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Vaughan, Herbert Cardinal, Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS156

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Herbert Cardinal Vaughan Collection consists of original and transcribed material pertaining to St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart.


  • 1841 - 1964
  • Majority of material found within 1872 - 1877

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Herbert Cardinal Vaughan, third Archbishop of Westminster, was born in Gloucester, England, on April 15, 1832. His family was devoutly Catholic and had its seat in Courtfield, Herefordshire. Vaughan was the eldest of eight sons and five daughters of Colonel John F. Vaughan and Eliza Rolls. The latter converted to Catholicism before her marriage in 1830. All five of her daughters entered convents, and six of her sons became priests, with three becoming bishops. (For more information on the Vaughan family, see Folder 1:30.) Herbert Vaughan was educated first at the Jesuit college at Stonyhurst (1841-1847), then for three years at the Jesuit college at Brugelette, Belgium. At an early age, he decided to turn to the priesthood, and after Brugelette went on to study with the Benedictines at Downside Abbey for twelve months. In 1851, Vaughan arrived in Rome to attend lectures at the Collegio Romano. There he shared lodgings with the Irish poet Aubrey de Vere (1814-1902). Three years later, on October 28, 1854, he was ordained at Lucca, at the age of twenty-two. His generally fragile health had led teachers and colleagues to press the Holy See for the ordination should he not reach canonical age for the priesthood. After ordination, Vaughan spent some time traveling among seminaries in Italy, France and Germany. In autumn 1855, he accepted an appointment by Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman (then archbishop of Westminster) as vice-president for St. Edmund's College, Ware, the principal ecclesiastical seminary in southern England. At this time, Cardinal Wiseman was also granting permission to Msgr. Henry E. Manning to establish the Congregation of the Oblates, whose work with the poor Vaughan was especially interested in. In 1857 he became an Oblate, which placed him in an awkward position at St. Edmund's, for Manning was widely suspected of wanting to bring all ecclesiastical education for southern England under the Oblates. The subsequent controversy went to Rome where the Pope ordered the Oblates to withdraw from St. Edmund's and Vaughan saw no recourse but to follow suit. Disappointed and frustrated, Vaughan endured some months of indecision before resolving to devote his life to foreign missionary work. He envisioned a great college that would send out missionaries worldwide. In December 1863, he sailed for the Americas hoping to raise money through charitable contributions for his enterprise. He arrived in Panama amidst a conflict between church and government - the latter demanding the renunciation by the former of civil powers. Churches had been closed by the government and services prohibited. Vaughan immediately set about providing services despite government warnings. Eventually, after ignoring a direct warning from the president, Vaughan gave Viaticum to a dying woman, and was arrested and required to post bail. Realizing that no more could be done in Panama for the time, Vaughan jumped bail and sailed for San Francisco. During the ensuing tours through California, back to Panama, Peru, Chili, and Brazil, Vaughan raised over $40,000. However, in June 1865, he was recalled to England by Archbishop Manning, who had succeeded Cardinal Wiseman at Westminster, appointed on April 30, 1865. He became cardinal on March 31, 1875. In March 1866, Vaughan succeeded in opening a College for Foreign Missions in a rented house on Mill Hill, a few miles from London. Eventually, through further contributions, a new college was built on a freehold site. The St. Joseph's Missionary College of the Sacred Heart opened in 1871, with a community of thirty-four. That summer, the society ordained its first members, and in the autumn, St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart for Foreign Missions assigned its first missionaries to work among the African-American population of the U.S. In November 1871, Vaughan sailed from England in the company of fathers Cornelius Dowling, James Gore, James Noonan, and Charles Vigneront. They arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in December, and were welcomed by Archbishop Martin John Spalding of Baltimore. Spalding assigned the Josephites the church of St. Francis Xavier, originally bought by Michael O'Connor (a former bishop of Pittsburgh and Erie) to serve the African-American community. The building was owned by the Jesuits, which ultimately led to a conflict. The church was heavily in debt supporting, in addition, an orphanage, school, and African-American sisterhood. The Jesuits agreed to permit the Josephites to assume management of everything including the debt. Moreover, the former would retain the right to reclaim and sell the property without conditions. This state of affairs was highly unsatisfactory to Vaughan, and, unfortunately, Bishop Spalding died in February 1872, before anything could be resolved. Father Dowling was appointed the first American provincial of the Josephite mission, and pastor of St. Francis Xavier church. Meanwhile, Vaughan left for an extensive tour of the American South. He visited Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Charleston, Savannah, Richmond, Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and New Orleans. Eventually, Josephite missions would be established in Louisville, Charleston, and upper Marlborough, Maryland. Father Dowling was to die of typhoid in August 1872. Vaughan then appointed James Noonan as his successor.

Never happy with this commitment, Noonan was to endure as the mission's second provincial until October 1877, when Vaughan finally granted his release. The correspondence in this collection, exchanged between Vaughan and Noonan was written during the latter's tenure. Vaughan would make a second visit to the U.S. in January 1875, bringing with him a group of new priests, including Canon Benoit, William Hooman, Frederick Schmitz, John Greene, and Richard Gore, brother of James Gore, as well as Brother Edward Murphy. At this time, Vaughan consolidated connections between the American mission and Mill Hill by drawing up official rules for the Josephite missionaries to live and work by. (For a full history of the mission in the U.S., see the essay by Richard H. Steins, 'The Mission of the Josephites to the Negro in America, 1871-1893,' Folder 1:25.) On October 22, 1872, Vaughan was appointed Bishop of Salford. This necessitated his relinquishing direct management of the college at Mill Hill. He then appointed his secretary, Canon Peter L. Benoit as rector (1872-1892). Benoit gave up his title on his acceptance, but continued to be addressed in honorary form as canon throughout his life. As bishop, Vaughan worked tirelessly to further the Catholic cause in England. He opened St. Bede's, a seminary to ensure a proper supply of candidates for holy orders. The Rescue and Protection Society was organized to retrieve Catholic orphans from workhouses and raise them in the Catholic Certified Homes established by Vaughan. Cardinal Manning died on January 14, 1892, and the pope appointed Vaughan as his successor. However, Vaughan protested this, feeling that at the age of sixty he was too old to shoulder the responsibilities of Westminster. Rome ignored him, and Vaughan was consecrated archbishop on March 29, 1892. By December, he was informed that he was also to be made cardinal, and received the red hat from Leo XIII on January 9, 1893. One of Cardinal Vaughan's last great achievements was to raise enough of a building fund for the Westminster Cathedral to lay the first stone on June 29, 1895. The project was begun by Cardinal Manning, and by 1902, the cathedral was open for service. On March 25, 1903, Cardinal Vaughan left Archbishop's House. He died at his beloved Mill Hill college on June 19, and was buried there.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Herbert Cardinal Vaughan Collection
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057