« Allen, Joseph Henry Allen, William Alley, William »

Allen, William

ALLEN, WILLIAM: 1. “The cardinal of England;” b. at Rossall (36 m. n. of Liverpool), Lancashire, 1532; d. at Rome Oct. 16, 1594. He entered Oriel College, Oxford, in 1547 (B.A. and fellow, 1550; M.A., 1554), and after the accession of Mary decided to devote himself to the Church. He became principal of St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford, and proctor of the university in 1556, canon of York in 1558. His zeal for the Roman religion soon attracted the notice of the authorities under Elizabeth, and in 1561 he left Oxford for the University of Louvain. In 1562 he came home, much broken in health, and spent the next three years in England, constantly encouraging the Catholics and making converts. He left his native land for good in 1565, was ordained priest at Mechlin, and lectured on theology in the Benedictine college there. He conceived the idea of a college for English students on the Continent, and in 1568 opened the first and most famous of such institutions, that at Douai. He continued to administer and serve the college till 1588, although in 1585 he had removed to Rome. Pope Sixtus V., raised him to the cardinalate in 1587. Philip II. nominated him archbishop of Mechlin, 1589, but he was not preconized by the pope. Gregory XIV. made him prefect of the Vatican library.

The great aim of Allen’s life was to restore England to the Church of Rome. This aim he pursued persistently. Until his fiftieth year he contented himself with persuasive measures alone (“scholastical attempts,” in his own words), and met with no inconsiderable success. Had it not been for the missioners who were continually going into the country from his schools, probably the Roman Catholic religion would have perished as completely in England as it did in Scandinavian countries.

About 1582 Allen began to meditate force and to interfere in politics. He was closely associated with Robert Parsons, was cognizant of the plots to depose Elizabeth, and became the head of the “Spanish party” in England. It was at the request of Philip II. that he was appointed cardinal; and the intention was to make him papal legate, archbishop of Canterbury, and lord chancellor, and to entrust to him the organization of the ecclesiastical affairs of the country, if the proposed invasion of England should succeed. Just before the Armada sailed he indorsed, if he did not write, An Admonition to the Nobility and people of England and Ireland concerning the present wars, made for the execution of his Holiness’s sentence, by the King Catholic of Spain (printed at Antwerp), and an abridgment of the same, called A Declaration of the Sentence of Deposition of Elizabeth, the Usurper and Pretensed Queen of England, which was disseminated in the form of a broadside. Both publications were violent and scurrilous, as well as treasonable from the English point of view, and roused great indignation in England, even among the Catholics, who, unlike Allen, very generally remained true to their country and sovereign. Allen’s conduct, however, it should be borne in mind, was consistent with his belief in papal supremacy and with his views concerning excommunication and the right of the spiritual authorities to punish. He is described as handsome and dignified in person, courteous in manner, and endowed with many attractive qualities. Stories concerning his wealth and the princely style in which he lived in Rome are not true.

Bibliography: The more important of his many writings are: Certain Brief Reasons Concerning Catholic Faith, Douai, 1564; A Defence and Declaration of the Catholic Church’s Doctrine Touching Purgatory and Prayers for the Souls Departed, Antwerp, 1565; A Treatise Made in Defence of the Lawful Power and Authority of Priesthood to Remit Sins, Louvain, 1567; De sacramentis in genere, de sacramento eucharistiæ, de sacrificio missæ, Antwerp, 1576; and A Brief History of the Martyrdom of Twelve Reverend Priests, 1582. He helped make the English Bible translation known as the Douai Bible, and was one of the commission of cardinals and scholars who corrected the edition (see Bible Versions, B, IV., § 5, A, II., 2, § 5). At the time of his death he was engaged upon an edition of Augustine’s works.

On his life consult: First and Second Diaries of the English College, Douay, London, 1878; Letters and Memorials of William Cardinal Allen, 1882 (constituting with the foregoing vols. i. and ii. of Records of the English Catholics, edited by fathers of the Congregation of the London Oratory). The Historical Introductions to these works, by T. F. Knox, give much valuable information, and his life (in Latin) by Nicholas Fitzherbert, published originally in De antiquitate et continuatione catholicæ religionis in Anglia, Rome, 1608, is reprinted in the last-named, pp. 3-20; J. Gillow, Dictionary of English Catholics, i. 14-24, London, 1885; DNB, i.314-322, gives excellent list of sources.

2. American Congregationalist; b. at Pittsfield, Mass., Jan. 2, 1784; d. at Northhampton, Mass., July 16, 1868. He was graduated at Harvard in 1802; was licensed to preach in 1804 and soon after became assistant librarian at Harvard. He succeeded his father as pastor at Pittsfield in 1810. In 1817 he was chosen president of the reorganized Dartmouth College, but two years later the Supreme Court of the United States declared the reorganization invalid. He was president of Bowdoin College, 1820-39. He wrote much and was an industrious contributor to dictionaries and encyclopedic works. His American Biographical and Historical Dictionary (Cambridge, 1809, containing 700 names; 2d ed., Boston, 1832, 1,800 names; 3d ed., 1857, 7,000 names) was the first work of the kind published in America.

« Allen, Joseph Henry Allen, William Alley, William »
VIEWNAME is workSection