Fonds - Bishop John Thomas Mullock fonds

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Bishop John Thomas Mullock fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on content of the fonds

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  • 1850-1868 (Creation)
    Mullock, John Thomas

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48 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

John Thomas Mullock (1807-1868), Catholic bishop of Newfoundland, was born in the Parish of St. Mary's, Limerick, Ireland, on 27 September 1807, the son of Mary Teresa (Hare) and Thomas Mullock, a wood carver and furniture manufacturer. Mullock died in St. John's on 29 March 1868.

In 1823, at the age of sixteen, Mullock attended a Franciscan Order convent near Seville, Spain to study philosophy and theology. He received the habit of the Order of St. Francis on 7 December 1825 and made his primary (or simple) vows in 1826 at the convent of Xeres, Cadiz province, Spain. After receiving the order of sub-deaconship, he was sent to the Irish Franciscan Convent of St. Isidore's, Rome, on 26 June 1829 to complete his studies and prepare for the priesthood. At the age of 26, he was ordained at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on 10 April 1830 by Cardinal Zuila.

Mullock initially met Michael A. Fleming (then Vicar Apostolic for Newfoundland) in Dublin in 1832. However, between 1830 and 1847, Mullock was prominent in strengthening the Franciscan Order in Ireland. His first mission was at Ennis, County Clare, where he founded a Franciscan convent. In 1837, he went to Cork and, in 1843, attended a meeting of the Franciscan Province in Dublin. Following consultations in Rome, he set about to reconstruct the Order in Ireland and of the old church in Dublin.

In 1847, when Bishop Fleming applied to the Prefect of Propaganda Fide in Rome for a coadjutor bishop, he specifically requested that Rev. Mullock be considered. Mullock himself delivered Fleming's letter arriving at St. Isidore's on 17 September. In November, he received his appointment. In addition, it was decided in Rome to raise the status of the church in Newfoundland from a Vicariate Apostolic to a formal Diocese. On 27 December 1847, Mullock was consecrated coadjutor bishop by Cardinal Franzoni, Prefect of Propaganda. He returned to Dublin in April 1848 and arrived in Newfoundland on 6 May 1848.

Although Newfoundland had been created a Diocese, it had also been attached to the ecclesiastical province of Quebec, making it a suffragan See of that Archdiocese. After considerable objection by Bishop Fleming, this decision was reversed, and in October 1850, the Diocese of Newfoundland was restored to its formal status as a direct dependency on the Holy See. A subsequent attempt in 1853 to attach the diocese of the newly-formed ecclesiastical province of Nova Scotia was also successfully opposed by Mullock.

Mullock undertook a visitation of the Diocese in Newfoundland in June 1848, when he made a tour of the southern and western districts, accompanied by Rev. Edward Condon. On 14 July 1850, Bishop Fleming died, shortly after having celebrated the first mass in the new Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (later Basilica) earlier that year. Mullock succeeded him as Bishop of Newfoundland.

As Bishop, Mullock added substantially to the growth of the Roman Catholic establishment in Newfoundland. He supervised the construction of a new palace, eleven convents and numerous churches, and he encouraged the ordination of Newfoundland-born priests. He founded St. Michael's Orphanage and opened St. Bonaventure's College (1857). In 1856, he secured the creation of a second diocese in Newfoundland with the establishment of the Diocese of Harbour Grace.

Bishop Mullock frequently intervened in politics, especially in the period leading up to the granting of Responsible Government in 1855 which he supported wholeheartedly. He fought to protect the system of Catholic education which had evolved under Fleming's episcopate. After the sectarian violence during the 1861 election, Mullock's political influence declined and he became less outspoken. Mullock was also well noted for his efforts to improve living conditions in Newfoundland, and especially for advocating better roads and improved telegraph and steamship communications with the outside world.

Bishop Mullock died at the Episcopal Palace at the age of 62 and was buried underneath the main altar of the Cathedral.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds includes documentation concerning Mullock's ecclesiastical appointments, correspondence as Bishop of Newfoundland (1850-68); lectures on Newfoundland (1860); circular and pastoral letters (1850-68); diaries and journals (1850-63); manuscript concerning the Catholic church in Newfoundland; financial accounts (1859-63); subscriptions by Newfoundland fishermen and sealers for the support of Catholic church (1859-64); a scrapbook compiled by Mullock (ca. 1860); and his will (1865). Fonds also includes printed material related to life and activities of Mullock added by Archdiocesan staff.

Fonds is arranged in the following series: 1. Correspondence and other material; 2. Diaries and journals; 3. Scrapbook.

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Immediate source of acquisition


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  • English

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    Finding Aid 104. Item level control.

    Associated materials

    Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Parish fonds

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    Further accruals may be expected.

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    Created - May 22, 2013

    Language of description

    • English

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