John Coustos was born in Switzerland in 1703, but emigrated to England with his father in 1716. He was made a Mason in London, and in 1743 he went to Portugal on business where he continued to be an active Freemason, but was subsequently arrested by the Inquisition and tortured. Under torture, he admitted his Masonic activities, and described part of a ritual. He was released in 1744 on the demand of a British Minister under George II, as Coustos was a subject to the King of England.
Having left Portugal, Coustos settled in London where he wrote a book outlining his torture entitle The Sufferings of John Coustos for Freemasonry. In the book, he outlines the tortures he endured in detail:
Coustos continues with the horrors of his torture:
'The reader will naturally suppose that I must be seized with horror, -when, at my entering this infernal place, I saw myself, on a sudden, surrounded by six wretches, who, after preparing the tortures, stripped me naked, all to linen drawers, when, laying me on my back, they began to lay hold of every part of my body. First, they put around my neck an iron collar, which was fastened to the scaffold; they then fixed a ring to each foot; and this being done, they stretched my limbs with all their might. They next wound two ropes round each arm, and two round each thigh, which ropes passed under the scaffold through holes made for that purpose, and were all drawn tight at the same time, by four men, upon a signal made for this purpose.'
Coustos died in 1746, but the descriptions of the torture inflicted on him by the Inquisition remind us how certain Brothers have suffered for being Freemasons over the centuries, more recently during the World War II, and above all, it teaches us that Freemasonry is indeed a highly valued society, so valued that its Brethren have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep its secrets.