The Jesuits (Society of Jesus) were founded in the 16th century. They devoted themselves to teaching and charity, and travelled around the world as missionaries dedicated to spreading the word of God. They journeyed as far as Japan, Ontario and Ethiopia in their mission to convert those who had not heard the gospel. They also took on the challenge of halting the spread of Protestantism, travelling as missionaries to Protestant areas all over Europe.
Tyburn was a village in Middlesex, close to London, with a long history as a place of execution. In 1571 the ‘Tyburn Tree’ was erected and first used to hang the Catholic Dr John Story, who refused to recognise Elizabeth I as rightful Queen. It was a wooden triangular frame held up on three legs, from which several criminals could be hanged at once. Many Catholic priests of the Elizabethan period were executed at Tyburn for high treason, to the full extent of the law. This meant being hung, drawn and quartered (see bookmark for page 110). Executions were public and were a popular spectacle; large stands were even erected by the villagers for spectators. The bodies of the criminals were often displayed as an example to others, to be seen by travellers on the road into London.