Bell, Thomas (fl.1573-1610) (DNB01)

BELL, THOMAS (fl. 1573–1610), anti-Romanist writer, was born at Raskelf, near Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1551, and is stated to have been beneficed as a clergyman in Lancashire. Subsequently he became a Roman catholic, and being ' hot and eager in that profession,' his indiscretion led to his imprisonment at York, where he was 'more troublesome to the keeper than all the rest of the prisoners together.' This was in or about 1573. In 1576 he went to Douay College, and in 1579, when twenty-eight, entered the English college at Rome as a student of philosophy. In 1581, being then a priest, he was in the English seminary at Rome, and in the following March (1582) was sent into England, A few years later (1586) he appears as the associate of Thomas Worthington [q. v.] and other priests in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and elsewhere. He was mentioned in 1592 as one ill-affected to the government, and he shared the fate of other seminary priests in being arrested. He was sent to London as probably a valuable prize, but he forthwith recanted, and was sent back to Lancashire to help in the 'better searching and apprehending of Jesuits and seminaries,' After this employment he went to Cambridge, where he began the publication of his controversial writings. They comprise: 1, 'Thomas Bels Motives: concerning Romish Faith and Religion,' Cambridge, 1593, 4to; 2nd ed. 1605, 2, 'A Treatise of Usurie,' Cambridge, 1594, 4to, 3, 'The Survey of Popery,' London, 1596, 4to. 4. 'Hunting of the Romish Fox,' 1598. This is entered on the 'Stationers' Register,' 8 April 1598, and Bell himself claims the authorship in his 'Counterblast,' fol. 44. A more famous work with the same title had, however, been published by Dr. William Turner (d. 1568) [q. v.], dean of Wells, in 1543 (Basle, 8vo). 5. 'The Anatomie of Popish Tyrannie, wherein is conteyned a Plain Declaration . . . of the Libels, Letters, Edictes, Pamphlets, and Bookes lately published by the Secular Priests, and English Hispanized Jesuites,' London, 1603, 4to. 6. 'The Golden Balance of Tryall,' London, 1003, 4to; annexed to this is 'A Counterblast against the Vaine Blast of a Masked Companion, who termeth Himself E. 0., but thought to be Robert Parsons, the Trayterous Jesuite.' 7. 'The Downefall of Poperie, proposed by way of challenge to all English Jesuites and . . . Papists,' London, 1604 and 1605, 4to; reprinted and entitled 'The Fall of Papistrie' in 1628, Parsons, Bishop Richard Smith, and Francis Walsingham (1577-1647) [q. v.] wrote answers to this, 8. 'The Woefull Crie of Rome,' London, 1605, 4to, 9. 'The Popes Funerall : containing an exact and pithy Reply to a pretended Answere of a . . Libell, called the "Forerunner of Bells Downfall," . . . Together with his Treatise called the Regiment of the Church,' London, 1606, 4to. 10. 'The Jesuites Ante-past: containing a Reply against a Pretended Aunswere to the Downefall of Poperie,' London, 1608, 4to. 11. 'The Tryall of the New Religion,' London, 1608, 4to. 12. 'A Christian Dialogue between Theophilus, a Deformed Catholike in Rome, and Remigius, a Reformed Catholike in the Church of England,' 1609, 4to. 13. 'The Catholique Triumph : conteyning a reply to the pretended answere of B. C. [i.e. Parsons] lately published against The Tryall of the New Religion,' London, 1610, 4to.

In his 'Jesuites Ante-past' (No. 10) he states that Queen Elizabeth granted him a pension of fifty pounds a year, which James I continued to him.

[John Eglinton Bailey's articles in Notes and Queries, 27 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1880 (reprinted for private circulation), and authorities there cited; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Early Printed Books; Notes and Queries, 18 Dec. 1880, p. 491.]

C. W. S.