William Rushworth

(c. 1594—1637) Roman Catholic priest and religious controversialist

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Little is known about this Roman Catholic controversialist, although his Dialogues seem to have been widely read, and provoked a lively reaction from Protestants. Rushworth was a native of Lincolnshire, but received his education at the English College in Douai, where he went under the name of Charles Ross. He was ordained priest in 1615, and was sent on the English mission some years later. This was a perilous assignment. Since the pope had forbidden English Catholics to swear an oath of allegiance to King James I, the English authorities felt themselves entitled to persecute Catholics as, effectively, non-citizens. It is thus not surprising that we have little detailed knowledge of Rushworth's life. He cultivated an interest in mathematics and natural philosophy, and corresponded (under a pseudonym) with William Oughtred, but could never play a full and open part in the intellectual life of the nation. At his death in 1637 he left a manuscript of three dialogues on the judgement of common sense in the choice of religion – not surprisingly, common sense turns out to be firmly on the side of Rome. The dialogues were published in Paris in 1640. Thomas White later added a fourth dialogue, publishing the new edition in Paris in 1654. A number of Protestants replied to Rushworth's dialogues, the most distinguished being Chillingworth in his An Answer to Some Passages in Rushworth's Dialogues (9th edn, 1727). These Protestant critics of Rushworth were in turn answered by White in his An Apology for Rushworth's Dialogues (1654).

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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