Thomas Worthington (Douai)

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Thomas Worthington, D.D. (1549 at Blainscough Hall, near Wigan, Lancashire – 1627 at Biddulph Hall, Staffordshire) was an English Catholic priest and third President of Douai College.

Wigan Town in Greater Manchester, England

Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England, on the River Douglas, 10 miles (16 km) south-west of Bolton, 12 miles (19 km) north of Warrington and 17 miles (27.4 km) west-northwest of Manchester. Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre. The town has a population of 103,608, whilst the wider borough has a population of 318,100.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

Staffordshire County of England

Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

Contents

Life

A member of an ancient and wealthy family, he studied at Brasenose College, Oxford (1566–70), where he graduated in arts (17 October 1570). In February 1573, he went to Douai College to study theology.

Brasenose College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

Brasenose College (BNC), officially The Principal and Scholars of the King’s Hall and College of Brasenose in Oxford, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1509, with the library and chapel added in the mid-17th century and the new quadrangle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He visited England (November 1575), to induce his father, who was an occasional conformist, to remove into foreign parts. After his ordination (6 April 1577), he remained teaching the Roman catechism at Douai till September, 1578, and proceeded B. D. at the University of Douai (January 1579).

After ten months in England, he returned to Reims, accompanied William Allen to Rome, and set out again for England, January 1580. He laboured assiduously and successfully, being especially remembered for his zeal in instructing the ignorant poor.

Reims Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Reims is the most populous city in the Marne department, in the Grand Est region of France. Its population in 2013 was of 182,592 in the city proper (commune) and 317,611 in the metropolitan area. The city lies 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. Its primary river, the Vesle, is a tributary of the Aisne.

William Allen (cardinal) English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church

William Allen was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was an ordained priest, but was never a bishop. His main role was setting up colleges to train English missionary priests with the mission of returning secretly to England to keep Roman Catholicism alive there. Allen assisted in the planning of the Spanish Armada's attempted invasion of England in 1588. It failed badly, but if it had succeeded he would probably have been made Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor. The Douai-Rheims Bible, a complete translation into English from the Latin, was printed under Allen's orders. His activities were part of the Counter Reformation, but they led to an intense response in England and in Ireland. He advised and recommended Pope Pius V to pronounce Elizabeth I deposed. After the Pope declared her excommunicated and deposed, Elizabeth intensified the persecution of her Roman Catholic religious opponents. William Cecil said to Elizabeth "The Papist humors by your Queen Majesty's lenity grow too rank" but Elizabeth refused to persecute Catholics in the way Mary I had persecuted Protestants, saying she would not "Open windows into men's souls".

In February 1584, when his four nephews, whom he was conveying to Reims, were seized at Great Sankey near Warrington, he managed to escape detection, and to elude the vigilance of his enemies until July, when he was betrayed by a young man whom he had befriended, and seized at his lodgings in Islington. The Lord Treasurer committed him to the Tower of London, where he was confined in the "pit" for over two months. In January 1585, with twenty other priests, he was put aboard ship by the queen's warrant of perpetual banishment, and conveyed to Normandy.

Great Sankey village in the United Kingdom

Great Sankey is a civil parish and suburb of Warrington, Cheshire, England. It is 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Warrington town centre and has a population of 24,211.

Warrington Place in England

Warrington is a large town and unitary authority area in Cheshire, England, on the banks of the River Mersey. It is 20 miles (32 km) east of Liverpool, and 20 miles (32 km) west of Manchester. The population in 2017 was estimated at 209,700, more than double that of 1968 when it became a New Town. Warrington is the largest town in the county of Cheshire.

Islington Area of London

Islington is a district in Greater London, England, and part of the London Borough of Islington. It is a mainly residential district of Inner London, extending from Islington's High Street to Highbury Fields, encompassing the area around the busy High Street, Upper Street, Essex Road, and Southgate Road to the east.

For the next two years he expounded Holy Scripture at Reims. Sir William Stanley turned traitor in January 1587, and with his Irish regiment entered the Spanish service; on 27 April Worthington became their chaplain at Deventer. He was recalled to Reims on 27 January 1589, to undertake the offices of vice-president and procurator, but resumed his post as chaplain to the regiment at Brussels in July, 1591. He was honoured with the doctorate of divinity in 1588 in the Jesuit college at the University of Trier.

Sir William Stanley, son of Sir Rowland Stanley of Hooton, was a member of the Stanley family, Earls of Derby. He was an officer and a recusant, who served under Elizabeth I of England and is most noted for his surrender of Deventer to the Spanish in 1587.

Deventer City and municipality in Overijssel, Netherlands

Deventer is a city and municipality in the Salland region of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands. In 2017, Deventer had a population of 99,577. The city is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen was merged with Deventer as part of a national effort to reduce bureaucracy in the country.

University of Trier university

The University of Trier, in the German city of Trier, was founded in 1473. Closed in 1798 by order of the then French administration in Trier, the university was re-established in 1970 after a hiatus of some 172 years. The new university campus is located on top of the Tarforst heights, an urban district on the outskirts of the city. The university has six faculties with around 470 faculty members. In 2006 around 14,000 students were matriculated, with 43.5% of the student body male and 56.5% female; the percentage of foreign students was approximately 15.5%.

On the death of Dr. Richard Barret (30 May 1599) Worthington was appointed President of Douai College (28 June), by the cardinal protector, chiefly through the influence of Robert Persons, the nominee of the secular clergy being rejected. The task to which he was set was a difficult one, and he appears to have lacked strength of character to cope with it. Since the return of the college from Reims in 1593 its embarrassments had continually increased, and this condition reacted upon the discipline. Worthington himself had in 1596 addressed a memorial to the cardinal protector on the state of the Roman College, in which he calls attention to the decline of Douai, which he ascribes to the innovations of Dr. Barrett.

His presidency accordingly began with a pontifical visitation of the college, as a result of which new constitutions were drawn up in Rome. It was enacted that not more than sixty persons be supported on the foundation, that no student be admitted unless fitted to begin rhetoric, and that all students be required to take oath to receive sacred orders in due season. The protector also agreed to Worthington's proposal that a Jesuit be appointed ordinary confessor to the students. This was greatly resented by secular clergy.

Worthington had made a vow to follow Cardinal Allen's guidance, and, after Allen's death, he subjected himself to Father Persons by a like vow (29 December 1596). The clergy saw the influence of the Jesuits in every action of the president, and feared a design to hand over the college to the Society of Jesus.

Confidence was further shaken by Worthington's dismissal of the existing professors, and their replacement by young men who explained their author instead of lecturing. Moreover, priests were hurried to the Mission without adequate preparation or training. The climax was reached after the death of Father Persons (April 1610) when Worthington became reconciled to the archpriest, to whom he offered his resignation.

This was declined, but a conference between three representatives of each met at Douai (May 1612). It petitioned the protector to appoint two of its members to assist the president in reforming the college, but this was met by the protector's "nihil innovandum". This change of policy brought upon Worthington the hostility of the vice-president, Dr. Knatchbull (al. Norton), and of Dr. Singleton, the prefect of studies, and they sent reports derogatory to his conduct and administration to Rome.

There followed another pontifical visitation (October and November 1612), which discovered a truly deplorable condition of affairs. Disunion among the superiors, studies disorganized, discipline relaxed, the buildings out of repair, the appointments deficient, and the finances crippled by a heavy debt. Complaints were raised by the students about the inefficiency of their professors, the influence of the Jesuit confessor, and the interference of the Society in the government of the college.

As a result, Worthington was summoned to Rome (May, 1613) by the cardinal protector, and Matthew Kellison, for whose assistance in reforming the college he had petitioned, was appointed to succeed him (11 November). Worthington was granted an annual pension of 200 crowns, and appointed an Apostolic notary with a place on the Congregation of the Index. While in Rome he became a member of the Oratory. In 1616 he returned to the English Mission and worked in London and in Staffordshire. He was made titular Archdeacon of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Six months before his death he obtained admission into the Society of Jesus, with permission to make his noviceship upon the mission.

Works

Worthington was the author of:

Family

Worthington's four nephews, who were captured at Great Sankey, 12 February 1584, were Thomas aged 16, Robert aged 15, Richard aged 13, and John aged 11. Their conflict is recorded in Bridgewater's "Concertatio" (1594), translated in Foley's Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, Vol. II (1875).

Blandishment, promises, threats, stripes, brutality, and cunning were in turn applied in order to obtain information from them of the whereabouts of their uncle, and the names and practices of their Catholic friends, and to induce them to be present at the heretical worship. After some months all effected their escape.

Thomas was retaken with his uncle at Islington, and remained a prisoner in the Gatehouse for upwards of two and a half years. He afterwards went abroad, married a niece of Cardinal Allen, and died at Louvain in 1619. Robert reached Reims, 22 September 1584, and was joined there by Richard and John on 13 October What they had undergone resulted in the death of Robert, 18 February 1586, and of Richard, 8 June 1586. John became a Jesuit, was the first missioner of the Society who settled in Lancashire, and the founder of the extensive Lancashire district; he died on 25 January 1652.

See also

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