The Queen is set to be asked to pardon a sixteenth-century abbot posthumously after he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 15 November 1539.
Blessed Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury, was executed for treason in the aftermath of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Along with Blessed John Wichter (Abbot of Colchester) and Blessed Hugh Faringdon (Abbot of Reading), they were the final three mitred Benedictine abbots who attempted to fight against the King’s seizure of the monasteries. The Catholic abbots were beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895, and some historians believe that there was a cult devoted to them.
Residents of Glastonbury, Somerset, have created a Change.org petition to have Whiting absolved of any crimes. The petition states:
“In the turbulent times of 1539, a terrible and brutal murder occurred in our town. A good and decent man was dragged around our streets then up to Glastonbury Tor, where he, along with two others were hanged. His body was then dismembered and put on public display at different locations. This ignoble act destroyed the whole community.
He was an elderly gentleman and a man of God, his name was Richard Whiting, and he was the last Abbott of Glastonbury Abbey.
We are asking for Justice and an act of mercy for this worthy Englishman. For Abbot Whiting to be exonerated of any accused wrongdoing and granted by the Grace of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll, a Royal Pardon, absolution and restored to the right of being known as innocent.”
The group is specifically petitioning The Queen now to receive the pardon for her Platinum Jubilee in 2022. To date, there are over 430 signatures on the petition. Signers include the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis, and widely known Tudor historian Alison Weir. Weir’s works include a biography of Henry VIII’s wives, a biography of Elizabeth of York, and a series of historical fiction novels about the six wives.