Thursday, November 25, 2010

Authur Pitts of Iffley, priest and confessor

Here's an interesting historical titbit from CFNews, on a local Oxfordshire man, a singer, scholar, and priest during penal times.

ARTHUR PITTS, 1557-1634?, Catholic priest, was born at Iffley, Oxfordshire, the younger son of Arthur Pitts, sometime fellow of All Souls', Oxford, who died a man of some wealth on 10 May 1578. Young Arthur became a chorister of All Souls', and was afterwards for a time at Brasenose College, Oxford. He did not graduate, but with two brothers left for Douai, apparently in 1575, and joined an elder brother, Robert, who was already settled there in deacon's orders. Although his father had left him and his brothers considerable property at Staunton, Woodfrey, Iffley, and Stafford, he was described in the Douay matriculation register as 'pauper.' From Douai he was sent in 1577 to the English seminary at Rome. He was back at Douai in 1579, when he was described as twenty-two years old and student of theology in minor orders, and as having 'declared himself ready to proceed to England for the help of souls, and confirmed this by oath.' He set out for England on 22 April 1581, in company with Standishe, the two forming part of a detachment of forty-seven priests sent from Douai during the year. On 6 Feb. 1582 he was seized, with George Haydock and another priest, while dining together at an inn in London. The three were committed to the Tower. In October Cardinal Allen wrote that Pitts was expecting torture and death. In January 1584-5 he and twenty other priests were banished from England. They were shipped from Tower Wharf, and landed on the coast of Normandy in February, after signing a certificate to the effect that they had been well treated on the voyage. Pitts then resumed his studies at Rheims, and came out doctor in both faculties of law and divinity. He then 'came into Lorraine,' and was received into the house of the Cardinal of Vaudemont, 'with whom all his life he was in great favour and credit.' When, in 1623, the Pope re-established the Catholic hierarchy in England, and William Bishop was nominated vicar-apostolic and bishop of Chalcedon, Pitts was appointed one of the first canons of the English chapter, and he became titular archdeacon of London, Westminster, and the suburbs. In later life he resided with the Stonors of Blount's Court in Oxfordshire, and, dying there about 1634, was buried in the church of Rotherfield Peppard.

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  1. Joseph Yarbrough10:40 pm

    And is this church of Rotherfield Peppard still around?

  2. Joseph Shaw8:40 am

    There's an Anglican church there, All Saints; Rotherfield Peppard is
    near Henley on Thames (not far from Stoner). I assume that this is
    what they mean. It was common for Catholics to be buried in Anglican
    cemetries at that time - there wasn't much alternative!

  3. Thank you - Arthur Pitts was my ancestor (only found this out today), so very happy to find information about him like this. :)

  4. That's great! He was clearly a man of significance in his time.