Ellis, Philip (DNB00)
ELLIS, PHILIP, in religion MICHAEL (1652–1726), catholic prelate, born in 1652, was the third son of the Rev. John Ellis], author of 'Vindiciæ Catholicæ' [q. v.], by Susannah, daughter of William Welbore, esq., of Cambridge. His eldest brother, John Ellis [q. v.], became under-secretary of state to William III; the second son. Sir William Ellis (d. 1734), was secretary of state to James II; and Welbore Ellis [q. v.], the fourth son and next brother to Philip, was appointed protestant bishop of Killala and afterwards of Meath. Philip was admitted into Westminster School on the foundation in 1667 (Welch, Alumni Westmon. ed. Phillimore, p. 163). The editor of the 'Ellis Correspondence' (i. 18) incorrectly asserts that while there 'Philip was kidnapped by the Jesuits, and brought up by them in the Roman catholic religion in their college of St. Omer.' The truth is that, after his conversion to Catholicism, he proceeded to the Benedictine convent of St. Gregory at Douay, where he was professed 30 Nov. 1670 (Weldon, Chronicle, append, p. 11). For many years he was not heard of by his family, and perhaps he might never have been discovered but for the circumstance of his being called 'Jolly Phil' at Douay, as he had been at Westminster (Gent, Mag. xxxix. 328). Having finished his studies he was ordained priest and sent to labour upon the mission in England. His abilities recommended him to the notice of James II, who appointed him one of his chaplains and preachers.
In 1687 Innocent XI divided England into four ecclesiastical districts, and allowed James to nominate persons to govern them. Ellis was accordingly appointed, by letters apostolic dated 30 Jan. 1687-8, the first vicar-apostolic of the western district, and was consecrated on 6 May 1688 by Ferdinand d'Adda, archbishop of Amasia, in partibus, at St. James's, where the king had founded a convent of fourteen Benedictine monks. He received the see of Aureliopolis, in partibus, for his title. Like the other vicars-apostolic he had a salary of 1,000l. a year out of the royal exchequer, and 500l. when ' he entered on his office. In the second week of July 1688 he confirmed a number of youths, some of whom were converts, in the new chapel of the Savoy. His name is subscribed to the 'Pastoral Letter of the four Catholic Bishops to the Lay-Catholics of England,' issued in 1688. It is doubted whether he ever visited his diocese, for on the breaking out of the revolution in November 1688 he was arrested and imprisoned in Newgate (Macaulay, Hist. of England, ed. 1858, ii. 565). He soon regained his liberty, however, and repaired to the court of St. Germain. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to Rome, where he formed a close friendship with Cardinal Howard.
After Sir John Lytcott's return from Rome James II had no one to represent him at the papal court, and Cardinal Howard and Bishop Ellis in 1693, without being invested with a public character, promoted his interests and corresponded with his ministers (Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 469, 531). Ellis was never able to return to England to take charge of his vicariate. Writing on 18 Jan. 1702 to Bishop Gifford, who in his absence administered the ecclesiastical affairs of the western district, he said that some years previously persons well acquainted with the aspect or the English court were of opinion that a license to return would not be denied to him, but James II would not allow him to ask for one. Subsequently, when his 'old master' was not so averse to his return, 'the face of things was much changed, and the permission, though not denied, yet not granted, but rather deferred' (Brady, Episcopal Succession, iii. 286). In or before 1705 Ellis resigned his vicariate into the hands of Clement XI, who on 3 Oct. 1708 appointed him to the bishopric of Segni in the State of the Church. There he founded a diocesan seminary and substantially repaired and embellished the episcopal palace. The acts of a synod of his clergy held in the cathedral of Segni in November 1710 were highly approved oy Clement XI, who ordered them to be printed and published. Ellis died on 16 Nov. 1726, and was buried in the church attached to the seminary, to which he bequeathed the bulk of his property. Pope Leo XII gave Ellis's library and ring to Bishop Barnes for the use of his successors in the western district.
Several sermons preached by him before the king and queen (1685-7) were separately published at London, and some of them are included in 'A Collection of Catholick Sermons,' 2 vols. London, 1741. In the sermon preached before the king 13 Nov. 1686 he announced that the English Benedictine congregation had authorised him to declare absolute renunciation on their part to all titles or rights which might possibly be inherent in them to possessions formerly in their hands (Weldon, Chronicle, p. 229). Ellis's correspondence with Cardinal Gualterio (1712-20) is in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 20310), and several of his letters, dated Rome, 1695, are in possession of the Bishop of Southwark (Hist MSS. Commission, 3rd Rep. Append. p. 233).
His portrait, engraved by Henry Meyer, from the original picture in the possession of Viscount Clifden, is prefixed to the first vol. of the 'Ellis Correspondence,' edited by the Hon. George Agar Ellis, 2 vols. London, 1829.