Historical account of Lisbon college/Chapter 13

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On the death of Dr. Winstanley the Rev. Joseph Ilsley, who from the year 1834 had held the office of Vice-President, became Pro-Rector pending the appointment of a President. The various changes which in recent years had taken place, suggested to the Superiors grave doubts regarding the nomination of the Protector of the College, and also as to the authority to whom belonged the appointment of the President. At the time of its foundation the office of Protector had been vested by the Sacred Propaganda in the Bishop Inquisitor General of Portugal and his successors, but when the Constitutional Government, as it was called, was established, the office of Inquisitor had been suppressed throughout the Kingdom. It is true the last Inquisitor General who held office had, by the request of Dr. Winstanley, made a solemn declaration, that at his death all his rights regarding the College should devolve on the Vicar Apostolic of the London District. To this declaration Dr. Winstanley and Father Hurst had, in the presence of a Public Notary, added their signatures, but by what authority this transfer of Jurisdiction had been made did not appear. As to the appointment to the Presidency this had always belonged to and had been exercised by the Vicar Apostolic of the London District, but on the establishment of the Hierarchy in England by Pius IX in 1852, the ancient London Vicariate had been sup pressed, and consequently this right of nomination had lapsed. It was decided, therefore, by the Superiors, to submit both these questions to the judgment of the Holy See, and for this purpose they sought the aid and good offices of Cardinal Wiseman.

They addressed a letter to His Eminence setting forth
"Dr. Joseph Ilsley"


the reasons why they had doubted the validity of the act by which the Vicar Apostolic had been constituted successor of the Inquisitor General, and pointing out that, even though valid, it would be most inconvenient and by no means advantageous to the interests of the College to have a Protector resident in a distant country, and ignorant of the conditions and circumstances which obtained in Portugal; with whom, moreover, in cases of difficulty easy and rapid communication could not be had. It was also suggested that all these inconveniences would be obviated, were the office of Protector vested in the Apostolic Nuncio for the time being resident in Portugal. The Rev. Peter Baines was sent to England as the representative of the Superiors and bearer of this letter, with instructions also to arrange with the Cardinal and the recently appointed Bishops, a new distribution of the students amongst the different Dioceses.

This he successfully accomplished and immediately returned to the College. The Pro-Rector finding that he was unable satisfactorily to perform the combined duties of his office and those of Vice-President, the Rev. Peter Baines, in April of this year, 1853, was appointed to the Vice-Presidentship, having for upwards of nineteen years fulfilled with great ability the varied duties of Procurator. At the same time the Rev. Joseph Ilsley handed over to the College the Secular School which had been founded by him and for many years successfully carried on, and the Rev. Laurence Richmond was placed over it as Director. The flourishing state in which this school was when taken over, gave promise that it would prove of considerable financial advantage to the College; hopes, however, which for various reasons were in the sequel not realised. The Professorship of Theology, both Moral and Dogmatic, which for many years had been held by Dr. Winstanley, was assumed by the Pro-Rector, while Ecclesiastical History and Canon Law were allotted to the Rev. Laurence Richmond, and the Chair of Philosophy to the Vice-President, and at the same time the Rev. William Hilton, who now for eighteen years has worthily held the position of President of the College, became Procurator with the understanding, however, that he should continue to teach Classics.

After an interval of two years during which the Rev. Joseph Ilsley had acted as Pro-Rector, he was definitely appointed President by Pius IX, in 1854, who also conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Theology. Moreover, in the Rescript by which his appointment was made, His Holiness laid down that, in future, the nomination of the President of the College should rest with the Holy See after consultation with the English Bishops, and furthermore declared that henceforward the Apostolic Nuncio for the time being resident in Lisbon should exercise the office of Protector of the College. Thus His Eminence Cardinal Camillus di Pietro, who had always manifested the most friendly dispositions towards the College, became the first Protector under the new Constitution.

On March 31, 1855, it pleased God to call to his reward the Rev. Thomas Hurst who, on the following day, Palm Sunday, was committed to his last resting place in the cemetery adjoining the college garden, near to his old friend and companion throughout life, Dr. Winstanley. Entering the College about the same time, 1778, thenceforward for well-nigh seventy years, they were inseparably associated during the course of their studies, and after their ordination to the priesthood. A bond of indissoluble friendship had united these two men, both of them remarkable for piety, and for their love for the College manifested in their unceasing efforts to promote its prosperity. For upwards of thirty years Father Hurst, either as Classical Professor, Prefect of the Academy during the period of the occupation of Lisbon by the French, or Procurator, had unstintedly given his service to the College, finding time also as we have seen to share with Dr. Winstanley his labours amongst the British troops. On resigning the office of Vice-President into the hands of Father Le Clerc in 1829, he had been appointed Confessarius, an office which he held until the
"Rev. Thomas Hurst"


close of his life. For years prior to his death he suffered from partial paralysis, which incapacitated him from any considerable exertion either intellectual or physical, yet to the end he interested himself in promoting the spiritual advancement of the students. He survived his old friend for nearly three years

"Equal in virtue; in talent and disposition they greatly differed. Dr. Winstanley endowed with an ingenuous and noble disposition attracted by the high principles which ever regulated both his words and actions, the esteem of the public in general, and the love of those over whom he presided in the House. Father Hurst by his simplicity and affability, drew towards him the affection of all. In the one, dignity was associated with humility; in the other, cheerfulness imparted a grace to piety: thus both left a bright example to those who should succeed them; the one of a most worthy and venerated President, the other of a constant friend and wise counsellor."

Such is the encomium passed in the Annals upon these two notable sons of Lisbon College.