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Frederick Charles Husenbeth

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Born at Bristol, 30 May, 1796; died at Cossey, Norfolk, 31 October, 1872. The son of a Bristol wine-merchant and of a lady of Cornish family, a convert to Catholicism, he was sent at the age of seven to Sedgley Park School in Staffordshire, and at fourteen entered his father's counting-house. Having formed the resolution, three years later, to study for the priesthood, he returned to Sedgley, going afterwards to Oscott College, where he was ordained by Bishop Milner in 1820. After serving the Stourbridge mission, near Oscott, for a time, he was sent to Cossey Hall, Norfolk, as chaplain to Sir George Staford Jerningham, who became Baron Stafford in 1824. He took up his residence in a cottage in the village, and continued his ministrations here to the Catholics of the mission until within a few months of his death. During this long period, extending over more than half a century, he is said to have been absent from his mission only on three Sundays. Seven years after his appointment to Cossey he became grand vicar under Bishop Walsh, successor of Bishop Milner as Vicar-Apostolic of the Midland District. In 1841 he opened St. Wulstan's Chapel, for which he had been assiduous in collecting funds, and in 1850 he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Rome. Shortly after the restoration of the English hierarchy by Pope Pius IX, Dr. Husenbeth was nominated provost of the Chapter, of Northampon, and Vicar-General of the diocese. In the spring of 1872 he resigned his mission, and he died at St. Wulstan's Prebytery on the last day of October in the same year.

Dr. Husenbeth's personal character was attractive, for he possessed not only piety, learning, and culture, but also a singularly kind heart, agreeable manners, conversational powers of a high order, and a sense of humour which made him a very pleasant companion. He was the survivor of a race of clergy belonging to a past era, and was not devoid of certain old-fashioned prejudices, common to the ecclesiastics of his time. These kept him somewhat out of touch with the development of Catholicism in England which had followed the Oxford movement and the re-establishment of the regular hierarchy. He had no particular liking for religious orders, and was quite opposed to the new forms of devotion which had grown up since his student days at Oscott. He was nevertheless a faithful and assiduous pastor, and full of zeal for the religious welfare of his flock. Among his accomplishments were music and painting, and he executed a number of clever sketches in the course of an Alpine tour which he took in his student days.

During the fifty-two years which Dr. Husenbeth spent in his quiet country presbytery, he found ample leisure time for study and literary labours, and between the years 1823 and 1849 forty-nine works written or edited by him appeared in London, Dublin, and Norwich. Many of these were controversial publications, written in refutation of George Stanley Faber and Blanco White, while others treated of historical, liturgical, or doctrinal matters. Perhaps his most important work is the "Life of Bishop Milner ", published in 1862, which, while marred by many defects as a biography, is an important contribution to the history of Catholicism on England. In 1852 he brought out, assisted by Archbishop Polding, O.S.B., a new edition, with abridged notes, of Haydock's illustrated Bible and he published also at different times admirable editions, for the use of the laity, of the Missal and the vesper-book. The "Emblems of Saints" (1850) was one of his best original works, and the style of his pulpit eloquence is well shown by the various sermons which he printed from time to time.

Dr. Husenbeth contributed a large number of poems and fugitive verses to the periodicals of his time, and was urged in various quarters to collect and publish these, but he never seems to have done so. He also published articles on a great variety of subjects in different Catholic journals, and was a life-long writer in the columns of "Notes and Queries", in which more than thirteen hundred contributions appeared over his initials. He was a voluminous letter-writer, and maintained a correspondence with various literary celebrities, and with many distinguished converts of his time. Dr. Husenbeth's valuable library collection of crucifixes, reliquaries and similar objects and of letters chiefly on religious subjects, were sold at Norwich a few months after his death. Most of the letters passed into the possession of the Bishop of Northampton.

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