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de Lisle, Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps


Philanthropist, writer; b. Garendon Park, Leicestershire, England, March 17, 1809; d. there, March 5, 1878. The son of Charles Phillipps, he assumed the name De Lisle upon inheriting the family property (1862). His early education was at a private school near Gloucester. There, his friendship with a French priest, one of the French Revolutionary emigrÉs, led to his secret conversion to Catholicism at the age of 16. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he became friendly with Kenelm Digby. Bronchial illness compelled him to leave the University (1828) after two years. In 1833 he married into the old Catholic family of the Cliffords of Chudleigh. His wife, Mary, had 16 children, of whom 11 survived their father. De Lisle established the cistercians in Leicestershire, introduced the rosminians into the country, and initiated a revival in plainchant. Together with Rev. George Spencer (who owed his own conversion to De Lisle), he founded the Association of Universal Prayer for the Conversion of England, which enjoyed notable success and was approved by Cardinal wiseman. Later, in the excitement engendered by the oxford movement and the restoration of the hierarchy (1850), De Lisle established the Association for Promoting the Unity of Christendom, whose 14 original members included only three Catholics. Rome disapproved of this association, whose aim was corporate reunion.

Bibliography: e. s. purcell, Life and Letters of Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle, 2 v. (London 1900). j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time (London-New York 18851902; repr. New York 1961) 2:3847.

[v. a. mc clelland]

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