Thomas Lith SJ
Thomas Lith SJ (1536-1566)

Thomas Lith (or Lish) SJ

Although he was probably the first English Jesuit, little is known about this man. He was a Londoner, born in 1536, and at the age of 19 in June 1555 he entered the Society in Rome while Ignatius was still General. It is likely that he made his novitiate in Loreto, as other novices at that time did, and in 1557 took vows as a brother. That year the rector in Loreto, Fr Oliver Manaraeus, wrote: “Thomas, the elder of the English, will become a great servant of God; and Thomas the younger is wholly good” – Lith is probably one of those being referred to. In 1561 Manaraeus again wrote of one of these two: “Thomas Anglus [“English Thomas”], poor in temporals, knows how to read and write, and will be fit for study”. Nothing is known of his subsequent career, nor is the date of his death recorded. However a Jesuit named as Thomas Anglus, who died in Bellomi, Gallia (present-day France) on December 18th 1566, may have been Lith.