Betham, John (DNB00)

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BETHAM, JOHN, D.D. (d. 1709), catholic priest, a native of Warwickshire, where his elder brother possessed a handsome estate, completed his studies in the English college at Douay, and was ordained priest there. Afterwards he went to Paris (1667), where he resumed his studies, and at the expiration of ten years was created a doctor of the Sorbonne. Then he came to England on the English mission, but the excitement caused by Titus Oates's narrative of a pretended popish plot was so great that he soon deemed it prudent to return to the French capital. When the catholic cause in England appeared to be in a flourishing condition Betham's presence here was required, and he was appointed one of the chaplains and preachers in ordinary to King James II. This office he held till the revolution of 1688, and soon afterwards he followed his royal master to St. Germain. He was appointed preceptor to the Chevalier de Saint George, and after King James's death that office was confirmed to him by commission, dated 30 Oct. 1701.

During his residence in Paris after his first visit to this country Betham revived an old project for erecting a seminary for the benefit of such of the English clergy as were disposed to take degrees in the university of Paris. The college of Arras at Paris had been founded as early as 1611 for the maintenance of learned I writers in defence of the catholic religion. In 1667 this institution was greatly augmented by the Rev. Thomas Carr of Douay College; but the scheme was not completed till many years later, when Betham was appointed to preside over the seminary. Betham was enabled to purchase a handsome house and garden in the Rue des Postes, Faubourg Saint Marceau, and opened the establishment as St. Gregory's seminary by letters patent from the king of France in 1701. Some years before he died he retired to this seminary, where he ended his days in 1709. Dodd says 'he was a person of strict morals, grave, and reserved in conversation. The court was his cell, and he seldom appeared in publick but when duty called him forth.'

He was the author of: 1. 'A. Sermon of the Epiphany, preach'd in the Queen-Dowager's Chapel at Somerset-House upon Twelfth day Jan. 6 1686. Published by her Majesty's command,' London, 1686, 4to. 2. 'A Sermon preach'd before the King and Queen in their Majesties Chappel at St. James's upon the Annunciation of our Blessed Lady, March 25 1686. Published by his Majestie's command,' London, 1686, 4to; this and the preceding sermon are reprinted in 'A Select Collection of Catholick Sermons,' 2 vols., London, 1741, 8vo. 3. 'Observations upon the Bulla Plantata at the request of the Pope's Nuncio,' manuscript.

[Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 293, 485; Husenbeth's Notices of English Colleges and Convents on the Continent, 18; Lowndes's Bibl. Man., ed. Bohn. 2243.]

T. C.