Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tesimond, Oswald

TESIMOND, alias Greenway, OSWALD (1563–1635), jesuit, also known as Philip Beaumont, born in Northumberland in 1563, entered the English College at Rome for his higher studies on 9 Sept. 1580, and joined the Society of Jesus on 13 April 1584 by leave of the cardinal protector Moroni. After teaching philosophy at Messina and Palermo, he was sent to the seminary at Madrid, which he left in November 1597, having been ordered to the English mission. He landed at Gravesend on 9 March 1597–1598, and assisted Father Edward Oldcorne for eight years in the Worcestershire and Warwickshire missions. In 1603 he was professed of the four vows.

Tesimond was one of the three jesuits who were charged with complicity in the ‘gunpowder plot,’ and a proclamation, containing a description of his personal appearance, was issued for his apprehension. It is certain that Tesimond knew of the secret in confession, but the government was unacquainted with this fact at the time of the proclamation. On 6 Nov. 1605 he rode to the conspirators at Huddington, and administered the sacrament to them. In explanation he afterwards stated that, having learned from a letter written by Sir Everard to Lady Digby the danger to which the conspirators were exposed, he deemed it his duty to offer to them the aids of religion before they suffered that death which threatened them. Thomas Winter [q. v.] at his execution declared that, whereas certain fathers of the Society of Jesus were accused of counselling and furthering the conspirators in this treason, he could clear them all, and particularly Father Tesimond, from all fault and participation therein (Morris, Condition of Catholics under James I, p. 220).

Tesimond, after the appearance of the proclamation against the jesuits, came in disguise to London. He was one day standing in a crowd, reading the proclamation for his apprehension, when a man arrested him in the king's name. The jesuit accompanied his captor quietly until they came to a remote and unfrequented street, when Tesimond, being a powerful man, suddenly seized his companion, and after a violent struggle disengaged himself from him. He immediately quitted London, and, after remaining for a few days in some Roman catholic houses in Essex and Suffolk, he was safely conveyed to Calais in a small boat laden with dead pigs, of which cargo he passed as the owner. He stayed for some time at St. Omer. Then he went to Italy, and was prefect of studies at Rome and in Sicily. Subsequently he was appointed theologian in the seminary at Valladolid, and afterwards he resided in Florence and Naples. Sir Edwin Rich wrote from Naples on 5 Oct. 1610 to the king of England to say that a jesuit, Philip Beaumont, alias Oswald Tesimond, had arrived there, and was plotting to send the king an embroidered satin doublet and hose which were poisoned, and would be death to the wearer. Tesimond died at Naples in 1635.

The ‘Autobiography of Father Tesimond,’ translated from the Italian holograph original preserved at Stonyhurst College, is printed in Morris's ‘Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers,’ (1st ser. pp. 141–83).

[Foley's Records, vi. 144, vii. 767; Gerard's What was the Gunpowder Plot? p. 283; Jardine's Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot; More's Hist. Prov. Anglicanæ Soc. Jesu, p. 336; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 205; Tierney's Account of the Gunpowder Plot, pp. 67–72.]

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