Atkinson, Paul (DNB00)

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ATKINSON, PAUL (1656–1729), Franciscan friar, was a Yorkshireman by birth, and after holding several important offices in his order, including that of definitor of the English province, was infamously betrayed to the officers of the law by his maidservant for a reward of 100l. under the penal statute of 11 and 12 William III. He was apprehended in London in 1698, and condemned, on account of his priestly character, to perpetual imprisonment, which he underwent in Hurst Castle in Hampshire, where he lived with cheerful composure, beloved and respected by the keeper of the castle and the whole neighbourhood as an ill-fated amiable man. The governor at one time allowed him the privilege of walking out beyond the walls of his prison until some bigots complained of this indulgence being granted, and Father Atkinson voluntarily confined himself ever afterwards to his own miserable apartment, wherein, after thirty years of strict incarceration, he died 15 Oct. 1729. He was buried at St. James's, Winchester, where the following epitaph was placed over his grave:— ‘H. S. E. R. P. Paulus Atkinson, Franciscanus, qui 15 Oct. 1729 ætat. 74 in castro de Hurst vitam finivit, postquam ibidem 30 peregerat annos. R. I. P.’

His portrait has been engraved.

[Gent. Mag. lx. 234, 332, 412; Oliver's Collections illustrating the History of the Catholic Religion in Cornwall, &c., 565; Noble's Continuation of Granger, iii. 172; Bromley's Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits; 274, Evans's Catalogue of Portraits, i. 13, ii. 18.]

T. C.