Thursday, April 23

1735: Dr Edward Hawarden

On this day in 1735 died the man Billington describes as "the celebrated Dr. Edward Hawarden". Canon Billington gives his story in some detail: "He was of the family of Hawarden of Appleton in Widnes, and was eductaed at Douay [Douai], being ordained priest in 1686. He was one of the Catholic divines whom James II forced upon Magdalen College, Oxford, but his tenure of office was for a few weeks only in 1688, and he returned to Douay to teach there. He was made D.D. [Doctor of Divinity], and appointed vice-president of the college." In 1707 he came to England and worked at first in Durham, then came to Aldcliffe near Lancaster (now part of the Cathedral parish) in 1711. Canon Billington reproduces references to Dr Hawarden in the diary of Thomas Tyldesley (previously mentioned here); Tyldesley records that he dined with the priest on a number of occasions and went to him for confession. His diary for 24th December 1713 refers to Christmas Mass: "About 11 at night went to Aldcliffe, where Dr. Hawarden preached gloriously."

Dr Hawarden is one of the few people whose picture hangs on the main corridor of Cathedral House, where it is found just outside the library. Canon Billington writes that he left Aldcliffe in 1715 and by 1719 had settled in London. He wrote a number of noted works, including one for which "the University of Oxford gave him thanks", and was clearly highly regarded. Bishop John Milner (1752-1826) remarked that Dr Hawarden "for depth of learning and strength of argument had not been surpassed since the time of Bellarmine". Sadly after Dr Hawarden left Aldcliffe the work soon came to end: "the Government made an inquiry into the estates held by Catholics, and particularly into those suspected of being devoted to what were abusively called 'superstitious uses,' i.e. the service of the Catholic religion. An informer betrayed the secret trust on which Aldcliffe was held, and so it was confiscated and sold."