By W. H. Grattan Flood
[From The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 4th Series, Vol. XVI, No. 441, September 1904]
THE subject of domestic nomination by the exiled Stuarts has never been adequately treated, and therefore the entries relating to Ireland, as calendared in the Stuart Papers (belonging to his Majesty King Edward VII.), cannot fail to be of service to some future Irish ecclesiastical historian. In addition, there are many other entries, not to be found elsewhere, of deep interest to students of our history in the early eighteenth century, to which much obscurity previously attached. With the entries from 1700 to 1715 I shall deal in the present paper.
King James II. died on September 16th, 1701, and immediately his son was proclaimed as James III., de jure King of Great Britain and Ireland. On September 22nd, the young king, 'the old Pretender,' wrote to Pope Clement XL, announcing the death of his father, adding:-'His last charges to us on his death-bed will, we hope, never be forgotten by us, namely, that we should always prefer the eternal salvation of our soul and the profession of the Roman Catholic faith to all transitory things and to all temporal advantages whatsoever.'
On October 3rd, 1701, Queen Mary writes to the Bishop of Ypres recommending to his care Father O'Donnell who had just been appointed confessor to the Irish Benedictine Nuns at Ypres-a foundation dating from the year 1612. This Father O'Donnell converted to the faith Miss Mary Louisa Maclean (daughter of Sir Alexander Maclean), whose sister Letitia joined the community of Ypres in 1705 and died there in 1754. Let me add that from 1701 to 1840 a long line of Irish abbesses ruled the Benedictine convent of Ypres, a convent alluded to in Davis's song, ' The Flower of Finae.'
On November 4th, James III. issued an order that the full court ceremonial of the English court should be observed at St. Germain's; and, accordingly, state officers, and officers of the household, etc., were appointed, with James Porter as vice-chamberlain to the king, and John Stafford in a similar capacity to the queen mother.
A French document, dated November 12th, is a recommendation from James III. to the General of the Capuchins, in favour of Father Robert Tyrrell, 'Warden of the Irish province of Capuchins,' who was journeying to Rome on business of his Order. Previously, the Irish Capuchins had convents at Charleville and Sedan, but since 1696 they had centred their community at Bar-sur-Aube, of which Father Nugent was Guardian in that year. This Father Richard Nugent was fourth Earl of Westmeath, who resigned his patrimony to his brother, and became a Capuchin. As is well known, the Irish College at Lille was governed by a Rector nominated by the Irish Capuchins of Bar-sur-Aube.
In 1697, Father Francis Bermingham, Provincial of the Augustinian Friars of Ireland, as also Father Bernard O'Kennedy, Guardian of Dublin, and Father O'Carroll, Guardian of Callan, Co. Kilkenny, had fled to France owing to the severity of the Penal Laws. From the Stuart Papers we learn that Father Bermingham went to Rome in the autumn of 1698 to represent to the Pope 'the excessive persecution which had arisen against the Catholics of the kingdom of Ireland.' His successor, Father Bernard O'Kennedy, undertook a journey to Spain to collect funds, and was favourably recommended to Cardinal Portocarrero by the queen mother, on December 3rd, 1701. This good Irish friar made his will at Madrid, on February 29th, 1704, and died shortly afterwards. His 'testament' is most interesting, and he twice alludes to the 'King and Queen of England,' who had befriended him in 1700 - of course ignoring King William.
From a letter, dated January 16th, 1702, it appears that Father O'Sullivan was President of the Irish, College at Louvain. The queen recommended a certain William Hurley, 'the son of a gentleman who has served with much zeal in the Irish regiment,' for a place in the college. We get a glimpse of another forgotten Irish College, on February 27th, 1702, when, in a letter to the Bishop of Amiens, the queen praises 'Ever Magennis, a priest, Superior of the Community of Irish of the College of Grassin.'
In March, 1702, certificates were issued testifying to the gentle birth of Daniel O'Riordan, Theobald Roche, and Oliver Bermingham. Similar certificates were issued in April, in favour of George Morrogh, Daniel O'Dunne, and Thomas Grace.
Fidelity to the Stuarts by Protestant dignitaries is shown in the case of Denis Granville, D.D., Dean of Durham, 'Chaplain in ordinary to the last two Kings,' who, on April 29th, 1702, was received as a member of the royal household at St. Germain's, at a salary, and a promise to be 'mindful of his services and sufferings on our happy and wished-for restoration.'
In the autumn of the year 1702, declarations of noblesse were issued in favour of Nicholas Luker, Daniel O'Brien, John Kelly, Miss Mary Fleming, and Miss Mary Gernon. On February 8th, 1703, Queen Mary granted power of attorney to Henry Conquest 'to receive the pension granted by his Most Christian Majesty to the young Earl of Lucan.' This was James, son of the gallant Patrick Sarsfield, and the step-son of the Marshal Duke of Berwick, as Sarsfield's widow married the Duke in 1695. The pension was 3,000 livres a year, which continued to be paid until 1712.
Queen Mary, writing to the Archbishop of Tuam, on March 6th, 1704, enquires of the names and qualifications of the three dignitaries fittest to fill the vacant see of Elphin. The then Archbishop of Tuam was the exiled Dr. James Lynch, who died at Paris, on October 31st, 1713. Under date of August 25th, 1704, there is a letter from Queen Mary to Père La Chaise, from which we learn that Dominic Maguire, O.P., the exiled Primate of Armagh, had been given a pension by King James III. Archbishop Maguire died at Paris, on September 21st, 1707, and was buried in the church of the Irish College.
King James III. writes, on October 23rd, 1704, to the King of Spain (Philip V.), recommending Father Ambrose O'Connor, Provincial of the Irish Dominicans, to his favourable consideration. Less than five years later, namely on June 16th, 1709, King James nominated Father O'Connor as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, who was accordingly approved of at Rome, but died at London, on February 20th, 1711, before consecration.
On May 11th, 1705, Queen Mary wrote to Count Caprara to solicit (on the part of herself and her son) Pope Clement XI. to hasten the beatification of Father Vincent de Paul 'who had sent missionaries to Ireland and Scotland in very dangerous times.'1
The following extract of a letter from the queen to the Bishop of St. Omer, dated September 28th, 1705, is of more than passing interest, as it refers to an Irish nun of Ypres, who was a 'Jubilarian' of thirteen years standing at her death:-
This letter will be delivered by Mr. Creagh, Canon of Strasburg, nephew of the late Archbishop of Dublin,2 whose niece, Miss Creagh, is one of the two Irish girls you charitably maintain in the convents of your diocese. As she has the vocation to become a nun in the Convent of the Irish Benedictines at Ypres, where her cousin provides her with a dowry, I ask you to let the Canon conduct her thither.
This nun, known in religion as Dame Mary Bridget Creagh, died on May 29th, 1768, aged 83.
James III. having attained his majority, on June 21st, 1706, wrote to Pope Clement XI. rendering him homage and filial obedience. On September 9th, he again wrote expressing his satisfaction at the Pope's confirmation of Cardinal Imperiali, as Protector of the Kingdom of Ireland.
From a long letter written by James III. to Cardinal Imperiali, on February 7th, 1707, we gather that there were only two bishops in Ireland, 'of whom but one is at liberty to exercise his functions, the other being in prison' - on which account he urges the appointment of three bishops to the sees of Kilmacduagh, Ardfert and Aghadoe, and Killala, namely, Drs. Ambrose Madden, Denis Moriarty, and Thaddeus O'Rourke, O.S.F., respectively, whom he had named to these sees three years previously 'at the desire and request of his Holiness himself.' Two months later, James III. nominated Ambrose MacDermot, O.P., Penitentiary of St. Mary Major, to the vacant see of Elphin. It may be well to explain that the bishop who was in prison in 1707 was Dr. Patrick Donnelly of Dromore, and he it was who consecrated Father Thady O'Rourke, above named, as Bishop of Killala, in Newgate prison, Dublin, on August 24th, 1707.
Father Nugent, Superior of the Irish Capuchins, went to Rome in July, 1708, and was given high recommendations from Queen Mary to Cardinal Caprara, praising the great missionary zeal of the Irish Capuchin friars.
On June 16th, 1709, James III. nominated John Verdon, D.D., Vicar-General of the diocese of Armagh, as Bishop of Ferns, which appointment was confirmed by the Pope on September 14th, on which date the brief of his consecration was issued. On March 2nd following, King James nominated Christopher Butler, Doctor of the Sorbonne, to the see of Cashel, 'for whose appointment the clergy of the diocese had petitioned.' This nomination was duly confirmed by the Pope.
By Brief of May 5th, 1714, Pope Clement XI. formally acknowledged James's right to nominate bishops for Irish sees, and assured the exiled monarch that there would in future 'be no interruption of the power of nominating effectually to all the bishoprics of Ireland.' Accordingly we find that on May 24th, 1715, James nominated Dr. Hugh MacMahon, Bishop of Clogher, to the Archbishopric of Armagh-but it must be noted that the translation had been effected by decree of the Propaganda in August of the preceding year.
On August 16th, 1715, James III. wrote from Bar-le-Duc to Pope Clement XL, nominating Edward Murphy, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Dublin, to the Bishopric of Kildare. This nomination was duly confirmed by Pope Clement XI., and, on October 18th, James wrote from Commercy thanking the Sovereign Pontiff for appointing Dr. Murphy, also requesting that the administration of the diocese of Leighlin would also be entrusted to said prelate.
In a letter from James to the Abbe Innes, dated St. Malo, November 11th, 1715, we get a curious confirmation of the identity of the Highland Scotch language with the Irish. He thus writes:-
I shall not wait for Farquarson, for besides that Mr. O'Flanagan speaks very good Irish, we have found a very honest man here called Drummond, who is a physician, speaks the language, and knows the country.
With this extract I end for the present, but the value of the documents from 1715 to 1745 is even greater, as the letters and memoranda number about fifty thousand of an uninterrupted series.
William H. Grattan Flood.
1 For the fullest account of the Vincentian Order in Ireland see Father Boyle's admirable paper, 'Hibernia Vincentiana,' in the I. E. record, for November, 1903.
2 This was Dr. Peter Creagh, who had been promoted from the united sees of Cork and Cloyne to the Archbishopric of Dublin, on March 9th, 1693, at the request of King James II., and who died as coadjutor to the Cardinal Archbishop of Strasburg, at Alsace, in 1705.