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Thomas Lister

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( alias Thomas Butler)

Jesuit writer, b. in Lancashire, about 1559; d. in England, probably before 1628; was the son of Christopher Lister, of Midhope, Yorks. He entered Douai College, 1576. Having occasion to return to England, he was seized and imprisoned. He, however, obtained his release, and in 1579 was received into the English College, Rome. There, three years later, he joined the Society of Jesus in February, 1582-3. He graduated in Divinity at Pont-à-Mousson in 1592. In 1596 he went on to the English mission, but was arrested in 1598 and endured a long incarceration. Just at this point difficulties had broken out among the English clergy, owing to the refusal of certain among them to recognize the authority of the newly appointed archpriest, Dr. George Blackwell. Lister was consulted by one of the priests as to the conduct of those who refused obedience. While a man of both piety and ability, he was unfortunately lacking in judgment; and his reply took the form of a small treatise entitled "Adversus factiosos in ecclesia", in which their conduct was vigorously censured. They are declared to have ipso facto have fallen into schism, and to have incurred excommunication and irregularity. It is doubtful whether this tractate was published; but it was widely circulated in manuscript, and aroused the deepest resentment. It certainly served not a little to fan the flames of the unhappy dispute. To the request of the clergy that he would prohibit it, Blackwell replied curtly (April, 1957): "Your request is that we should call in the treatise against your schism ; and this is unreasonable, because the medicine ought not to be removed until the sore be thoroughly cured. If it grieve you, I am not grieved thereat." His conduct in regard to Lister's tract formed the first of the six grounds on which was based the "Appeal of thirty-three clergymen ", against his administration. The appellants obtained a favourable hearing at Rome. Lister's tract was suppressed by papal Brief (May, 1601), and Blackwell rebuked for his unreasonable conduct. Lister seems to have resided continuously in England. His death probably occurred shortly before 1628. The treatise "Adversus factiosos" is incorporated into Christopher Bagshaw's "Relatio compendium turbarum"; a portion of it is printed in Law's work cited below.

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