Bishop of Rama, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, England, b. 13 Jan., 1722; d. at Bath, England, 25 Nov., 1797. He was the fifth son of John Walmesley of Westwood House, Wigan, Lancashire; was educated at the English Benedictine College of St. Gregory at Douai (now Downside Abbey, Bath ); and made his profession as a Benedictine monk at the English Monastery of St. Edmund, Paris, in 1739. Later he took the degree of D.D. at the Sorbonne. His scientific attainments soon brought him into notice as an astronomer and mathematician. He was consulted by the British Government on the reform of the calendar and introduction of the "New Style", and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and the kindred societies of Paris, Berlin, and Bologna. From 1749 to 1753 he was Prior of St. Edmund's, Paris and in 1754 was sent to Rome as procurator general of the English Benedictine Congregation. Two years later he was selected by Propaganda as coadjutor, with right of succession, to Bishop York, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District; and was consecrated Bishop of Rama on 21 Dec., 1756. He administered the vicariate after the retirement of Bishop York in 1763, and succeeded that prelate on his death in 1770. His energy and ability attracted to him an amount of attention seldom given to Catholic bishops in England in the eighteenth century. So much was this the case that during the "No Popery" riots of June, 1780, a post-chaise conveying four of the rioters, and bearing the insignia of the mob, drove the whole way from London to Bath, where Walmesley then resided. These men worked upon the people of Bath so much that the newly built Catholic chapel in St. James's Parade was burned to the ground, as well as the presbytery in Bell-Tree Lane; all the registers and diocesan archives, with Walmesley's private library and manuscripts, being destroyed.
In 1789 when the action of the "Catholic Committee" threatened seriously to compromise the English Catholics, Walmesley called a synod of his colleagues, and a decree was issued that the bishops of England "unanimously condemned the new form of oath intended for the Catholics, and declared it unlawful to be taken". On 15 August, 1790, Walmesley consecrated Dr. John Carroll, the first Bishop of the United States of America, at Lulworth Castle, Dorsetshire. Walmesley was buried at St. Joseph's Chapel, Trenchard Street, Bristol. In 1906 the bodies there interred were removed, and the bishop's remains were translated to Downside Abbey and placed in a vault beneath the choir of the abbey church, so that, more than a century after his death, his body came into the charge of that community by whom he was educated nearly two hundred years ago. The suggestion was put forward that the bishops of the two hierarchies of America and England, of whom the large majority trace their spiritual descent to Bishop Walmesley, should erect a fitting monument over his grave. The proposal met with generous support, and a beautiful altar tomb with recumbent effigy in alabaster from the designs of F.A. Walters, F.S.A., has now been erected on the Gospel side of the sanctuary. Walmesley's published works consist chiefly of treatises on astronomy and mathematics, but his "General History of the Christian Church .. . chiefly deduced from the Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle, by Signor Patorini" (a pseudonym), went through nine or ten editions in Great Britain and five more were produced in America. Translations of the work also appeared in Latin, French, German, and Italian, and were several times reprinted. A number of his letters are in the archives of the Diocese of Clifton. Portraits exist at Downside, Clifton, and Lulworth.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online