I continue this occasional series based on the the Anglican Catholic tradition since 1533 by taking up again the clerical circle of the Fr John Tregear whom I mentioned recently (December 20): the Vicar of St Allen in Cornwall who translated into Cornish the Counter-Reformation Homilies of Bishop Bonner during the reign of Good Queen Mary. One of his associates was a Fr Thomas Stephyn*, Vicar of nearby St Newlyn, who was involved in a most diverting fracas in the port of Truro in 1537.
An agent of the Tudor regime, Alexander Carvanell, heard about a ship called the Maudelyn (M'gDALL'n to some North Americans) which, with Fr Stephyn and two other priests and a few dozen laity, was about to set sail for the Pardon** (patronal festival) in Treguier, Britanny, "faynyng a poope holly pilgrymage". The pious miscreants refused to allow the Tudor employees to board the ship; Carvanell and two assistants were at first thrown overboard. They persisted, and eventually the ship sailed off with the three government men as captives on board. Five miles out from Falmouth, the two lackies were put in a boat to row ashore, but Carvonell himself was carried all the way to Britanny. The pope holy pilgrims amused themselves by threatening to tow him behind the ship at the end of a rope.
The fun continued in Treguier; the Cornishmen explained to their Breton cousins the status of Carvonell, and the more devout among those who had gathered for the Pardon duffed him up beautifully in the streets of Treguier, "shuldryng and buffeting him as though he had bene a turke or a Sarzin". But he survived to get home and to report to the Council.
Fr Tregear, as we saw, lived out his days as Vicar of St Allen, almost certainly as a Church Papist priest. Fr Stephyn's future is much less clear. In fact, he disappears off the archival radar. But he comes into the tale of the Cornish language recusant manuscript which I wrote about earlier and which is called 'The Tregear Homilies'. At a later point in the history of this work another section, Sacrament an Alter, was added to it. This consists of a lengthy collection of patristic quotations on the Eucharist, and it has been shown that this was most ingeniously confected. The 1554 Oxford Eucharistic debates between Catholic and Protestant divines were, under Elizabeth, printed in Foxe's Acts and Monuments. A copy of this was later supposed to be placed in all churches. It rather looks as though Fr Stephyn simply copied out for the purpose of Catholic apologetic, and translated into Cornish, the Catholic citations in Foxe's Protestant blockbuster.
Perhaps Fr Stephyn's disappearance from the records means that he went into the Catholic underground. Perhaps the 'Tregear' volume went with him; in 1564 Fr Tregear, incidentally, was involved in passing on, presumably among those clergy whom he knew would make sympathetic use of them, books bequeathed by a traditionalist priest. Who knows; perhaps the volume of 'homilies' spent some time, not very far away from St Allen and St Newlyn, in the Lanhearne residence of the Arundell family, who had suffered in the aftermath of the 1549 rebellion; a house where the Blessed Sacrament never ceased to be reserved even during the darkest days - and where now the admirable Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate pray the Old Rites. May Mary conceived without sin pray for those who have recourse to her.
* Tudor clergy were of course either Master (Magister, when graduates) or Sir (Dominus, when not); my "Fr" is an anachronism. The facts in this post are indebted to the paper by D H Frost, which I mined before. I have made the assumption that the Sir Thomas Trebylcock mentioned in the Truro account as "paryshe pryste" of St Newlyn is the same as the Sir Thomas Stephyn whom we know to have been curate there of the absentee incumbent Master Ralph Trelobys. In the sixteenth century the same person could often go by a number of names, especially by both a patronymic and a toponymic.
**Pardon of S Yves, mid-May. Pam and I had marvellous fortnight near Treguier a few years ago with Middle Daughter and her husband and their children. It is a remarkable little city with very good seafood and ravishing pastries and a charming cathedral and cloister.