Number of Catholics martyred during the English Reformation?

I’ve been trying to find the statistics on the estimated numbers of Catholics killed during the English Reformation under the reign of each of the Tudor monarchs but, haven’t been able to find much. I’ve seen 960, 57,000, and 72,000 variously listed for Henry VIII and a shockingly small 189 in England for Elizabeth I (as opposed to the 1.5 million in Ireland). Could someone please help if they know the answers?


You might need to be clearer. Presumably you are talking about martyrdoms? This isn’t easy to define. Are people who take up arms against the government and are killed in battle martyrs because they disapprove of its religious policies? Are such people, when captured, tried, and convicted of treason martyred when they are executed? And if we are counting people martyred for their faith, should we take into account also those who were martyred for Protestant causes during Henry’s reign? And should we not also consider those who went to the flames under Mary? Should we restrict ourselves to those executed for heresy? What do you think?

The Catholic Encyclopedia has an article on “English Confessors and Martyrs (1534-1729)” that might be helpful.

Part of the problem is that Catholics were typically considered traitors, rather than heretics, and so given traitors’ deaths rather than burnt at the stake. And it’s difficult to keep track of the deaths of, for example, the various peasants massacred in things like the Prayerbook Uprisings, when there are such incomplete records of what happened. And are Cornish peasants marching in protest against changes to the liturgy, and then mown down by soldiers, martyrs?

I find the history of Christianity in England fascinating and tragic. So much blood spilled and the churches and monasteries that were stripped of so many beautiful pieces of art and statues and altar pieces. I have never heard of the prayerbook uprisings.

It makes you wonder how that greedy womanizer would react to the irony that his personal church created to get a male heir now ordains female bishops.

I don’t think he would be happy with the Church of England today.



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