Historical dictionary  vol.: 2  let.: F

Fox, Laurence Prideaux

Born in Kingsbridge, Devon, England on 22 August 1820
Took the habit in Ashbourne in 1848.
Oblation in Maryvale 15 August 1849
Ordained to the priesthood in Galashiels on 10 August 1853.
Died in Tewksbury, Mass., U.S.A., 1 April, 1905,

Lawrence Charles Prideaux Fox was a native of Devonshire, where he was born in Kingsbridge on 22 August 1820. His father’s name was Robert Ware Fox, and his mother’s maiden name was Rachel Cookworthy Prideaux. They were members of the Society of Friends, and until the age of 23 he was also a member of that Society. In 1842 he was baptised into the Catholic Church.

He entered the Oblate novitiate on 14 August 1848 in Ashbourne, being received by Father Daly. He made his perpetual vows on 15 August 1849 in Maryvale before Father Casimir Aubert. According to the Personnel 1862-1863 he did his theological studies “for the most part privately whether at Notre Dame de l’Osier [from where he wrote Father Bellon on 22 February 1852] or elsewhere”. The Sicklinghall Codex, apparently citing Father Bellon’s diary, shows him arriving back from Notre Dame de l’Osier with Fathers Bellon, Dalton and Kirby on 16 July 1852. In December 1852 he joined Father Robert Cooke, Father Dutertre and Brother Dunckley as a founding member of the Galashiels community. Bishop Gillis ordained him and Jean Gobert to the priesthood on 15 August 1853 at Galashiels, in the Scottish Borders. His first Mass was celebrated in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Abbotsford’.

At the start of his ministry Father Fox was above all a preacher. On 29 March 1857 the Founder wrote Father Richard in Inchicore: “I advise Father Fox to husband his energies better than he does”, and on 30 August 1858 he wrote Father Arnoux in Inchicore: “I admire dear Father Fox’s zeal, but I think he is wrong not to set aside some time for study…” In the Register of Personnel 1862-1863 one reads after his name: “a forceful worker in England and Ireland by his persuasive tongue, his authority, talent as decorator. He contributed powerfully to the Inchicore foundation and won real influence in Dublin.” It seems that “‘many people in Ireland, about the year 1860, used to speak of a new body of missioners as Father Cooke’s Order, or Father Fox’s Order.(Missionary Record 1914, p.324.) An account of his battle with the authorities over the South Dublin Union where he was chaplain for four years will be found in Father Denny’s book. He was the originator of the crib at Inchicore that would become famous in Dublin.

He remained in Galashiels until 1854, and then served successively in Birmingham 1854, Sicklinghall 1854-1856, Inchicore 1856-1867, Tower Hill London 1867, and then as superior and manager of St. Kevin’s Reformatory, Glencree, 1867-1873. He served again in Inchicore 1873-1874, from whence he passed to Leith (1874-1877), Rock Ferry (1878-1879), Kilburn (1879-1883) and for a second time at Tower Hill London (1883-1887. While living in Devonshire he had known the parents of Charles Dickens, and later in London he had ties of friendship with the famous author himself. He was also an intimate friend of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Father Tom Burke, O.P., and Daniel O’Connell.

Sent to Western Canada in 1887, Father Fox was parish priest at St. Mary’s Winnipeg 1887-1894, and two years at Rat Portage (Kenora), Ontario (1894-1896). He moved on to the Immaculate Conception parish, Lowell, Mass., (1896-1898) and finally to Tewksbury, Mass. (1898-1905), where he died on April 1, 1905. He is buried in Tewksbury. One of his last works was to translate Eugène Baffie’s Esprit et vertus… de Mgr de Mazenod. Father John Fitzpatrick was appointed to oversee its publication (Missions OMI, n. 40, 1902, p. 140, and n.41, 1903, p. 241). For whatever reason no edition appeared under his name, but an edition was published in London in 1909 that seems to have been the work of Father Thomas Dawson.

Father Fox died 1 April, 1905, in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, U.S.A., where he is buried.

Gaston Carrière
and Michael Hughes, O.M.I.

Sources and Bibliography

G. A.: Oblation formula; about 50 letters to different Oblates, among whom two to Bishop de Mazenod; History of my conversion, 24 April 1903, 38pages, typed.
Carrière Gaston, o.m.i., “Fox, Lawrence”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, vol. II, Ottawa, 1977, pp.45-46, with bibliography. This is the text that, with certain adaptations, is reproduced here.


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