Open main menu

OTWAY, THOMAS (1616–1693), bishop of Ossory, is said to have been born in Wiltshire on 1 Nov. 1616, but no trace remains of a family of that name in Wiltshire. It is probable that he was connected with the Otways of Sedbergh, Yorkshire, of whom John was admitted fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, on 24 March 1639-40, was ejected by the Earl of Manchester on 15 March 1643-4 for refusing to take the solemn league and covenant, and after the Restoration was knighted and became chancellor to the Bishop of Durham (Baker, St. John's College, Cambridge, i. 295, 526 ; Walker, Sufferings, p. 149). Thomas was educated probably at Kirkby Lonsdale or Sedbergh school, Yorkshire, and later at Christ's College, Cambridge, to which he bequeathed 500l. to found three exhibitions, with preference first to Kirkby Lonsdale school, and then to Sedbergh school (Cambridge Univ. Calendar); but he graduated D.D. from Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently became chaplain to Sir Ralph (afterwards lord) Hopton [q. v.], and an active royalist. He was taken prisoner during the war, and banished to the West Indies, where he remained until the Restoration (Singer, Hyde Corr. i. 257). He then became chaplain to John, first baron Berkeley of Stratton [q. v.], who took Otway with him to Ireland when he was made lord-lieutenant in 1670, and procured his promotion to the see of Killaloe by patent dated 16 Nov. He was consecrated in Christ Church, Dublin, on 29 Jan. 1670–1. He was translated to the see of Ossory by patent dated 7 Feb. 1679–80, in spite of the objections raised against him because he had executed a tory in his own house without legal warrant (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. p. 726; Prendergast, Ireland from the Restoration to the Revolution, pp. 83–4). He received in commendam the archdeaconry of Armagh and a rectory attached to it. In February 1685–6 the Earl of Clarendon advocated his promotion to the see of Cashel (Singer, Hyde Corr. i. 252-3); but his advice was not acted upon.

At the revolution of 1688 Otway adhered to James II, and sat in the House of Lords summoned by that king in 1689. He studiously refrained from praying for William and Mary in his cathedral, and, on complaint being made, directed the clergy of his diocese to act as they thought best. Accordingly, after the battle of the Boyne, William ordered his suspension (21 July 1690). Otway, however, succeeded in laying the blame on the dean and chapter, and the suspension was never enforced; but shortly afterwards he declared that he had seen no sufficient justification for the late revolution, that James II was still lawful king, and no power of pope or people could dethrone him, and, recalling the persecutions he had suffered under Cromwell, professed his readiness, in spite of his advanced age, to undergo the same again. In 1692, however, he sat in William's House of Lords, and was still in possession of his see when he died unmarried on 6 March 1692–3. He was buried in his cathedral church of St. Canice, Kilkenny, near the west door, and over his grave was erected a marble stone with an inscription to his memory.

By his will, dated 8 Dec. 1692, besides his legacy to Christ's College, Cambridge, and numerous other benefactions, he bequeathed 200l. to Trinity College, Dublin, and a like sum to build a library in the churchyard of St. Canice, Kilkenny, of which his own books were to form the nucleus. The library was incorporated during Anne's reign (Addit. MS. 28948, f. 118).

[Ware's Hist. of Ireland, ed. Harris, i. 430–1; Cotton's Fasti, ii. 282, iii. 46, iv. 70; Mant's Church History of Ireland, ii. pp. v–vii; Hist. MSS. Coram. 2nd Rep. App. p. 227, 6th Rep. App. pp. 725, 745, 759, 10th Rep. App. pt. v. p. 228; Addit. MS. 28948, f. 118; Memoirs of Ireland, 1716, pp. 125, 225, &c.; Luttrell's Brief Relation, iii. 58; Singer's Hyde Corresp. i. 252, 253, 257, ii. 48–50; Prendergast's Ireland, 1660–90, pp. 83, 84, 138; Lasceiles's Liber Munerum Hibern.; Graves and Trim's History, Architecture, and Antiquities of St. Canice Kilkenny, pp. 52, 315; O'Phelan's Epitaphs in the Cathedral Church of St. Canice, p. 45.]

A. F. P.