Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District

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The Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District (later the Central District) was the title given to the Bishop who headed the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church in England which was known as the Vicariate Apostolic of the Midland District from 1688 and 1840, then the Central District from 1840 to 1850.

Background[edit]

Soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, the bishops of England were forced to choose between taking the Oath of Supremacy, thus denying the authority of the Pope, and losing their episcopal sees. Those who chose to continue their allegiance to Rome were subsequently deposed and replaced in their sees by priests of the Church of England. Most of the deposed Bishops were imprisoned in various locations and died in captivity over a period of years, though some left the country and continued their work overseas. The last of the deposed bishops was Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St Asaph, who died in Rome on April 3, 1585.

Restoration: The Vicar Apostolic of England[edit]

In 1623 Pope Urban VIII decided once again to appoint a bishop with jurisdiction in England. So it was that Dr William Bishop was appointed with the title of Vicar Apostolic of England. He died shortly afterwards and was succeeded by Dr Richard Smith, who in August 1631 was forced to resign and fled to France. The office then remained vacant until its revival in 1685 with the appointment of Dr John Leyburn as Vicar Apostolic.

Geographical organisation[edit]

In 1623 the first Vicar Apostolic, Dr Bishop, divided England into six areas and placed a superior at the head of each with the title of vicar general. This structure remained in place until Dr Leyburn reduced the number from six to four. It was on the basis of these four areas that on 20 January 1688 Pope Innocent XI increased the number of bishops in England to four, with the result that the territory of the former single Vicariate Apostolic of England and Wales was reduced, becoming the Vicariate Apostolic of the London District. So it was that the Vicariate Apostolic of the Midland District was created, along with those of the Northern and the Western Districts.

The first Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, appointed with effect from 30 January 1688, was Bishop Bonaventure Giffard, who in 1703 was translated to become Vicar Apostolic of the London District.

Notwithstanding intermittent persecution, a Vicariate Apostolic of the Midland District continued in existence until in 1840 the existing four Vicariates were further divided. The Midland District was renamed, and its head took the title of Vicar Apostolic of the Central District. This new jurisdiction was to last only ten years, until on 29 September 1850 Pope Pius IX issued the Bull Universalis Ecclesiae, by which thirteen new dioceses were created, commonly known as the restoration of the English hierarchy, among them the diocese of Birmingham, which replaced formally the previous Vicariate.

The last Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District was Bishop Thomas Walsh, who from 1840 till 1847 had the new title Vicar Apostolic of the Central District.

Bishop and Archbishop of Birmingham[edit]

Walsh was succeeded as Vicar Apostolic of the Central District by the Benedictine William Bernard Ullathorne, who on 29 September 1850 received the new title of Bishop of Birmingham. On 28 October 1911 a new ecclesiastical province was created dependent on Birmingham, and the title became that of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Birmingham.

List of Vicars Apostolic[edit]

Vicars Apostolic of the Midland District[edit]

Vicars Apostolic of the Midland District
From Until Incumbent Notes
1687 1703 Bonaventure Giffard
Titular Bishop of Madaurus
Appointed vicar apostolic 25 November 1687 and confirmed 28 January 1688; also appointed titular bishop 28 February 1688 and consecrated 22 April 1688; moved to the London District 14 March 1703
1702 1716 George Witham
Titular Bishop of Marcopolis
Appointed vicar apostolic and titular bishop 12 August 1702; consecrated 15 April 1703; moved to the Northern District 6 April 1716
1715 1756 John Talbot Stonor
Titular Bishop of Thespiae
Appointed vicar apostolic and titular bishop 18 September 1715; consecrated 9 August 1716; died in office 29 March 1756
1756 1778 John Joseph Hornyold
Titular Bishop of Philomelium
Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic and titular bishop 20 December 1751; consecrated 10 February 1752; succeeded 29 March 1756; died in office 26 December 1778
1778 1795 Thomas Joseph Talbot
Titular Bishop of Acone
Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic and titular bishop 26 February 1766; consecrated in March 1766; succeeded 26 December 1778; died in office April 1795
1795 1798 Charles Berington
Titular Bishop of Hierocaesarea
Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic and titular bishop 2 June 1786; consecrated 1 August 1786; succeeded 24 April 1795; died in office 8 June 1798
1800 1802 Gregory Stapleton
Titular Bishop of Hierocaesarea
Appointed vicar apostolic and titular bishop 7 November 1800; consecrated 8 March 1801; died in office 23 May 1802
1803 1826 John Milner
Titular Bishop of Castabala
Appointed vicar apostolic and titular bishop 6 March 1803; consecrated 22 May 1803; died in office 19 April 1826
1826 1840 Thomas Walsh
Titular Bishop of Cambysopolis
Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic and titular bishop 28 January 1825; consecrated 1 May 1825; succeeded 19 April 1826; through district rename, he became the vicar apostolic of Central District 3 July 1840
May 1840 July 1840 Nicholas Wiseman,
Titular Bishop of Milopotamus
Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic of the Midland District and titular bishop 22 May 1840; consecrated 8 June 1840; through district rename, he became coadjutor vicar apostolic of Central District 3 July 1840.
Source:[1][2]

Vicars Apostolic of the Central District[edit]

Vicars Apostolic of the Central District
From Until Incumbent Notes
1840 1848 Thomas Walsh
Titular Bishop of Cambysopolis
Hitherto vicar apostolic of the Midland District; became vicar apostolic of the Central District 3 July 1840; moved to the London District 17 July 1848
1840 1847 Nicholas Wiseman,
Titular Bishop of Milopotamus
Hitherto coadjutor vicar apostolic of the Midland District; became coadjutor vicar apostolic of Central District 3 July 1840; before succeeding, he was appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic of the London District 29 August 1847
1848 1850 William Bernard Ullathorne, O.S.B.,
Titular Bishop of Etalonia
Formerly Vicar Apostolic of the Western District (1846–1848); appointed vicar apostolic of the Central District 28 July 1848; became the first Bishop of Birmingham when the district was elevated to a diocese 29 September 1850
Source:[1][3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Archdiocese of Birmingham at Catholic-Hierarchy Retrieved on 15 June 2012.
  2. ^ Brady 1876, The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, volume 3, pp. 203–242.
  3. ^ Brady 1876, The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, volume 3, pp. 335–336.

Bibliography[edit]