Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blackhall, Gilbert

BLACKHALL, GILBERT (fl. 1667), catholic missioner, is believed to have been a native of the diocese of Aberdeen. He entered the Scotch college at Rome in 1626, was ordained priest, and returned to Scotland in 1630, but encountered so much opposition from the Jesuits that he withdrew to Paris, where he became confessor to Lady Isabella Hay, eldest daughter of Francis, Earl of Errol. In 1637 he returned to Scotland, where he performed the duties of a missionary in the shires of Aberdeen and Banff, acting at the same time as chaplain to the Countess of Aboyne at Aboyne castle. After her death he returned to France in 1643, with the view of inducing the Marchioness of Huntly to withdraw from Scotland her young granddaughter, the only child of the Countess of Aboyne, and bring her to France to be educate. Having failed in this purpose he applied to the queen of France to use her influence in accomplishing his object, in which he was ultimately successful. He wrote his autobiography in Paris in 1666 or 1667, but how long the author survived the composition of it is unknown. It contains accounts of his relations with Lady Isabella Hay, with the Countess of Aboyne, and with her daughter. The title is ‘A breiffe Narration of the Services done to three noble Ladyes, by Gilbert Blakal, Preist of the Scots Mission in France, in the Low Countries, and in Scotland. Dedicated to Madame de Gourdon, one of the forsaid three, and now Dame d’Attour to Madame.’ This work is a valuable addition to the history of the eventful times in which Blackhall lived. It was edited by Mr. John Stuart from the original manuscript in the possession of Bishop Kyle, and printed at Aberdeen for the Spalding Club in 1844, 4to.

[Stuart's preface to the Breiffe Narration; Gordon's Roman Catholic Mission in Scotland, introd. v. 523.]

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