Supplementary Memoirs of English Catholics


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MILNER, John. Supplementary Memoirs of English Catholics, Addressed to Charles Butler, Esq. Author of the Historical Memoirs of the English Catholics. London: Keating and Brown, 1820. Octavo, early 20th-century full brown tree calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, olive and black morocco spine labels.

First edition of Bishop Milner's attempt to correct Catholic protester Charles Butler's Historical Memoirs of the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics since the Reformation, handsomely bound.

Catholic Bishop John Milner had a long adversarial relationship with Charles Butler. Though Butler was an agitator for Catholic rights, he was no great fan of the Holy See. Until George III passed a relief act, Catholics had always been banned from the bar (and, indeed, many other aspects of life in England). No longer did Catholics have to take an oath of supremacy or declare against transubstantiation. Butler took advantage of this new opportunity to become the first Catholic barrister since 1688. While Butler was happy to claim the title, he only ever argued one case. Instead, he used his new position in British society in support of Catholic rights. He formed a group of five laymen and together they attempted to become involved in ecclesiastical affairs, specifically the appointment of bishops. Milner, who stood firmly with the Pope, was incensed. The new committee, headed by Butler, devoted itself to the establishment of a regular hierarchy by the appointment of bishops in ordinary instead of vicars apostolic. It failed, but a new, larger committee succeeded the original and included three ecclesiastical figures. It had the same aims and also began to work toward repealing anti-Catholic laws. It wrote a declaration of Catholic principles known as The Protestation, which was signed, albeit reluctantly, by the vicars apostolic. The committee then signed an oath and named themselves the Protesting Catholic Dissenters. The committee argued that the laity and clergy should appoint bishops, without regard for the pope or his powers of consecration. Milner viewed this as heresy—but also knew it to be mutiny. When two new vicars apostolic were appointed by the Pope as replacement for two who had died, Milner finally had his chance. He secured an appointment as their agent and managed to disband the committee and forced them back to their original name: Roman Catholics. They were not quiet for long however. They reemerged as the Cis-Alpine Club and, once again, Milner was charged with forcing them down after a period of bitter conflict. Eventually, Butler moderated his views somewhat, but not before the publication of Historical Memoirs of the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics since the Reformation, a work that Milner found both annoying and infuriating. These Supplementary Memoirs by Milner were attempted to correct Butler's work and to reassert the supremacy of orthodoxy and the one true Church. Only a few marginal pencil markings to interior.

Interior generally quite clean, light rubbing to extremities of binding. A handsome, near-fine copy.

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