Vicar Apostolic of the (English) Midlands district (1688–1703) and of the London district (1703–34); b. Wolverhampton, 1642; d. Hammersmith, 1734. The most prominent of the early vicars apostolic, and greatly venerated, he lived through the reigns of 12 popes and of eight rulers of England. The second son of Andrew Giffard of Chillington, Staffordshire, he was educated at Douay College, and was the first student to enter St. Gregory's, Paris. After taking his doctorate he went to England and began his long career of danger and hardship in the Midlands and in the London slums. He was made the first vicar apostolic of the Midland district, having been consecrated titular bishop of Madura at Whitehall on April 22, 1688. In the same year he was appointed by James II to be president of Magdalen College, Oxford, after the king had ejected the Protestant fellows. A few months later Giffard and his Catholic fellows were in turn ejected. Captured while trying to escape to the Continent, he suffered for nearly two years in Newgate prison. Fifteen years later, on the death of Bp. John Leyburn, he returned to London where until his death he remained the leader of the persecuted Catholics. Hunted by government agents, he constantly had to change his lodgings, and was five times arrested. In extreme old age he retired to the disguised convent of the Institute of Mary at Hammer-smith, where he died.
Bibliography: j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time, 5 v. (London-New York 1885–1902; repr. New York 1961) 2:454–456. w. m. brady, The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland, and Ireland, a.d. 1400 to 1875, 3 v. (Rome 1876–77) v.3 passim. b. hemphill, The Early Vicars Apostolic of England, 1685–1750 (London 1954).