Francis, Alban (DNB00)

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FRANCIS, ALBAN (d. 1715), Benedictine monk, a native of Middlesex, became a professed monk on 9 May 1670, in the abbey of St. Adrian and St. Denis at Lansperg or Lambspring in the kingdom of Hanover (Weldon, Chronicle, App. p. 24). He assumed in religion the name of Placid. He was sent to the mission in Cambridgeshire. On 7 Feb. 1686–7 James II addressed a mandatory letter under his signet manual to Dr. John Peachell, master of Magdalene College, and vice-chancellor of Cambridge, commanding him to admit Francis to the degree as master of arts ‘without administering unto him any oath or oaths whatsoever, or tendering any subscription to be made by him.’ This letter was laid before a congregation of the university on 21 Feb., and the senate advised that the king should be petitioned to revoke his mandate. The esquire-bedels and the registrars were sent to inform Francis that the senate were ready to admit him to the degree provided that he would swear as the law appointed, but he refused to do so, insisting upon the royal dispensation. On the same afternoon the heads met in the consistory, and agreed to send a letter to the Duke of Albemarle and another to the Earl of Sunderland, secretary of state, through whose hands the mandate had passed. A second letter from the king dated 24 Feb. was read in the senate on 11 March. The senate, confirmed by the approval of several eminent lawyers, persisted in its refusal to comply with the royal letters. Consequently the vice-chancellor and the senate (by its deputies) were cited to appear before the ecclesiastical commissioners at Whitehall. The lord chancellor (Jeffreys) pronounced the decision of the commissioners on 7 May 1687. Peachell was deprived of the office of vice-chancellor and was suspended, ab officio et beneficio, of his mastership during his majesty's pleasure. At a subsequent sitting (12 May) the lord chancellor reprimanded the deputies of the senate. Another vice-chancellor was elected, Dr. Balderston, master of Emmanuel College, but Francis never got his degree.

At the revolution Francis withdrew to Lambspring, whence he removed in 1699 to the English Benedictine college of St. Gregory at Douay. He was again sent to the mission in the south province of England, where he died on 27 July 1715 (Snow, Necrology, p. 87).

[Howell's State Trials, xi. 1319–37; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 614; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 424, 489; Macaulay's Hist. of England; Addit. MSS. 5869, f. 71, 32095, f. 238; Corrie's Notices of the Interference of the Crown with the Affairs of the English Universities, p. 62; Burnet's Hist. of his own Time (1838), p. 443; Echard's Hist. of England; Pepys's Memoirs, v. 117.]

T. C.