Thomas Bell (Catholic priest)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Bell (fl. 1573–1610) was an English Roman Catholic priest, and later an anti-Catholic writer.


He was born at Raskelf, near Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1551, and is said to have been beneficed as a clergyman in Lancashire. Subsequently, he became a Roman Catholic, and was imprisoned at York, around 1573. In 1576 he went to Douay College, and in 1579, when twenty-eight, entered the English College, Rome as a student of philosophy. In 1581, by then a priest, he was in the English seminary at Rome, and in the following March (1582) was sent into England. [1]

In 1586 he appears as the associate of Thomas Worthington and other priests in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and elsewhere. He was mentioned in 1592 as one ill-affected to the government, and he shared the fate of other seminary priests in being arrested. He was sent to London; but he recanted, and was sent back to Lancashire to help look for Jesuits. After this he went to Cambridge, where he began the publication of his controversial writings.[1]

After leaving Catholicism he participated in the persecution of Catholics, advocating the use of the rack, leading night time searches of Catholic homes and made a list of Catholics who had previously given him money as well as Lancastrian houses where Catholicism was still practiced.[2]


They include:

  • Thomas Bels Motives: concerning Romish Faith and Religion, Cambridge, 1593; 2nd ed. 1605.
  • A Treatise of Usurie, Cambridge, 1594.
  • The Survey of Popery, London, 1596.
  • Hunting of the Romish Fox, 1598. This is entered on the Stationers' Register, 8 April 1598, and Bell himself claims the authorship in his Counterblast. Another work with the same title had been published by William Turner in 1543 (Basle).
  • The Anatomie of Popish Tyrannie, wherein is conteyned a Plain Declaration … of the Libels, Letters, Edictes, Pamphlets, and Bookes lately published by the Secular Priests, and English Hispanized Jesuites, London, 1603.
  • The Golden Balance of Tryall, London, 1603, annexed to this is A Counterblast against the Vaine Blast of a Masked Companion, who termeth Himself E. O., but thought to be Robert Parsons, the Trayterous Jesuite.
  • The Downefall of Poperie, proposed by way of challenge to all English Jesuites and … Papists, London, 1604 and 1605; reprinted and entitled The Fall of Papistrie in 1628. Robert Parsons, Richard Smith, and Francis Walsingham wrote answers to this work.
  • The Woefull Crie of Rome, London, 1605.
  • The Popes Funerall: containing an exact and pithy Reply to a pretended Answere of a .. Libell, called the "Forerunner of Bells Downfall". … Together with his Treatise called the Regiment of the Church, London, 1606.
  • The Jesuites Ante-past: containing a Reply against a Pretended Aunswere to the Downefall of Poperie, London, 1608.
  • The Tryall of the New Religion, London, 1608.
  • A Christian Dialogue between Theophilus, a Deformed Catholike in Rome, and Remigius, a Reformed Catholike in the Church of England, 1609.
  • The Catholique Triumph: conteyning a reply to the pretended answere of B. C. [i.e. Parsons] lately published against The Tryall of the New Religion, London, 1610.

In his Jesuites Ante-past he states that Queen Elizabeth granted him a pension of fifty pounds a year, which James I continued.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Sutton 1901.
  2. ^ "Blaming the Victim". Christian Order. June–July 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2013.