Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Loftus, Adam (1533?-1605)

LOFTUS, ADAM (1533?–1605), archbishop of Armagh and Dublin, the second son of Edward Loftus of Swineside in the parish of Coverham, Yorkshire (Atthill, Middleham, p. 26), was born probably in 1533 (Funeral Entries in Ulster's Office, i. 44; but cf. Monck Mason, St. Patrick's, App. p. lvii, and also Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xi. 19). He was educated at Cambridge, probably at Trinity College (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr.), and afterwards became rector of Outwell St. Clement, Norfolk (Blomefield, Norfolk, vii. 475). In Rymer (Fœdera, xv. 464) mention is made of a certain Adam Loftouse being presented by the crown (Philip and Mary) in 1557 to the vicarage of Gedney in Lincolnshire, from which it has been inferred that he was at that time a Roman catholic (cf. Fitzsimon, Justification of the Masse, Douay, 1611, p. 300, where he is described as ‘an apostate priest’). If so, he evidently conformed to the established church on the accession of Elizabeth, and was appointed chaplain to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Sussex, with whom he apparently went to Ireland in May 1560. In April 1561 he is spoken of (Shirley, Orig. Letters, xxxv.) as chaplain to Alexander Craik, bishop of Kildare and dean of St. Patrick's. On 8 Oct. following he was presented by the crown to the rectory of Painstown in the diocese of Meath (Morrin, Cal. Pat. Rolls, i. 441). His learning and discretion soon found recognition, and on 30 Oct. 1561 Elizabeth, on the recommendation of Sussex, and apparently also of Archbishop Parker (Parker Corresp. p. 117), directed a congé d'élire, notwithstanding such instruments had been rendered unnecessary in Ireland by a recent act of parliament, to be issued to the dean and chapter for his elevation to the archiepiscopal see of Armagh (Morrin, Cal. Pat. Rolls, i. 471). The last legal occupant of the see had been George Dowdall [q. v.], who died on 15 Aug. 1558. On 7 Feb. 1560 Donatus MacTeige had been appointed to the archbishopric by the pope, but neither he nor his successor, Richard Creagh [q. v.], was recognised by the English government. Armagh, however, at this time was in the possession of Shane O'Neill, and on 2 Sept. 1562 Sussex explained that, owing to the absence of sundry of the chapter, ‘whereof the greatest part be temporal men and Shane O'Neill's horsemen,’ the dean could not proceed to the election (Shirley, Orig. Letters, xlv.). In January 1562 Loftus accompanied Sussex to England, apparently on business connected with the archbishopric; for on 5 Oct., shortly after his return to Ireland, he received a commission to order ecclesiastical causes in the diocese, and to take the temporalities of the see from 30 Oct. 1561 until his consecration (Morrin, Cal. Pat. Rolls, i. 473). On 2 March 1563, in pursuance of a royal mandate dated 20 Jan., addressed to Hugh, archbishop of Dublin, and two other bishops (ib. p. 481), the form of capitular election having been abandoned, Loftus was consecrated archbishop of Armagh by Hugh Curwen [q. v.], archbishop of Dublin, assisted by other bishops, and in this way was preserved unbroken the line of episcopal succession in the church of Ireland. The literature, controversial and otherwise, relating to Loftus's consecration is considerable. The chief points in dispute are, first, whether he had at the time attained the canonical age of thirty, and secondly, whether the mandate was carried into effect so far as concerned the other bishops (cf. Ware, Bishops; Mant, Hist. of the Church of Ireland, i. 269, and note on flyleaf; W. M. Brady, The Irish Reformation; W. Lee, Some Strictures on Dr. Brady's Pamphlet, Dublin, 1866; W. H. Hardinge, Narrative in Proof of the Uninterrupted Consecrational Descent of the Bishops of the Church of Ireland, Dublin, 1867; A. T. Lee, The Irish Episcopal Succession, London, 1867; P. F. Moran, The Episcopal Succession in Ireland, Dublin, 1866).

Owing to the restricted power of the English government in Ireland, Loftus's authority in his diocese was more nominal than real. The entire temporalities, he subsequently complained, were worth only about 20l. a year, with the house and lands of Termonfeckin, near Drogheda, where he usually resided when state affairs did not require his presence in Dublin. In September 1564 he obtained leave of absence for four months (Cal. Fiants, Eliz., No. 674), and on 6 Jan. 1565, as the result of his visit to court, Elizabeth granted him the deanery of St. Patrick's, vacant by the death of Craik, in commendam, till other suitable provision could be made for him, on his consenting to enter into a bond of 1,000l. to resign it ‘whensoever the queen's majesty should convert the same to a school or house of learning’ (Shirley, Orig. Letters, lxi. lxvii.). He was accordingly postulated by the chapter, and on 28 Jan. the postulation was confirmed by the queen (Monck Mason, St. Patrick's, p. 166). On the establishment of the commission for ecclesiastical causes, on 1 Oct. 1565, he was appointed to the chief place on it. His learning and discretion had already obtained Sussex's approbation, and he was universally acknowledged to be a zealous and eloquent preacher. The damp climate of Ireland, however, did not agree with his health, and in August 1566 he obtained leave to be absent in England for twelve months (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 928). Ill-health compelled him to stop for a time at Cambridge, but on 3 Nov. he addressed a letter from his lodging in Southwark to Cecil, enclosing an account that had reached him of the damage done to his diocese by Shane O'Neill, and requesting permission to resign his archbishopric (Shirley, Orig. Letters, cii.) On 25 Nov. he was admitted to the degree of D.D. at Cambridge (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr.) Meanwhile the question of finding a suitable successor to Archbishop Curwen, who had been translated to Oxford, was occupying the attention of government. Loftus at first suggested Hugh Brady, bishop of Meath, but finding him somewhat lax on the commission for ecclesiastical causes, he withdrew his recommendation in favour of Christopher Goodman (Shirley, Orig. Letters, lxxxv. xcviii. cvii.) But on 11 March 1567 Sir Henry Sidney announced to Loftus the queen's intention of translating him to the archbishopric, and on his own account added the words, ‘nunc venit hora ecclesiam reformandi’ (ib. cix.) Loftus was inclined to stipulate for the retention of his deanery (ib. cx.) But finding that it was designed for the new lord chancellor, Robert Weston, he resigned it, and on 8 Aug. 1567 was translated to Dublin (Cotton, Fasti Eccles. Hib.) Shortly after his installation his enemies sought to damage him with the queen, by insinuating that he was making innovations in the celebration of the communion. His theology was indeed strongly leavened with puritanism; but though he numbered among his correspondents John Knox, and accounted Thomas Cartwright an honoured friend, he was always a staunch adherent of the establishment. There seems, indeed, little doubt that he was indifferent in matters of ritual, and personally favoured a more simple ceremonial than that established by law; but he emphatically denied that he had in his sermons to the clergy or the people ‘persuaded any innovation, or seemed to mislike of (but wished reverently to be embraced), that order set forth already by the law’ (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xxiii. 18). So, too, when he was charged, on the ground of his intimacy with Cartwright, with being a puritan, he indignantly declared himself ‘utterly ignorant what the term and accusation of a puritan meaneth’ (ib. lvii. 36).

During the disturbances that occurred in the spring of 1573 Loftus suffered severely. His town of Tallaght, lying on the edge of the Wicklow mountains, was invaded by the Irish, and a nephew of his and some of his men slain at the very gates (ib. xl. 36). On the death of Weston, in May 1573, he was appointed lord keeper, and held the office till April 1576, when he was succeeded by Sir William Gerard [q. v.] (Lib. Hib.) Meanwhile he laboured diligently as a preacher and an ecclesiastical commissioner to advance the reformation; but he suffered much from an infirmity in his leg, and Fitzwilliam, though thinking he might, ‘having youth and strength,’ ‘bear it out for a time,’ advised his translation to Oxford, with the deanery of Wells in commendam (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xlii. 16, lv. 29, lvi. 27). A commission, issued on 18 March 1577 to George Acworth and Robert Garvey for granting licenses, dispensations, faculties, &c., was resented by Loftus, the head of the commission for ecclesiastical causes, and the other bishops generally, as an infringement of their rights; and after considerable controversy, in which Loftus took a prominent part (Brady, State Papers concerning the Irish Church, pp. 26–36), the commission was revoked on 14 March 1579 (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 2996). During Gerard's absence in England, in 1576 and 1579, Loftus filled the office of lord keeper, and on 21 Nov. he received additional authority to hear causes. On 6 March 1581 he was again constituted lord keeper, and on 16 Aug. he was created lord chancellor, an office which he held till his death (Lib. Hib.) Apparently also about the same time, 1579, he obtained, ‘on account of the exility and tenuity of his see,’ the chancellorship of St. Patrick's, with the rectory of Finglas annexed. His desire to increase his income did not escape the notice of his enemies; but before he became lord chancellor his entire income amounted to little more than 400l. a year. He had a numerous family to provide for, maintained a hospitable establishment, redeemed some of the property of the church alienated by his predecessor, and personally had ‘never gained the value of one groat by any lease’ (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxii. 52). His treatment of Viscount Baltinglas before the ecclesiastical commission (ib. lxxvi. 26) was warmly resented by the Irish Roman catholics, who naturally regarded him as their greatest enemy, and during the rebellion of Baltinglas and his associates he was obliged, for self-protection, to live ‘in a kind of imprisonment in his own house’ (ib. lxxxiv. 1). The value of his bishopric had been reduced to less than 200l., and he begged Walsingham to obtain for him ‘some mean living in England’ (ib. lxxxiii. 53).

On the recall of Lord-deputy Grey he was, on 12 July 1582 (ib. xciv. 17; Lascelles, Lib. Hib. i. ii. 4, gives the date as 14 July), appointed lord justice in conjunction with Sir Henry Wallop; and this office, which he held till June 1584, somewhat improved his position. On 12 Sept. 1582 he petitioned for a portion of the attainted lands of Viscount Baltinglas (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xcv. 46, 47). At Burghley's request, however, the petition was withdrawn, but Loftus declined a proposal for his translation to an English bishopric on the ground that he was too old to undertake new duties (ib. xcviii. 44). For similar reasons also he declined Walsingham's offer of the archbishopric of Armagh in commendam (ib. c. 25). With the exception of Munster, where the people had grown so enfeebled through famine that Loftus suggested the advisability of pardoning the Earl of Desmond (ib. xcvii. 16), the country remained tolerably quiet under the economical government of Loftus and Wallop (ib. xcviii. 20, xcix. 43, civ. 104). Some disturbances indeed occurred in Ulster in the summer of 1583, and the lords justices were obliged to visit Dundalk for the purpose of restoring peace (ib. ci. 7, ciii. 37, civ. 28). There was always, however, a danger of foreign invasion, and the examination of Christopher Barnewall (ib. civ. 38) emphasised the necessity for keeping a strict watch over foreign emissaries. On 8 Oct. 1583 the lords justices announced the arrival and apprehension of Dermot O'Hurley [q. v.], Roman catholic archbishop of Cashel. Loftus has been much blamed by catholic writers for his inhumanity in torturing O'Hurley, but apart from the fact that O'Hurley had himself been an inquisitor, it must not be forgotten that the order proceeded directly from Walsingham, that neither Loftus nor Wallop took any personal part in the inquisition, and that O'Hurley's execution by martial law, though stigmatised as unlawful, was sanctioned and approved by the queen and privy council (Brady, State Papers concerning the Irish Church and Episcopal Succession; Moran, Catholic Archbishops of Dublin and Spicilegium Ossoriense; O'Sullevan, Historiæ Catholicæ Hiberniæ Compendium; Roth, Analecta Sacra nova et mira de rebus Catholicorum in Hibernia gestis; Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors).

On 21 June 1584 the sword of state was handed over to Sir John Perrot. Among Perrot's instructions (Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, i. 28) was one authorising him to inquire how the revenues of St. Patrick's Cathedral might be diverted to the establishment of a university. The scheme was an old one and had been opposed by Archbishop Curwen (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. xi. 13). Loftus adopted Curwen's views, and in a letter addressed to Walsingham and Burghley (4 Oct.), while allowing that the proposal to establish a university was both good and necessary, he argued that the dissolution of St. Patrick's would prove disastrous not only to religion, but also to the English interest in Ireland (ib. cxii. 4, 5). A fierce quarrel between Loftus and Perrot followed, in the course of which Loftus procured an order from the queen expressly forbidding the dissolution; otherwise he threatened to resign his bishopric (ib. cxv. 27; Nicolas, Hatton, p. 357). Loftus asserted that Perrot had no real regard for religion or learning, but that all he desired was to benefit his own friends and to gratify his ambition by founding a college by the name of ‘Perrot's College’ (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. cxviii. 63, 66, cxix. 18, 32, 44). Through Burghley's interposition a temporary reconciliation was effected, and on Easter Day 1586 the deputy and archbishop received the communion together (ib. iii. 48). But the old ‘bickerings’ soon broke out again, Perrot complaining of the indignities offered him by the archbishop, and Loftus asserting that Perrot's government was ‘abhorred and loathed of the better sort’ (ib. pp. 164, 211, 220). Perrot had made many enemies, and his rashness and intemperate speeches in the end gave Loftus the advantage he desired. In December he learnt that Perrot's secretary, Philip Williams, who had been dismissed and imprisoned by him, was willing to bear witness against his former master, and Loftus took care that Williams's insinuations should reach Burghley's ear (ib. pp. 228, 244, 348, 358, 383). In a collection of the material points against Perrot, drawn up by Burghley and bearing date 15 Nov. 1591, Loftus's name appears along with those of Thomas Jones, bishop of Meath, and Philip Williams, as giving evidence for ‘evil words against the queen for writing to him to forbear his proceedings about St. Patrick's’ (ib. iv. 439). Perrot himself ascribed his misfortunes to Loftus's malice (Rawlinson, Life of Perrot, p. 310).

Though Loftus had opposed Perrot's scheme, he strongly approved of the establishment of a university in Dublin, and it was largely by his instrumentality that the corporation of Dublin was induced to make a grant of the priory of All Hallows ‘and the parks thereof,’ which was the first practical step to the foundation of Trinity College (Gilbert, Cal. of Ancient Records of Dublin, ii. 240). There appears to be no copy extant of Loftus's speech to the corporation suggesting the grant, but the gist of it is given by Ware (Annals of Ireland, s. a. 1590). A second speech of his, thanking the queen for yielding to the prayer of the corporation, has been printed by Hearne (Pref. to Camden, Annals, p. lvii, and also in Stubbs, Hist. of the Univ. of Dublin, App. p. 350). When the proposal was sanctioned by the queen, Loftus subscribed 100l. to the foundation. By the charter of the foundation he was appointed the first provost. He held this office for little more than a year, but it was he who gave the foundation its ecclesiastical tone. ‘The place,’ he said on surrendering the office on 7 June 1594 to Walter Travers, a conformist, although of strong puritan bias, ‘requires a person of an exemplary conformity to the doctrine and discipline of this church as they are established by law. … Both papists and schismatics are (tho' in different degrees of enmity) equally our implacable enemies’ (Lansdowne MSS. 846, ff. 205–7; compare Killen, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland; Urwick, Early History of Trinity College, Dublin; Stubbs, History of the University of Dublin; Heron, Constitutional History of the University of Dublin).

Early in 1590 some serious allegations of misconduct in the chancellorship were preferred against him by Robert Legge, deputy remembrancer in the exchequer. Legge was afterwards dismissed from his office by Fitzwilliam, but he found an ally in Barnaby Riche, and also, it was suspected, in Lord Buckhurst. On 2 Aug. 1592 Loftus addressed a letter to the privy council noticing Legge's charges, and praying that they might be thoroughly investigated. But his own answer, delivered on 17 Sept., appears to have been regarded as satisfactory, for on 21 Nov. he wrote to Burghley thanking him for the withdrawal of the accusation. Later on there were some rumours that commissioners were to be appointed, but nothing seems to have been done in the matter, much to Loftus's annoyance, who complained that their ‘not being searched into has given boldness to every discontented and malicious detractor to revenge themselves by such monstrous and false accusations against him’ (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. iv. 308, 350, 564, 581–587, v. 273).

Some time, apparently in 1589 or 1590 (ib. iv. 340), Loftus purchased the estate of Rathfarnham in county Dublin from Barry, viscount Buttevant ({sc|D'Alton}}, Hist. of Dublin, p. 785), where he erected a stately castle. On 4 March 1594 he was appointed, along with Sir Robert Gardiner and Sir Anthony St. Leger, to treat with the Earl of Tyrone and Hugh O'Donnell (Cal. Fiants, Eliz. No. 5851). Their negotiations (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. v. 221–6) were in a measure successful, and Tyrone promised to keep the peace until his grievances were impartially considered. In November 1595, ‘though the time of the year be unseasonable for my old and sickly body to undertake any long journey,’ he accompanied the deputy, Sir William Russell, into Connaught for the purpose of allaying disorders there (ib. pp. 430, 437). On the death of Lord Burgh in 1597, he and Sir Robert Gardiner were on 15 Nov. appointed lords justices for civil affairs till the arrival of Essex in April 1599 relieved him from a charge which had proved particularly onerous owing to the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone and the general collapse of the government after the overthrow of Bagenall at the battle of the Yellow Ford. But on Essex's hasty departure Loftus was, on 25 Sept. 1599, sworn in with Sir George Carey, and continued in office until the arrival of Lord-deputy Mountjoy on 24 Feb. 1600. On the accession of James he was on 25 March 1603 confirmed in his office of lord chancellor ‘pro fidelitate industria sana conscientia atque doctrina.’ It is improbably said (Fitzsimon, Justification of the Masse, p. 300) that towards the end of his life he manifested a disposition to Roman catholicism, and that he was upbraided for his apostasy by Sir George Carey. He died at his palace of St. Sepulchre's, Dublin, on 5 April 1605, being seventy-two years of age, and was buried in the choir of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The spur and ball, together with the boar's head—the Loftus crest—which were hung from the wall over the vault, have within the last two years or so been removed, and there is nothing now to mark the place of his burial.

Loftus married Jane, eldest daughter of Adam Purdon of Lurgan Race, co. Louth. She died in July 1595, and was buried in St. Patrick's. By her he had twenty children, viz.: Sir Dudley, who married Anne Bagenall, daughter of Sir Nicholas (not, as according to the peerages, Sir Henry) Bagenall; Sir Edward, who married Anne, daughter and coheiress of Sir Henry Duke of Castle-Jordan, King's County, and died without issue at the siege of Kinsale, 10 May 1601; Adam, a captain of horse, unmarried, killed in the O'Byrnes' country, and buried in St. Patrick's, 29 May 1599; Sir Thomas of Killyan, who married Ellen, daughter of Robert Hartpole of Shrule in Queen's County (widow of Francis Cosby of Stradbally in the same county), died 1 Dec. 1635, and was buried in St. Patrick's; Henry, a twin with Thomas, who died young; Isabella, first wife of William Usher, son and heir of John Usher of Dublin, alderman; Anne, who married first, Sir Henry Colley of Castle Carbury, co. Kildare, secondly, George Blount, esq., of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, and thirdly, Edward, first lord Blayney; Jane, who married first, Sir Francis Berkeley of Askeaton, co. Limerick, and secondly, Henry Berkeley, esq.; Martha, first wife of Sir Thomas Colclough of Tintern Abbey, co. Wexford, buried in St. Patrick's on 19 March 1609; Dorothy, wife of Sir John Moore of Croghan, King's County; Alice, wife of Sir Henry Warren of Warrenstown, King's County, buried in St. Patrick's, 15 Nov. 1608; Margaret, wife of Sir George Colley of Edenderry, King's County; also eight other children who died in infancy (Lodge, Peerage, ed. Archdall; cf. also Cal. State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. iii. 252, iv. 534–6).

There are several portraits of Loftus in existence. Two of these are in Trinity College, Dublin—the one in the provost's house, the other, formerly in the possession of the Marquis of Ely, but lately presented to the college by Lord Iveagh, in the fellows' common room. Both portraits are in excellent preservation. There is another portrait in the Palace, Armagh. The Rev. W. Reynell, of Henrietta Street, Dublin, has an engraving of a picture taken when he was much older, but the artist's name does not appear. The writer of a note in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 4th ser. xi. 18, Henry L. Tottenham, esq., of Guernsey, possessed a beautiful miniature, said to have been taken from life, ‘representing him as a grave, thoughtful, noble-looking man, nearly bald, with small moustache and a full white beard.’ Loftus was a man of singular ability, undoubted piety, and an eloquent preacher. The charge of avarice brought against him by Elrington in his ‘Life of Ussher,’ and by Ware, appears to rest on very slight foundation.

[Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, vol. vii.; Monck Mason's St. Patrick's; Shirley's Original Letters in illustration of the History of the Church in Ireland; Morrin's Cal. of Patent Rolls; Brady's Irish Reformation; Cotton's Fasti Eccles. Hib.; State Papers, Ireland, in the Rolls Office; Brady's State Papers concerning the Irish Church; Hamilton's Cal. State Papers relating to Ireland; Brewer's Cal. of Carew MSS.; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xi. 18; Mant's Hist. of the Church of Ireland; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Stuart's Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh; O'Flanagan's Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland; Erck's Repertory of Inrolments on Patent Rolls, James I; Elrington's Life of Ussher; D'Alton's Memoirs of the Archbishops of Dublin; information kindly furnished by the Rev. W. Reynell.]

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