Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Born at Wolverhampton, England, 1642; died at Hammersmith, Middlesex, 12 March, 1734; second son of Andrew Giffard, of Chillington, Staffordshire. His father, who married Catherine, daughter of Sir Walter Leveson, was slain in a skirmish near his own home, during the Civil War. Owing to the religious persecutions, Bonaventure was sent, with his younger brother Andrew, to Douai to be educated. From Douai, in October, 1667, he went to Paris to pursue his theological studies, and was ordained for the secular mission. Some years later, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity at the Sorbonne. Having attracted the attention of King James II by his piety and learning, he was appointed preacher to the court. Religion had been in sore straits in England for the previous fifty years. Dr. Smith had been appointed vicar Apostolic of the whole country in 1625, but such was the persecution that he was forced to withdraw to France in 1631, where he remained till his death (1655). For nearly thirty years more his place in England remained unfilled; finally, in 1685, Dr. Leyburn was appointed to succeed him. Pope Innocent XI now entered into negotiations with James II; and, as a result, four vicariates were formed, Dr. Giffard being put in charge of the Midlands. He was consecrated bishop, at Whitehall, by the nuncio, on 22 April, 1688. In religious matters James II displayed too little prudence, and by his high-handed actions gave great offence to the Protestants. Not only did he compel the authorities of Magdalen College, Oxford, to accept Bishop Parker as their president; but, on Parker's death (1688), he had twelve Catholic fellows appointed, and made Dr. Giffard president, despite the fact that the college electors had selected a Protestant, John Hough. The king's nominee took up his residence there on 15 June, 1688. A storm of opposition arose, and he wad ejected about five months later. The Revolution followed, and the bishop was seized and imprisoned at Newgate, where he remained nearly two years. He was released on bail, in 1690, and for more than twenty-four years led a perilous life, being frequently compelled to hide from the pursuivants. When Dr. Leyburn died, in 1703, Bishop Giffard was charged to look after his district, and from 1708 to 1713 he had to govern the Western vicariate as well. In this he was aided by his brother Andrew, his vicar-general, till the latter died, 14 Sept., 1714. Henry Howard was nominated as coadjutor to Dr. Giffard in 1720; but, as he died before his consecration, Benjamin Petre was appointed. The old bishop passed away fourteen years later, in 1734, at the age of ninety-two. He was buried beside his brother Andrew, in the churchyard of St. Pancras. A few of his sermons have been preserved, and many of his interesting letters were printed in the "Catholic Miscellany", in 1826 and 1827.

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 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More