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Herefordshire, are not matters which can be fabricated or questioned. Couple to this evidence the loud outcry in the Parliament of 1610 that the laws were not enforced, and it becomes evident that the sweeping statements of the sufferings of Catholics in England are not supported by contemporary evidence, for even the Jesuit superior was forced to admit that those who took the oath of allegiance were not molested, and in addition he complained of the number that had taken it.

While it is 'thus sufficiently clear that the Government did not enforce the laws of 1606 to the letter; and that the Catholics, as a whole, did not suffer to any considerable extent, nevertheless it must be confessed that there was a great deal of individual suffering in many parts of the country. This, however, was due to the zeal or malice of professional spies and informers, and of individual local officers. The policy of the Government was such that considerable grants of authority had to be made to the local officials, with allowance of a great deal of discretion in their use. Once armed with such authority and left to use it as he saw fit, many a man turned it to improper personal purposes. Feuds and rivalries among the various members of a family, or between different families, individual selfishness, avarice, and greed were all excited and aided by the new law.? Many a Protestant related to a rich Catholic found himself considering whether he might not, under the new law, inherit the lands, if the proper conviction could be secured against his relative. In a good many cases, justices of the peace, who longed to secure a preponderance of influence in their county, would see that their great Catholic rivals escaped none of the inconveniences of the situation. Naturally, too, the great oppressed the small wherever good opportunity offered, and many a small freeholder or copyholder, with a few acres and half a dozen cattle, was convicted of recusancy and his property forfeited, where his rich and powerful neighbours heard mass in peace. Other influences tended to this same result. Where the emissaries of the Council had been ordered to secure convictions, the small must suffer when the authorities from London did not possess sufficient physical force to oppress the great whom they would have been glad to convict. There was, therefore, much suffering entailed by the

1 This is particularly true of the 2 There are some shocking cases of work of Spiller and his aids in York this sort in C. J. Cox's Derbyshire shire and the North,


penal laws of 1606, despite the leniency with which they were meant to be enforced. Some men lost everything and died outcasts; others suffered exile, as well as loss of property; still others lingered for years in the horrible jails of the period and finally crept forth with the vigour of manhood sucked out of them by fever and dysentery. The Puritans, who sat in Parliament in 1606 and 1610 and denounced the violence and cruelty of the bishops toward the deprived ministers, “whereby our souls are starved," recked little indeed of the Yorkshire and Herefordshire Catholics suffering the more real pangs of hunger and cold. While they complained that their ministers could no longer preach, they paid little heed to those poor Catholics who had lost everything but life and honour. The Pilgrims who went to Holland certainly experienced no harder fate than did the exiled Catholics. Yet the Puritan cry still rose for more severity, for harsher laws, and for the strict execution of the laws that existed. It is instructive to compare the petitions of the Puritans, and of the so-called Puritan House of Commons of 1610, with the letters of the "bloody" bishops written at the time of the deprivation of the Puritan ministers in 1605.

Significant an event as was the acceptance of the oath of allegiance in the history of the Catholics of England, it was fraught with even greater consequences for the Established Church. By accepting the government of James as lawful, and by professing temporal allegiance to it, the Catholics virtually acquiesced in the existence of Protestantism in England, and tacitly promised to refrain from further attempts to extirpate it. Although the Established Church was not so much as mentioned in the new oath, nor alluded to in the letters and proclamations concerning it, the acceptance of the oath was, in fact, a recognition by the Catholics of the legal right of the Established Church to exist.



When the news reached Rome that Blackwell had not only disregarded the letters of Cardinal Bellarmine, but had failed to promulgate the papal breve; and had, in addition, allowed the English Government to publish all his statements in favour of the oath, the Curia became convinced that some decisive step was imperative. By a breve of February 1, 1608, George Blackwell was deposed from the office of Archpriest of the Seminarists, a step expected in England for some time; and George Birkhead, one of his assistants, was appointed his successor. Like Blackwell, Birkhead was a quiet man of considerable learning and undoubted piety. Parsons and the Cardinal Protector thought, as they had when they had nominated Blackwell himself, that here was a man whom they could control. They failed, however, to count upon the situation in England, which in a little over a year converted Birkhead, as it had Blackwell, to the views of the seculars.

Shortly after Easter, the new Archpriest made his way to London and communicated the news of his appointment by letters to the different priests. He reported to Bubalis that Blackwell and Charnock were astonished beyond measure, and the rest somewhat dazed. In consonance with his orders from Rome, he next issued an admonition to the Catholics in general, in which he forbade them to take the oath, and also directed letters of similar import to his assistants. In the removal of Blackwell, who favoured the oath and opposed the Jesuits, the seculars saw only new evidence of the papal determination to further the general cause at the expense of the Catholics then in England. At first, they meditated an appeal to Rome, but more moderate counsel led them to appoint 1 Tierney, IV, clvii.

+ From an original Latin narrative 2 Tierney, IV, clix, April 13, 1608. of the event by Edward Bennet,

3 Tierney, IV, clxiv, Birkhead to printed by Tierney, V, 13, note, of the Superior of the Jesuits, June 24, which these sentences following are 1610, describing his actions at this almost a translation. time.

a deputation to wait upon Birkland himself. Toward the end of April, then, the new Archpriest found himself confronted with three demands, presented with the practically unanimous consent of his clergy, asking him, first, to obey the clause of the papal breve of 1602 which forbade him to consult with the Jesuits; secondly, to choose his assistants from the secular leaders; and lastly, to govern them, as a pastor and father, without striving to erect another organisation on the ruins of their independence.

He solemnly promised to do in all three respects as they would have him, and in return received their submissions and assurances of obedience. But he soon laid the seeds of discord by opening a correspondence with Parsons at Rome, which, though innocent enough and well intentioned, was instantly misinterpreted by his followers. He also ordered the priests in the Clink prison, who had valiantly upheld the oath of allegiance, to conform at once to the papal breve or suffer the loss of their faculties and privileges; and, one year later, May 16, 1609, he declared them deprived.?

As a result, the seculars paid no more attention to his orders than they had to the Pope's breve, and became at once suspicious of everything he did. Without more ado, they forwarded to Rome, in the summer of 1608, three forms of an oath of allegiance, to one of which they hoped to secure the papal approval; and to all of which Bancroft had no doubt already assented. A memorial with a form of oath, which the subscribers offered to take, was presented to the English Privy Council, and was signed by Birkhead, his assistants, the provincials of the Benedictines, Franciscans, and Jesuits, but nothing further was heard of it.* In due time, came from Rome the usual reply that the Holy Father “disliketh them all or any other (oath) whatever that directly or indirectly may concern the authority of the See Apostolic."'5 This

1 Much of it has been printed by 4 Tierney, V, xl. Tierney, V.

5 Tierney, V, xlii. September 4, 2 Tierney, IV, clx, May 2, Birk 1608. The sentiment at Rome was head to the priests in the Clink; well expressed by Bellarmine, De clxi, May 16, 1609. Birkhead to Dr. Roma Pont. lib. V, ci. “Most cerSmith at Rome.

tain it is that in whatsoever words 3 Tierney, V, xliii. Tierney has the Oath is conceived by the adveralso printed, (IV, cxc, and cxci,) saries of the Faith in that Kingdom, two forms of an oath which provably, it tends to this end, that the authorthough not certainly, date from this ity of the Head of the Church in time. They cannot be positively iden England may be transferred from the tified with these forms sent to Rome successor of St. Peter to the succesand mentioned here. They sor of King Henry VIII.'' printed infra. Appendix.


was conclusive enough, and provoked something very nearly akin to despair among those who still clung to the papal pretensions. “This scandalizeth all sorts of Catholics exceedingly," wrote Mush concerning these events, “that he should so little regard our afflictions; for they looked rather his holiness should have sent them a lawful oath of allegiance . . . than to forbid a lawful thing, we being in so great extremity and our means of sending to Rome so little and so difficult, or rather impossible, till all be undone. The axe is over our heads, to fall if we refuse; and we must send to Rome !—Oh! how great care whether we perish or be safe!” “The minds of all Catholics are perplexed,” noted the Venetian Ambassador, "and they earnestly desire that the Pontiff should be truly informed of the terrible consequences which the prohibition of the oath must entail, there being no doubt that the real way to support the Catholic faith in this Kingdom is to proceed in such a manner that Catholics shall not fall under suspicion of those machinations against which the oath is directed.” 2

The appointment of Blackwell in 1598 had alienated the seculars from the Jesuits; the Gunpowder Treason had sent nearly all the waverers into the secular camp; and filled them all with apprehension of evil to come, and with suspicion of the Society. The removal of Blackwell, the continued refusal of the Pope to countenance the oath of allegiance in any form, was producing among the secular priests and laity at large a conviction that the Curia did not care how much they suffered; and engendered, too, a sentiment which openly showed itself in scorn of the Archpriest's orders and began to look suspiciously like a rejection of papal authority. Instead of being satisfied with one refusal, they interpreted it to mean, as Mush said, that another appeal was necessary. They felt sure that the Pope would not refuse to relieve them if only the condition of affairs could be brought to his personal attention. The head and front of offending, the great stumbling block in the path of peace, was the attitude of the Jesuits; the second difficulty lay in the lack of English Catholic bishops. “The greatest cause of the aberation,” declared Colleton to Birkhead,

was (as I thought) the authoritie which some of the fathers practise over the priestes in choosing our superiors and agents and

1 Tierney, IV, clxxix.
2 Venetian Calendar, XI, no. 237, April, 1608.

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