Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston

John Francis Maguire

Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston—Bishop England's Diary—Bishop England's Missionary Labours—The Bishop's Trials—Bishop England's growing Fame

ENDOWED with singular energy of character, and a mind at once vigorous and comprehensive, enriched with information both varied and accurate, John England combined the advantages of a thorough training in all the priestly duties, derived from an active missionary career, first in his native city, and afterwards in the parish of Bandon. To the discharge of his functions as a minister of the Gospel he brought the zeal and piety of an ardent nature, and the promptings of a spirit entirely unselfish, and indeed wholly self-sacrificing. Nor was he unacquainted with those political questions which agitated the public mind of that day.

In Ireland, whatever the disposition of priest or prelate, there happen occasions when he is tempted—nay even compelled—to quit the sacred precincts of the sanctuary for the arena of political strife; and before John England was appointed to the parish of Bandon, even the ecclesiastics who, by character and disposition, were most inclined to shrink from the angry contentions of the outer world, felt themselves compelled by a sense of conscientious obligation to assert their rights as citizens. This was during the long and wearisome struggle for Emancipation, which was mainly carried, as the world knows, by the pluck and determination of the Catholics of Ireland, assisted, no doubt, by the generous and persistent aid of the Liberal Protestants of the United Kingdom. The grand object of the Irish Catholics of that day was to return, as their representatives to Parliament, the friends of Emancipation; and such was the power and influence of those who made a desperate resistance to the just claims of their fellow-countrymen, that it required the utmost effort and the most perfect union on the part of the Catholic body to frustrate the machinations of their wily and relentless opponents.

The Rev. John England was a ready, dashing writer, as bold in attack as skilful in reply; nor as a speaker was he inferior, either in power or brilliancy, to the most gifted orators of a period when men borrowed their best inspiration from the earnest convictions and strong passions of the moment. To him, in no small degree, was owing the courage, the cohesion, and the triumph of the popular party of his native city; and when he left that city for the parish to which, at an unusually early period of life, he was appointed, and afterwards when he quitted the shores of his native land for that great country with which his fame is inseparably associated, he was followed by the best wishes of every friend of freedom, expressed as well by substantial tokens as in eloquent words. Thus was Bishop England especially prepared for the work he had to do in his new field of labour; his acquaintance with public affairs, and his faculty of dealing with questions other than those within the immediate province of a minister of religion, frequently obtaining for him the most valuable influence with people of position and authority.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America