Means were found for the purchase of a house, and invitations were sent to numerous members of Oxford and Cambridge who, at that time, were scattered in the various Universities throughout France and Flanders. These were so readily responded to, that the College thus commenced was increased so rapidly by the numbers who flocked to it, that in a short time its members amounted to nearly one hundred and fifty, of whom eight or nine were eminent Doctors of Divinity, under Dr. Allen who was the first President.
The success of this first undertaking being thus assured, Douay became the Mother of other similar foundations in various countries of Europe. From Douay went forth bands of students to the newly-established Colleges at Rome and Valladolid, and later on it was from Douay that the College at Lisbon received its first contingent of students.
The design of establishing a College at Lisbon for Secular Priests who should serve on the English Mission, originated with a priest named Nicholas Ashton. He held a chaplaincy in the City, which had been instituted for the purpose of ministering to the spiritual wants of the English Catholics resident there, and was attached to the church of the Jesuit Fathers, to whom belonged the appointment of the chaplain. On his death he bequeathed to another priest, named William Newman, the house which he had purchased some five years previously, in trust for "the foundation of a seminary."
Father Newman, whose real name was Ralph Sliefield, belonged to a gentleman's family in Staffordshire, and in the early period of his life and towards the close of the reign of Elizabeth, was imprisoned for his faith and condemned to death. At the intercession, however, of a lady of the Court, he obtained the commutation of his sentence into that of perpetual banishment. He first went to the College of Seville, at that time, like other Continental Missionary Colleges, under the direction of the Jesuit Fathers, where after completing his education he was ordained priest. He was then sent to Lisbon by