Macpherson, Paul (DNB00)


MACPHERSON, PAUL (1756–1846), Scottish abbé, was born of catholic parents at Scanlan on 4 March 1756, and was admittsd a student in the seminary there in June 1767, spent two years (1770-2) at the Scots College in Rome, and completed his theological course at the Scots College at Valladolid in Spain. Having been ordained priest by the Bishop of Segovia, he returned to the mission, and was stationed successively at Shenval in the Cabrach, at Aberdeen, and at Stobhall. In 1791 he removed to Edinburgh on being appointed procurator of the mission. He was sent to Rome in 1793 as agent of the Scottish clergy, and for many years he transacted with the holy see all the ecclesiastical business of the mission. In 1798 General Berthier, by order of the French Directory, took possession of Rome, whereupon Macpherson left the city and travelled through France and England. When the British cabinet was considering the practicability of rescuing Pius VI, then a French prisoner at Savona, on the Genoese coast, on English frigate was ordered to cruise off the land, and Macpherson was despatched from London with ample powers and funds to effect the escape of the pontiff. Spies of the Directory disclosed the design to the Paris government, and the attempt failed. Macpherson was imprisoned, and on his liberation sought refuge in Scotland, where he took charge of the congregation at Huntly. He went back to Rome in 1800, but again visited Scotland in 1811, after the seizure and exile of Pius VII. On the restoration of that pontiff he returned to Rome once more. Besides being agent for the Scottish vicars-appostolic, he was for some years employed in the same capacity by those of England and she by some of the Irish bishops. The Scots College had been for sometime under the control of Italian ecclesiastics, but Macpherson induced the pope to place the institution under native management, and he was himself appointed its first Scottish rector. The first students arrived in Scotland in 1820.

He was mainly instrumental in securing the most valuable of the Stuart for the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV (Quarterly Review, 1846). It was also owing to his care and foresight that many of the manuscripts of the Scots College in Paris were preserved and brought back to Scotland.

Macpherson resigned the rectorship of the Scots College in 1826 and returning to Scotland in May 1827, he erected a chapel in Glenlivet. 1n 1834, however, he ones more went to Rome and resumed the office of rector of the Scots College. There he died on 24 Nov. 1845.

[Catholic Mag. 1881–2, i. 280; Gent. Mag. new ser. xxvii. 318; Michel's Ecossais en France, ii. 334; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xi. 314; Stothert's Catholic Mission in Scotland, pp. 596–601.]

T. C.