Matthew Kellison was born in Northamptonshire and died in Douai. He emigrated to Rheims in 1581, and the following year went to Rome where he entered the English College. In 1587 he was ordained priest at Rome. He then returned to Rheims, becoming Professor at the English College there, and moving with the College to Douai in 1593. In 1594 he was awarded a doctorate of theology. Kellison took up an appointment as Regius Professor at the University of Rheims in 1601, but in 1613 returned once more to Douai, this time as President of the English College. In earlier contests between the Jesuits and English secular priests, Kellison tended to side with the former. But as President of Douai he took a more independent stance. In 1617–18 he was instrumental in securing the expulsion from Douai of Edward Weston and William Singleton, two strong supporters of the Jesuits. In 1629 he published A Treatise of the Hierarchie and Divers Orders of the Church, which adopted a number of Gallican ideas and argued that every local church ought ordinarily to be governed by a bishop holding full episcopal powers. The book was written in support of Richard Smith, who had been appointed a bishop by the pope, but whose powers were bitterly contested by Jesuits and others. Amongst those who attacked Kellison's book was the Jesuit John Floyd. But though Floyd and Kellison differed on Church government, they held very similar views on questions of political theory and Church–State relations. In 1614 Kellison wrote a treatise entitled The Right and Iurisdiction of the Prelate and the Prince, in which he argued against the political ideas of Thomas Preston, and maintained that the pope, as the spiritual leader of Christendom, was empowered to intervene in secular affairs, for instance by deposing kings. He also claimed that monarchs derive their powers from the people over whom they rule, and that the nature and limitations of their authority are defined by the conditions upon which it was first granted to them. Like most Catholic political writers in the years immediately after the assassination of Henry IV of France, Kellison was reticent about popular rights of resistance to Catholic rulers. He was highly educated in the scholastic tradition, and was a particular admirer of Gabriel Vasquez, who had taught him. In The Right and Iurisdiction of the Prelate and the Prince he expressed scholastic political ideas in clear, straightforward English.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.