Summary of the state of the Scottish mission [1665]


Summary of the state of the Scottish mission [1665]


Scottish colleges


Summary of the state of Scotland including many suggestions from the procurator of the Scottish mission, William Lesley. The summary states: a) there is need of missionaries for the Highlands and the Hebrides who are able to speak Gaelic. The brother [John White] of the missionary working there, Francis White is proposed. PF should ask the superior of CM [René Alméras] to let him go there, and should also write to the archbishop of Armagh who is now in Paris, asking him to search for other priests, as he has done so before. The procurator suggests that the nuncio [Carlo Roberti de’ Vittori] be written to, to ask for information from the rector of the Scottish College, and from [Patrizio] Cuneo, about the suitability of the candidates; b) there is need of another schoolteacher since the one who is teaching now in the Hebrides is not Catholic. The second teacher, who is Catholic, first taught on the island Skye but was expelled when the ministers found out that he was Catholic; he now teaches at the house of the Count of Glengarry; c) the prefect of the Scottish mission [Alexander Winster] has 90 scudi, which is part of the money that PF had assigned to the schoolteacher, who did not accept everything; the prefect asks PF what to do with it; d) the missionaries ask for books, which are too expensive for the schoolteacher and the ordinary people to purchase themselves; e) the procurator suggests that PF write a letter of recommendation on behalf of the missionaries to the powerful Catholic Huntly family; f) the missionaries ask for a place to live in Edinburgh; g) they suggest writing to the superiors of the religious orders active in Scotland, that their members be obliged to show their missionary licenses to PF missionaries when requested to do so, in order for local Catholics to be sure that they do not receive the sacraments from priests without authority. These issues were discussed at the PF meeting on 9 November 1665. PF notes on f. 231v indicate that the cardinals have decided the following: 1) the nuncio to France should ask the superior of CM [René Alméras] that he allow [John] White to go help the Catholics in his country; 2) the archbishop of Armagh [Edmund O’Reilly] should be asked to search for other priests who understand Gaelic, and could be sent to the Highlands and Hebrides, and to propose them to the nuncio, who will in turn refer these names to PF; 3) another teacher should be appointed for the islands, who will receive the same  yearly subsidy as Eugenio Macalastro [Alexander Macalister]; 4) the Jesuit superior general be told that the Jesuits should elect some able young men who could study in the Scottish colleges, and also amongst those who already live in the Highlands. The different Scottish colleges should also be visited by the various nuncios, and the latter should refer their findings to PF; 5) the prefect of the mission [in Scotland] should be written to, stating that the 90 scudi is to be spent for the current provision of the missionaries and the teacher; 6) the procurator has to mention which books he thinks would be useful, so that PF can provide for them; 7) a letter of recommendation should be written as suggested by the procurator; its noted that the cardinals decided nothing with respect to the house that the missionaries asked for; 8) lastly, they decided that the superiors of different orders should forbid the members of their orders to enter Scotland, without a decree from PF.
Date discussed, 1665-11-09
Additional comments
From the authors of the letters included in this bundle, there is both an official Latin letter to PF, and a copy (in Italian) of a letter written to the procurator, William Lesley.


APF SOCG 308, 206r-208v, 231v




For the discussion of this letter, see: APF ACTA 34, 203r, 224v-227v (same information; not in this database). This summary and the discussion thereof by the PF general meeting of 9 November 1665, concern the following documents: APF SOCG 308, 210r-213v (database item 332); APF SOCG 308, 214r, 215v (database item 333); APF SOCG 308, 218r-220r, 221v (database item 334); APF SOCG 308, 222r, 223v (database item 335); APF SOCG 308, 224r-225v (database item 336); APF SOCG 308, 226r-228r (database item 337); and APF SOCG 308, 230r (database item 338).
For the letter that PF sent to the nuncio to France to try to win John White for the mission, see: APF Lettere 50, 129v-130r (database item 833).


Original, unsigned and undated








Origin: [Rome]


“Summary of the state of the Scottish mission [1665],” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed July 25, 2024,