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Catholic History in the Diocese of Middlesbrough

The Postgate Society is the official diocesan association to provide knowledge of Catholic History and to foster devotion to the martyrs and those who preserved the faith in penal times.

It is named after Blessed Nicholas Postgate, the priest of the moors, who was martyred in 1679 aged about eighty (so the fourth centenary of his birth is fast approaching).

  • Members receive a regular newsletter.

  • The Society helps to sponsor the annual Catholic History Day in July.

  • There is a monthly Mass for all members, living and dead.

  • Membership of the Society is open to everyone.

  • The subscription is a minimum of £1 per annum

The Postgate Society is part of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, a registered charity.

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Penal times: After the accession fo Queen Elizabeth, England became officially Protestant, but Catholic Europe (and especially Catholic Spain) tried to bring about the return of England to Catholicism. There were thus strong political, as well as religious, reasons to try to suppress Catholicism in England. This was done by fining those who refused - that is why they were called Recusants - to receive Communion in the Protestant churches (which we would now call Anglican), and by arresting, and expelling, or executing, those who were priests. Many priests and lay people from this period are now recognised as martyrs

Penal times, or the Recusant period, lasted from about 1560 to Catholic Emancipation in 1829, and is a particular subject in the study of history, and also in religious books and writings.


Fr Nicholas Postgate was a priest who walked round the North Yorkshire Moors for nearly fifty years, disguised as a tinker or travelling salesman, and brought Mass and the Sacraments to Catholics scattered round the farms and villages. He was eventually caught and executed at York for being a Catholic priest (7 August 1679).

File: postgate.htm - Updated 16 November 1998 - Contact