|Vicar Apostolic of the London District|
|Appointed||6 March 1803 (Coadjutor)|
|Installed||8 May 1812|
|Term ended||26 November 1827|
|Successor||James Yorke Bramston|
|Other posts||Titular Bishop of Alia|
|Consecration||29 May 1803
by John Douglass
|Died||26 November 1827(aged 65)|
He was educated at the English College at Douai, where he was ordained in 1786. He remained as professor, and afterwards prefect of studies till the college came to an end during the French Revolution.
After undergoing eighteen months imprisonment, the collegians were set free, and returned to England in March, 1795. Poynter with the students from the South went to Old Hall, where he took a leading part in the foundation of St. Edmund's College, being first vice-president, then (1801–13) president. In 1803, Bishop John Douglass of the London district being in declining health, Poynter was consecrated his coadjutor, remaining at the same time president of the college. On the death of Bishop Douglass in 1812, Bishop Poynter succeeded as vicar Apostolic.
His position was rendered difficult by the persistent attacks of Bishop John Milner in pamphlets and in his pastorals. When Poynter put restrictions on the writings of Peter Gandolphy, Milner allowed them in his diocese. Poynter endured Milner's accusations in silence, having the support of all the other English and Scotch bishops; but when in May, 1814, on the issue of the Quarantotti Rescript, which sanctioned all the "security" restrictions, Milner went to Rome to obtain its reversal, Poynter followed him there and wrote his Apologetical Epistle defending himself to the Propaganda. Quarantotti's Rescript was withdrawn, and in its place was substituted a Letter to Dr. Poynter, dated from Genoa, where the pope had taken refuge. A limited veto was sanctioned, but the exequatur was refused. Milner was directed to abstain from publishing pastorals or pamphlets against Poynter. He obeyed this injunction, but continued his attacks in letters to the Orthodox Journal until he was peremptorily prohibited by order of the pope, under pain of being deposed.
During his episcopate Poynter paid four visits to Paris of several months each (1814, 15, 17, and 22), with the object of reclaiming the property of the colleges at Douai and elsewhere, which had been confiscated during the Revolution. He received the support of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh, and of the British commissioners appointed to deal with the claims. He succeeded eventually in recovering the colleges themselves and about £30,000 which had been kept in the names of the bishops, but the main claim amounting to £120,000 was lost. The French paid it to the British commissioners, but these refused to hand it over, on the plea that it would be applied to purposes considered by English law as "superstitious". The final decision was given in November, 1825.
His principal works are:
- "Theological Examinations of Columbanus" (London, 1811);
- "Epistola Apologetica", tr. by Butler (London, 1820), also appeared in Butler, "Hist. Mem.", 3rd edition;
- "Prayerbook for Catholic Sailors and Soldiers" (London, 1858);
- "Evidences of Christianity" (London, 1827);
- "New Year's Gift" in Directories (1813–28); numerous pamphlets, pastorals etc.
There is a portrait of him by Ramsay (1803) at St. Edmund's College, another in the Catholic Directory for 1829; also a bust by Turnerelli and another at Moorfields.
- Thompson Cooper in the Dictionary of National Biography
- Joseph Gillow, Dict. Eng. Cath.;
- John Kirk, Biographies (London, 1909):
- Brady, Episcopal Succession (London, 1877)
- Amherst, Cath. Emancipation (London, 1886);
- Bernard Nicholas Ward, History of St. Edmund's College (London, 1893);
- ____, Catholic London a Century Ago (London, 1905);
- ____, Dawn of Catholic Revival (London, 1909);
- Husenbeth, Life of Milner (Dublin, 1862);
- Butler, Hist. Mem. (3rd ed., London, 1822);
- Laity's Directory (1829);
- Catholic Miscellany;
- Orthodox Journal.
- Geoffrey Holt, article on Gandolphy in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
|Catholic Church titles|
|Vicar Apostolic of the London District
James Yorke Bramston