Thomas Weld (cardinal)

Last updated

Thomas Weld
Cardinal-priest of San Marcello al Corso
Cardinal Thomas Weld (1773-1837), by Andrew Geddes.jpg
Cardinal Thomas Weld
Ordination3 April 1821
by  Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen
Consecration6 August 1826
by  William Poynter
Created cardinal15 March 1830
Rank Cardinal-priest
Personal details
Born22 January 1773
Died10 April 1837 (aged 64)
Buried Santa Maria in Aquiro, Rome
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Thomas and Mary Weld
SpouseLucy Bridget Clifford
ChildrenMary Lucy Weld
Previous post(s) Coadjutor Bishop of Kingston and Titular Bishop of Amyclae

Thomas Weld (22 January 1773 – 10 April 1837) was an English landowner who renounced his assets to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. He was consecrated Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.



Weld was born in London on 22 January 1773, the eldest son of the fifteen children of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorset, by his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Sir John Stanley Massey Stanley of Hooton, who belonged to the elder and Catholic branch of the Stanley family, now extinct. He was educated at home under Jesuit Charles Plowden.

His father, Thomas Weld, a former pupil of the Jesuit school in Bruges, had in 1794 donated 30 acres of land with buildings, to the Society of Jesus to establish Stonyhurst College. He distinguished himself in relieving the misfortunes of the refugees of the French Revolution, and supported the English Poor Clares who had fled from Gravelines, and the Visitandines; and he founded and maintained a Trappist monastery at Lulworth. [1]

Portrait miniature of Thomas Weld and his daughter Mary Lucy, painted in Paris in 1819 by Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin Thomas Weld, later Cardinal Weld and and his daughter Mary Lucy, later Lady Clifford of Chudleigh.jpg
Portrait miniature of Thomas Weld and his daughter Mary Lucy, painted in Paris in 1819 by Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin

His uncle, Edward Weld (c.1740–1775), married Maria Smythe in July 1775, but he died just three months later after a fall from his horse. His widow later married Thomas Fitzherbert in 1778, but he died in 1781. The widowed Mrs Fitzherbert was introduced to George, Prince of Wales (later King George IV) in spring 1784, and they went through a form of marriage on 15 December 1785. The marriage was considered invalid under the Royal Marriages Act 1772 because it had not been approved by King George III and the Privy Council. [2] Later when Weld was installed as a cardinal in Rome, he persuaded Pope Pius VII to declare his aunt's marriage to George sacramentally valid. [3]

On 14 June 1796 Weld married, at Ugbrooke, Lucy Bridget, second daughter of Thomas Clifford of Tixall, fourth son of Hugh, third Lord Clifford. Their only child was Mary Lucy, born at Upwey, near Weymouth, on 31 January 1799. His wife died in Clifton on 1 June 1815. His daughter married her second cousin, Hugh Charles Clifford (afterwards seventh Baron Clifford), on 1 September 1818. They had two daughters and six sons, among them, Charles Hugh Clifford, 8th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, 1819 – 1880, William Clifford, later Bishop of Clifton from 1857 to 1893 and Sir Henry Hugh Clifford, 1826 – 1883, who was awarded the Victoria Cross. In 1857, Henry married Josephine Anstice (died 1913). The couple had three sons and five daughters.

Meteoric church career

Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi Rome, from an etching Palazzo Chigi Odescalchi Roma.jpg
Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi Rome, from an etching

Widowed and with no further family responsibilities, Weld found himself at liberty to follow a religious vocation and become a priest. [1] He renounced the Lulworth and other estates in favour of his next brother, Joseph Weld. He placed himself under the religious guidance of his old friend, the celebrated Abbé Carron. Another friend, the Archbishop of Paris, Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen ordained him priest in Paris on 7 April 1821. Weld had meanwhile sponsored an orphanage in London.

On 20 June 1822 he began to assist the priest in charge of the Chelsea mission, and after some time he was moved to Hammersmith. The Holy See nominated him coadjutor to Alexander Macdonell (1762–1840), the Bishop of Kingston, Ontario. On 6 August 1826 Weld was raised to the titular see of Amyclae a town in the Peloponnese, in a ceremony performed at St Edmund's College, Ware, by Bishop William Poynter.

Family circumstances delayed his departure for Canada. As his daughter, Mary, was in failing health, he decided to accompany her and her husband to Italy. Shortly after their arrival in Rome, on 19 January 1830, Cardinal Albani announced to Weld that Pope Pius VIII had decided to elevate him to the College of Cardinals. The ceremony happened on 15 March 1830, with Weld becoming attached to the church of San Marcello al Corso in Rome. [4]

His daughter died in Palo on 15 May 1831, and was buried on 18 May in her father's Roman church. His elevation to the Sacred College prompted assurances from people of high influence in England that his nomination had excited no jealousy, and was met with general satisfaction. He took up residence in an apartment in the immense Odescalchi Palace in Rome. In his opulent premises he periodically received visits from the aristocracy of Rome, native and foreign, and from large numbers of his fellow-countrymen. [5]

Cardinal Weld died on 10 April 1837. [6] His remains were deposited in the church of Santa Maria in Aquiro. The funeral oration, delivered by Nicholas (afterwards Cardinal) Wiseman, was later published. [7]

Meanwhile, his brother, Joseph Weld (1777–1863), had received the Pylewell Park estate on the Solent as a wedding gift from his parents on his marriage in 1802 to Charlotte Mary Stourton, daughter of Mary Langdale and Charles Stourton, 17th Baron Stourton. [8] Having succeeded to the Lulworth estate, Joseph and his family moved to Lulworth. There he hosted the exiled Royal family of France at Lulworth in August 1830, the king and his suite remaining there for some days, until their move to Holyrood House. Joseph, a keen yachtsman, was also founder of the Isle of Wight-based Royal Yacht Squadron. [9] He owned several yachts, the "Alarm", "Arrow" and "Lulworth", which he navigated himself until very late in life. He took a personal interest in the construction and sailing of his vessels.

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 Pollen, John Hungerford. "Weld." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 18 January 2019
  2. Martin J. Levy, "Maria Fitzherbert," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004 Oxford University Press
  3. Richard Abbot, "Brighton's unofficial queen," THE TABLET, 1 September 2007, 12.
  4. DNB
  5. Wiseman, Recollections of the Four Last Popes, 2nd edn., p. 246
  6. Bernard Ward, The Sequel to Catholic Emancipation, Longmans, Green and Co. (London, 1915) vol.1, p.126
  7. London, 1837, 8vo
  8. James, Jude (17 May 2019). "Reflections: Pylewell Park – uncovering the story of a local landmark". Advertiser and Times. Christchurch.
  9. Duke, Gerald (2003). "Joseph Weld – to the America's Cup 2003". Retrieved 19 September 2009.


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Weld, Thomas (1773-1837)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Related Research Articles

Recusancy Religious nonconformism in Britain, 16th-19th century

Recusancy, from the Latin recusare, was the state of those who remained loyal to the Catholic Church and refused to attend Church of England services after the English Reformation.

Maria Fitzherbert

Maria Anne Fitzherbert was a longtime companion of George, Prince of Wales. In 1785, they secretly contracted a marriage that was invalid under English civil law because his father, King George III, had not consented to it. Fitzherbert was a Roman Catholic and the law at the time forbade Catholics or spouses of Catholics from becoming monarch, so had the marriage been approved and valid, the Prince of Wales would have lost his place in the line of succession. Before marrying George, Fitzherbert had been twice widowed. Her nephew from her first marriage, Cardinal Weld, persuaded Pope Pius VII to declare the marriage sacramentally valid.

Baron Clifford of Chudleigh Title in the English peerage

Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, of Chudleigh in the County of Devon, is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1672 for Thomas Clifford. The title was created as "Clifford of Chudleigh" rather than simply "Clifford" to differentiate it from several other Clifford Baronies previously created for members of this ancient family, including the Barony of de Clifford (1299), which is extant but now held by a branch line of the Russell family, having inherited through several female lines.

Baron Stafford English baronial title

Baron Stafford, referring to the town of Stafford, is a title that has been created several times in the Peerage of England. In the 14th century, the barons of the first creation were made earls. Those of the fifth creation, in the 17th century, became first viscounts and then earls. Since 1913, the title has been held by the Fitzherbert family.

Henry Hugh Clifford

Major General Sir Henry Hugh Clifford was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Hugh Charles Clifford, 7th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh was a British peer. He inherited the title from his father on 29 April 1831.

Lulworth Castle

Lulworth Castle, in East Lulworth, Dorset, England, situated south of the village of Wool, is an early 17th-century hunting lodge erected in the style of a revival fortified castle, one of only five extant Elizabethan or Jacobean buildings of this type. It is listed with Historic England as a Scheduled monument. It is also Grade I listed. The 18th-century Adam style interior of the stone building was devastated by fire in 1929, but has now been restored and serves as a museum. The castle stands in Lulworth Park on the Lulworth Estate. The park and gardens surrounding the castle are Grade II listed with Historic England.


Ugbrooke House is a stately home in the parish of Chudleigh, Devon, England, situated in a valley between Exeter and Newton Abbot. The home of the Clifford family, the house and grounds are available for guided tours in summer and as an event venue.

The Weld family may refer to an ancient English family, to their possible relations in New England, an extended family of "Boston Brahmins", or to their Irish or Antipodean relations. An early record of a Weld holding public office, is of the High Sheriff of London in 1352, William. In the 16th and 17th centuries people called Weld and living in Cheshire began to travel and to settle in the environs of London, in Shropshire, in Suffolk and thence in the American Colonies, and in Dorset. While the Welds of England had adopted Protestantism, the exception were all three sons of Sir John Weld of Edmonton who married into elite recusant families thus reverting, with their descendants, to Roman Catholicism. The noted Catholic Weld lineage unbroken till the new Millenium is that of Lulworth Castle in Dorset.

Charles Stourton, 17th Baron Stourton

Charles Philip Stourton, 17th Baron Stourton (1752–1816) was the son of William Stourton and Winifred Howard, a great granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Norfolk and a leading Roman Catholic.

William Stourton, 18th Baron Stourton

William Stourton, 18th Baron Stourton (1776–1846) was a Roman Catholic English peer. He is chiefly remembered for the private memoirs of his relative Maria Fitzherbert, the secret wife of King George IV, which she dictated to him, and which formed the basis for her first biography, published by his brother Charles Langdale in 1856.

Nicholas Fitzherbert was an English recusant gentleman who served as secretary to Cardinal William Allen and was found guilty of treason due to his Catholicism. He was the second son of John Fitzherbert of Padley, Derbyshire. Fitzherbert was the grandson of the judge Sir Anthony Fitzherbert (1470–1538), and first cousin to the Jesuit Thomas Fitzherbert. Whilst he was abroad, two priests were arrested at his father's house; they are now saints after becoming martyrs to their faith. Fitzherbert's lands were forfeit, and he was obliged to spend his life abroad. He was buried in Florence.

The Weld family are a cadet branch, arisen in 1843, of the English Welds of Lulworth. It is an old gentry family which claims descent from Eadric the Wild and is related to other Weld branches in several parts of the United Kingdom, notably from Willey, Shropshire and others in the Antipodes and America. A notable early Weld was William de Welde, High Sheriff of London in 1352, whose progeny moved in and out of obscurity.

Charles Langdale

Charles Langdale ; 19 September 1787 – 1 December 1868) was a British politician, Roman Catholic layman, and biographer. He served as Whig Member of Parliament, wrote the memoirs of Maria Fitzherbert, and was a leading Roman Catholic figure during the 19th century.

William Clifford (bishop)

William Hugh Joseph Clifford was an English prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Clifton from 1857 to 1893.

Weld is a surname.

Thomas Weld (of Lulworth) English Catholic gentleman of the Enlightenment

Thomas Bartholomew Weld (1750–1810), known as Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, was a member of the English Catholic gentry, landowner, philanthropist and bibliophile. He was connected to many of the leading Catholic families of the land, such as the Bodenhams, Cliffords, Erringtons, Petres and Stourtons. He proved to be a great benefactor of the Society of Jesus in England in their educational and pastoral endeavours, as timely donor of his Stonyhurst estate in 1794. He was also a benefactor to other Roman Catholic religious and clergy. He was a personal friend of King George III. His sister-in-law was Maria Fitzherbert. After the French Revolution he hosted refugee remnants of the French royal family at his castle. He was the builder, in 1786, of the first Roman Catholic place of worship in England after the Protestant reformation.

Edward Weld English recusant landowner

Edward Weld (1740–1775) was a British recusant landowner.

Edward Weld was a wealthy English gentleman landowner and member of an old recusant family. He was responsible for initiating the internal Adam style decor and 18th century furnishing of a rare example of an early 17th century mock Jacobean castellated hunting lodge and extensive grounds he had inherited from his father. Weld also came to prominence due to his exposure in two separate legal cases which could have terminated his good standing by challenging his manhood in an ecclesiastical impotency trial and in the latter case, risked his liberty, if not his life, on account of an alleged involvement in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Both cases against him were dismissed.

Humphrey Weld, DL, JP was an English lawyer, member of the Royal household, public official, landowner and property administrator who was elected to the House of Commons for Christchurch in Hampshire in 1661. Weld was a crypto-recusant who kept his religious allegiance secret in order to stay in public office during a turbulent political period in English history. He was appointed Cup-bearer to the Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria 1639-44 and later as Gentleman of the Privy Chamber 1668-85 under her son, Charles II. He served as a magistrate and in numerous other public roles in London, Middlesex, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and in Dorset, where he was governor of Portland Castle. In 1641 he bought the Lulworth Estate in Dorset where he started the "Lulworth" line of the (recusant) Weld family which has continued for over 350 years.