed by the Oates Plot.
On 20th November 1678 Fr John Lloyd was arrested at the home of John Turberville at Penllyn. He was taken to Cardiff Castle Gaol where he was imprisoned, possibly in the Black Tower. For a time he was kept in solitary confinement. Eventually he and Fr Philip Evans S J, who was arrested on 4th December, were permitted to share a cell. Coincidentally, both Fr Lloyd and Fr Evans had sisters who were Blue Nuns in Paris. Fr Lloyd’s sister, Mother Margaret Bruno, had died four years earlier, in 1674.
On 9th May 1679 the Assizes opened in the Shire Hall within the Castle grounds. Fr Lloyd was indicted as a Catholic priest and therefore a traitor. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
At the height of the Plot, Fr William Lloyd was arrested and imprisoned in Brecon Gaol. He too was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and performing the functions of a priest. Like his brother, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. However, Fr William Lloyd was treated so harshly in prison that he died in Brecon Gaol just days before his scheduled execution.
The day of Martyrdom arrived for Fr John Lloyd on 22nd July 1679. He and Fr Philip Evans were dragged on a hurdle to Gallows Field (often referred to today as ‘Death Junction’). Fr Lloyd had to stand and watch as the young Jesuit who had been his cellmate and friend was butchered before his eyes. Then he was subjected to the same barbaric death. Fr John Lloyd was forty-nine years old.
|Plaque in St David's Cathedral, Cardiff|
There was great rejoicing in Rome and in Britain on Sunday 25th October 1970. On that day, Pope Paul VI canonised forty Catholics who had died for their faith during the sad years of religious persecution in England. After years of investigation and scrutiny, the forty had been chosen from the hundreds who had given their lives for the Old Faith. On that happy day Fr John Lloyd became known as St John Lloyd, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.