Coombes, William Henry (DNB00)


COOMBES, WILLIAM HENRY, D.D. (1767–1850), catholic divine, was born at Meadgate in the parish of Camerton, Somersetshire, on 8 May 1767. At the age of twelve he was sent to Douay College, where he was ordained priest in 1791. During the troubles consequent on the French revolution he and several of his fellow-collegians with difficulty escaped to England. Soon afterwards he was appointed professor of divinity at Old Hall Green. On 12 Dec. 1801 Pope Pius VII created him D.D. In 1810 he accepted the mission of Shepton Mallett, Somersetshire, which he held for thirty-nine years. In 1849 he retired to the Benedictine monastery at Downside, where he died on 15 Nov. 1850. Coombes, who was an accomplished Greek scholar, published: 1. ‘Sacred Eloquence; or, Discourses selected from the Writings of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom, with the Letters of St. Eucherius to his kinsman, Valerian, on the Contempt of the World,’ Lond. 1798, 8vo. 2. ‘The Escape from France of the Rev. W. H. Coombes, written by himself, with his Letter on the generous behaviour of the Duke of York to some of the students of Douay who escaped from Doulens,’ Lond. 1799, 8vo. Printed also in ‘The Laity's Directory for the Church Service’ (1800). 3. Letters on catholic affairs under the signature of ‘The British Observer,’ which appeared in Cobbett's ‘Register’ in 1804–6. 4. ‘Life of St. Francis of Sales,’ translated from the French of Marsollier, 2 vols. Shepton Mallett, 1812, 8vo. 5. ‘The Spiritual Entertainments of St. Francis de Sales, with an addition of some Sacred Poems,’ Taunton, 1814, 12mo, translated from the French. 6. ‘The Essence of Religious Controversy,’ Lond. 1827 and 1839, 8vo. 7. ‘Life of St. Jane Frances de Chantal,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1830, and again 1847, 8vo.

[Oliver's Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 272; Gillow's Bibl. Dict. i. 558; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

T. C.