Rev Anthony Tyrrell

Anthony Tyrrell was born in 1552 as the son of George Tyrrell, a loyal Roman Catholic courtier to Queen Mary who lived in Essex.

After Queen Elizabeth came to the throne and restored the Church of England, the Tyrrell’s moved to Holland to escape persecution. This was at some personal cost as the family were unable to bring their possessions and were very poor.

Anthony returned to England to raise money from his relatives but was arrested as a catholic and jailed for 2 years.

On his release in 1574 Anthony returned to the continent moving to Rome where his studies concluded with his appointment as a priest and a posting back to England.

Within a year he had been arrested again but this time he managed to escape and spent the next two years in England providing religion to the secret Roman Catholic families.

In 1584 he returned to the continent where he had a series of meetings with influential members of the Roman Catholic Church keen to see its reintroduction into England.

At the end of 1585 he returned to England where again he looked after secret Roman Catholic Families.

He was once again arrested in July 1586 and this time he came to the attention of Government officials who threatened him with execution unless he renounced Catholicism.

Unlike many of his colleague who died for their religion Tyrrell capitulated and provided information on his activities including his catholic converts in England. He was then encouraged to spy on other catholic prisoners encouraging them to tell him information which he then passed on to the Government.

By 1587 he agreed to preach a protestant sermon but instead delivered a Catholic sermon and as a result was returned to prison.

A year later he once again agreed to preach a protestant sermon and on this occasion actually did so. Whether the defeat of the Parish Armada shortly before the sermon was the encouragement that he needed we will never know.

In 1589 Tyrrell was appointed as the rector of Dengie and then as Vicar of Southminster in 1591. Tyrrell married and moved into Southminster Vicarage. This gave Tyrrell a role and finance but also kept him in a secluded part of England away from hotbeds of Catholicism.

This peace didn’t last long as in 1593 he sold the benefice at Southminster and travelled abroad and returned via London where he spent his money on drink and women and ended up in prison again.

On his release he returned to the Parish of Dengie and resumed the Rectorship.

In 1605 his life was again shaken by the Gunpowder Plot as although he was not connected with the plot he feared that his name may become linked so once again he fled abroad and lived once again as a Roman Catholic until he died.