Monday, June 11, 2012

United States Catholics Celebrate America's Oldest Parish ( Linked to English Martyr ? )

Vatican Insider has a great  article up at Oldest Catholic parish in the U.S. celebrates 350th anniversary.

I found another link that goes into detail about this site that gives some great history, and talks about the  archaeological exploration of the site here.

An important early American Catholic family that deeded the land in mentioned that being William and Temperance Britton. They deeded the Land to the Catholic Church and Jesuit to build the Church. Those legal documents as well as other legal documents of the family can be found here.

Archives of Maryland, Volume 41, Provincial Court Proceedings, 1661.Page 531;

Liber P.C.R., p. 1026; Aprill the 12th 1662; Bretton's deed to Roman Catholic Church:

This day came Mr William Bretton and desired the ensueing to be recorded (vizt)

Ad perpetuam rei memoriam: Forasmuch as divers good and Zealous Roman Catholick Inhabitants of New Towne and St Clements Bay have unanimously agreed amongst themselues to erect and build a Church or Chappell whether they may repayre on Sundays and other Holy dayes appoynted and Comanded by holy Church to serve Almighty God and heare divine Service, And the most Convenient place for that purpose desired and pitcht upon by them all, is on a certaine parcell of the Land belonging to William Bretton Gent Now Knowe yee that I William Bretton of Little Bretton in the County of St Marys in the Province of Maryland gent, with the hearty good likeing of my debout arely beloved wffe Temperance Bretton, To the greater honor and Glory of Almighty God the ever immaculat Virgin Mary and all Saints have given and doe hereby freely & for ever give to the behoofe of the said Roman Catholick Inhabitants and their Posterity or Successors Roman Catholicks soe much land as they shall build the said Church or Chappell on which for their better Convenience they may frequent to serve Almighty God and heare divine Service as aforesaid with such other land adjoyning to the said Church or Chappel convenient Likewise for a Church yard wherein to bury their dead Conteyning abt one acre and halfe of Ground Scituate and lying on a devident of land called Brettons Out Lett, and on the Easte side of the said devident neere to the head of a Creeke called St Williams Creeke which falleth into St Nicholas Creeke and neare unto the narrowest place of the freehould of Little Brittaine. Tenth day of November Anno domini 1661 Wm Bretton, Ternperance Bretton. Delivered and Signed and Sealed in the prsence of Wm Evans, James Thompson, Luke Gardnor, Robert Cole.

In this article( scroll down) there is a good bit of information about the early Bretton Family in Maryland , and a good bit of information on William and his family and their English background.

Whats exciting about that link is it appears there is VERY STRONG evidence that William Bretton is related to the family of Blessed John Bretton who was an English Catholic and was executed at York on 1st April 1598 for his faith. He very well might be a direct descendant. Note this name is also at times called "Britton".

From the records we see:
“AD 1598 - John Bretton - layman - York - 1st April.

The reason for death:-

“For words spoken out of Catholic Zeal.”

“because he was reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church.”

“urged others to embrace the same religion.” and

“denied the spiritual primacy of the Queen.”

Others reported that he said “he hoped to see the crown on the head of a Catholic” (monarch), and that “he hoped he would see the death of the Queen.”

The quotation that “he hoped to see the crown on the head of a Catholic Monarch” refers to the investigation carried out by the agents of Bishop Smith and gives the actual words spoken by the martyr as vouched for by “personal knowledge” by the persons they interrogated. The statement “He hoped he would see the death of the Queen” was taken from the Register of the Assizes, being an official record and providing conclusive evidence of the charges upon which he was tried and condemned, and indicates how the martyr’s words were twisted to form an indictable offence.

Returning to Americans Brittons link we see this Jesuit recoreded history:

“.....Only four years after the Dove and Ark had entered the Potomac, that is to say in 1637, William Bretton, his wife and child arrived in St. Mary’s County Md. Bretton was one of those old Catholic gentlemen of England who preferred freedom and exile in the wilds of the New World to persecution and bondage in their native land. “Mr Bretton” says The Day Star of American Freedom “soon afterwards held a large tract upon Bretton’s Bay ; and many years lived in Newtown Hundred ; was a soldier in St Inigoe’s Fort, at a very critical period, in the Administration of Governor Calvert ; and the Registrar of the Provincial Court under Governor Green, with the power, during the lieutenant general’s absence, to sign writs under the Governor’s name ; kept some of the most important records of the province, till the arrival of Mr. Hatton in 1649 ; and was clerk in the Protestant Assembly in 1650. In the legislature of 1648 he held four voices ; three of them certainly from Newtown ; probably the fourth also. And, from his familiarity with the records, as well as his general knowledge of business, we cannot but presume that he was one of the most influential members of the Roman Catholic Assembly in 1649. He is also worthy of remembrance in consideration of the fact that he founded one of the first Roman Catholic chapels of the province - a chapel which was erected and sustained by the pious members of his own church in Newtown and in St. Clement’s hundred ; which also bore the name of the patron saint of Maryland”............

The Day-Star continues:-

“A mystery clouds the latter part of Bretton’s life. About 1651 he married Mrs Temperance Jay. Misfortune seems soon after to have attended him ; and his “son” (my bold) and “daughter” received ‘alms’ at a moment of deep distress. Nor can any will be found ; or his posterity traced but there was no doubt whatever that he was one of the Roman Catholic Assemblymen of 1649. He held a tract bounded by St. William’s Creek ; the most striking part of his cattle mark (a fluer-de-lis) was a favourite device with the members of his church at that period ; his name is not amongst the signers of the Protestant Declaration ; and the very phraseology, in his gift of the church lot has the unmistakable marks of his sympathy with the faith of the Roman church and (independently of other evidence) is sufficient to satisfy a reasonable mind

Anyway some fun history.

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