Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Doctor of Theology and English Benedictine monk, b. at Thorpe-Salvin, Yorkshire, about 1605; d. at East Grinstead, Sussex, 10 August, 1674. He was the son of Hugh Cressy by Margery, daughter of Thomas d'Oylie, a London physician belonging to the old Oxford family of that name. Educated first at Wakefield Grammar school, when fourteen years old he went to Oxford (1619) where he took the degree of B.A. in 1623 and that of M.A. in 1627. He was elected a Fellow of Merton College and took orders in the Established Church. Leaving Oxford he became chaplain, first to Thomas, Lord Wentworth, and afterwards to Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, with whom he went to Ireland in 1638. During his sojourn in Ireland he was appointed Dean of Leighlin, but returned to England the following year (1639). A canonry in the collegiate church of Windsor, which he received in 1642, he was never able to enjoy, owing to the disturbed state of the country; the following year (1643) his patron, Lord Falkland, was killed at Newbury. Cressy then attached himself to Charles Berkeley, afterwards Lord Falmouth, and travelled with him through several Catholic countries of Europe ; this experience resulted in his conversion to the Catholic Faith at Rome in 1646. From Rome he went to Paris where he received further instruction from Henry Holden, a doctor of the Sorbonne. He then wrote his "Exomologesis" (Paris, 1647), a work in which he published to the world the motives which led him to change his religion.

After becoming a Catholic Cressy's first inclination was to be a Carthusian monk ; this intention was set aside and he joined the English Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict at St. Gregory's, Douai, but so poor was he at the time that Queen Henrietta Maria provided him with money for his journey; he was professed at St. Gregory's, 22 August, 1649. From 1651 to 1652 he acted as chaplain to the Benedictine nuns in Paris, returned to Douai (1653-60), and was then sent to the mission in England, residing at Somerset House as one of the chaplains to Charles the Second's queen. In the English Benedictine Congregation he held the office of definitor of the province in 1666 and was appointed the titular cathedral prior of Rochester in 1669. His last years were spent with the Caryll family at East Grinstead, Sussex, where he died in his sixty-eighth year. The moderate party in the Church of England respected him as a prudent and learned man, and when Dr. Stillingfleet charged him with credulity and want of historical judgment, his defence was taken up by Anthony Wood who commended him for "his grave and good style, proper for an ecclesiastical historian " and spoke of him as one who "doth mostly quote his author and leaves what he says to the judgment of his readers". Cressy's "Church History of Brittany or England, from the Beginning of Christianity to the Norman Conquest" (Rouen, 1668) brings the narrative down to about the middle of the fourteenth century. A second part, "From the Conquest Downwards", was discovered at Douai in 1856, but is yet in manuscript (Gillow). His other works are: Appendix to "Exomologesis" (Paris, 1647); "Arbor virtutum, a manuscript preserved at Ugbrooke, Devonshire"; "The Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection" by Walter Hilton, ed. Cressy (London, 1659); "Sancta Sophia" by Ven. Fr. Aug. Baker , ed. Cressy (Douai, 1657); "Certain Patterns of Devout Exercises" (Douai, 1657); "Roman Catholic Doctrines no Novelties" (1633); "A Non Est Inventus" (London, 1662); "A Letter to an English Gentleman concerning Bishop Morley" (London, 1662); "Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love ", from an ancient copy (1670); "Fanaticism Fanatically Imputed to the Catholic Church by Dr. Stillingfleet" (1672); "First Question: Why Are You a Catholic ?" etc. (London, 1672); "An Answer to Part of Dr. Stillingfleet's Book intitul'd Idolatry practised in the Church of Rome" (1674); "An Epistle Apologetical of S.C. to a Person of Honour" (1674); "An Abridgment of the Book called 'The Cloud of Unknowing' by Maurice Chauncey" ( manuscript ).

More Encyclopedia

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 between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

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


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:32--5:8
32 Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:10-17
10 One Sabbath day he was teaching in one of the synagogues,11 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2016 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was ... Read More