August 13th is the 410th anniversary of James' martyrdom

You can download James' prayer card and view a special update by using the links below and to the left


Dowdall Coat of Arms

Dedication to Venerable James Dowdall

(Photograph of St Jean de Luz, France)

This website is dedicated to the memory of Venerable James Dowdall who was martyred August 13, 1599 at Exeter Castle, Exeter, England.Venerable James Dowdall was from the merchant mariner Dowdall family of Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland.  He was returning from a buying trip to France when due to bad weather he was forced onto the Devon Coast.    When he was questioned by the Earl of Bath William Bourchiers, and other local authorities, he refused to take the Supremacy Oath placing Elizabeth above the pope in spiritual matters.  He was placed in Exeter Prison and held for about a year before he was executed for treason. Catholics who refused to take the Supremacy Oath were accused of treason and risked the danger of execution. He perplexed William Bourchiers, Earl of Bath because of his continual refusal to conform to the Church of England. to read dedication in entirety click here

Seanchas Ard Mhacha Article

James Dowdall was an Irish Martyr from Drogheda, County Louth.  According to the 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopaedia his name is included in the Apostolic Process of the Irish Martyrs.    This information ignited in me a desire to uncover the story of his life. Although he was included in the cause of the Irish Martyrs until sometime in the 1900s, his name was deferred for beatification due to insufficient and unclear information.  Due to modern wonders of communication, one can connect the various sources describing James' life - gathering the various sources that tell of James, learning more about the Dowdall family history, studying the shipping trade of the 1500s and finding documents pertaining to James and his family. This was for me a fascinating task.

The information provided in this article will clarify that James Dowdall, martyred in Exeter in 1599, was from Drogheda and not from Waterford or Wexford, and that he is to be distinguished from his cousin, James Dowdall of Athboy, County Meath. to read in entirety click here

The Supremacy Oath The Supremacy Oath was part of the The Elizabeth Religious Settlement of 1559 which was composed of The Act of  Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity.  Her father Henry VIII and her brother Edward VI had the title of “Head of the Church of England”.  Elizabeth became all powerful in the Church of England and was known as “Supreme Governor of the Church in England.”  to read in entirety click here

Pictures Venerable James Dowdall was a merchant and traded in the Bay of Biscay region of Spain and France. It was on one of these voyages that he was arrested and thrown into prison. To view pictures of ports in various sea towns where James would have visited please click here. Additional pictures of Exeter Castle will be added at a later date.

A Note from the Editor Please bear with us as this website is still under construction and will undergo changes. The information currently provided gives th pertinent information of James' cause.

A Special Thanks Celtic graphics on this website have been taken from Aon Celtic Art. To view more Celtic Art please go to:

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Venerable James Dowdall of Exeter