Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mumford, James

MUMFORD, JAMES (1606–1666), Jesuit, born in Norfolk in 1606, entered the Society of Jesus at Watten near St. Omer, 8 Dec. 1626, and became a professed member of the order in 1641. In 1642 he was at the English College, Liège, in the capacity of minister and consultator, and in 1645 he was confessor in the college at St. Omer. About 1647 he was rector of the college at Liège. About 1650 he was sent to the English mission, and stationed at Norwich. He was for some time rector of the 'College of the Holy Apostles,' embracing the Suffolk district. At Norwich he was seized by the parliamentary soldiers; was led round the city in his priestly vestments, amid the scoffs of the rabble, and with the sacred ornaments of the altar carried aloft on spears in a sort of triumphant procession, and was then cast into prison (Southwell, Bibl. Scriptorum Soc. Jesu, p. 380). He was subsequently removed to Great Yarmouth, but was remanded to Norwich, and after some months' imprisonment was discharged on bail. He died in England on 9 March 1665-6.

His works are:

  1. 'A Remembrance for the Living to Pray for the Dead. Made by a Father of the Soc. of Iesus,' St. Omer, 1641, 12mo; the second part and second edit, by J. M., Lond. 1661, 12mo. Reprinted in 'St. Joseph's Ascetical Library,' Lond. 1871,8vo, under the editorship of Father John Morris, S.J., who has added an appendix on 'The Heroic Act of Charity.' A Latin translation, under the title of 'Tractatus de misericordia lidelibus defunctis exhibenda,' was printed at Liege, 1647, 12mo; Cologne, 1649, 12mo; Strasburg, 1716,12mo; Vienna, 1725,16mo; Strasburg, 1762, 12mo. The work was translated into French by Father Charles Le Breton and by Father J. Brignon. Father Bouit brought out a new edit ion of Brignon's translation. A German translation appeared at Augsburg and Dillingen in 1695, and at Colmar, 1776. A criticism of Mumford's work by Thomas White or Albius, a secular priest, was published, under the title of' Devotion and Reason, wherein Modern Devotion for the Dead is brought to Solid Principles and made Rational,' Paris, 1661,12mo (Dodd, Church Hist. iii. 288).
  2. 'The Catholick Scripturist,' Ghent, 1652; 2nd edit, entitled 'The Catholic Scripturist; or the Plea of the Roman Catholics, shewing the Scriptures to hold the Roman faith in above forty of the chief Controversies now under debate,' Lond. 1686, 12mo; 3rd edit. Lond. 1687, 8vo; 4th edit. Lond. 1767, 12mo, Baltimore, 1808, 8vo, Lond. 1838 (published under the superintendence of the Catholic Institute), Lond. 1863, 8vo. It is said that Mumford wrote this book while in prison at Norwich.
  3. 'The Question of Questions, which rightly solved resolveth all our Questions in Religion. This question is, Who ought to be our Judge in all these our differences? This book answereth this question; and hence sheweth a most easy, and yet most safe way, how, among so many Religions, the most unlearned and learned may find the true Religion. By Optatus Ductor,' Ghent, 1658, 4to; Lond. 1686-7, 12mo; Lond. 1767, 12mo; Lond. 1841, 12mo; and Glasgow, 1841,12mo (revised by W. Gordon). In the 'Memoires de Trevoux (1704, p. 1041, 1st edit.) it is stated that this work was first printed at Ghent in 1654. It was translated into French by the Capuchin father, Basile de Soissons. Basile is said to have suppressed the name of the author. 'A Vindication or Defence of St. Gregory's Dialogues' is also ascribed to Mumford.

[De Backer's Bibl. de la Compagnie de Jesus, ii. 1408; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 321; Foley's Records, ii. 457, vii. 532; Jones's Popery Tracts, pp. 306, 317, 406, 462; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ix. 38; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 146.]

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