John Keynes was one of the intended victims of Titus Oates’ Popish Plot
335G Keynes, John. 1625-1697
A rational, compendious way to convince, without any dispute, all persons whatsoever, dissenting from the true religion. By J.K
London : s.n.], Printed in the year 1674. $2,400
Octavo, 5.5 X 3.5 inches. A-F12,G6 Two inscriptions to front free endpaper reading, ‘William Metcalfes Booke London, Cost 1s, Ot: ye 11th 1674’, the second being a close repetition. This copy is bound in horrible library buckram.
John Keynes (1625?-1697), Jesuit and religious controversialist, was born at Compton Pauncefoot, Somerset, son of Edward Keynes and Anne Brett. The Keynes family belonged to the Catholic gentry and the name Keynes occurs frequently in accounts of seventeenth-century members of the Society of Jesus. In line with the family tradition John Keynes was sent to the Jesuit school at St Omer. In 1642 he went to St Alban’s, the English College at Valladolid, with the intention of becoming a priest. Although he had taken the usual vow to return to England after the completion of his studies in order to work on the mission, the registers at Valladolid state that he was released from his vow and joined the Spanish province of the Society of Jesus. In July 1645 he entered the noviciate at Villagarcia. In the following years he went through the various stages of higher Jesuit studies which he completed by being professed of the four vows on 15 August 1662. Meanwhile he became a teacher. In 1660 he was professor of theology at the Jesuit College of St Ambrose’s in Valladolid, and later taught philosophy and theology at Compostela, Salamanca, and Pamplona. At the end of the 1660s he decided to transfer to the English Jesuit province. He became prefect of studies at the Jesuit college at Liege and in 1670 was at St Omer, where, according to Southwell, he became seriously ill when he attended to the spiritual needs of English and Irish Catholic soldiers during a plague epidemic. Keynes was sent to England in order to recover but was soon engaged in a theological controversy with the Anglican theologian Edward Stillingfleet.
In 1672 Keynes became rector of the London district of the English Jesuits and seven years later his name figures prominently on Titus Oates’s lists of accomplices in the Popish Plot. He managed to escape to the continent in March 1679 and was appointed rector of the college at Liege in January 1680. During his time as rector he wrote another controversial work answering Bishop William Lloyd’s Papists No Catholics (1677) under the title No Catholic No Christian, although he was disuaded from publishing. Together with Thomas Stapleton SJ he wrote Florus Anglo-Bavaricus (Liege, 1685), an account of the college at Liege and of the Jesuit priests who suffered in the Popish Plot. The work was dedicated to the patron of the college, Maximilian, duke of Bavaria. In July 1684 he succeeded John Warner as provincial of the English Jesuits. In the following years he was in London, where he was responsible for the founding of the Catholic schools at the Savoy and Fenchurch Street. These schools, of which James II acted as a patron, provided free education for both Catholic and protestant children and proved to be very popular. Inevitably with the revolution in 1688 this surprisingly modern experiment came to an end and the schools were closed. Keynes returned to the continent, where he remained provincial until July 1689. He died eight years later, on 15 May 1697, at the Jesuit house at Watten, Southern Netherlands.
Keynes’s basic approach as a controversialist is captured in the title of his more general work, A rational, compendious way to convince, without any dispute, all persons whatsoever, dissenting from the true religion. (Dictionary of National Biography). A scarce work, it was published at London, 1674, with translations into Latin in 1684, and into French in 1688, but no further English editions followed.
Wing (2nd ed.), K393 De Backer’s Bibl. de la Compagnie de Jésus; Dodd’s Church Hist. iii. 315; Foley’s Records, v. 296, vii. 416; Oliver’s Jesuit Collections, p. 126; Southwell’s Bibl. Scriptorum Soc. Jesu, p. 466.