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Edward Weston

(c. 1565—1635) Roman Catholic priest


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Edward Weston was born in London and probably died in Bruges. Weston's father was a lawyer and his maternal grandfather was a prominent Catholic who was executed for treason by the Protestant authorities in 1571. Edward entered Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1579 but soon transferred to a nearby private Catholic school, and then emigrated to Rheims and in 1585 to Rome, where he studied at the English College. In 1589 he was ordained priest. Weston took a doctorate of theology at Turin and in 1592 returned to Rheims to teach at the English College. In the following year, the College moved to Douai and he taught there until 1602. In 1603 he left Douai for Paris, and some time afterwards he sailed to England to serve as a missionary priest. In response to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Parliament in 1606 introduced a new oath of allegiance, forcing Catholics to renounce the claim that the pope could for spiritual reasons intervene in the temporal affairs of Christian states. Refusal of the oath was punishable by loss of goods and imprisonment at the king's pleasure. The pope forbade Catholics to take the oath. But some priests, including Thomas Preston, argued that despite the papal prohibition Catholics could swear the oath. Weston wrote a manuscript reply to one of Preston's books, not intending it for publication. Preston got hold of a copy, and printed it together with a reply in 1612. In the same year Weston returned to Douai, continuing the debate over papal authority in his Juris pontificii sanctuarium [The Sanctuary of Papal Right] of 1613. At Douai, Weston served as Professor of Theology, but fell out with the College's president, Matthew Kellison, who engineered his dismissal in 1617. Later, he became a canon of St Mary's at Bruges, dying after 1633. In addition to the Juris pontificii sanctuarium, Weston's publications included De triplici hominis officio, ex notione ipsius naturali, morali, ac theologici [On the triple duty of man, according to the concept of him as natural, moral, and theological] (1602), The Triall of Christian Truth (1614–15) and The Repaire of Honour (1624). On questions of Church government he maintained a strongly papalist stance against conciliarist and Gallican thinking. In his general political philosophy, he was close to such neo-scholastic theorists as Suarez and Bellarmine and, amongst English writers, Parsons. He argued that rulers derive their authority from an act of transference by the people and that they are subject to whatever conditions the people imposed at the time it transferred power. The king of England, like many other rulers, was a limited monarch who could not tax or legislate without his subjects' consent. Weston has also been seen as a defender of a traditional Ciceronian style of humanism against an increasingly fashionable Tacitist variety, which had strong overtones of Machiavellianism.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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