Gibson, Matthew (DNB00)


GIBSON, MATTHEW, D.D. (1734–1790), catholic prelate, fourth son of Jasper Gibson of Stonecrofts, near Hexham, Northumberland, was, according to his own statement, born on 25 March (O.S.) 1734, but, according to the Hexham register, he was baptised on 23 March, a difference possibly due to the change in style. He was educated in the English College at Douay, where he was ordained priest, and appointed professor, first of philosophy, and afterwards of divinity. In 1768 he returned to England. He was chosen archdeacon of Kent and Surrey in 1770, and appointed vicar-general in the northern district to Bishop Walton in 1776, and special vicar in 1777. On Walton's death he was chosen to succeed him as vicar-apostolic of the northern district of England, and was consecrated in London to the see of Comana, in partibus, on 3 Sept. 1780. Finding that the catholic catechisms then in use were very inaccurate, he corrected the mistakes and published ‘The London, or Little Catechism,’ London, 1784, 12mo. Thomas Eyre [q. v.], president of Ushaw College, helped him, and described it as ‘by far the most perfect in the English tongue, in every sense and in every respect.’ All the English bishops gave their approbation to this catechism. On 21 Oct. 1789 Gibson and the three other vicars-apostolic issued the well-known encyclical letter on the subject of the ‘Protestation Oath,’ in which the term ‘protesting catholic dissenters’ was assumed by the catholic committee [see Butler, Charles, 1750–1832]. He died at Stella Hall, Ryton, Durham, on 19 May 1790, and was buried at Newbrough Church, near Stonecrofts. He was succeeded in the northern vicariate by his younger brother, Dr. William Gibson [q. v.]

[Kirk's MS. Biographical Collections, quoted in Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 223, 265, 266; Amherst's Hist. of Catholic Emancipation, i. 164, 168.]

T. C.