|Tomas Hussey tombstone Waterford, Ireland|
1803 – Death of Thomas Hussey, Bishop and first President of St.Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
He also founded the first and school of Edmund Ignatius Rice at Mount Sion in Waterford, to which he left a substantial sun of money in his will.
He is best known for taking part in talks with Richard Cumberland in a failed attempt to agree a peace treaty between Spain and Britain during the American War of Independence.
Hussey was born at Ballybogan, County Meath in 1746. Due to the restrictions of the Penal Laws, Hussey went to the Irish College at Salamanca for his religious training, and joined the Trappists upon completion of his studies.
However, the Pope ordered Hussey to take orders and take a position in the court of the king of Spain. In around 1767 he was appointed as chaplain to the Spanish embassy in London.
Dr. Hussey became Spain’s diplomatic contact with England when the Spanish ambassador had to leave London on account of the American War of Independence, Spain having taken sides against England. Following discussions with the government of Lord North, Hussey was sent to Madrid to discuss Spain’s withdrawal from the American cause. However, upon his return to Madrid, he attracted the notice of English Catholics in exile, who appealed to the Pope to involve Hussey in the advancement of the Catholic cause in Ireland.
He befriended the Irish born politician Edmund Burke while in London. Dr. Hussey was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1792.
|St. Patricks College, Maynooth|
In returning to Ireland, Hussey played a role in the establishment of Maynooth College, and became its first president in 1795. Shortly after he became the Bishop of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. He attracted widespread attention in 1797 by the issuing of a pastoral letter to his clergy, strongly resenting Government interference in ecclesiastical discipline and the proselytising of Protestants in Ireland through the establishment of religious schools.
Hussey officially opened the first monastery and school of Edmund Ignatius Rice at Mount Sion in Waterford on July 7, 1803. By now in his mid-50s and in poor health, Hussey then settled his estate and had his will drawn up, which amongst other things dealt with the upkeep of Edmund Rice’s education of Waterford’s poor boys, and ensured the survival of his fledgling religious congregation. After signing the will on July 10, Hussey went on a holiday to nearby Dunmore East. The next morning, he went with Dean Hearn for a swim, but suffered an apoplectic fit and never regained consciousness.
|The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford|
Hussey’s remains were brought back to Waterford for burial, but his funeral became the focus of sectarian violence. During the funeral procession to the Great Chapel, the coffin and Hussey’s mourners were set upon by a group of drunken soldiers returning from an Orange Order meeting. These men abused the mourners and attempted to throw Bishop Hussey’s remains into the River Suir that runs through Waterford. A riot broke out, and the local militia were forced to intervene and recover the remains, which were eventually interred in the Great Chapel as originally intended.