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Nicholas Devereux

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Born near Enniscorthy, Ireland, 7 June, 1791; died at Utica, New York, 29 Dec., 1855, was the youngest brother of John C. Devereux. Nicholas reached New York in 1806; on the first Sunday following his arrival he attended Mass in St. Peter's, Barclay Street, and put on the plate one of his last three gold coins. God blessed his generosity; when he died fifty years later he had amassed as a merchant half a million dollars. He purchased from the Holland Land Company four hundred thousand acres of land in Allegheny and Cattaraugus counties, New York, and started there an Irish settlement. He gave largely towards the foundation of churches, colleges, and charitable institutions. He visited Rome in 1854 accompanied by his wife, his daughter Mary, and Rev. Michael Clarke. He brought to America six Franciscan Fathers and gave them $10,000 towards building a monastery at Allegheny, N.Y., which has now become the Franciscan college and seminary of St. Bonaventure. On his return from Italy he wrote a letter to the New York "Freeman's Journal" offering to be one of one hundred persons who would each give $1,000 towards founding a seminary at Rome, for the education of American priests. He had, moreover, several conversations with Cardinal Wiseman who promised to use his influence with Pius IX to carry out the project. After his death his widow carried out his wishes and thus was begun the foundation of the American College, Rome.

Nicholas Devereux was a lover of the Holy Scripture and read the entire Bible through seventeen times. To circulate the New Testament he had an edition of it printed at Utica at his own expense. The plates of this edition were afterwards purchased by Messrs. Sadlier, of New York, and about 40,000 copies printed. He taught Sunday-school in St. John's Church, Utica, and gave a copy of the New Testament to any boy or girl who memorized the Gospel of St. John. In 1817 he married Mary D. Butler. His daughter Hannah married United States Senator Francis Kernan; his daughter Mary became a Sister of Mercy and laboured for thirty years in the convents in Houston and 81st streets, New York. Nicholas Devereux was very charitable and hospitable — a cultured, pious, progressive Irish-American. He was proud of his nationality and of his faith, and this pride was expressed in action whenever and wherever the opportunity arose. He was always glad to help the Church, deeming it a privilege to give and thus to be the instrument used by Providence in establishing and building up our Catholic institutions. A noted instance of his spontaneous generosity refers back to the early days of the Church in Connecticut. Happening to be at Hartford one Sunday he learned that owing to the bigotry and Knownothing sentiment in the town, it was impossible for the parishioners to obtain a certain piece of property for their church, as they were too few and too poor to provide the ready cash demanded. Devereux, though a stranger, did not need to be appealed to, he immediately advanced the required sum of $10,000, without asking or receiving any assurance that the money would ever be returned to him, though the grateful pioneer Catholics did in fact repay him later.

About this page

APA citation. Kernan, T. (1914). Nicholas Devereux. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: The Encyclopedia Press.

MLA citation. Kernan, Thomas. "Nicholas Devereux." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 16 (Index). New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1914. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. Fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1914. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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