Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tobias Matthew, RIP (And His Son)

Tobias Matthew was born in 1546, son of Sir John Mathew of Ross and died on March 29, 1628. In between those dates, he attended University College and Christ Church at the University of Oxford, taking his B.A. in 1564 and his M.A. in 1566. Attracting the kind attention of Queen Elizabeth I, he continued to rise along a university and clerical career: Public Orator in 1569, President of St. John's College in 1572; Dean of Christ Church in 1576 and then Vice Chancellor of the University in 1579. He then became Dean of Durham in 1579; Bishop of Durham in 1595 and finally Archbishop of York during the reign of James I in 1606.

In 1581, he was one of the debate opponents of St. Edmund Campion at Westminster and he published his argument in Piissimi et eminentissimi viri Tobiae Matthew, archiepiscopi olim Eboracencis concio apologetica adversus Campianam. Although he may have wanted to celebrate his efforts, but it was clear that Campion had bested the Anglican divines: that's why only the first debate was held in public (the rest were in private apartments in the Tower). As Archbishop of York he worked hard to convert recusants, to persuade them to conform to the established Church of England. Nevertheless, he fell out of James I's favor.

Ironically, then, his son Tobie Matthew born in October of 1577, became a Roman Catholic! Like his father he attended Christ Church, receiving his M.A. in 1597; then he studied at Gray's Inn and became a friend of Francis Bacon and a Member of Parliament. Active at both the Courts of Elizabeth and James, he traveled to Italy in 1604--there he met several Catholics and became a Catholic. He had promised his parents that he would not travel in Italy; evidently they were concerned about some attractions he would encounter there. Obviously, the conversion of the Archbishop of York's son was a serious matter. When he returned to England he was imprisoned and held in the Fleet Prison for six months as officials attempted to re-convert him. Eventually he was released and returned to the Continent where he studied for the priesthood in Rome, ordained by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine on May 20, 1614.

James I allowed him to return to England and he translated Bacon's Essays into Italian in 1617--then he was exiled again from 1619 to 1622, recalled thereafter to assist in the negotiations for the marriage of Charles to Maria Anna, the Infanta of Spain. James I sent him to Madrid, Spain and knighted him. Even though that marriage plan fell through, Charles I would marry Henrietta Maria after his accession, and Father Tobie Matthew was very much in that Catholic Queens' circle at Court.

When the Civil War started in 1640 he fled to Ghent and lived with the Jesuits there, dying in October of 1655. He completed other translations and wrote A Relation of the death of Troilo Severe, Baron of Rome (1620), A Missive of Consolation sent from Flanders to the Catholics of England (1647), and A True Historical Relation of the Conversion of Sir Tobie Matthew to the Holie Catholic Faith. There is some debate about whether or not he became a Jesuit.

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