THE CATHOLIC REGISTERS OF HOLYWELL
Part I. “The Cross Keys” or Secular Mission
Part II. “Ye Old Star” or Jesuit Mission
The records of Holywell, though scanty, are of some interest from the fact that this town, famous for many centuries for its miraculous Well, continued to be the resort of pious pilgrims even during the worst days of persecution. Another unusual feature is that, though hardly more than a village, there were in it at one time three, and for many generations two, missions. The Secular Clergy and Jesuits made Holywell a centre for their long and arduous circuits amongst the remote towns and villages in North Wales. The Fransiscans resolved to found a house here in 1687, and Father Michael Russel was appointed Preses, but the residence was soon given up.
The Secular and Jesuit priests during the penal times lived at the “Cross Keys” and the “Star” respectively. These inns were situate one on each side of the present Catholic Church, and the clergy seem to have adopted this strange expedient to allay suspicion which might arise from the presence of strangers. The following is a list of the clergy serving Holywell up to the Catholic Emancipation, the date to which I have continued the Registers :-
The “Cross Keys.” Secular Mission
(1) John Plesington alias Scarisbrick, martyred at Chester 1679, served Holywell for some time between 1665 and 1679, but was priest at Puddington Hall, Cheshire, at the time of his seizure and martyrdom.
(2) John Price alias Bryan, son of Richard Price of St. Asaph’s, was born in or about the uear 1647. He was send to Douay College, and when twenty-two years of age was admitted into the English College at Rome September 29, 1669, where he was ordained priest April 16, 1672, but remained at the College till April, 1676, when he left of the English Mission, and if not in that year, came soon afterwards to the Cross Keys in Holywell, where he passed the remainder of his missionary career. He was alive in 1694, but the date of his death has not been ascertained. During the reign of James II Mr. Price procured a lease of the ancient chapel over the Well, and had possession given up to him by Sir Roger Mostyn, of Mostyn, Bart. It was the Queen’s pleasure, however, that the Jesuits should have the chapel for their use, and the demanded the key from Mr. Price. On his refusal to deliver it, the door was broken open, and Mr. Price ejected. He appealed for redress to Sir Roger Mostyn, who acknowledged that the lease was duly executed, but declined to incur her Majesty’s displeasure by opposing the proceedings, though he was in favour of the secular’s claim to the right of patronage to the chapel. Upon this the Queen write to him from Whitehall, under date May 8, 1687, informing him that the King had been pleased by royal grant to bestow upon her Majesty the ancient chapel adjoining St. Winifred’s Well, and desiring him to present possession in her name to Father Thomas Roberts, the Jesuit incumbent of the Star, who would deliver her Majesty’s letter into Sir Roger’s hands. This unfortunate dispute was the cause of lasting unpleasantness.
(3) Peter Wynne alias Bodwell, son of Griffin Wynne and his wife, Dorothy Parry, of Carnarvonshire. He studied at St. Omer’s College and Ghent for five years, and was admitted into the English College at Rome September 28, 1655, at the age of eighteen. The was ordained priest November 21, 1660.