Peter Yorke

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For those of a similar name, see Peter York (disambiguation).
Peter C. Yorke

Father Peter Christopher Yorke (15 August 1864 in Galway, Ireland - 4 April 1925 in San Francisco, California)[1] was an Irish-American Catholic priest and a noted Irish Republican and Labor activist in San Francisco. He was the youngest child of Gregory Yorke, a sea-captain, and his wife Brigid, née Kelly. He was pastor of St. Peter's in 1914.

The Yorke family were originally from Holland, where the name was spelled Jorke. Peter Yorke's grandfather, Christopher Yorke, came to Galway in the early 19th century, building lighthouses and breakwaters in Galway, Aran and Westport.[2] Gregory Yorke died six months before Peter was born. In 1882, Yorke graduated from St. Jarlath's College in Tuam. He then went to St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, where he studied for 4 years before being adopted by the Diocese of San Francisco. He was ordained in 1887.

In San Francisco, he became the editor of The Monitor, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In 1901, he supported the workers in a Teamsters strike. In 1902, he founded and edited a local newspaper called The Leader.

A short street called Peter Yorke Way in San Francisco, which runs from the junction of Geary Boulevard and Gough Street to Post Street, is named after him. The headquarters of the Archdiocese of San Francisco is located at 1 Peter Yorke Way.

Author of the best-selling text book The Ghosts of Bigotry, originally re-published in San Francisco 1913 from new plates, the originals having been destroyed in the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. It was the genesis work of the Catholic Truth Society, in response to an anti-Catholic literary campaign by the American Protestant Association, and a frank account of the "Black Myths" of English Protestant opposition to the Roman Catholic Church from the reign of Elizabeth the First through to Catholic Emancipation and the failed Ecclesiastical Titles Bill in the 19th Century. Its concluding chapter sets the scene of Catholic resurgence in the USA. The publisher was the Text Book Publishing Company, 641 Stevenson Street.


Yorke is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. Every Palm Sunday the United Irish Societies of San Francisco hold a memorial celebration of Father Yorke at Holy Cross Cemetery. Following the Palm Sunday Mass at All Saints Chapel, there is a short procession to his graveside. There poems, music and speeches celebrate his life.


  1. ^ James P. Walsh and Timothy Foley, Father Peter C. Yorke Irish-American Leader, Studia Hibernica, No. 14 (1974), pp. 90-103
  2. ^ The Long Walk, 18 July 2002
  • Joseph S. Brusher, Consecrated Thunderbolt: Father Yorke of San Francisco (Hawthorne, New Jersey: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1973)
  • Sr. Mary Camilla Fitzmaurice, Historical Development of the Educational Thought of the Reverend Peter C. Yorke, 1893-1925 (1963)
  • James P. Walsh, Ethnic Militancy: An Irish Catholic Prototype (San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1972)
  • Priscilla F. Knuth, Nativism in California, 1886-1897.
  • God give us men.
  • The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

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