martyr. He was born at Harrock (Lancs.) of an impoverished recusant family and went into service, first with a Protestant family and later with the recusant Huddlestons of Sawston Hall (Cambs.), where he met the Jesuits John Gerard and Nicholas Owen, through whom he was reconciled to the R. C. Church. About two years later, when sent to the Middlesex Sessions to plead the illness of his master's daughter for her non-appearance on a recusancy charge, he was himself interrogated about his own religion. He answered bluntly that he had been reconciled to Catholicism. He was then sent to Newgate and after refusing liberty in exchange for conformity was sentenced to death. His fine physique and outstanding courage were remarked on by eye-witnesses of his execution, which took place at St Thomas Waterings, Southwark on 21 June. He was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast 25 October.
T. Worthington, A Lancashire Man: the Martyrdom of John Rigby of Southwark (ed. C. A. Newdigate, 1928); R. Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests (ed. J. H. Pollen, 1928), pp. 238–45: J. E. Paul, Blessed John Rigby (pamphlet 1964).