1850 England

The Re-establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy in England, 1850

A Grand Anti-Popish Processiom, demonstrative of the feeling existing against the Papal Aggression, took place at Eltham, Kent, on Wednesday. An immense figure of the Pope, in full pontificals, and of Cardinal Wiseman, were carried in vans, accompanied by between forty and fifty horsemen. After perambulating the country in the neighbourhood, they burnt the two effigies at Eltham, amidst discharges of rockets and other fireworks, while a band played the National Anthem. — 1850 Illustrated London News

lthough Catholics had long enjoyed toleration in England, their church was governed by vicars apostolic rather than bishops and there was no diocesan or parish organization. But in 1850, partly to better administer to the large number of Catholic Irish flocking into England after the Irish Famine, the Catholic Church re-established its full hierarchy. For the first time since the reign of Mary Tudor (1555-1558), Catholics now had a a full hierarchy consistent with that of Catholic countries. Thirteen sees and the archdiocese of Westminster were established.

To liberals the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England was but a logical extension of toleration and full religious liberties, but to many other Englishmen it marked yet another disastrous concession to the "Bishop of Rome" and yet another sign that the Church of England, convulsed by the high ritualism and Anglo-Catholicism of the Oxford Movement and still reeling from the recent conversion to Catholicism of the eminent Anglican theologian, John Henry Newman, was in retreat before its old adversary, the Catholic Church.

The appointment of Dr. Nicholas Wiseman as a cardinal and Catholic Archbishop of Westminster (in London) also provoked a reaction, as Wiseman was considered to be a militant and extremely outspoken Catholic. To The Times to choose the capital city as the archbishopric and Wiseman as Archbishop was either a "clumsy joke" or else "one of the grossest acts of folly and impertinence which the Court of Rome has ventured to commit since the Crown and the people of England threw off its yoke." (The Times, 14 October, 1850, 4, quoted in Arnstein 45.) The wording of his "Pastoral Letter" served as a red flag to those who feared that the re-establishment of the hierarchy would be the first stage in a Catholic take-over of England: he naturally rejoiced in the new Catholic organization in England, but did so in immoderate and provocative language: "Your beloved country", he told his fellow Englishmen, "has received a place among the fair churches, which, normally constituted, form the splendid aggregate of Catholic communion; Catholic England has been restored to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament, from which its light had long vanished." (Quoted in Chadwick I, 291). He went on to state that "We govern and shall continue to govern", he wrote, "the counties of Middlesex, Hertford, Essex, as ordinary thereof, and those of Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Berkshire, and Hampshire, with th islands annexed, as administrator, with ordinary jurisdiction." Queen Victoria was purported to have reacted to these imperious words with "Am I Queen of England, or am I not?"

Interesting facts:

The Parliaments of England (ISBN 0-900178-13-2) is a compendium of election results for all House of Commons constituencies of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1715 to 1847, compiled by Henry Stooks Smith.
The compendium...

Vintage Photo of Antique The Husking Bee in New England 1850 (AJZ-842)
Entertainment Memorabilia ()
  • Outer Dimensions: 6.7 x 10.0 (Inner Dim:x )
  • Date (approx): 1850
  • CGC Grade:
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