Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Thomas Hussey

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Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, b. at Ballybogan, Co. Meath, in 1746; d. at Tramore, Co. Waterford, 11 July, 1803. At an early age he was sent to the Irish College of Salamanca, and after completing his studies joined the Trappists. His ability was such, however, that he was requested by the pope to take orders, was associated for a time with the court of the King of Spain, and soon became prominent in Madrid. In or abort 1767 he was appointed chaplain to the Spanish embassy in London, and rector of the chapel attached to it. He made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, Edmund Burke, and other famous people, and was regarded by them as one of the ablest and best informed men of his time. In March, 1792, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. When the war between England and America broke out, the Spanish ambassador was obliged to leave London, Spain as well as France having taken sides against England, and Dr. Hussey was entrusted with Spanish affairs, and was thus brought into direct contact with George III, as well as with Pitt and other ministers. He was sent to Madrid to endeavour to detach Spain from the American cause, but without success. In Madrid he met Richard Cumberland, the dramatist, who, though jealous of him, speaks highly of his ability, incorruptibility, and courage, and declares that he would have headed a revolution to overthrow the English Church in Ireland. He took up the catholic cause earnestly and was deputed by the English Catholics to go to Rome to lay their position before the pope, but the Spanish embassy would not grant him leave of absence. George III, Pitt, and the Duke of Portland entrusted him with a mission to the Irish soldiers and militia in Ireland who were disaffected, but when he heard their story, he pleaded in their behalf much to the distaste of the Irish executive. Portland induced him to stay in Ireland to assist in the foundation of Maynooth College, and in 1795 he was appointed its first president. He was shortly after made Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. In 1797 he issued a pastoral to his clergy, strongly resenting Government interference in ecclesiastical discipline. This protest gave great offence to the ministers. He was received by the pope in March, 1798, and is said, but upon slight evidence, to have been a party to the Concordat between Pius VII and Napoleon. Lecky describes him as "the ablest English-speaking bishop of his time".

Maynooth Calendar (1883-84); HEALY, Maynooth College (1895), 161-83; Memoirs of Richard Cumberland (1807); PLOWDEN, Historical Review (1803); BUTLER, English Catholics (1822); BOSWELL, Life of Johnson (1835); VIII; Cornwallis Correspondence (1859); Burkes's Correspondence (1844); BRADY, Episcopcl Succession (1876); LECKEY, History of England; RYLAND, History of Waterford (1824); Castlereagh Correspondence, III. (The notice in Dict. Nat. Biog. is somewhat inaccurate.)

D.J. O'DONOGHUE