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Edward Dicconson

Titular Bishop of Malla, or Mallus, Vicar Apostolic of the English Northern District; b. Nov. 30, 1670; d. May 5, 1752

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Dicconson, EDWARD, titular Bishop of Malla, or Mallus, Vicar Apostolic of the English Northern District; b. November 30, 1670; d. May 5, 1752. He was the son of Hugh Dicconson of Wrightington Hall, Lancashire. At the age of thirteen or fourteen he was sent to the English College at Douai, where he completed his course of philosophy in 1691. He returned to Douai about 1698, having resolved to become a priest, and on being ordained in June, 1701, remained at the college many years as procurator and professor, and became vice-president in 1713, while still continuing to teach theology. At Ushaw there is preserved a portion of a diary kept by him at this period, which gives a glimpse of the life he then led at Douai, besides mentioning some other events of interest. In it he has recorded a visit paid by him to Paris in June, 1704, when he and his brother “at St. Germain made the compliments of the College to King and Queen on the King’s birthday.” The king here referred to was James II’s youthful son, who was recognized as king, both by the exiled English Catholics and by Louis XIV of France, and to whom Dicconson’s oldest brother William was tutor. The queen was of course his mother, the widowed Mary of Modena, whose kindly interest in Douai College is shown by more than one entry in the diary. He mentions also a week spent by him in May, 1705, at Cambrai, whither himself and the President of Douai conducted three of the young Howards, then students at the college, to meet their brother the Duke of Norfolk. The illustrious Fenelon was then Archbishop of Cambrai, of whose “extremely obliging and respectful” reception of the duke the diary makes particular mention.

After being employed for some time at Paris in connection with the college funds, Dicconson left Douai to work upon the English mission in 1720, and for some years was chaplain to Mr. Giffard of Chillington in Staffordshire, acting at the same time as vicar-general to Bishop Stonor, Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District. At the time of his own nomination to the Northern Vicariate Dicconson had gone to Rome as envoy-extraordinary of the secular clergy. He was consecrated on March 19, 1741, at Ghent; passing from there to Douai, he confirmed some of the students, besides ordaining others. On reaching his vicariate he fixed his residence at Finch Mill in Lancashire, a place belonging to his family. He had then reached the age of seventy, and in 1750 he had to petition for a coadjutor in the person of Dr. Francis Petre. After an episcopate not marked by any great events he died at Finch Mill and was buried in the family vault beneath the parish church of Standish. In the reports supplied to the Holy See on the several occasions when his name was brought forward for a bishopric, he is described as “a wise man of singular merit, of learning, application to business, and dexterity in managing affairs—though not very successful in the economy of Douai, and with an impediment of tongue, which made preaching difficult.” The fact is also noted that in 1714 “he had accepted the Constitution Unigenitus [against Jansenism], and insisted on its acceptance by the students.” He collected a large number of controversial works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (now in the Library of Ushaw College), on the fly-leaves of which he wrote valuable biographical and bibliographical comments.



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