Saint Richard Gwyn was martyred by being hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason on 15th October 1584. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Richard Gwyn was born c. 1537 in Montgomeryshire and studied at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Douai, before returning to Wales as a teacher.
Gwyn was a staunch Catholic and this was at the time following The Protestant Reformation, that it was highly dangerous to be Catholic, however Gwyn refused to convert to the Anglian faith and often had to change his home and his school to avoid fines and imprisonment. Finally in 1579 he was arrested by the Vicar of Wrexham, a former Catholic who had conformed to Anglicanism. He escaped and remained a fugitive for a year and a half, was recaptured, and spent the next four years in and out of prison. On one occasion Gwyn was fined £280 for refusing to attend Anglican church services, and another £140 for “brawling” when they took him there. Then in the spring of 1582 where, instead of being tried for an offence, he was given a sermon by an Anglican minister. However, he started to heckle him to the extent that the exercise had to be abandoned.
Richard Gwyn, was indicted for high treason in 1583 and despite his defence and objections to the dubious practices of the court Gwyn was condemned to death by hanging, drawning and quartering. This sentence was carried out in the Beast Market in Wrexham on 15 October 1584. His last words, in Welsh, were reportedly “Iesu, trugarha wrthyf” (“Jesus, have mercy on me”).
Early adherents of the Roman Catholic faith suffered persecution in Wrexham as elsewhere, and the first Catholic martyr in Wales was Richard Gwyn, a local school-master, who was hanged, drawn and quartered in Wrexham Beast Market in 1584, He was later beatified and in 1970 was canonised recognising him as a saint. Today Richard Gwyn’s memory is honoured annually by a procession to the spot where he was executed, an unrepentant Catholic to the last.
Source: Wikipedia. 1975 Wrexham Guide