A layman all his life, born into Elizabethan London, William Carter entered the printing business at an early age. For many years he served as apprentice to well-known Catholic printers, one of whom served a prison sentence for persisting in the Catholic faith. William himself served time in prison following his arrest for “printing lewd [i.e., Catholic] pamphlets” as well as possessing books upholding Catholicism.
But even more, he offended public officials by publishing works that aimed to keep Catholics firm in their faith. Officials who searched his house found various vestments and suspect books, and even managed to extract information from William’s distraught wife. Over the next 18 months William remained in prison, suffering torture and learning of his wife’s death.
He was eventually charged with printing and publishing one thousand copies of the Treatise of Schisme written by Dr. Gregory Martin, which was fallaciously alleged to be intended to incite violence by Catholics due to a paragraph in the pamphlet where confidence was expressed that the Catholic Hope would triumph, and pious Judith would slay Holofernes – a reference to a well known, at that time, Old English poem about Judith of Bethulia, inspired, of course, by the Book of Judith in the Old Testament, in which the Jewess heroine beheads the enemy general. This was interpreted as an incitement to slay the queen, though it obviously had no such meaning. The pamphlet was accused of having been written by a traitor and addressed to traitors.
While William calmly placed his trust in God, the jury met for only 15 minutes before reaching a verdict of “guilty.” William, who made his final confession to a priest who was being tried alongside him, was hanged, drawn and quartered the following day: January 11, 1584. He was 35 yrs old. This was the customary punishment for “traitors” to an earthly crown and faithful servants of the Divine Crown. William gave his life for his efforts to encourage his brothers and sisters to keep up the struggle, to keep the faith.