Thought to be named after Robert Southwell (about 1561 – February 21, 1595), the Roman Catholic priest who became a martyr during the religious persecutions of Elizabeth I’s reign. After years of evading Richard Topcliffe, the queen’s chief priest-hunter, Southwell was finally captured at a manor house near Harrow in 1592. Southwell was born in Norfolk to a wealthy local family but spent years in France training for the priesthood under the Jesuits. In 1586 he volunteered to carry out missionary work back in his home country, knowing full well that if he was caught he would be tortured and executed. Arriving back on home soil, he flitted from one wealthy family to the next, being hidden in the priest holes of their mansions. After six years he was arrested at Uxendon manor when the daughter of its owner betrayed his secret under torture by Topcliffe. Southwell was immediately found and arrested and taken to be tortured. A short while later he was tried and convicted of high treason and hanged at Tyburn in 1595. In 1970, he was canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
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