Colleton, John (DNB00)


COLLETON, JOHN (1548–1635), catholic divine, was son of Edmund Colleton, gentleman, of Milverton, Somersetshire, where he was born in 1548. He was sent to the university of Oxford in 1565, and studied, 'according to report,' in Lincoln College (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 597). Having been converted to Catholicism when about twenty years of age, he proceeded to Louvain with the intention of becoming a Carthusian monk, entered the novitiate, and remained upon his trial for eleven months; but ill-health and a melancholy disposition not suited to that order prevented him from proceeding any further. He then went to the English college at Douay, where he was admitted 14 Jan. 1575-6 (Douay Diaries, p. 100). As he had already devoted considerable time to the study of theology, he was ordained priest at Binche on 11 June 1576 (ib. p. 105), and sent to the mission on the 19th of the following month. He exercised his priestly functions in several parts of England till 1581, when he was taken prisoner, arraigned and tried with Edmund Campion [q.v.] and others for conspiring a broad against the queen and government. The indictment charged them with having concerted an invasion and compassed the queen's death by a conspiracy carried on at Rheims and at Rome; but as it was proved that Colleton had never set foot in either of those cities he obtained an acquittal. However, he was kept a prisoner in the Tower of London till 1584, when he was exiled with seventy-one other priests. He arrived at the English college of Douay, then temporarily removed to Rheims, on 3 March 1584-5, and quitted it on 24 April 1585 (ib. pp. 204, 206). He remained abroad till 1587, when he returned to England on the mission, and lived for the most part in London and Kent. Colleton sided with the secular clergy in the dispute which originated between them and the Jesuits at Wisbech Castle in 1595, and after the settlement of that quarrel he was associated with Mush in an attempt to establish a congregation or fraternity which was to unite the members and regulate the concerns of the general body of the English clergy (Dodd, Church Hist. ed. Tierney, iii. 45 n.) He was one of the thirteen priests who signed the protestation of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth in 1602 (Brady, Episcopal Succession, iii. 60), and he energetically opposed the appointment and the maladministration of the archpriest George Blackwell [q. v.]

Afterwards he was made archdeacon by Birkhead, the archpriest [q. v.], upon whose decease he supplied his place until Dr. Harrison was appointed to the vacant post. In 1610, when the gaols were filled with priests and laymen who had refused to take the oath of allegiance, Colleton was an inmate of the Clink prison in Southwark, whence he petitioned for his liberty on the ground of his infirmities and his unsuspected loyalty to the king.

On Dr. Bishop, bishop of Chalcedon [q. v.], coming to England in 1623 and erecting a chapter, Colleton was constituted dean of the English clergy and also the bishop's vicar-general. As he could not thoroughly discharge the duties of those offices in consequence of his great age and declining health, George Fisher, alias Musket, archdeacon of Surrey and Middlesex, was appointed his coadjutor by letters bearing date 10 Feb. 1625-6, and signed by the bishop of Chalcedon.

On 22 Nov. 1624 he wrote to Pope Urban VIII, praying his holiness that a dispensation for the marriage of Prince Charles with Henrietta Maria, sister of the most christian king, might be issued as speedily as possible, inasmuch as complete ruin would impend over the afflicted church in this country if the negotiations for the marriage were broken off. He adds that the puritans were bitterly opposed to the match, and concludes by urging the pontiff to obtain the best possible conditions for the English catholics with a guarantee for their fulfilment (Addit. MS. 24204, f. 25). In a letter to Colleton on 24 Dec. the pope announces that the negotiations for the marriage have been concluded, and expresses a hope that, as a consequence, the catholics who were languishing in prison will be released (ib. 15389, f. 60). Colleton spent the latter part of his life in the house of Mr. Roper at Eltham in Kent, where he died on 19 Oct. 1635, aged 87. Dodd says that his candid behaviour and long experience in affairs had gained him great esteem, not only among his brethren, but also with the moderate party in the church of England. Even James I depended very much upon his sincerity in matters relating to catholics.

His works are : 1. 'A Ivst Defence of the Slandered Priestes: "Wherein the reasons of their bearing off to receiue Maister Blackwell to their Superiour before the arriuall of his Holines Breue are layed downe . . . Newly imprinted 1602,' 4to, sine loco. 2. A supplication to the king of Great Britain for a toleration of the catholic religion. 3. Epistle to Pope Paul V.

[Addit. MS. 22052, f. 30; Bayley's Tower of London (1830), p. 164; Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 76; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 507, iii. 83, and Tierney's edit. vol. iii. Append, pp. cxxxiii, cxliv, cxlv; Diaries of the English College, Douay, pp. 6, 7, 13, 25, 100, 105, 108, 181, 204, 206; Flanagan's Hist, of the Church in England, ii. 209, 290, 308; Gillow's Bibl. Dict. i. 538; Oliver's Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 266; Panzani's Memoirs, pp. 53, 59, 72, 92, 104; Sergeant's Account of the Chapter erected by the Bishop of Chalcedon (1853); Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 696.]

T. C.