Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Life Of Fr John Gerard S.J. (A Hunted Priest) Part 5

" Being at length free," says Father Gerard, " I went to Paris ; and finding Father William Holt, who had just arrived from Scotland, ready to start for Rome with the Provincial of France, I joined myself to their company." Before leaving England he was present, as he tells us later, at the martyrdom of William Thomson alias Blackburn, who suffered at Tyburn for his priesthood on the 20th of April, 1586. The date of his arrival in Rome is marked in the " Pilgrims' Register " of the English College, which records 1 that "Mr. John Gerard of Derbyshire was received in the hospital on the 5th of August [1586] and remained eight days," which was the length of time that pilgrims were received gratuitously who were not poor. He was soon missed in England, for in the British Museum 2 we have the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' lists of " Recusants sent for," " Gentlemen not yet sent for," and " Persons to be sought after." Under this last heading, dated August 9, 1586, we have "The son of Sir Thomas Gerard." " Sir Thomas Gerard of Etwall, - knight," is in the list of " Gentlemen not yet sent for."

Father William Holt, with whom John Gerard travelled to Rome, was installed Rector of the English College in that city on the 24th of October, 1586, and in that month Gerard entered the College as a convictor.3 He became an alumnus 4 of the College, or as it was then always called,"an alumnus of his Holiness Pope Sixtus V.," on the 5th of April following, taking the College oath in its earliest form, 5 and in the course of the year 1587 he received the tonsure and minor orders, the subdeaconship in August, and the deaconship on the 16th of November. The date of his ordination to the priesthood is not given, but it was probably the Christmas Ember-tide of 1587. Father Gerard's theological course of studies was deplorably short, but happily the evil effects of haste were not afterwards seen in him, as they undoubtedly were sometimes seen in those whose preparation for the difficult duties of a priest on the English Mission was hurried and curtailed.

His own account of his College life is this: "At Rome I was advised to pursue my studies in the English College, and to take priest's orders before I entered the Society. I followed this advice, despite my ardent desire of entering religion, which I communicated to Father Persons, and to Father Holt, the then Rector of the English College. But as the Roman climate was not suited to my constitution, and I had an extreme desire of going to England, it seemed good to the Fathers to put me at the beginning of the year to casuistry and controversies ; I went therefore through a complete course of positive theology. Towards its close, when the Spanish Armada was nearing the coasts of England, Cardinal Allen thought fit to send me to England for various matters connected with Catholic interests, but as I still wanted several months of the lawful age for taking priest's orders, a Papal dispensation was obtained. I was most unwilling to depart unless I was first admitted into the Society, so Father Persons, out of his singular charity towards me, obtained my admission to the novitiate, which I was to finish in England. There were at that time in the English College some others who had the like vocation, and we used to strive to conform ourselves as much as possible to the novices at St. Andrew's, serving in the kitchen and visiting hospitals. On the feast of the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year of our Lord 1588, our Very Reverend Father General Aquaviva received Father Edward Oldcorne of blessed memory and my unworthy self into the Society of Jesus, and gave us his blessing for the English Mission."

But even in Rome he was not out of sight of Elizabeth's ministers, whose spy system made them lynx-eyed. In "A note of such as are known to be beyond the seas, and of their friends in England as near as is known,"6 in 1588, he is named as "John Garret, a priest in Rome, son to Sir Thomas Garret." Christopher Buxton 7 the martyr, writing 8 to Father Holt from Paris, June 9, 1587, mentions him, giving his name a similar form. "Remember me unto good Mr. Fitzharbart, Mr. Garratte, Mr. Harte, John Nelson, and bestly unto my countryman Francis." This spelling of the name, which is very frequent, seems to indicate that it was pronounced like "Garrard" or "Jarrard." So Persons was pronounced and sometimes written "Parsons," and Fitzherbert "Fitzharbart." The same pronunciation of er we have not yet lost in the words "Derby" and "clerk."



The dates of Father Gerard's life at this period.

1577. August. Arrived at Douay when nearly 13.

1578. March 27. College transferred to Rheims.

1579. October ? Went to Oxford at the age of 15.

1580. At home with M. Leutner and Mr. Sutton.

1581. In spring? Went to Clermont College, Paris. 1581. In autumn. Met Father Persons at Rouen. 158I. March 5. Committed to the Marshalsea.

1585. October 31. Discharged on recognizances.

1586. April 20. Present at William Thomson's martyrdom at Tyburn. 1586. August 5. Received in the English Hospital at Rome.

1586. October. Received in the English College as convictor.

1587. April 5. Received there as alumnus. 1587. August. Ordained subdeacon. 1587. November 16. Ordained deacon.

1587. December? Ordained priest, aged 23 years and 3 months.

1588. August 15. Admitted into the Society. 1588. September 21. Reached Rheims. 1588. September 26. Left Rheims.

1588. November? Lands in England.


"A note of the recusants remaining in the Marshalsea. 9

" Temporal gentlemen:

Robert Beckett [Berkett], sent in the 1st of November 1579

John Gray, sent in the 2nd of January 1577

Walter Blunt, sent in the 18th of July 1580

Theobald Greene, sent in the 30th of October 1578

Richard Shelley, sent in the 13th [or 18th] of August 1580

William Phillipps, sent in the 6th of November 1578

Edward Moore,[sent]in the 2nd of August 1581

Richard Webster, sent in the 25th [or 30th] of March 1573

Edmond Sexton, sent in the 21st [or 16th] of March 1581

Peter Carey [or Varty], sent in the 15th of October 1578

Gilbert Wells, sent in the 21st of December 1583 George Brytten, sent in by the Right Honourable my

Lord of Hunsdon the 3rd of February 1583

John Knightley, sent in the 16th day of February 1583

John Gerard, sent in by Mr. Weekes the 5 th of March 1583

William Manneringe, sent in the 7th of March 1583

Thomas Moore, sent in the 28th of April 1582

Nicholas Woolfe, sent in the 7th of December 1583

" Other temporal men:

Richard Reynolds, sent in the 18th of February 1580

John Jacobb, sent in the 16th of August 1581

John Tucker [or Tinker], sent in the 23rd of August 1581 [or 82]

John Harvie, sent in the same 23rd of August 1581 [or 82]

John Harris, sent in the same 23rd of August 1581 [or 82]

Walter Taylor, sent in the 23rd of November 1581 [or 82]

John Ridge, sent in the 9th of December 1580

Robert Awden, sent in the 10th of December 1582

Peter Lawson, sent in the 1st of February 1582

Henry Sherwood, sent in the nth [or 6th] of February 1581 [^82]

Eley Jones, sent in the 7th of November 1583

Bartholomew Temple, sent in the 6th of November 1583

Richard Turner, sent in the 4th of October 1583

" Seminary priests :

Christopher Smawle, sent in the 25th of May 1582

John Tibbitt, sent in the 3rd of November 1582

Andrew Fowler, sent in the 3rd of November 1582

Samuel Conyers, sent in the 1st of February 1582

William Teddar, sent in the 10th of December 1582

William Hartlie, sent in the 22rd [or 16th] of August 1582

Richard Norris, sent in the 17th of December 1581

William Bishopp, sent in the nth of February 1581

Thomas Crowder, sent in the 22nd of March 1581

John Chapman, sent in the 1st of November 1583

William Warmington, sent in the 10th of December 1582 George Goodsalf [or Goodfuest] and Stephen Rusham, sent from the Tower the 12th of February 1583

Robert Fenn, sent in the 16th of February 1583 Thomas Aliet, sent in by warrant from the Council the 24th of February 1583

John Adams, sent in the 7th of March 1583

John Talk, sent in the 18th of December 1583 "Soma of all are 47. "Thomas Batman, sent in the 16th of February, 1583, Robert Purton, Sir Thomas Lewrey his man, sent in by the Right Honourable Sir Francis Walsingham the 28th of November, 1583, being examined answer that they are determined to go to the church."

1 "D. Joannes Gerardus Darbiensis receptus est in hospitali 5th Augusti et mansit 8 diebus." Archives of the English College, Rome, Pilgrims' Register. Stonyhurst MSS., Father Grene's Miscell. de Coll. Angl. p. 19.

2 Harl. MSS. 360, f. 8.

3 "Joannes Gerardus Anglus dioecesis Lichfeldiensis annum agens 23m., aptus ad theologiam positivam, receptus fuit in hoc Anglorum Collegium inter alumnos SSmi.D.N.Sixti V. a P. Gulielmo Holto hujus Collegii rectore de mandato Illmi. Hippolyti Cardis. Aldobrandini Viceprotectons sub die 5 0 Aprilis anno Dni. 1587, cum fuisset antea Convictor per septem menses. Anno Dni. 1587, mense accepit ordines minores, et mense Augusto subdiaconatum, et diaconatum 9 0 mense die 16." Liber Annal. Coll. Anglor. de Urbe. . . .

4 " Ego prcedictus Joannes Gerardus juro me fore semper paratum, jubente Sumxno Pontifice vel alio quovis hujus Collegii legitimo Superiore, vitam ecclesiasticam agere, sacros etiam ordines suscipere, ac prseterea in Angliam ad juvandas animas proficisci, et hoc tactis sacris Scripturis juramento confirms In eedibus Collegii Anglicani de Urbe die supradicto [5 Apr. 1587]. Ita est, Joannes Gerardus." Beneath is written, "Est ex Societate et operarius in Anglia." Lib. Annal. Coll. Anglorum de Urbe.

5 Stonyhurst MSS., Fr. N. Southwell's Catalogus pimorum Patrum, p. 32.

6 P.R.O., Domestic, Elizabeth, vol. ccxix. n. 77.

7 He suffered at Canterbury in September or October, 1588, with Robert Wilcox and Edward Campion, priests, and Robert Widmerpool, a layman, the former for being priests, the latter for giving hospitality to priests.

8 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. i. n. 32.

9 P.R.O., Domestic, Elizabeth, vol. clxix. n. 26, and vol. clxx. n. II. The entries in brackets are from the second list.