Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/MacCaghwell, Hugh

MACCAGHWELL, HUGH (1571–1626), sometimes known as Aodh mac aingil, Roman catholic archbishop of Armagh, was born at Saul in co. Down. His clan, of which the name is generally latinised Cavellus, were originally seated at Clogher in co. Tyrone. Much of his youth was spent in the Isle of Man, where he studied diligently, and whence Hugh O'Neill brought him as tutor to his sons, Henry and Hugh. He was probably that ‘younger scholar’ seen by Sir John Harington when he visited Tyrone in October 1599 (Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 249; Bagwell, iii. 345). He accompanied Henry O'Neill to Spain, and was with him there when Queen Elizabeth died (Moryson, pt. ii. bk. iii. chap. ii.) At Salamanca he became thoroughly versed in the civil and canon law, and afterwards took the vows of an Observant Franciscan. He was for several years in great repute there as a reader in theology. In 1616, soon after its foundation, he was sent to the Irish Franciscan College of St. Anthony of Padua at Louvain, and was more than once guardian there. Colgan and Patrick Fleming were among his pupils, and the mortuary-book records that he toiled long and hard to set the institution on a firm basis (Spicilegium Ossoriense, iii. 51). In 1620 he represented his province at the chapter-general of the order held in Spain. After this he was made definitor-general, and was employed in the reformation of the convent at Paris. In 1623 he went to Rome and became reader in theology at the convent of Ara Cœli. An election to the generalship of the Franciscan order was held in 1524, and MacCaghwell was second at the poll. Having a great reputation among the natives of Ulster, and a very good manner in dealing with them, he was strongly recommended by Wadding for the Irish primacy (ib. i. 139). Peter Lombard, who died early in 1625, had never seen his see, and his vicar-general, Rothe of Ossory, was in no better case. Wadding's recommendation was strongly supported by John O'Neill, titular earl of Tyrone, and brother of MacCaghwell's old pupils, who remarked that neither Lombard nor Rothe had such connections among the Ulster gentry as would enable them to lie hidden and to do their duty in times of persecution (ib. i. 141). Urban VIII accordingly provided MacCaghwell to Armagh on 27 April 1626. Consecration followed on 7 June, and the pall was given on the 22nd (Brady, i. 224). The new archbishop prepared to set out for Ireland, but fell ill, and died in St. Isidore's at Rome on 22 Sept. There he was buried, and John O'Neill raised a monument over his grave. The epitaph is printed in Harris's edition of Ware. He lived long enough to declare that there were many irregularities among the Regulars of Ireland, but that he hoped to effect the reform that was needed by gentle means, as became one who was a shepherd and no despot (Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 142).

MacCaghwell was an ascetic, who interpreted his great founder's rule in the strictest way. His life's work was teaching and writing. As a loyal Franciscan he sided with Duns Scotus against the Dominicans Bzovius and Jansen, and he laboured hard to prove that the subtle doctor was an Irishman.

MacCaghwell's works are:

  1. A treatise, with a title in Irish, ‘Scathan sacrameinte na haithridhe,’ signifying ‘A Mirror of the Sacrament of Penance,’ and described in Latin as ‘Tractatus de Pœnitentiâ et Indulgentiis,’ Louvain, 1618, 12mo.
  2. ‘Scoti Commentaria in quatuor libros sententiarum, &c., nunc noviter recognita per H. Cavellum,’ Antwerp, 1620, fol.
  3. ‘Apologia pro Johanne Duns-Scoto adversus Abr. Bzovium,’ out of which grew:
  4. ‘Apologia Apologiæ pro Johanne Duns-Scoto,’ &c., Paris, 1623, 8vo.
  5. ‘Scoti Commentaria seu Reportata Parisiensia,’ and ‘Quæstiones Quodlibetales,’ printed with the last named.
  6. ‘Quæstiones in Metaphysicam,’ &c., Venice, 1625.

Harris says all MacCaghwell's notes on ‘Duns Scotus’ are to be found in Wadding's edition of that writer, 12 vols. Lyons, 1639, fol.

[Irish Topographical Poems, ed. O'Donovan; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, vol. iii.; Meehan's Irish Franciscan Monasteries; Fynes Moryson's Itinerary; Harington's Nugæ Antiquæ, ed. Park; Cardinal Moran's Spicilegium Ossoriense; Brady's Episcopal Succession; Ware's Writers, ed. Harris; Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. ii.]

R. B-l.