Lives of the fellows

Thomas Vavasour

b.? d.12 May 1585
AB Cantab(1536-7) MD Venice LRCP(1556)

Thomas Vavasour, M.D., was a pensioner of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and proceeded A.B. 1536-7. He afterwards migrated to some other college, and probably took further degrees at Cambridge, although the same are not recorded. He was one of the disputants before the visitors of the university 25th June, 1549, on that occasion maintaining transubstantiation, and the sacrificial character of the mass. He took the degree of doctor of medicine at Venice, and on the 20th November, 1556, received a licence from the College of Physicians, to practise that faculty for two years.

He was complained of for harbouring Campion the Jesuit, 1572. Grindal, archbishop of York, writing to Lord Burghley, 13th November, 1574, refers to Dr. Vavasour, who, he says, was an old acquaintance of his lordship, and had been tolerated in his own house at York, almost three-quarters of a year, till the archbishop and the lord president of the North committed him to a solitary prison in the queen’s castle of Hull. The archbishop says, that the doctor was the same man he had been, especially in his younger years, sophistical, disdainful, and eluding argument with scoffing, when he was not able to solve the same with learning. (1) [Dr Vavasour died 12th May 1585 and was buried at Drypool near Hull. He had married Dorothy, daughter of _____ Kent of Hemlingford Co. Hants. Information from John Sykes MD of Doncaster 12 Dec 1878.
Fr Grene SJ describes Dr Vavasour as “a man both grave learned and godly for his great and Christian fortitude in defending the Catholic faith.” His death was brought about by his attentions to his fellow prisoners in the North Blockhouse & Castle, Hull, “Where daily he passed his time in virtuous studies in contemplation & prayer, giving good counsel & ministering physic freely & cheerfully, good for both body & soul, to any fellow prisoners visited with the hand of God or summoned with sickness the messenger of death. He and all the whole company of that house remaining alive were removed to the Castle where they were so close and pestered with so many bodies in one chamber that it was impossible for old & diseased men to continue any time. Here this constant confessor being most diligent about some good aged priests who were greviously diseased & had very sore legs, took a sore sickness, wherein he lying long with lingering pain, most patiently suffered both the absence of his dear wife (who could not be permitted to come to him) and all the pangs of sickness till it pleased God to call him to his mercy. Thus ended he his life in this noble cause, which he had nobly defended with a noble and valiant heart, worthy of the noble line from whence he descended, who by his father’s side was a knight’s son, and had to his mother my Lord Windsor’s daughter a very good and virtuous lady.” Fr. Foley’s Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus. 8 vo Lond. Vol. Iii (?), 1878, p.237 et seq.]

William Munk

[(1) Cooper’s Athenæ Cantabrigienses, vol. i, p. 327.]

[P. Peter V., M.D., of York, son of Sir Walter V., 2nd Bt.]

[P. State Papers 6 Feb. 1570 – Dr. V. an alleged Papist.]

(Volume I, page 56)

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