Hart, John (d.1586) (DNB00)

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HART, JOHN (d. 1586), jesuit, was, according to Wood, educated at Oxford, though in what college or hall he could not discover; his name does not occur in the register. Being dissatisfied with the established church he withdrew to Douay, was reconciled to the Roman catholic communion, and admitted into the English College there in 1570. He took the degree of B.D. in the university of Douay in 1577, and was ordained priest on 29 March 1578. In June 1580 he was ordered to the English mission, but was arrested as soon as he landed at Dover, and was sent in custody to London to be examined by the privy council. He was committed to prison and confined in a filthy dungeon. On the day after (15 Nov. 1581) Father Campion's condemnation, he was tried with several other priests and condemned to death on account of his sacerdotal character. On 1 Dec. 1581 he was to have been executed with Campion, Sherwin, and Briant, but when placed on the hurdle he promised to recant, and he was taken back to prison, where he wrote to secretary Walsingham the com- plete act of apostasy which is now preserved in the Public Record Office, and has only lately become known (State Papers, Dom. Eliz. vol. cl. No. 80). Why he did not occupy the place on the hurdle by Campion's side the catholics of his day never knew. Within a short time Hart repented of his weakness, and again stood firm in the catholic faith. According to Cardinal Allen, Hart's mother visited him in the Tower, and she, ‘a gentlewoman of a noble spirit, spoke to him in such lofty tones of martyrdom, that if she found him hot with the desire of it, she left him on fire.’

Walsingham gave Hart leave to go to Oxford for three months upon condition that he should confer with John Rainoldes or Reynolds, a protestant divine, on matters in controversy between the English and Roman churches. Hart acquitted himself with honour, and Camden styles him ‘vir præ cæteris doctissimus.’ The conference appears to have taken place in 1582. Dodd says it was held on very unequal terms, as Hart was unprovided with books and was labouring under great infirmity caused by the rigour of his confinement (Church History, ii. 145). Hart returned to Walsingham as resolute in the catholic faith as before, and was sent back to the Tower. On the anniversary of the day when he should have died, his name reappears in Rishton's diary, 1 Dec. 1582: ‘John Hart, priest, under sentence of death, was punished by twenty days in irons, for not yielding to one Reynolds, a minister.’ Six months later he was put into the pit for the same offence for forty-four days. On 18 March 1582, while in prison, he was admitted into the Society of Jesus. On 21 Jan. 1584–5 he and twenty others, among whom was Jasper Heywood [q. v.], were conveyed to France and banished the realm for ever by virtue of a commission from the queen. They were landed on the coast of Normandy and were sent to Abbeville after signing a certificate to the effect that they had been well treated on the voyage (Holinshed, Chronicles, iii. 1379, 1380). Hart proceeded to Verdun and thence to Rome. His superiors ordered him to Poland, and he died at Jarislau on 17 or 19 July 1586. The necrology of the province, however, states that he died in 1595.

‘The Summe of the Conference betwene John Rainoldes and John Hart, touching the Head and Faith of the Church. Penned by John Rainoldes, according to the notes set down in writing by them both; perused by J. Hart, &c.,’ was published at London in 1584, 4to, reprinted in 1588, 1598, and 1609, and translated into Latin (Oxford, 1610, fol.) by Henry Parry, afterwards bishop of Gloucester. Dodd asserts that the particulars of the conference are very unfairly given by Rainoldes.

[Addit. MS. 5871, f. 58; Clay's Liturgies temp. Eliz. p. 658; Foley's Records, vii. 338; Fuller's Church Hist. (Brewer), v. 73; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Lambeth MS. 402; More's Hist. Missionis Anglicanæ Soc. Jesu, p. 138; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, ii. 28–34, 69, 78, 254; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 113; Records of the English Catholics, i. 426, ii. 467; Strype's Annals, ii. 646, iv. 173, fol.; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 382; Tanner's Soc. Jesu Apostolorum Imitatrix, p. 382; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 635, ii. 15.]

T. C.