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Thomas Downes



Downes (alias Bedingfeld, Mountford and Mumford), Thomas, son of Thomas Downes of Bodney in Norfolk, b. in 1617; d. December 21, 1678. His mother was Mary, daughter of John Bedingfeld of Redlingfield in Suffolk. He was educated at St. Omer, but completed his studies at the English College at Valladolid, and entered the Society of Jesus, January 8, 1639. From the novitiate he passed to the college of the English Province at Liege, but went for his theology to Pont-a-Mousson and was professed of the four vows January 16, 1656. In 1671 he was chaplain to the Duke of York, afterwards James II. When the duke as admiral of the fleet put to sea againstthe Dutch he asked for "Father Mumford" as confessor on board his flagship. During an encounter between the two fleets Father Downes won for himself a great reputation by exposing himself for many hours to a heavy fire while ministering to the wounded anddying. In 1678 he fell a victim to the infamous Oates conspiracy by means of forged letters delivered to him at Windsor but intended to be intercepted, and purporting to have been written by the provincial and Fathers of the Society. He handed the letters to the Duke of York who showed them to the king. The latter was convinced of the fraud, and testified openly to Father Downes's innocence, but was unable to protect him from the malice of the plotters who succeeded in getting him arrested and sent to the Gatehouse prison where he died.

J. M. Stone.








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