Heath, Henry (DNB00)


HEATH, HENRY (1599–1643), Franciscan, son of John Heath, was baptised at St. John's Church, Peterborough, on 16 Dec. 1599 (Tablet, 22 Jan. 1887, p. 152). His parents were protestants, who sent him in 1617 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1621 (Masters, List of Members of C. C. C. C. p. 26). He resided in the university for about five years, and was appointed librarian of his college. The perusal of controversial works inclined him to Roman catholicism, and coming to London he obtained an introduction to George Muscott, a priest, who received him into the Roman communion. Muscott sent him to the English College at Douay, where Dr. Kellison, the president, admitted him as a convictor. Afterwards entering the Franciscan convent of St. Bonaventure at Douay, he received the habit of St. Francis in 1623, when he assumed the name of Paul of St. Magdalen, and at the end of that year he became a professed member of the order. He was an inmate of the convent for nearly nineteen years, leading a life of exceptional austerity. He was appointed vicar or vice-president of his house in December 1630; its guardian in October 1632, and again on 15 June 1634 for three years longer; custos custodum, with the office of commissary of his English brethren and sisters in Belgium in 1637, and on 19 April 1640, guardian and also lector of scholastic theology (Oliver, Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 554). He next obtained leave to come on the English mission, and after landing at Dover proceeded to London on foot. Being penniless he lay down to rest at the door of a citizen, who suspected that he was a shoplifter, and handed him over to the custody of a constable. The discovery of some catholic writings concealed in his cap revealed his character. He was convicted under the statute of 27 Eliz. as a returned priest, and was executed at Tyburn on 17 April 1643.

He was the author of: 1. ‘Soliloquia seu Documenta Christianæ Perfectionis,’ Douay, 1651, 12mo; translated into English ‘out of the sixth and last Latin edition,’ Douay, 1674, 24mo, reprinted, London, 1844, 12mo. 2. Thirty treatises on various religious subjects, said to have been preserved in 1743 in St. Bonaventure's convent at Douay.

An engraved portrait of him in Mason's ‘Certamen Seraphicum Provinciæ Angliæ’ is reproduced in the English translations of his ‘Soliloquies.’

His father, when a widower and nearly eighty years old, went to Douay, was reconciled to the catholic church in St. Bonaventure's convent, and became a lay brother in the community. He died on 29 Dec. 1652.

[Addit. MS. 5871, f. 173; Challoner's Missionary Priests, 1743, ii. 243; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 118; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 5th ed. ii. 385; Harl. MS. 7035, p. 190; Hope's Franciscan Martyrs in England; Lamp, 1858, i. 201; Marsys, Hist. de la Persécution des Catholiques, iii. 117; Mason's Certamen Seraphicum, p. 63; Rambler, August 1857, pp. 119, 120; Stanton's Menology, p. 163; Stevens's Hist. of Abbeys, i. 106–8.]

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