William Ballenden

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William Ballenden or Ballantyne (1616–1661) was a divine and a prefect-apostolic of the Roman Catholic mission in Scotland.


Ballenden was a native of Douglas, Lanarkshire, the parish of which his father was the minister. His paternal uncle was a lord of session, with the title of Lord Newhall. He studied at the University of Edinburgh, and later travelled on the continent. At Paris he was converted to the Catholic religion. He entered the Scotch College, Rome in 1641, and, having received the order of priesthood, left it in 1646, and then stayed in the Scotch college at Paris, preparing himself for the mission.

In 1649 Ballenden returned to Scotland. At this period the secular clergy of Scotland were in a state of disorganisation, and dissensions had arisen between them and the members of the religious orders, particularly the Jesuits. Ballenden despatched the Rev. William Leslie to Rome to ask for the appointment of a bishop for Scotland. This request was not granted by the Holy See, but in 1653, by a decree of propaganda, the Scotch secular clergy were freed from the jurisdiction of the English prelates and Jesuit superiorship; they were incorporated into a missionary body under the superintendence of Ballenden, who was nominated the first prefect-apostolic of the mission.

Among other conversions, he received Lewis Gordon, 3rd Marquess of Huntly into the Catholic Church. In 1656 Ballenden visited France, and on his return, landing at Rye, Sussex, he was arrested by Oliver Cromwell's orders and taken to London, where he remained in confinement for nearly two years. He was then banished, and withdrew to Paris in poverty. In 1660 he returned to Scotland, and he spent the brief remainder of his life in the house of the Marchioness of Huntly at Elgin, where he died 2 September 1661.


From the writings of Jean Suffren[1] he composed a treatise On Preparation for Death, of which a second edition was published at Douay in 1716.


  1. ^ "Collected out of the writings of Father Suffren"; Suffren: 1565-1641

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Ballenden, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.