Pugh, Robert (DNB00)


PUGH, ROBERT (1609–1679), Roman catholic controversialist, born in 1609 at Penrhyn in the parish of Eglwys-Ross, Carnarvonshire, was probably a son of Philip Pugh and his wife, Gaynor or Gwynn. Foley says that the family was of better lineage than fortune. He was educated at the Jesuits' College at St. Omer, under the name of Robert Phillips (Foley), and this alias renders him very liable to be confused with Robert Philips [q. v.] the oratorian, who was confessor to Queen Henrietta Maria. After his return to England he is said to have served in Charles I's army with the rank of captain, and to have been ejected by the jesuits in 1645 for not having obtained permission beforehand. He afterwards studied civil and canon law (probably at Paris), and became doctor in both faculties. He was well known to Walter Montagu [q. v.] the abbot. With Montagu's aid, in a pamphlet entitled ‘De retinenda cleri Anglicani in sedem Apostolicam observantia,’ Paris, 1659, he attacked the philosophical views of Thomas White (alias Blackloe) [q. v.], and claimed, in opposition to White, that the regular clergy should be exempt from the jurisdiction of the catholic chapter in England. White replied in ‘Monumentum Excantatus,’ &c. (Rome, 1660), to which Pugh retorted in ‘Amuletum Excantationis’ (1670). Subsequently Pugh returned to the conflict in ‘Blacklo's Cabal discovered’ (2nd edit. 1680, 4to). It contains letters, supplied by Montagu, of White, and of White's friends Sir Kenelm Digby, Henry Holden, and others, the originals of which Pugh had deposited in the English Jesuits' College at Ghent. His reputation as a theologian grew rapidly, and in 1655 he was created by the Pope ‘protonotarius publicus apostolicus.’ His Latin style was very good. After the Restoration Pugh lived at times in London, and at times at Redcastle in Wales, in the family of the Marquis of Powis.

In 1664 appeared, doubtless from his pen, though the author merely calls himself ‘a royal veteran,’ ‘Elenchus Elenchi; sive Animadversiones in Georgei Batei, Cromwelli parricidæ aliquando protomedici, Elenchum motuum nuperorum in Angliâ,’ Paris, 8vo [see Bate, George]. With Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemaine, Pugh was also closely connected and, with him, seems to have written ‘The English Papist's Apologie’ (1666). The author was diligently inquired after by the House of Commons, but not found. It was answered by William Lloyd, afterwards bishop of Lichfield, and was defended in ‘A Reply to the Answer of the “Catholic Apologie,”’ 1668 (cf. Butler, Hist. Mem. of English Catholics, iv. 457 n.) Pugh's ‘Bathonensium et Aquisgranensium Comparatio, rebus adjunctis illustratis,’ 1676, 8vo, was written ‘by way of epistle to his patron, Palmer.’

During the ‘popish plot’ panic of 1678 Pugh was committed to Newgate, ‘having been betrayed by a treacherous miscreant when paying a visit of charity to the catholic gentry confined in a London prison.’ He died ‘a glorious martyr in chains’ on the night of 22 Jan. 1679. He bore no ill-will to the jesuits, and when in articulo mortis ‘earnestly desired to be readmitted to the society.’ Wood says he had seen his grave, which was in the churchyard belonging to Christ Church, near Newgate, ‘under the middle part of a brick wall on the north side of the said yard.’ Wood seems to have known Pugh personally, and says ‘he was a person of a most comely port, well favoured and of excellent parts.’ He was a friend of John Lewgar [q. v.]

Wood says that Pugh left, in manuscript, ‘in Castlemaine's hands,’ a treatise ‘Of the several States and Commonwealths that have been in England since 1642.’ He had seen also a Latin ode of Pugh's composition ‘made on the immature death of Sidney Montagu,’ who perished in the sea-fight with the Dutch in June 1672.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 697, 828–9, iv. 716; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 288–9; Foley's Records of the English Jesuits, vi. 352, vol. vii. pt. i. p. 635; Pugh's Works; Watt's Bibl. Brit. ii. 782; authorities cited.]

G. Le G. N.