Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Goter, John

GOTER or GOTHER, JOHN (d. 1704), Roman catholic divine, born of presbyterian parents at Southampton, was educated in hostility to the Roman catholic faith. ‘In drawing out the character of the papist misrepresented,’ he says in his ‘Papist Misrepresented and Represented,’ ‘I have quoted no authors, but have described him exactly according to the apprehension I had of a papist framed by me when I was a protestant.’ Soon converted to catholicism, he was sent by a relative to the English college at Lisbon; he arrived on 10 Jan. 1667–8. After being ordained priest, he filled for a short time the office of prefect or supervisor of the studies of the college. At the close of 1682 he was sent to England, where he began the exercise of his mission by catechising children and instructing the poor.

In the violent controversy which was carried on during the reign of James II, Goter was the principal champion on the catholic side. In 1685 he brought out the first instalment of his famous work, entitled ‘A Papist Misrepresented and Represented, or a Two-fold Character of Popery.’ In the course of a few months it elicited replies from Dr. Stillingfleet (afterwards bishop of Worcester), Dr. William Sherlock, Dr. William Clagett, Abednego Seller, John Williams, M.A., John Patrick, M.A., James Taylor, and Dr. Nicholas Stratford (afterwards bishop of Chester); and other controversial treatises from Goter's active pen drew forth answers from William Wake (afterwards archbishop of Canterbury), Benjamin Woodroffe, Dr. Thomas Bainbridge, and others. Goter was master of an easy and unaffected style, and it was a common saying of his contemporary, Dryden, that Goter was the only individual ‘besides himself’ who knew how to write the English language.

Soon after the revolution he withdrew from the metropolis, and became chaplain to George Holman, esq., of Warkworth Castle, Northamptonshire, and his wife, the Lady Anastasia, daughter of the unfortunate Lord Stafford who was executed in 1680. There he instructed and received into the catholic church Richard Challoner [q. v.], afterwards vicar-apostolic of the London district. At Warkworth he composed his moral treatises, which were afterwards published in a collected form. Some affairs of the English College requiring his presence at Lisbon, he embarked on board the San Caetano, a Genoese ship, the war then raging between this country and France rendering it unsafe to sail under British colours. He died at sea on 13 Oct. (N.S.) 1704, after having received the last rites of the church from another priest, his companion. His body was embalmed and interred in the chapel of the English College at Lisbon.

The following are his principal works, several of which have passed through numerous editions:

  1. ‘A Papist Misrepresented and Represented; or, a Two-fold Character of Popery; the one containing a sum of the superstitions of that Popery which … deserves the hatred of all good Christians; the other laying open that Popery which the Papists own and profess; with the chief articles of their faith, and the principal grounds and reasons which attach them to it. By J. L.,’ London, 1665 (misprint for 1685), 4to. Second and third parts appeared in 1687, the former called ‘The Catholic Representer,’ the latter with replies to two opponents. Goter's pseudonym was Lovell, under which most of his works made their first appearance. Bishop Challoner's abridgment of this book has passed through between thirty and forty editions.
  2. ‘Reflections upon the Answer [by Stillingfleet] to the Papist Misrepresented and Represented,’ London, 1686, 4to.
  3. ‘Papists protesting against Protestant-Popery,’ London, 1686 and 1687, 4to.
  4. ‘An Amicable Accommodation of the difference between the Representer and the Answerer. In return to the last Reply against the Papist Protesting against Protestant-Popery,’ London, 1686, 4to.
  5. ‘A Reply to the Answer of the Amicable Accommodation, being a fourth vindication of the Papist Misrepresented,’ &c., London, 1686, 4to.
  6. ‘Nubes Testium; or a Collection of the Primitive Fathers, giving testimony to the Faith once delivered to the Saints,’ London, 1686, 4to.
  7. ‘A Discourse of the Use of Images in relation to the Church of England and the Church of Rome,’ London, 1687, 4to.
  8. ‘Transubstantiation defended and proved from Scripture,’ London, 1687, 4to.
  9. ‘Pope Pius [IV] his Profession of Faith vindicated from novelty in additional articles,’ London, 1687, 4to. Challoner's edition was entitled ‘The Grounds of the Catholic Doctrine ascertained in the Profession of Faith published by Pope Pius IV,’ 1732, 12mo; often reprinted.
  10. ‘Good Advice to the Pulpits, delivered in a few cautions for the keeping up the reputation of those chairs, and preserving the nation in peace,’ London, 1687, 4to.
  11. ‘Pulpit-Sayings, or the Characters of the Pulpit-Papists examined,’ London, 1688, 4to.
  12. ‘The Sincere Christian's Guide in the choice of a Religion,’ 1734, 12mo, edited by Charles Dodd, the ecclesiastical historian (Catholicon, 1817, iv. 122).
  13. ‘A Confutation of the Latitudinarian System,’ manuscript, fol. Dodd prepared it for publication, and wrote the preface and notes.
  14. ‘Queries, or an Appeal to Common Sense, in order to estimate the Proceedings of those who separated from the Church of Rome,’ printed in the ‘Catholicon’ for 1817, iv. 101–12, 153–6, 270–4, v. 46–54, 94–9, 129–37, 176–82.
  15. ‘An Inquiry, which, amongst the several Divisions of Christians, takes the surest Way of knowing and teaching the Truth of Christ and his Gospel,’ London, 1820, 12mo, from an original manuscript in the library of St. Mary's College, Oscott.
  16. ‘A Seasonable Discourse about Religion in the present Conjuncture. By J. G.,’ London, 1689, 4to, has been attributed to Goter.
  17. ‘Spiritual Works,’ edited by the Rev. William Crathorne, 16 vols. London, 1718, 1726, 1736, 12mo; 16 vols. Newcastle and London [1740?]; 16 vols. Newcastle, 1790, 12mo. This last edition was prepared by the Rev. Thomas Eyre (1748–1810) [q. v.]

Dodd erroneously credits Goter with ‘Reason and Authority; or the Motives of a late Protestant's Reconciliation to the Catholic Church,’ 1687. It was really written by Joshua Basset [q. v.]

[Jones's Popery Tracts, pp. 102, 105, 111, 148, 154, 165, 166, 234, 298, 301 (art. 236), 343, 389; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 482; Chambers's Biog. Illustr. of Worcestershire, p. 495; Husenbeth's Colleges and Convents, p. 21; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. i. 510; Barnard's Life of Challoner, p. 2; Milner's Life of Challoner, pp. 3, 4; Goter's Spiritual Works; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Milner's Funeral Discourse on Bishop Challoner; Catholicon for 1817; Lingard's Hist. of England, x. 226; Panzani's Memoirs, p. 380; Catholic Magazine and Review, vi. 154; Butler's Hist. Memoirs of the English Catholics, 1822, iv. 425.]

T. C.