St Ralph Sherwin was born in Rodsley, Derbyshire, in 1550. He was educated at Eton College from 1563 to 1567 and was then a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.
He crossed to France on the pretext of studying medicine, but made for the English College at Douai, where he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Cambrai on 23rd March 1577. He left France for the English College in Rome, where he stayed for nearly three years.
From Rome, he returned to London to minister to Catholic converts but was arrested in 1580 for the crime of priesthood. Queen Elizabeth I offered to make him a bishop if he would renounce the Catholic Church, but he refused. He endured torture, including the rack, before being charged with high treason for promoting Catholicism and sentenced to death.
Saints Ralph Sherwin, Edmund Campion SJ and Alexander Briant were executed in succession at Tyburn, London, on 1st December 1581.
They were among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who were canonised at St Peter’s, Rome, on 25th October 1970. His individual feast day is celebrated on 1st December, the day of his martyrdom.