Milton House Archive Box 3, Folder 12, Georgetown University LibraryView Fullscreen
Milton House Archives
Box 3, Folder 12
Georgetown University Library
Booth Center for Special Collections, Washington D.C.
A scribal copy of Anne Hyde's declaration of conversion
It is so reasonable to expect, that a person always brought up in y[e] Church of England, & as well instructed in y[e] Doctrine of it, as y[e] best Divines as her capacity could make her, should bee liable to many Censures for leaving that, and making her self a member of y[e] Roman Catholic Church, to w[ch] I confess I was once of y[e] greatest enemys it ever had ; that I chose rather to endeavor to satisfy my friends by reading this paper, then to have y[e] trouble to answer all y[e] questions w[ch] may daily be aske mee. And first I do protest in y[e] presence of Alm. God, y[t] no person, man or woman, directly or indirectly ever said any thing to mee (since I came into En_ gland) or usd’ y[e] least endeavor to make mee chainge my Religion. It Is a blessing I wholy ow to y[e] Alm[ty], & I hope so his hearing a prayer I dayly made him, ever since I was in France & Flanders; where seeing much of y[e] devotion of y[e] Catholics though I had very little my self, I made it my constant request to Alm. God, that if I were note, I might before I dyd’, bee of y[e] true Religion. I did not y[e] least doubt, but that I was so, & never had any manner of scruple, till November last, w[en] reading a Book call’d y[e] History of y[e] Reformation by Doc[tor] Heylin, w[ch] I had heard very much commended, & had been told, if ever I had any doubt of my Religion, That would settle mee: Insted of w[ch], I found it y[e] description of y[e] horrid’st Sacrilege in y[e] world, & could find no reasons, why wee left y[e] Church, but for three y[e] most abomina_ ble ones, were ever heard of amongst Christians. First Henry 8 re_ nounces y[e] Popes Authority, because hee would not give him leave to part w[th] his wife, & marry another in her life time. Secondly. Ed. 6. was a child, & goverened by his Uncle, who made his Estate out of Church_ Lands. And then Q Eliz. Being no lawful Heir of y[e] Crown, could have no way to keep it, but by renouncing a Church, y[t] could never suffer so unlawful a thing to bee don, by one of her Children. I confess I cannot think y[e] H. Ghost could ever bee in such counsels; & it is very strainge, y[t] if y[e] Bishops had no design, but as they say, y[e] restoring us to y[e] Doctrine of y[e] Primitive Church, they should never think upon it, till Hen. 8 made y[e] breach upon so unlawful a pretense. Those scruples being raised, I began to consider y[e] differences between y[e] Catholics & us, & examind them as well as I could by y[e] H Scripture, w[ch] though I do not pretend to bee able to understand, yet there are some things I found so easy, that I cannot but wonder I had
been so long without finding them out. As y[e] reall presence in y[e] B Sacrament, y[e] Infallibility of y[e] Church, Confession, & Praying for y[e] Dead. After that I spoke severally to two of y[e] best Bishops wee have in England, who both told mee there were many things in y[e] Roman Church, it were very much to bee wish’t wee had kept, as Confession, w[ch] was no doubt commanded by God: y[e] praying for y[e] dead was once of y[e] ancientest things in Christianity, if for their parte they did it dayly, though they would not own it; & afterwards pressing one of them very much upon y[e] other points, hee told mee that if hee had been bred a Catholic, hee would not chainge his Religion, but that being of another Church, where hee was sure, were all things neces_ sary to Salvation, hee thought it very ill to give that Scandall, to leave that Church, where hee had receavd his Baptisme. All those discourses did but ad more to y[e] desire I had to bee a Catholic, & gave mee y[e] terriblest agony’s in y[e] world w[th]in my self. For all this fearing to bee too rash in a matter y[t] weight, I did all I could to satisfy my self, made it my dayly prayer to God to settle mee in y[e] right, & so went on Christmas day to recieve in Kings chapel. After w[ch] I was more troubled y[n] ever, & could never bee as quiet till I had told my desire to a Catholic, who brought a Priest to mee & y[t] was y[e] first I ever did converse w[th] upon my word. The more I spake to him, y[e] more I was Confirmed in my design, & as it is impossible for mee to doubt of y[e] words of o[ur] B Savior who says y[e] H Sacrament is his Body & blood, so I cannot believe that Hee who is y[e] Authour of all truth, & who has promis’d to bee w[th] y[e] Chruch to y[e] end of y[e] world, would permit them to give y[t] H. mistery to y[e] Laity but in one kind, if it were not law_ ful so to do. I am not able, or if I were,
able would not I enter into dispute w[th] any body, I only in short say this for y[e] chainging of my Religion, w[ch] I take God to witness I never would have don, if I had thought it possible to save my soul otherwise. I think I need not say, it is any interest in y this world leads mee to it, it will bee plain enough to every body, y[t] I must lose all y[e] friends & credit I have here by it, & have very well weigh’d, w[ch] I could best part w[th], my share in this world, or y[e] next. I thank God I found no difficulty in y[e] choyce, my only prayr is that y[e] poor Catholics in this nation
may not suffer by my being of their Religion: y[t] God would give mee patience to bear them, & send mee any afflictions in this world, so I may enjoy a Blessed Eternity hereafter.
St James August 20
(Copy of y[e] Duchesses)