Convert and controversialist, Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, England, under James II, b. about 1641, at Lynn Regis, where his father was a merchant; d. in London, in 1720. In 1657, after preliminary instruction by a Mr. Bell, he was admitted sizar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in care of a Mr. Bolt. He proceeded B.A. in 1661, M.A. in 1665, and B.D. in 1671. In 1664 he became junior fellow, and in 1673 senior fellow of his college. On the death of Dr. Richard Minshull in December, 1686, he was, by mandate of James II, elected Master of Sidney Sussex College. He was installed without the usual oaths, and in January declared himself a Catholic. He had Mass celebrated in his private rooms, and altered some of the college statutes which stood in the way of his co-religionists. He was concerned in the famous dispute which arose when the king demanded that the university confer the degree of M.A. upon the Benedictine, Alban Francis. After the Revolution, when Bassett, having left the college in haste, desired to take away his personal belongings, he was threatened with arrest as a priest. It is thought, however, that Bassett had not been ordained. He died in extreme poverty.
The critics of Bassett admitted that he possessed learning and ability, but objected to his pride and to his interference, for religious reasons, with college regulations and routine. He forbade a chapel service on the 5th of November, disciplined a speaker who had satirized Rome, and threatened to take over the chapel for Catholic services. Craven, who was Master of Sidney Sussex College, declared in 1725 that Bassett "had so many nostrums in his religion that no part of the Roman Church could own him". Gillow believes that Bassett acted in his conversion from a thorough conviction. His known or supposed writings are: (1) "Ecclesiae Theoria Nova Dodwelliana Exposita" (1713), the only work containing his name on the title page; (2) "Reason and Authority" (1687); (3) "Essay towards a proposal for a Catholic communion . . . by a minister of the Church of England" (1704); this was reprinted in 1879, with an introduction, in "An Eirenicon of the Eighteenth Century" by H.N. Oxenham ; (4) Occasional verses in the University collections.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online