Joseph Gillow (5 October 1850 in Preston, Lancashire – 17 March 1921 in Westholme, Hale) was an English Roman Catholic antiquary and bio-bibliographer, "the Plutarch of the English Catholics".[1]


Born to a recusant English Roman Catholic family, Joseph Gillow was educated at Sedgley Park School, Wolverhampton and St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw. In 1878 he married Ella McKenna, a brewer's daughter, securing him a private income allowing him to pursue his antiquarian interests.[2]

Gillow published various researches into the history of Roman Catholicism in Lancashire, but his greatest achievement was the Biographical and Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics (5 vols, 1885-1902). To fit his material into the five volumes allotted him by his publishers, he needed to abbreviate the later volumes.[2] No index was available until 1986.[3] Gillow was appointed honorary recorder of the Catholic Record Society at its foundation in 1904, and was a frequent contributor.[4]

Other worksEdit

  • The Tyldseley Diary, (editor)
  • The Haydock Papers
  • St. Thomas Priory: the Story of a Staffordshire Mission
  • Lancashire Recusants
  • A Catalogue of the Martyrs in Englande for Profession of the Catholique Faith since the yeare of Our Lord 1535[5]


  1. ^ Thomas Bridgett, in The Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook, 1908; quoted in ODNB.
  2. ^ a b J.F.X. Bevan, ‘Gillow, Joseph (1850–1921)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; accessed 1 August 2008
  3. ^ Bevan, J. F. X., Index and finding list to the bibliographical dictionary, 1986
  4. ^ Catholic Records Volume List 1-76 Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 21 October 2014.
  5. ^ Burnand, Francis Cowley Burnand. "Gillow, Joseph", The Catholic Who's who and Yearbook, Burns & Oates, 1908, p. 171

External linksEdit