Page 5, 5th April 1946

5th April 1946
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Page 5, 5th April 1946 — 1•910 , FROM 'PAGE ONE

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Locations: Rome, BIRMINGHAM, Cambridge


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1•910 , FROM 'PAGE ONE

Archbishop Williams

that be would rally and this opinion was shared by medical specialists.

The Archbishop had undergone two major operations in the last six or eight weeks and while his strength had naturally ebbed a third operation of another character became necessary. His Grace, though in amazingly wonderful spirits right up to the end. was unable to fight against the frailty of the body and he died at 3.10 am. on Monday.

During the last four years he had been subject to various physical disabilities. An operation a few years ago helped to alleviate the persistent pain from arthritis and this left him lame. In fact it is true to say that during the past eight years he went through a purgatory on this earth; in spite of all his tribulations he carried on and bore a smiling face for the world outside.


Dr. Thomas Leighton Williams was born in 1877, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. James Anthony Williams, of Handsworth. Birmingham, who had a large family all staunch in the Faith. Thomas was nurtured in a particularly Catholic atmosphere. He went to school in buildings which were designed by the great Pugin, the architect of St. Chad's Cathedral, where His Grace received his first Holy Communion, where he said his first mass and where in the matured years he was consecrated Archbishop.

After his early schooling in the city he went to Cotton College and later to Oscott for his ecclesiastical studies. After his ordination in 1900 he became a member of the teaching staff of Cotton and later enlarged his experience by serving as parish priest at Hanley. He took his B.A. degree at Christ College, Cambridge, and from 1905 to 1909 was on the staff of St. Edmund's Old Hall He took his M.A. degree at St. Edmund's House, Cambridge, of which for nine years he was principal.

Such is the academic catalogue of one destined to the highest pastoral office. He was extremely proud of being a chaplain in His Majesty's forces during the great war of 1914-18. and others were extremely proud of his headmastership of Cotton to which he returned during a new academic era.


It was at Cotton College, which is proud of being the oldest Catholic college in England, while headmaster Fr. William, as he then was, came under the notice of Cardinal Bourne who undoubtedly had a great opinion of him. Nevertheless, when the See of Birmingham became vacant in 1929, the name of Dr. Williams had not been thought of. But when it was announced that he had been appointed Archbishop everybody said " Rome always does the right thing."

Fr. Williams enumerated a number of reasons why he should not be the Archbishop, including, as he said with great humility, that he had no knowledge of Canon Law. The Vatican remained adamant and as his secretary the new Archbishop received unstinted service of Fr, Bernard Griffin, who had been outstanding at the Venerable College in Rome and possessed degrees eloquent of his academic brilliance. It was little thought at that time that the secretary would become in a very few years the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Between the two there was a deep and abiding affection. paternal on the one hand, filial on the other.

His Grace possessed his native characteristic of being outspoken and some thought indeed that he still remained something of the schoolmaster. But he was possessed of much under standing and sympathy. From the moment of his appointment he showed his capacity as a great administrator and as a result new churches and schools went up all Over his archdiocese with amazing rapidity. He kept a watchful eye on the aesthetic side of this programme and :saw to it that both churches and schools were good


His utterances from the pulpit and his pastorals were simple and direct. He inspired affection and respect in many people outside the church by his invariable exercise of charity both in word and in action.

For some years he was admittedly the spokesman of the Church on matters of education and his death in that respect will be a tremendous loss to the Hierarchy, apart from being a distinctly personal one to His Eminence.

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