Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lady Cecily Stonor

Gareth Russell hosts Stephanie Mann. To quote:
Lady Cecily Stonor (nee Chamberlain) and her late husband Sir Francis Stonor (+1564) had two sons, Francis and John, and three daughters. They were recusants and because they would not attend Sunday services in the Church of England, they had to pay huge fines, selling land and estates as necessary. In 1577, according to the Stonor Park website, the family paid the modern equivalent of £50,000 in fines.

Cecily Stonor was elderly when she was brought to trial in Oxford for her recusancy. Her home, Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire was a refuge for Catholic priests. The Jesuit Edmund Campion stayed at Stonor and his “Decem Rationes” was printed there and then boldly distributed in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, copies laid out carefully on the benches for Commencement on 27 June 1581. The authorities hunted Campion down on his way to Norfolk and captured him at Lyford Grange in Berkshire on 15 July. Then authorities came to Stonor Park on 4 August, finding the press, another Jesuit priest, William Hartley, and the printer—they also arrested Cecily, her son John, and four servants.

Questioned about her recusancy, Lady Stonor proclaimed that she had remained true to her Catholic faith even though the monarchs and government of England had changed religious policy several times. She referred particularly to her devotion to the Catholic Mass in her statement:
I was born in such a time when holy mass was in great reverence, and brought up in the same faith. In King Edward’s time this reverence was neglected and reproved by such as governed. In Queen Mary’s time, it was restored with much applause; and now in this time it pleaseth the state to question them, as now they do me, who continue in this Catholic profession. The state would have these several changes, which I have seen with mine eyes, good and laudable. Whether it can be so, I refer to your Lordships’ consideration. I hold me still to that wherein I was born and bred; and so by the grace of God I will live and die in it.
Cecily Stonor had experienced the Tudor dynasty, seeing the religious changes made once Henry VIII had proclaimed himself Supreme Head and Government of the Ecclesiae Anglicanae, while she had remained unchanged in her profession of religion. (Read more.)

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