Born: 1600, Limerick
Entered: 08 January 1626, Bordeaux, France - Aquitaniae Province (AQUIT)
Ordained: 1633, Bordeaux, France
Final vows: 15 August 1641, Waterford
Died: 02 May 1666, Grand Collège, Poitiers, France - Aquitaniae Province (AQUIT)
Was already a “Jurista”. Had studied 2 years Philosophy and 2 Jurisprudence on Ent
1628 First Vows 09 January 1628
1628-1630 At Pau College AQUIT taught Grammar
1630-1636 At Bordeaux Collège studying Theology, teaching Grammar and Philosophy
1636-1637 Minister at La Rochelle
1637 In Ireland for 4 years
1647-1648 Taught Physics at Bordeaux
1648-1650 At Pau College teaching Philosophy
1650-1651 Minister and Consultor at Périgord Collège; 1651-1652 At Tulle Collège teaching Grammar; 1655-1656 At Poitiers (MIn & Cons)
1656-1657 Superior of Bayonne Mission
1657-1660 At Agen College Consultor and teaching Physics, also a Casuist there
1660-1666 At Poitiers Confessor and later infirmus (Verdier Rector at that time)
◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
(In Pen) First Vows 09 January 1628; RIP Poitiers 1665 (Sommervogel)
1659 He was probably Superior of the Mission as “Nathaniel Hart” (but this is also ascribed to Richard Shelton, who was Superior of Irish Mission)
He was a much esteemed Agent of the Confederation at the French Court; Prudent, and much liked by the Nuncio in Paris. He had been sent over by the Catholics of Ireland to beg assistance from the King in their distress, the kingdom presenting a scene of general conflagration and bloodshed, the Catholics fighting for freedom of conscience, and their lawful King against the Puritans (Letter of Robert Nugent 24 April 1642). When in Paris the petition of the twenty-five thousand Irish - driven by persecution to St Kitts - arrived. Father Hartegan offered himself as one of two Fathers to be sent for their spiritual relief - Letter of Father Hartegan 30 Marhc 1643 (cf Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)
Often mentioned by Nuncio to Ireland Rinuccini
Considered a religious and clever man.
A correspondent of Wadding. Several of his letters are in Carte’s “Ormond” and Mr Gilberty’s works on “Irish History”
He volunteered to help the Irish at St Kitts (cf Foley’s Collectanea).
◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Had already studied Philosophy and Jurisprudence and had graduated MA before Ent 08 January 1626 Bordeaux
1628-1630 After First Vows he was sent on Regency to Agen,
1630-1634 He was then sent to Bordeaux for Theology where he was Ordained 1633
1634-1636 Sent to Pau to teach Philosophy
1636-1637 Sent as Minister at La Rochelle
1637-1642 Sent to Ireland. No record of his work except that he made FV at Waterford 15 August 1641. It may be reasonable to surmise that he was known to the newly constituted “Confederation of Kilkenny”, as he was instructed to represent them the following year in France - the Mission Superior duly notified the General of this business.
1642-1646 Sent to France to take charge of what might be called the Embassy of Ireland in France on behalf of the Supreme Council of the Confederation of Kilkenny. He was at Beziers June 4, Lyon July 15 and settled in Paris as “Agent” August 8th until May 1646 when, having finished or resigned his mission he returned to Bordeaux. He along with Geoffrey Baron (nephew of Luke Wadding OFM) were formally appointed as agents at the French Court.
1646 After he resigned his post, he continued to live in Paris and then moved to Bordeaux. In the course of his court business, he had managed to earn the distrust of Queen Henrietta, wife of Charles I. Letters on the Queen and supposedly written by O’Hartegan were seized and published in London. They were considered a forgery, however they were also used as a favourite weapon of counter-diplomacy, and even the Supreme Council were not convinced that O’Hartegan had written them - the originals of which were never produced.
1648 Two years after his return to Bordeaux, The General Carafa asked the AQUIT Provincial to summon a Meeting of Consultors to choose a priest of their Province to conduct an extraordinary Visitation of the Irish Mission, and O’Hartegan was invited to take part in the consultation. The choice fell on Mercure Verdier, who possibly owed some of his grasp of the political-religious situation in Ireland to O’Hartegan.
He was never to return to Ireland and was sent to teach at various Colleges in AQUIT. he taught Philosophy at Bordeaux (1646-1648), at Pau (1648-1650) and Agen (1657-1660) . He conducted weight AQUIT business at Paris, and briefly was Superior at Bayonne.
1660 He was sent to Grand Collège Poitiers as Operarius, and he died there 02 May 1666
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by Aoife Duignan
O'Hartegan, Matthew (1600–66), Jesuit priest and confederate agent, was born in August 1600 in Limerick. Originally intending to pursue a lay career, he studied philosophy and jurisprudence, and was awarded an MA, but subsequently entered the Society of Jesus at Bordeaux on 8 January 1626. After a short period of regency at Agen, he began theological studies at Bordeaux in 1630. He was ordained in spring 1633, and thereafter became professor of philosophy at Pau. He was transferred as minister to the college of La Rochelle in 1636, and at the end of that year was assigned to the Irish mission. There are no records of his term in Ireland, except that he made his solemn profession at Waterford, on 15 August 1641. He acted on behalf of the Catholic Confederate Association in Paris in 1642, and he and Geoffrey Barron (qv) were officially appointed agents to the French court by the supreme council on 23 July 1643. His efforts to ensure the continued support of France and to procure aid involved him in contact with the papal nuncio in France, Grimaldi, Cardinal Mazarin, and Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria.
In March 1645 the confederate supreme council expressed concern at a number of letters allegedly written by O'Hartegan, which criticised the influence on the council of Charles I's viceroy, James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond. Although the council stated that it believed the letters to be forged, O'Hartegan's suitability to act for the association was increasingly called into question, with concerns over his ‘vanitye, and exaltation of himselfe’ and ‘disrespect and scandalous calumnyes by him’ (Gilbert, Ir. confed., iv, 205). He also alienated Henrietta Maria, who doubted the sincerity of his desire for peace.
In regular contact with GianBattista Rinuccini (qv) in Paris, he organised the nuncio's passage to Ireland. Rinuccini discussed the possibility of O'Hartegan's returning to his religious duties in October 1645; he ultimately finished or resigned his agency in Paris in May 1646 and returned to Bordeaux. Despite this, he retained an interest in developments in Ireland, and continued to voice his suspicions about the integrity of royal intentions. The general of the Society of Jesus, Father Caraffa, made a request to the provincial at Bordeaux 1648 to choose a priest for an examination of the Irish mission. O'Hartegan was deeply involved in this process, and the ultimate choice, Mercure Verdier, owed much of his familiarity with the complex politico-religious situation in Ireland to O'Hartegan. However, O'Hartegan was never again recalled to the Irish mission. He held a number of posts in his own province of Aquitaine, including professor of philosophy at Bordeaux (1646–8), and at Pau (1648–50). In the mid 1650s the general of the society expressed concern about the spiritual welfare of Irish inhabitants on the island of St Kitts, prompting O'Hartegan's offer to settle there; however, he does not appear to have gone to the West Indies. He held the professorship of philosophy at Agen 1657–60 and also conducted much weighty business for his province at Paris, briefly acting as superior at Bayonne. In 1660 he was assigned to the Grand College of Poitiers where he served as operarius until his death on 2 May 1666.
Francis Finnegan, ‘A biographical dictionary of Irish Jesuits in the time of the society's third mission, 1598–1773’, Milltown Park MSS, Irish Jesuit Archives, Dublin; G. Aiazzi (ed.), The embassy in Ireland of Monsignor G. B. Rinuccini, archbishop of Fermo, in the years 1645–9, trans. Annie Hutton (1873); Gilbert, Ir. confed., iii, 68–73, 107–9, 186, 233–4, 261; iv, xx–xv, 1, 36–38, 119, 203–6, 377–8; HMC, Report on Franciscan manuscripts preserved at the convent, Merchants' Quay, Dublin (1906), 150, 197, 201, 231; NHI, iii (1976), 598; L. McRedmond, To the greater glory: a history of the Irish Jesuits (1991), 67, 82; J. Lowe (ed.), Clanricarde letter book (1993), 149; Micheál Ó Siochrú, Confederate Ireland, 1642–1649: a constitutional and political analysis (1999), 51, 263
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Mathew O’Hartegan SJ 1600-1666
Fr Matthew O’Hartegan was born in St John’s Parish Limerick, and he entered the Society in 1626.
Together with Frs Michael Chamberlain and Thomas Maguire, he was appointed Chaplain to the Confederate Forces in Ireland in 1642.The same year he was sent by the Confederation of Kilkenny as accredited Irish Agent to the King of France. A great deal of controversy exists as to the success of his mission. At any rate, he was recalled in 1645.
The rest of his life was spent in the Province of Aquitaine, to which he belonged. He died at Poitiers about 1666.
◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
O’HARTEGAN , MATTHEW. A letter of F. Robert Nugent dated from Ireland, the 24th of April, 1642, shows, that F. Hartegan had just been sent over to France by the Catholic National Association, and the Bishops, to solicit the aid of his Most Christian Majesty. He states that Ireland presented a spectacle of general conflagration and bloodshed, and that the Catholics were fighting for freedom of conscience, for their legitimate King, and for their country, against the Puritans. F. Hartegan during the year he spent in this negotiation displayed much ardour; but his success was not equal to his expectations. This may have been owing to the extreme illness of Cardinal Richlieu. Another object was then taken up in Letter keeping with his religious profession. I learn from his own letter, dated Paris, the 30th of March, 1643, that Pere Jordan Forrestier, the Procurator of the Provinces of France, had placed in his hands on the 25th of March, the petition of 25,000 Irishmen, who by the persecution and iniquity of the times had been forced to expatriate themselves, and settle in St. Kitts, and the adjoining isles. Their petition had been brought over by the French Admiral Du Poenry, who backed their petition for two Irish Jesuits to be sent to them to administer the consolations of Religion to their destitute and afflicted countrymen. F. Hartegan offered himself for this Mission, and represented his vigour of constitution, his knowledge of the Irish, English, and French languages, and his vehement desire of labouring in this or any other similar Mission. Probably his wish was granted, for afterwards he disappears altogether.