Moylan, Francis (DNB00)


MOYLAN, FRANCIS (1735–1815), bishop of Cork, son of John Moylan, a well-to-do merchant in Cork, was born in that city on 17 Sept. 1735. He was educated at Paris, at Montpellier, and afterwards at the university of Toulouse, where he studied theology, and became acquainted with Henry Essex (afterwards the Abbe) Edgeworth [q. v.], then a boy, living there with his father. Edgeworth and Moylan became life-long friends. On his ordination to the priesthood in 1761, Moylan was appointed to a curacy in Paris by the archbishop, Mgr. de Beaumont, but soon after returned to his native diocese. In 1775 he was consecrated bishop of Kerry, and was translated in 1786 to Cork, to fill the vacancy caused by the defection of Lord Dunboyne. When the French fleet appeared off the south coast of Ireland in 1796, Moylan issued a pastoral letter to his flock urging them to loyalty, and his native city, in recognition of his attitude, presented him with its freedom, an unusual mark of esteem to be bestowed on a catholic in those days. The lord-lieutenant (Earl Camderi) ordered one of his pastorals to be circulated throughout the kingdom, and Pelham, the chief secretary for Ireland, wrote to congratulate Moylan on his conduct.

In 1799 Lord Castlereagh suggested to ten of the Irish bishops, who formed a board for examining into the affairs of Maynooth College, that the government would recommend catholic emancipation if the bishops in return admitted the king to have a power of veto on all future ecclesiastical appointments, and if they accepted a state endowment for the catholic clergy. The prelates, Moylan chief among them, were disposed to adopt these proposals in a modified form, but subsequently, on learning Lord Castlereagh's full intentions, repudiated them. Moylan afterwards vigorously deprecated 'any interference whatsoever' of the government in the appointment of the bishops or clergy, and took a leading part in the great ' veto ' controversy.

Moylan was in favour of the legislative union of Ireland with Great Britain. He took an active part in the establishment of Maynooth College, and had some correspondence on the subject with Edmund Burke. He was a most successful administrator of his diocese, and helped materially in the establishment of the Presentation order of nuns founded by Nano Nagle [q. v.] for the education of poor girls. The Duke of Portland, whom he visited at Bulstrode, writing of him said : ' There can be, and there never has been, but one opinion of the firmness, the steadiness, and the manliness of Dr. Moylan's character, which, it was agreed by all those who had the pleasure of meeting him here [Bulstrode], was as engaging as his person, which avows and bespeaks as much goodwill as can be well imagined in a human countenance.'

He died on 10 Feb. 1815, and was buried in a vault in his cathedral.

[Short Life of Dr. Moylan, in an Appendix to Hutch's Life of Nano Nagle; Letters from the Abbé Edgeworth to his Friends, with Memoirs of his Life, including some account of Dr. Moylan, by the Rev. T. R. England; Fitzpatrick's Irish Wits and Worthies; Fitzpatrick's Secret Service under Pitt; Castlereagh Papers; S[arah] A[tkinson]'s Life of Mary Aikenhead; Husenbeth's Life of Dr. Milner; O'Renehan's Collections on Irish Church History; Caulfield's Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork.]

P. L. N.