Pre-suppression Jesuit Activity in the British Isles and Ireland

Brill's Research Perspectives in Jesuit Studies


The British Isles and Ireland tested the self-proclaimed adaptability and flexibility of the new Society of Jesus. A mission to Ireland highlighted the complexities and ended in failure in the early 1580s, not to be revived until 1598. The fabled Jesuit mission to England in 1580 conceived in wistful optimism was baptized with blood with the execution of Edmund Campion in 1581 and the consequent political manoeuveres of Robert Persons. The Scottish mission began in December 1581. The three missions remained distinct in the pre-suppression period despite an occasional proposal for integration. The English mission was the largest, the bloodiest, the most controversial, and the only one to progress to full provincial status. The government tried to suppress it; the Benedictines tried to complement it; the vicars-apostolic tried to control it; and foreign Jesuits tried to recognize it. Nonetheless, the English province forged a corporate identity that even withstood the suppression.
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Thomas M. McCoog, S.J., PhD (1984), sometime director of publications at the Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Rome) and archivist of the British Jesuit province (London), is curator of the Avery, Cardinal Dulles Archives at Fordham University (New York). His most recent monograph is The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England 1598–1606. “Lest our lamp be entirely extinguished” (Brill, 2017).
“A magisterial overview […]. The volume will be particularly helpful to scholars with expertise in other fields who need an entry point, and to specialists in Jesuit studies who may be shifting their attention from one period to another or simply need a wider perspective.”
Victor Houliston, University of the Witwatersrand. In: Journal of Jesuit Studies, Vol. 7, No. 4 (2020), pp. 663–665.

“This is a clear and readable book, which makes the complicated pleasingly accessible. After each section, there is a helpful, short historiographical overview. For those looking for an introduction to the topic, this book serves that role admirably. The history of Catholicism in Britain and Ireland is currently a major growth field in historical scholarship, and this work gives some pointers to possible future directions. As a final thought, the book underlines, especially for the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, just how much the history of English Catholicism is dominated by historiography of the Jesuits.”
James E. Kelly, University of Durham. In: Journal of British Studies, Vol. 60, No. 1 (January 2021), pp. 206–208.
Pre-suppression Jesuit Activity in the British Isles and Ireland
Thomas M. McCoog, S.J.
 1 Initial Contact
 2 Jesuit Nuncios
 3 Vocations to the Society
 4 Permanent Missions in the Sixteenth Century
 5 The Early Stuarts and Interregnum
 6 Restoration and the Later Stuarts
 7 The Eighteenth Century
 8 Suppression
 9 Conclusion
All interested in the internal and external struggles of Roman Catholics in early modern Great Britain and Ireland, and especially with Jesuit attempts to adapt their way of life to the demands of the mission.
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