Thomas Goldwell

Thomas Goldwell (1501 – 3 April 1585) was an English bishop, the last of those who had refused to accept the English Reformation.

Thomas Goldwell

Bishop of Saint Asaph
DioceseSt Asaph
Appointed21 June 1555
InstalledJuly 1555
Term endedc.  1559
PredecessorRobert Parfew
SuccessorRichard Davies
ConsecrationJuly 1555
Personal details
Born1501 (1501)
Died3 April 1585(1585-04-03) (aged 83–84)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Ordination history of
Thomas Goldwell
Episcopal consecration
DateJuly 1555
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Thomas Goldwell as principal consecrator
Giovan Battista Serbelloni6 April 1567
Donat O'Gallagher, O.F.M.5 November 1570
Laurentius Bernardini, O.P.28 September 1572
Marco Pedacca, O.S.B.6 May 1584
Basilio Gradi, O.S.B.6 May 1584


Thomas Goldwell was the son of William Goldwell of Great Chart, Kent.[1] He is thought to have studied at Canterbury College, Oxford; in January 1532 a student surnamed Goldwell was questioned concerning books in his possession which supported Catherine of Aragon, and Goldwell later referred to Richard Thornden, who was warden of that College from 1524 to 1534, as his ‘old friend and master’. He graduated BA in 1528, MA on 17 July 1531, and BTh on 20 March 1534.[1] While at Oxford he attained more eminence in mathematics, astronomy, and kindred sciences, than in divinity or the humanities.[2]

He became chaplain to Cardinal Pole and lived with him at Rome, where he was appointed camerarius of the English Hospital of the Holy Trinity. Goldwell was attainted in 1539.

In 1547 he became a novice in the Theatine House of St. Paul, at Naples. On the death of Paul III, Cardinal Pole brought him to Rome as his personal attendant at the conclave of 1549-50 that elected of Pope Julius III. Goldwell then returned to Naples, and made his profession as a Theatine. In 1553, while Edward VI was still reigning an Act of General Pardon was passed, from which Goldwell had the signal honour of being specially excepted by name, along with Pole and some others.[2]

On Mary's accession, Pole was named papal legate, and Goldwell returned with him to England. In 1555 Goldwell became bishop of St Asaph, a diocese, largely within Wales. While still only bishop-designate, he was sent to Rome on 2 July, 1555 to report on the state of religion in England to Paul IV, and probably received his episcopal consecration at that time.[2] He returned to England and assisted at the consecration of Pole as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mary planned to make him Bishop of Oxford and ambassador to Rome in November 1558, and the documents were drawn up, but were not enacted due to her death. Goldwell attended Cardinal Pole's funeral by the Queen's permission and then returned to St Asaph's. When Elizabeth came to the throne, Goldwell complained of not being invited to her first parliament as a bishop. It was alleged that, by his nomination to Oxford, he was no longer Bishop of St. Asaph; but that, as he had not done homage to the queen for Oxford, he was not yet bishop of that see. Not allowed to perform a bishop's office, say Mass, or administer the sacraments, as long as he remained in the country, by June 1559 he decided to leave England. Although the ports were being watched for him, he succeeded in making his escape.

In 1561 Goldwell became superior of the Theatines at San Silvestro, their house in Rome. He was the only English bishop at the council of Trent, and in 1562 was again attainted. In the following year he was appointed vicar-general to Carlo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan.[3] Later, he returned to Rome, where he is known to have ordained the famous Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria as a priest.[4] In 1580, in spite of his advanced age, he set out for England at the head of the mission which included Campion and Persons, but he was taken ill at Reims and obliged to return to Rome. He died in Rome in 1585.[5]

Episcopal successionEdit

While bishop, he served as the principal consecrator of:[6]

and the principal co-consecrator of:[6]


  1. ^ a b Mayer 2004.
  2. ^ a b c C.F. Wemyss Brown. "Thomas Goldwell". Catholic Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ Eubel, Konrad (1923). HIERARCHIA CATHOLICA MEDII ET RECENTIORIS AEVI Vol III (second ed.). Münster: Libreria Regensbergiana. pp. 120. (in Latin)
  4. ^ "Liner Notes on Victoria's Requiem". Tallis Scholars.
  5. ^ Brady, William Maziere. The episcopal succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, A.D. 1400 to 1875, Vol. 3, Tipografia Della Pace, 1877, p. 37  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ a b Cheney, David M. "Bishop Thomas Goldwell, C.R." Retrieved June 16, 2018.self-published

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Thomas Goldwell". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Robert Warton
Bishop of St Asaph
Succeeded by
Richard Davies