Father Francis Edwards SJ, chairman 1982 to 1984

Father Francis Edwards attended the initial meeting of what was to become the Catholic Archives Society and played an important part in its formation, both as vice chairman of the newly formed society and as its second chairman from 1982 – 4.

In these early years, he contributed articles on the archives of the English Province of the Society of Jesus to the first and second editions of Catholic Archives, articles that by their scholarly description of an important religious archive helped to establish the pattern of the new journal.  They appeared also in the Journal of the Society of Archivists, thereby drawing attention to the meticulous work in progress with Catholic archives.  He also gave two illustrated talks to annual conferences, on Bishop Challoner and on the history of Stonyhurst.

Father Edwards was both an historian and an archivist.  From 1959 to 1986 he was archivist of the English province of the Society of Jesus where he established basic order and organisation.  He was the first British Jesuit specifically to be named as archivist and additionally he was responsible for the Jesuit archives in Rome for a time.  Writing, research and parish work occupied him in Mount Street in the 1990s and until his death.

He was the author of numerous historical works, on the Gunpowder Plot in particular and was an active member not only of the Catholic Archives Society but also of the Catholic Record Society, the Ecclesiastical History Society, the Royal Stuart Society, the Royal Historical Society, the Catholic Stage Guild and the Centre for Court Studies.

Father Edwards’ contribution to the Catholic Archives Society has been of lasting value.