Thomas Plowden

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1660 title page. Plowden translation 1660.jpg
1660 title page.

Father Thomas Plowden, SJ (1594 13 February 1664) was an English Jesuit to whom has been traditionally attributed an important translation under the name Thomas Salusbury.

Society of Jesus male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.



Thomas Plowden was born in Oxfordshire, the third son of Francis Plowden of Shiplake Court (Oxfordshire) and Wokefield Park (Berkshire), and the younger brother of Edmund Plowden (colonial governor). His grandfather, Edmund Plowden, despite openly refusing to abandon his faith, faithfully served Queen Elizabeth I.

Oxfordshire County of England

Oxfordshire is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west.

Shiplake Court was a historic manor house near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England. In the sixteenth century, it was the residence of Edmund Plowden. In 1897, it had its own electricity generating plant, managed by Stuart Turner. The independent school, Shiplake College, is now on the manor house's grounds.

Wokefield Park

Wokefield Park is an 18th-century country house, situated in the parish of Wokefield, near Mortimer, in the English county of Berkshire. It is currently run as an events venue.

"In 1617 Thomas Plowden of Shiplake became a Jesuit. He was a grandson of the Elizabethan lawyer Edmund Plowden." [1]

Father Plowden was sent on the English Mission about 1622. He was seized, with other priests, by pursuivants in 1628 at Clerkenwell, the London residence of the Jesuits, where h filled various offices of the order, despite the perils of the Mission in London until his death there. [ citation needed ]


A pursuivant or, more correctly, pursuivant of arms, is a junior officer of arms. Most pursuivants are attached to official heraldic authorities, such as the College of Arms in London or the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. In the mediaeval era, many great nobles employed their own officers of arms. Today, there still exist some private pursuivants that are not employed by a government authority. In Scotland, for example, several pursuivants of arms have been appointed by Clan Chiefs. These pursuivants of arms look after matters of heraldic and genealogical importance for clan members.

Clerkenwell area of inner north London in the London Borough of Islington

Clerkenwell is an area of central London, England. The area includes the sub-district of Finsbury.


As was the case with his contemporary Fr Nathaniel Bacon (SJ), English Jesuits, given their illegal status as recusants, often published under assumed names. Father Plowden presented his translations under the name of the distinguished Welsh Salusbury family. [2] Shakespeare's The Phoenix and the Turtle (1601) is dedicated to John Salusbury, also the name of a Welsh Jesuit priest during the Jacobean era. [ citation needed ]

Nathaniel Bacon (1598–1676), better known under the assumed name of Southwell,, taken in honor of the Jesuit poet-martyr, Robert Southwell (Jesuit), was an English Jesuit who served in Rome from 1647 until his death as "Secretarius" of the Society of Jesus under four Jesuit generals. He produced an encyclopedic bibliography in folio, Bibliotheca Scriptorum Societatis Jesu, much admired for its thoroughness and latinity, although the listings follow the traditional categorization according to authors' Christian names. This was a continuation of the bibliographies of Pedro de Ribadeneira and Philippe Alegambe.

Recusancy refusal to attend mandated Anglican services in the period following the English Reformation

Recusancy, from the Latin recusare, was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services during the history of England, Wales and Ireland. The term was first used to refer to people, known as recusants, who remained loyal to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church and did not attend Church of England services.

The Salusbury family is an Anglo-Welsh family notable for their social prominence, wealth, literary contributions and philanthropy.

During the Civil War Sir Thomas Salusbury, 2nd Baronet was MP from Denbigh. Under such a name, as resonant as his own among the Catholic gentry, Fr. Plowden translated from the Italian of Daniello Bartoli The Learned Man Defended and Reformed (London, 1660). With letters of dedication to George Monk and William Prynne, Plowden offers a Jesuit literary contribution to the Restoration by making Bartoli's "happy pen" speak English too. The celebrated L'huomo di lettere originally appeared in Rome (1645). It had become a Baroque bestseller through dozens of editions in Italian and translations by the time Fr. Plowden presented it under the name of Salusbury at the press of the mathematician and surveyor William Leybourn and sold by the well known bookseller and publisher Thomas Dring "near St. Dunstan's Church" on Fleet Street in 1660.

English Civil War Civil war in England (1642–1651)

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") principally over the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

Sir Thomas Salusbury, 2nd Baronet was a Welsh poet, politician and soldier, who supported King Charles I in English Civil War and was a colonel of a Royalist regiment.

Denbigh Town in Denbighshire, Wales

Denbigh is a market town and community in Denbighshire, Wales, of which it was formerly the county town. The town's Welsh name translates as "Little Fortress", a reference to its historic castle. Denbigh lies near the Clwydian Hills.

If the attribution of this translation to Plowden is correct, then the appearance of the following work in the next year and with the same printer bears close examination. Most now attribute it to the real "Thomas Salusbury, Esq.", younger brother of Sir John Salusbury, 3rd Baronet. This is the Mathematical Collections with translations of Galileo, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632) and works of Kepler, Castelli, Tartaglia and other European authors significant for the scientific culture of the Restoration whose diffusion it was Leybourn's purpose to promote. It is dedicated to Sir John Denham, a poet and the predecessor of Sir Christopher Wren as Surveyor of the King's Works and a member of the newly founded Royal Society. The introduction promises to follow up with a life of Galileo, recently identified, also the work of the same Thomas Salusbury. [3]


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  1. The Jacobean Period Archived 2011-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Thomas Salusbury had been executed in 1586 in the Babington Plot
  3. Price, Mike (2008), "Galileo, Reconsidered", Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian