Archbishop Peter Talbot

Archbishop Peter Talbot

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Peter Talbot was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin
Archbishop of Dublin (Roman Catholic)
The Archbishop of Dublin is the title of the senior cleric who presides over the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Church of Ireland has a similar role, heading the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. In both cases, the Archbishop is also Primate of Ireland...

 from 1669 to his death.

Early life

Talbot was born at Malahide
Malahide is a coastal suburban town, near Dublin city, located in the administrative county of Fingal, within the traditional County Dublin, Ireland. It has a village-like centre and extensive residential areas to the south, west and northwest.-Name:...

, County Dublin, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, in 1620. At an early age he entered the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 in Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. He was ordained a priest at Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and for some years thereafter held the chair of theology at the College of Antwerp. In the meantime in the British Isles during the Commonwealth period, Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 and the royal family were compelled to seek refuge in Europe. Throughout the period of the king's exile, Talbot's brothers were attached to the royal court. The eldest brother, Sir Robert Talbot, Bt., had held a high commission under Lord James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde PC was an Irish statesman and soldier. He was the second of the Kilcash branch of the family to inherit the earldom. He was the friend of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, who appointeed him commander of the Cavalier forces in Ireland. From 1641 to 1647, he...

 in the army in Ireland and was now reckoned among the king's most confidential advisers. A younger brother, Colonel Richard Talbot
Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel
Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell PC was an Irish royalist and Jacobite soldier.-Life:The youngest of sixteen children of Sir William Talbot, 1st Baronet, of Carton, and his wife, Alison Netterville, he was descended from an old Norman family that had settled in Leinster in the twelfth century...

, was also devoted to the cause of the exiled monarch and stood high in royal favour.


Peter Talbot himself was constantly in attendance on Charles II, and his court. On account of his knowledge of the continental languages, he was repeatedly dispatched on private embassies to Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, and Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. On the return of the king to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Talbot received an appointment as Queen's Almoner, but the Clarendon
-Places:In Australia:*Clarendon, New South Wales, a suburb of northern west Sydney*Clarendon, Queensland*Clarendon, South Australia*Clarendon, Tasmania, a National Trust property near Evandale, Tasmania*Clarendon County, New South WalesIn Canada:...

 and Ormond faction, which was then predominant, feared his influence with the king. He was accused of conspiring with the aid of four Jesuits to assassinate the Duke of Ormond, and he was forced to seek safety by resigning his position at Court and retiring to the Continent. The king allowed him a pension of three hundred pounds a year. Before his return to England, Talbot had, with the approval of the General
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus—the Roman Catholic religious order, also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position carries the nickname of Black Pope, after his simple black priest's...

 of the Jesuits, severed his connection with the Society. He was appointed Archbishop of Dublin on 11 January 1669, and was consecrated at Antwerp, assisted by the Bishops of Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 and Ferns.

Catholic persecution

During this period, the English persecution of Catholics in Ireland was more lenient than usual, owing to the sympathy of the king. In August 1670, Talbot held his first diocesan synod in Dublin. It was opened with High Mass, which for forty years many of the faithful had not witnessed. In the same year an assembly of the archbishops and bishops and representatives of the clergy was held in Dublin. At this assembly the question of precedence and of the primatial authority gave rise to considerable discussion and led to an embittered controversy between the Archbishop of Dublin and Oliver Plunkett
Oliver Plunkett
Saint Oliver Plunkett was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland....

, Archbishop of Armagh. Both prelates considered that they were asserting the rights of their respective sees, and each published a treatise on the subject. Another meeting of the Catholic gentry, convened by Talbot, at which it was resolved to send to the Court at London a representative who would seek redress for some of the grievances to which the Catholics of Ireland were subjected. This alarmed the Protestants in Ireland, who feared that the balance of power might shift to the Catholic majority. They protested to King Charles, and in 1673 some of the repressive measures against Catholics returned to Ireland, and Talbot was compelled to seek safety in exile.

Exile, arrest and death

During his banishment he resided generally in Paris. In 1675, Talbot, in poor health, obtained permission to return to England, and for two years he resided with a family friend at Poole Hall in Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

. Towards the close of 1677, he petitioned the Crown for leave "to come to Ireland to die in his own country", and through the influence of the James, Duke of York his request was granted. Shortly after that the Popish Plot
Popish Plot
The Popish Plot was a fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates that gripped England, Wales and Scotland in Anti-Catholic hysteria between 1678 and 1681. Oates alleged that there existed an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, accusations that led to the execution of at...

 was being hatched by Titus Oates
Titus Oates
Titus Oates was an English perjurer who fabricated the "Popish Plot", a supposed Catholic conspiracy to kill King Charles II.-Early life:...

, and information was forwarded to James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde PC was an Irish statesman and soldier. He was the second of the Kilcash branch of the family to inherit the earldom. He was the friend of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, who appointeed him commander of the Cavalier forces in Ireland. From 1641 to 1647, he...

 as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, to the effect that a rebellion was being planned in Ireland, that Peter Talbot was one of the accomplices, and that assassins had been hired to murder the duke himself.

On 8 October 1678, Ormonde signed a warrant for the archbishop's arrest. He was arrested near Maynooth
Maynooth is a town in north County Kildare, Ireland. It is home to a branch of the National University of Ireland, a Papal University and Ireland's main Roman Catholic seminary, St. Patrick's College...

at the house of his brother, Colonel Richard Talbot, and was then moved to Dublin. For two years Talbot was in prison, and fell ill. He died in prison at the beginning of November 1680.


Talbot is said to have been interred in the churchyard of St. Andeon's, close by Lord Portlester's tomb. From his prison cell Talbot had written on 12 April 1679, petitioning that a priest be allowed to visit him, as he was bedridden for months and was now in imminent danger of death. The petition was refused, but Oliver Plunkett was a prisoner in an adjoining cell, and on hearing of Talbot's dying condition forced his way through the warders and administered to the dying prelate the last consolations of religion.