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Daniel Fitter

B. in Worcestershire, England, 1628; d. at St. Thomas' Priory, near Stafford, Feb. 6, 1700

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Fitter, DANIEL, b. in Worcestershire, England, 1628; d. at St. Thomas’ Priory, near Stafford, February 6, 1700. He entered Lisbon College at the age of nine-teen, went through his studies with some distinction, and was raised to the priesthood in 1651. A year or two later, he returned to England, and was appointed chaplain to William Fowler, Esq., of St. Thomas’ Priory, near Stafford, where he remained until his death. During the reign of James II, he opened a school at Stafford, which was suppressed at the revolution in 1688. At the period of excitement ensuing upon the Titus Oates plot (1678), he, with a few others, upheld the lawfulness of taking the oath then tendered to every well-known Catholic. He himself subscribed it, and defended his action on the ground of a common and legal use of the term “spiritual”. In consequence of this, when the chapter chose him as Vicar-General of the Counties of Stafford, Derby, Cheshire and Salop, they required that he should “sign a Declaration made by our Brethren in Paris against the Oath of Supremacy”.

In a letter to the clergy of England and Scotland (1684), Cardinal Philip Howard recommended warmly the “Institutum clericorum in communi, viventium”, founded in 1641 by the German priest Bartolomaus Holzhauser, and approved by Innocent XI in 1680 and 1684. The institute met with eager acceptance in England, and Fitter was appointed its first provincial president and procurator for the Midland district. The association was, however, dissolved shortly after his death by Bishop Giffard in 1702, on account of a misunderstanding between its members and the rest of the secular clergy. Fitter had bequeathed property to “The Common Purse” of the institute, with a life-interest in favor of his elder brother Francis; but when the institute ceased to exist, Francis, by a deed of assignment, established a new trust (1703), called “The Common Fund” for the benefit of the clergy of the district. This fund became subsequently known as “The Johnson Fund” and still exists. Daniel Fitter also left a fund for the maintenance of a priest, whose duty it should be to reside in the county of Stafford and take spiritual charge of the poor Catholics of the locality.



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