« Bartoli, Daniello Barton, Elizabeth Barton, George Aaron »

Barton, Elizabeth

BARTON, ELIZABETH: English impostor of the reign of Henry VIII; b., according to her own statement, in 1506; beheaded in London April 20, 1534. In 1525, while a servant at Aldington, Kent, her ravings in consequence of some nervous disorder gained for her a local reputation as one divinely inspired. She recovered her health after a few months, but her fame remained, and certain monks, notably one Edward Bocking, made use of her to attempt to check the advance of the Reformation. Instructed by them she continued her alleged prophesyings. In 1527 she was taken to the priory of St. Sepulchre at Canterbury, and under the title of the “Nun" or “Holy Maid of Kent" her fame went far and wide and she seems to have been partly or fully believed in by persons of intelligence and influence. When the divorce from Catharine of Aragon was proposed she inveighed against it and ultimately went so far in her threats against the king that she and certain of her abetters were arrested and brought to trial in 1533. Under torture Elizabeth and Booking confessed to fraud; with two friars and two priests they were beheaded at Tyburn, the Nun repeating her confession on the scaffold. Sir Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, and others were implicated and narrowly escaped suffering at the same time.

Bibliography: The sources for a biography are indicated in the long and critical notice in DNB, iii, 343-346.

« Bartoli, Daniello Barton, Elizabeth Barton, George Aaron »
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