Taunton, Ethelred Luke (DNB12)

TAUNTON, ETHELRED LUKE (1857–1907), ecclesiastical historian, born at Rugeley, Staffordshire, on 17 Oct. 1857, was youngest son of Thomas Taunton of Rugeley, by his wife Mary, daughter of Colonel Clarke. His parents were Roman catholics, and from the age of eleven to fourteen he was at St. Gregory's school. Downside, near Bath. Ill-health, which pursued him through life, precluded his admission to the Benedictine order. After a musical training at Lichfield, he joined the community of St. Andrew's, founded by Father Bampfield at Barnet, and remained there six years as professor of music. In 1880 he joined the oblates of St. Charles, Bayswater; and was ordained priest there on 17 Feb. 1883. In 1886 he was placed by Cardinal Manning in charge of the newly formed Stoke Newington mission. A church was opened in January 1888, and a congregation formed; but a few weeks later, Taunton's frail physique was permanently injured by the accidental fall upon him of a ladder in the church. During a two years' convalescence at Bruges he engaged in Literary work, contributing articles to the 'Irish Ecclesiastical Record' and to other Roman catholic publications, and conducting a periodical called 'St. Luke's.' On returning to England he devoted himself, in spite of physical weakness and scanty means, to historical research, ecclesiastical study, musical composition, and devotional writing. On liturgiology, church music, and ecclesiastical history he became a recognised authority. He died suddenly from heart failure in London while on his way to a hospital in a police ambulance on 9 May 1907, and was buried at Kensal Green. Taunton's chief works are:

  1. 'The English Black Monks of St. Benedict,' 2 vols. 1898, which embodied much original research for the last three centuries, depending for the early periods on the MS. collections of Mr. Edmund Bishop and those of Dom Allanson at Ampleforth.
  2. 'The History of the Jesuits,' 1901, presenting an independent outlook, which provoked some controversy.
  3. 'Thomas Wolsey, Legate and Reformer,' 1902, a favourable estimate of Wolsey.
  4. 'The Little Office of Our Lady: a treatise, theoretical, practical, and exegetical,' 1903, a compilation of much learning.
  5. ' Law of the Church, a Cyclopædia of Canon Law for English-speaking Countries,' 1906.

Taunton left unfinished a 'Life of Cardinal Pole' and a 'History of the English Catholic Clergy since the Reformation.' A popular 'History of the Growth of Church Music' (1887), which originally appeared in a catholic paper, the 'Weekly Register,' shows scholarly discrimination. Taunton himself composed motets and other pieces, besides musical settings to church hymns, some of which were printed. He was a finished organist.

[Tablet, 18 May 1907; Downside Review, July 1907; The Times, 20 May 1907 (gives Christian name wrongly); Taunton's works; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

G. Le G. N.