Thursday, 5 April 2012



1. David Lewis was born in Abergavenny in 1616. He was the youngest child of Margaret Pritchard, a Catholic, and Morgan Lewis, a Protestant.

2. One of nine children, David was brought up in the Established Religion by his father. David’s eight siblings were brought up in the Catholic Faith by their mother.

3. As a young man, during a stay in Paris, David converted to Catholicism.

4. David returned to Abergavenny in 1636 and lived with his parents until their deaths in 1638.

5. David decided to become a priest and, following the deaths of his parents in 1638, he entered the English College in Rome where he assumed the alias of Charles Baker. He was ordained there in 1642.

6. In 1645 David Lewis entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sant’ Andrea. After profession he was sent to the Cwm, the Jesuit Headquarters in Herefordshire, on the English Welsh border.

7. David was soon recalled to Rome but in 1648 he returned to Wales where for more than thirty years he ministered to his beleaguered Catholic countrymen.

8. On 17th November 1678, while preparing to celebrate Holy Mass, Fr Lewis was arrested at a house in Llantarnam. He was conveyed to Monmouth Gaol where he was held until early 1679. On 13th January of that year he was moved to Usk Gaol to await his fate.

9. In March 1679, at The Monmouth Assizes, Fr Lewis was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and saying Mass. Under the Penal Laws of the time, this was considered High Treason and incurred the sentence of being hanged, drawn and quartered.

10. On 27th August 1679 Fr David Lewis was executed at Usk. Due to the love and respect the people had for this priest, known as ‘Tad y Tlodion’, i.e., ‘Father of the Poor’, he was allowed to hang until he was dead. He was then cut down and, although he was not quartered, he was disembowelled and beheaded. His remains were given a respectful burial in the churchyard of St Mary’s Priory Church, Usk.

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