He studied in the English College, Rome, where he was taught by Gabriel Vasquez. He joined the Benedictine Order at Monte Cassino in 1590. He was sent to England on the mission in 1603. He landed at Yarmouth and lived with Sigebert Buckley, until Buckley died in 1610. By then he had been indicted as a priest, and was imprisoned shortly after.
Expelled from England three years later, he took part at Reims in the negotiations for the union of the English monks of Monte Cassino, Valladolid, and the old English Congregation. He returned to England and was again imprisoned, first in The Clink in Southwark, and later in Croydon Palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Preston passed much of the rest of his life in prison. He died in The Clink prison, 5 April 1640. In one prison or another he wrote, under the assumed name of Widdrington, several works treating Weldon says that Preston "evermore disowned" the books written under the name of Widdrington, but there is no doubt that he was the author of them. Towards the end of his life, however, he seems to have altered his views, or at any rate to have made full submission on the question of the oath to the authorities of Rome.
Preston took the pen name of Roger Widdrington, and wrote several books of a controversial nature. He upheld oath of allegiance proposed by King James I, being one of the group of Benedictines and secular priests who were apologists for it, against the Jesuits.
His works include:
Among his works are:
- ‘Apologia Cardinalis Bellarmini pro Jure Principum. Adversus suas ipsius Rationes pro Auctoritate papali Principes sæculares in Ordine ad bonum spirituale deponendi,’ Cosmopoli [Lond.], 1611.
- ‘R. W. … Responsio apologetica ad Libellum cujusdam Doctoris Theologi, qui ejus Pro Jure Principum Apologiam, tanquam Fidei Catholicæ … repugnantem … criminatur,’ Cosmopoli [Lond. 1612]. This was attacked in 1617 by Matthew Kellison. Preston replied in 1620.
- ‘Disputatio theologica de Juramento Fidelitatis … Paulo Papæ quinto dedicata. In qua potissima omnia Argumenta, quæ a … Bellarmino, J. Gretzero, L. Lessio, M. Becano, aliisque nonnullis contra recens Fidelitatis Juramentum … facta sunt, … examinantur. (R. W. … Apologeticæ Responsionis ad Libellum cujusdam Doctoris Theologi Præfatio),’ 2 pts., Albionopoli [Lond.], 1613.
- ‘Purgatio,’ 1614. At the demand of the Cardinals de Propaganda Fide.
- ‘A cleare … confutation of the … Reply of T. F., who is knowne to be Mr. Thomas Fitzherbert, an English jesuite. Wherein also are confuted the chiefest objections which Dr. Schulckenius, who is commonly said to be Card. Bellarmine, hath made against Widdrington's Apologie for the Right, or Soveraigntie of temporall princes. By R. W., an English Catholike,’ 1616.
- ‘Appendix ad Disputationem theologicam de Juramento Fidelitatis, in quo omnia Argumenta, quæ à F. Suarez … pro Potestate Papali Principes deponendi, et contra recens Fidelitatis Juramentum allata sunt … examinantur,’ Albionopoli [Lond.], 1616.
- ‘R. Widdrington … ad … Paulum Quintum Pontificem hæc … Supplicatio cui adjungitur Appendix, in quo plurimæ Calumniæ … quas A. Schulckenius Widdringtono … imposuit, … deteguntur,’ 2 pt., Albionopoli [Lond.], 1616.
- ‘The tryal and execution of Father H. Garnet … for the Powder-Treason. Collected by R. W. … Printed in Latin in 1616 … and thence translated. Now published to make it further evident that it is no new thing for Jesuits to curse and ban to justifie a lie’ Lond. 1679.
- ‘Discussio Discussionis Decreti Magni Concilii Lateranensis, adversus L. Lessium nomine Guilhelmi Singletoni personatum, in quâ omnia Argumenta, quæ idemmet Lessius pro Papali Potestate Principes deponendi adducit, … examinantur & refutantur et quædam egregia … Cardinalis Peronii Artificia … deteguntur & refutantur,’ Augustæ [Lond.], 1618.
- ‘R. Widdringtons last reioynder to Mr. T. Fitz-Herberts Reply concerning the Oath of Allegiance and the Popes power to depose princes … Also many replies … of … Bellarmine in his Schulckenius, and of L. Lessius in his Singleton are confuted, and divers cunning shifts of … Peron are discovered,’ 1619, 4to, and [Lond.?], 1633.
- ‘A New Yeares Gift for English Catholikes, or a brief and cleare Explication of the New Oath of Allegiance. By E. I., Student in Divinitie’ [Lond.], 1620. Also published in Latin the same year, under the title of ‘Strena Catholica.’
- ‘An Adjoinder to the late Catholick New Year's Gift,’ 1620.
- "Thomas Preston". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Rev. E. Taunton, The English Black Monks of St Benedict, 1897
- "Kellison, Matthew". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15290. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Widdrington, Roger". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- W. B. Patterson, James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (1997), p. 102; Google Books.
- (German) s:ADB:Schulcken, Adolf
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Thomas Preston". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Widdrington, Roger". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Widdrington, Barons". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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