Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gawen, Thomas

GAWEN, THOMAS (1612–1684), catholic writer, son of Thomas Gawen, a minister of Bristol, was born at Marshfield, Gloucestershire, in 1612. He was admitted a scholar of Winchester School in 1625, and in 1632 was made perpetual fellow of New College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. and M.A. After taking orders he travelled abroad, and at Rome made the acquaintance of Milton. On his return he became chaplain to Curle, bishop of Winchester, who in 1642 appointed him tutor to his son, then a commoner of Magdalen College, Oxford. That prelate also collated him to a benefice—probably Exton, Hampshire—and in 1645 to a prebend in the church of Winchester. Afterwards Gawen visited Italy a second time with the heir of the Pierpoints of Dorsetshire. At the Restoration he was presented to the rectories of Bishopstoke and Fawley, Hampshire, though he was never inducted into Fawley. He resigned all his preferments on being reconciled to the Roman catholic church, and to avoid persecution he withdrew to France, and through the interest of Dr. Stephen Goffe and Abbot Walter Montagu was admitted into the household of Queen Henrietta Maria. Subsequently he paid a third visit to Rome, married an Italian lady, and had a child by her. Wood says that because his wife had no fortune he deserted her and the child, and returned to England, ‘his wealth being kept for the children of his brother.’ Although living in retirement, he was in some trouble in 1679 over the popish plot. He died in Pall Mall on 8 March 1683–4, and was buried in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Wood, who describes him as a learned and religious person, states that he was the author of: 1. ‘A brief Explanation of the several Mysteries of the Holy Mass, …’ London, 1686, 8vo. 2. ‘Certain Reflections upon the Apostles' Creed touching the Sacrament,’ London, 1686, 8vo. 3. ‘Divers Meditations and Prayers, both before and after the Communion,’ London, 1686, 8vo. These three treatises were issued and bound together. He was author of other works, apparently unprinted, including a Latin version of John Cleveland's poem, ‘The Rebel Scot,’ and a translation from the Spanish of the life of Vincent of Caraffa, general of the jesuits.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 130; Dodd's

Church Hist. iii. 275; Le Neve's Fasti; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 171.]

T. C.