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Alexander Goss (Bishop of Liverpool)

Second Bishop of Liverpool; b. 1814; d. 1872

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Goss, ALEXANDER, second Bishop of Liverpool; b. at Ormskirk, Lancashire, July 5, 1814; d. at St. Edward’s College, Liverpool, October 3, 1872; connected on both sides with old Lancashire families who had always been Catholics; his father was descended from the Gooses or Gosses, his mother from the Rutters. His maternal uncle, the well-known priest, Rev. Henry Rutter, sent him to Ushaw College, June 20, 1827, where he distinguished himself as a student. When he had completed his philosophy course, he was appointed as a “minor professor” to teach one of the classes in the humanity schools. On the death of his uncle, he spent the legacy he received, in going to Rome, where he studied theology at the English College, and was ordained priest, July 4, 1841. On his return to England, early in March, 1842, he was sent to St. Wilfrid’s Church, Manchester, but in the following October he was appointed vice-president of the newly founded college of St. Edward, Everton, near Liverpool. Fr. Goss held this office until he was chosen coadjutor-bishop to Dr. Brown, ten years later. He was consecrated by Cardinal Wiseman, at Liverpool, September 25, 1853, and as there was no pressing need of his services, he took the opportunity to pay a long visit to Rome. On January 25, 1856, he became Bishop of Liverpool by the death of Dr. Brown, and from that time his commanding personality made him a most prominent figure in that city. His lofty stature, dignified bearing, and vigorous speech were the fit accompaniments of a strong and straightforward character. He showed a vast amount of apostolic zeal in the duties of his sacred office, and was an eloquent preacher and a powerful controversialist. He was the beauideal of the rugged folk from which he derived—the old recusants of Lancashire—the mainstay of the old Faith in England; which character obtained for him the respect of his adversaries, the objection of his friends, and the admiration of the people at large, as being a typical Englishman, blunt, manly, and honest. He seldom used any words that were not of Anglo-Saxon origin, and he never indulged in any ambiguities of speech. In politics, he followed the Conservative party. Under his firm administration, Catholicity made great advances, many churches and schools were built, and the bishop proved an unflinching champion of Catholic education. His fearless denunciation of social evils, and his outspoken expression of opinion attracted the notice of the Press, and even “The Times” devoted special attention to his speeches. He was an accomplished scholar, not only in theology, but also in archaeology, and he was an active member of the Chetham, Holbein, and Manx societies. For the first he edited “Abbott’s Journal” and “The Tryalls at Manchester in 1694” (1864); for the Manx society, “Chronica Regum Manniae et Insularum”, to which he made valuable additions. An account of Harkirke burial-ground for recusants, and an introduction written by him were published by the Chetham Society in Crosby Records (M. S., 12, 1887). He also collected materials for a history of Catholicity in the north, and edited Drioux’s “Sacred History, comprising the leading facts of the Old and New Testament“. For many years he suffered so much that his friend, Rev. T. E Gibson, wrote of him (Lydiate Hall and its Associations, Introd.): “A prey to disease during the greater part of his episcopate, his life was the struggle of a fearless soul with bodily ailments and with the harassing mental anxieties incidental to his position.” He was seized with his last illness suddenly, and he passed away the same evening. There are two paintings of the bishop at St. Edward’s College, Liverpool.

EDWIN BURTON


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