William Bernard Ullathorne

The Most Reverend
William Bernard Ullathorne
Bishop of Birmingham
Church Roman Catholic Church
Diocese Birmingham
Appointed 29 September 1850
Term ended January 1888
Successor Edward Ilsley
Other posts Titular Archbishop of Cabasa
Ordination 24 September 1831
Consecration 21 June 1846
by John Briggs
Personal details
Birth name William Ullathorne
Born 7 May 1806
Pocklington, Yorkshire, England
Died 21 March 1889, (aged 82)
Oscott College, New Oscott, England
Buried Dominican Sisters Convent, Stone, Staffordshire, England
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents William Ullathorne and Hannah Ullathorne (née Longstaff)

William Bernard Ullathorne (7 May 1806  21 March 1889) was an English prelate who held high offices in the Roman Catholic Church during the nineteenth-century.

Early life

Ullathorne was born in Pocklington, Yorkshire, the eldest of ten children of William Ullathorne, a prosperous businessman with interests in groceries, draperies and spirits, and Hannah (née Longstaff), who converted to Roman Catholicism when she married. When he was nine years of age, Ullathorne's family relocated to Scarborough, where he began his schooling. He is a descendant of Saint Thomas More through his great grandmother, Mary More. [1]

At 12 he was taken from school and placed in his father's office to learn the management of accounts. The intention was to send him to school again, but Ullathorne wished to go to sea, and at the age of 15, with his parents' permission, he made the first of several voyages to the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean. While attending Mass in Memel he experienced something in the nature of a conversion, and on his return asked the mate if he had any religious books. Ullathorne was given a translation of Marsollier's Life of St Jane Frances de Chantal, which deepened his religious devotion. At the end of this voyage he returned home. In February 1823, aged 16, he was sent to Downside, near Bath, where he was mentored by John Bede Polding, afterwards the first Archbishop of Sydney, who influenced him greatly.[2]


In 1823 Ullathorne entered the monastery of Downside Abbey, taking the vows in 1825. He was ordained priest in 1831, and in 1833 went to New South Wales as vicar-general to Bishop William Placid Morris (1794–1872), whose jurisdiction extended over the Australian missions. It was mainly Ullathorne who caused Pope Gregory XVI to establish the hierarchy in Australia. Ullathorne returned to Britain in 1836,[3] met Bishop Murphy and enlisted for the Australian mission. After another visit to Australia, Ullathorne settled in England in 1841, taking charge of the Roman Catholic mission at Coventry. He was consecrated bishop in 1847 as Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, in succession to Bishop C.M. Baggs (1806–1845), but was transferred to the Central District in the following year.[3] Ullathorne helped found St Osburg's Church in Coventry.[2]

Bishop of Birmingham

On the re-establishment of the hierarchy in England and Wales, he became the first Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham. During his nearly four decades of tenure at the see 67 new churches, 32 convents and nearly 200 mission schools were built. In 1888 he retired and received from Pope Leo XIII the honorary title of Archbishop of Cabasa. He died at Oscott College[3] and his monument is in the crypt of St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, although he was buried in the sanctuary of the Church of St Dominic and the Immaculate Conception at Stone, Staffordshire. There is Bishop Ullathorne RC School in Coventry which is named after him.[4]

Of Ullathorne's theological and philosophical works the best known are The Endowments of Man (1882); The Groundwork of the Christian Virtues (1883); Christian Patience (1886). For an account of his life see his Autobiography, edited by A. T. Drane (London).[3]


  1. http://www.thomasmorestudies.org/docs/Descendants_John.pdf
  2. 1 2 Schofield & Skinner 2009, The English Vicars Apostolic, p. 242.
  3. 1 2 3 4  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ullathorne, William Bernard". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 566.
  4. "Bishop Ullathorne School". Retrieved 20 May 2014.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Charles Michael Baggs
Vicar Apostolic of the Western District
Succeeded by
Joseph William Hendren
Preceded by
Thomas Walsh
Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District
Last appointment
New title Bishop of Birmingham
Succeeded by
Edward Ilsley
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