John Philpot, Compton’s Martyr

John Philpot

Compton’s martyr, John Philpot, had a colourful career and crossed paths with many other characters with interesting and unusual stories, as we shall see.

Sir John Philipot

Sir John Philipot, Lord Mayor of London

The Philpot Family

The Hampshire Philpotts

Sir Richard Whittington

to come

Archdeacon John Philpot

to come

Bishop Stephen Gardiner

to come

Bishop John Ponet

to come

Diocesan Registrar John Cooke (or Cook)

to come

Bishop Edmund “Bloody” Bonner

to come

JS Drew writes:

In December this year (1555) a notable Compton man, John Philpott, son of Sir Peter Philpott, died for his Faith. His was a strange, stormy life. Born in 1516 he was educated at Winchester College and became a fellow of New College, Oxford, when he was 18. In religion he broke away early from the Catholic tradition of his family and embraced the tenets of the Reformers with all the enthusiasm of a vigorous nature – there must have been some tempestuous scenes at Compton Place between the father and the son. He was the author of many theological works directed not only against the Catholics but also against those Protestants, and they were many, from whom he differed. He was indeed a controversialist by nature, and in argument no technique came amiss to him polemics, expectoration in the face of an opponent, fisticuffs, he tried them all. Made Archdeacon of Winchester in Edward VI’s time, he quarrelled with his bishop John Poynet, and a rough-and-tumble fight he had with the bishop’s registrar occupied the attention of the City of Winchester court for no less than ten sittings. In the Catholic revival of Queen Mary’s time he stood firmly by his Faith and was committed to the King’s Bench prison; there he discovered among his fellow prisoners some exponents of the Pelagian heresy, so that the period of incarceration was probably not devoid of incident. He was examined in October 1555 by the Catholic bishop Bonner who, with a breadth of view not too common at the time, tried hard to find a formula which would satisfy Authority and save the Archdeacon’s face. But John Philpott was not the man to give way a hair’s breadth where his conscience was engaged, and just before Christmas he went bravely to the stake.

Whitaker writes:

The village must have been shaken by the martydom of the Revd. John Philpott, the archdeacon of Winchester, in 1555; he was the son of the squire Sir John Peter Philpott, and broke away from the traditional Catholic faith of his family. He was a man of uncompromising views, and always ready to defend them, and his courage in facing death at the stake is dramatically honoured by a golden circle of flame around his name in a fine family-tree of 1620.


  1. General
    1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – free access if you have a Hampshire Library card
    2. Compton near Winchester – being an Enquiry into the History of a Hampshire Parish;  J S Drew, published 1939 by Warren and Sons, Winchester
    3. Compton & Shawford, by Austin Whitaker, ©1985, Published by Barbara Large & Austin Whitaker
    4. Winchester Cathedral Stained Glass, Mary Callé. Published by the Friends of Winchester Cathedral.
    5. Lives of Eminent and Illustrious Englishmen, from Alfred the Great to the Latest Times, edited by George Godfrey Cunningham, Vol I 1836, Vol II 1837. Available as an ebook from Google Books, and in hard copy from various sources.
    6. A History of England in the Lives of Englishmen, Edited by George Godfrey Cunningham, vol. I 1853. Also available as an ebook from Google Books, and in hard copy from various sources.
  2. Archdeacon John Philpot
    1. John Philpot, Wikipedia entry:
    2. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs John Philpot
    3. The Examinations and Writings of John Philpot, B.C.L. Archdeacon of Winchester, from Google Play Books
    4. Because John Philpot Didn’t Run, He Burned
    5. Philpot, John (DNB00)
  3. Sir John Philipot
    1. Philipot, John (d.1384) (DNB00)
    2. British History Online : Calendar of Letter-Books of the City of London: H, 1375-1399 – Introduction
    3. British History Online: the Borough of Scarborough
    4. The Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham, 1376-1422
    5. Mercer Millions website: Sir Andrew Mercer
    6. The Old Scots Navy on Mercer
    7. Delphi Classics: The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer
    8. Wikipedia List of Lord Mayors of London
    9. Sir John Philpot, Lord Mayor of London
    10. Catalogue of the tombs in the churches of the city of London, A.D. 1666. By Major Payne Fisher, B.A
  4. Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington
    1. Whittington, Richard (DNB00)
  5. Bishop Stephen Gardiner
    1. Gardiner, Stephen (DNB00)
  6. Bishop Edmund Bonner
    1. Bonner, Edmund (DNB00)
  7. Bishop John Ponet (or Poynet)
    1. Ponet, John (DNB00)