(c.1637–79), seminary priest and martyr. Born at Dimples, near Blackburn (Lancs.), of a recusant family, John was educated by Jesuits at Scarisbrick Hall and at Saint-Omer before he joined the English College at Valladolid (Spain). He was ordained priest in Segovia in 1662 and returned to England in 1663. He ministered to his co-religionists first at Holywell (Flintshire, now Clwyd), where the shrine of Winefride was a place of pilgrimage throughout the penal times, and from 1670 onwards at Puddington Hall in the Wirral. His official function here was tutor to the Massey children; his real function that of missionary priest. In the scare following the ‘Popish Plot’ he was arrested and charged with being a priest. He was imprisoned at Chester castle and executed there on 19 July. His speech before execution was printed: he strongly asserted that he was condemned only for his priesthood, that it was not Catholic belief that the pope had power to ‘give licence to murder princes’, and asked God to ‘bless the King, grant him a prosperous reign here and a crown of glory hereafter’. His quartered body was returned to Puddington to be placed on the four corners of the house, but the Masseys disobeyed this order and buried the body in Burton graveyard. The traditional grave there was opened in 1962, but did not contain remains which were certainly his. Plessington was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast; 25 October.
From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.