Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/England, John

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ENGLAND, JOHN, D.D. (1786–1842), bishop of Charleston, was born in the city of Cork, Ireland, on 23 Sept. 1786, and educated in the schools of his native city. At the age of fifteen, having resolved to become a priest, he was placed by Dr. Moylan, bishop of Cork, under the care of the Rev. Robert M'Carthy, dean of the diocese, who prepared him to enter the college of Carlow in August 1803. During his stay in that institution he founded a female penitentiary and poor schools for both sexes, delivered catechetical lectures in the parish chapel, and gave religious instruction to the Roman catholic militiamen stationed in the town. He left Carlow in 1808, and returned to Cork to receive holy orders, for which Bishop Moylan had obtained a dispensation from Rome, England not having yet attained the canonical age. He was then appointed lecturer at the cathedral, and chaplain to the Presentation Convent. In May 1809 he began the publication of a monthly magazine called ‘The Religious Repertory; being a choice collection of original essays on various religious subjects.’ In 1812 he was appointed president of the diocesan college of St. Mary, in which he also taught theology; and about the same time he entered into politics and wrote and spoke vehemently against the proposal to give to the British government a veto on the appointment of catholic bishops.

In 1817 he was made parish priest of Bandon, where he remained until he was appointed bishop of Charleston, U.S., by a papal bull which was expedited from Rome 2 June 1820. He was consecrated at Cork on 21 Sept. and soon afterwards proceeded to his diocese, which comprised the states of North and South Carolina and Georgia, with a scattered catholic population of eight thousand and only four priests. One of his first cares was the establishment of an academy and theological seminary. He was also instrumental in forming an ‘anti-duelling society.’ He corrected many abuses which had crept into the church, visited every part of his vast half-settled diocese, and gave special care to the negroes, for whom he always had regular services in his cathedral. In times of pestilence he was untiring in his heroic devotion to the sick. He established the ‘United States Catholic Miscellany,’ the first catholic paper published in America. In January 1826 he visited Washington, and at the request of the president of the United States and the members of Congress he delivered a discourse before them in the Senate House.

In 1832 he visited his native country, and thence proceeded to Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory XVI as legate to the government of Hayti. In the autumn of 1833 he proceeded on his mission, and he returned to Rome in the following spring to report the state of his negotiations before returning to his diocese. He made two more voyages to Europe in 1836 and 1841. Soon after his return from the latter visit he died at Charleston on 11 April 1842.

He was a man of great learning and high moral character, and his incessant activity won for him at Rome the sobriquet of il vescovo a vapore, ‘the steam bishop.’

His ‘Works,’ collected and arranged by direction of Dr. Ignatius Aloysius Reynolds, his successor in the see of Charleston, were published in 5 vols., Baltimore, 1849, 8vo. These volumes are almost entirely occupied by essays on topics of controversial theology, many of which are in the form of letters originally published in various periodicals. A portion of the fourth and fifth volumes is filled by addresses delivered before various college societies and on public occasions, including an oration on the character of Washington.

There is a portrait of him, engraved by J. Peterkin, in the Irish ‘Catholic Directory’ for 1843. Another, engraved by J. Sartain, is prefixed to his collected works.

[Obit. notices prefixed to his works; Irish Catholic Directory (1843), p. 251; Ripley and Dana's New American Cyclopædia; Irish Quarterly Review, viii. 636; Duyckinck's Cycl. of American Literature (1877), i. 778; Windele's Guide to Cork (1849), p. 142.]

T. C.