Most Rev. John England

Deceased

Parish Of Birth
Cathedral

Colleges Attended
St. Patrick’s College, Carlow Ireland

Details Of Ordination
Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, Cork
10/10/1808

Appointments
Bishop of Charleston (USA) : 21/9/1820 – 11/5/1842

Bandon PP : 1817 – 1820

St. Mary’s Seminary/President : 1814 – 1817

St. Mary’s College/Lecturer : 1808 – 1814

Chaplain, North Presentation Convent : 10/1808

Notes
John England (1786-1842), a Cork man who was first bishop of Charleston (USA) was an innovator who adapted the mass media of his day and placed them at the service of the Good News.
John England was born in Cork on September 23rd, 1786, and was baptised in the North Parish. He studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, and was ordained by Bishop Francis Moylan on October 10th, 1808 in the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, Cork — the year in which the Cathedral was dedicated.
His first appointment in Cork was in the same North Parish as chaplain to the North Presentation Convent and Lecturer at St. Mary’s College. When Bishop Moylan acquired a plot of land in 1790 on which to build a Cathedral, he also envisaged plans for a seminary on the site. (The Irish colleges in France had been closed by the French Revolution and the Maynooth College issue had not yet been resolved.)
His tenure at the North Parish coincided with one of the most troubled times in Irish history. As the repeal of the Penal Laws took effect, the future place of Catholicism in Irish society was being carved out in parliamentary debates in London, at meetings of Irish bishops, in ardent sermons and in wide-ranging debates — the most significant was the Veto question (the proposal that the English monarchy could veto the appointment of Irish bishops in exchange for funding a national seminary).
John England was a fiery opponent of the Veto which threatened disaster to the Church in Ireland. Next to Daniel O’Connell his influence was the greatest in the agitation which culminated in Catholic Emancipation. He believed that education and information were key component of freedom. He established a free-circulation library in the Shandon area of Cork City, and began publishing a Catholic Monthly called the Religious Repository. He took on the trusteeship of the local Cork newspaper, the Cork Mercantile Chronicle, and also became its most forthright columnist.
Bishop Moylan established St. Mary’s Seminary across the road from the Cathedral on September 12th,1813. Fr. John England was appointed as a lecturer and became its President from 1814-1817. It closed in 1820. In 1820, John England, who by then was parish priest of Bandon, was appointed first Bishop of Charleston (USA). He was consecrated bishop at a ceremony in St. Finbarr’s South Church, Cork on 21st September, 1820.
While Bishop of the new Diocese of Charleston, he continued to use print media as an essential in his ministry. He was the first publisher and editor of the United States Catholic Miscellany (1822-1861), the first Catholic publication in the U.S. Thus, he sowed the seeds for the American Catholic press, a movement that has since sprouted many branches.
He was noted for his friendship towards the Negroes, but nevertheles, he defended slavery, holding that the Negroes were much better treated than the Irish peasants.
On January 8, 1826, Bishop John England became the first Catholic clergyman to preach in the American House of Representatives. The overflow audience included President John Quincy Adams, whose July 4, 1821, speech England rebutted in his sermon. Adams had claimed that the Roman Catholic Church was intolerant of other religions and therefore incompatible with republican institutions. England asserted that “we do not believe that God gave to the church any power to interfere with our civil rights, or our civil concerns.” “I would not allow to the Pope, or to any bishop of our church,” added England, “the smallest interference with the humblest vote at our most insignificant balloting box.”

Date Of Death
11/5/1842

Place Of Death
Charleston, USA

Place Of Burial
Charleston, USA

Associated Links
History of the Diocese of Charleston where John England became the first bishop.
This website is dedicated to Bishop England. The dedication gives a summary of his life.
The Catholic Miscellany — successor to the publication which Bishop John England founded.
His brother, Very Rev. Thomas Richard