Bishop Thomas Hussey

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Hussey, Thomas, Bishop of Waterford 1797-1803, one of the founders of Maynooth College, was born about 1745. He studied at Salamanca, and then buried himself for some years in a Trappist convent, where he hoped to pass his life. His abilities being recognized, however, a Papal mandate obliged him to lay aside the cowl; he was ordained, and for many years was chaplain of the Spanish Embassy in London. He was a powerful preacher, "a man," says Mr. Butler, the historian of English Catholics, "of great genius, of enlightened piety, with manners at once imposing and elegant, and of enchanting conversation; he did not come in contact with many whom he did not subdue; the highest rank often sunk before him." He enjoyed the friendship of King and Ministers — of Johnson and of Burke — was admitted a member of the Royal Society.

During the American war he was sent on a mission to Madrid for George III. It was mainly through his exertions that Maynooth College, of which he was first President, was founded in 1795. In 1797 he was consecrated Bishop of Waterford and Lismore — the whole influence of the Government being exerted to secure the post for him; yet his first pastoral — conscientiously expounding and enforcing the doctrines of his religion — is said to have given great offence to his Protestant friends. He was one of those who in 1802 drew up the Concordat between Napoleon and the Pope. He died at Tramore in July 1803, of apoplexy, after bathing. The Gentleman's Magazine remarks: "In 1797 he wrote his famous pastoral letter, which set the country in a ferment. The enemies of administration said he was employed by Government to sow the seeds of dissension with a view to bring about an union; others considered him an agent of France." Mr. Froude, in his English in Ireland, places his character in a very unfavourable light, and denounces the Government for availing itself of his services during the Insurrection of 1798.

Sources

128a. Exshaw's London Magazine, 1732-'93.

141. Froude, James A.: The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century. 3 vols. London, 1872-'4.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.

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