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Joseph Gillow (5 October 1850, Preston – 17 March 1921, Westholme, Hale) was an English Roman Catholic antiquary and bio-bibliographer, "the Plutarch of the English Catholics".[1]

Born to an English Roman Catholic family, Joseph Gillow was educated at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw. In1878 he married Ella McKenna, a brewer's daughter, securing him a private income allowing him to pursue his antiquarian interests.[2] He published various researches into the history of Catholicism in Lancashire, but his greatest achievement was the Biographical and Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics (5 vols, 1885-1902). Unfortunately, to fit his material into the five volumes allotted him by his publishers, Gillow needed to abbreviate the later volumes.[2] No index was available until 1986.[3]

Gillow was appointed honorary recorder of the Catholic Record Society at its foundation in 1904, and was a frequent contributor to their transactions.[4]


  1. ^ Thomas Bridgett, in The Catholics who's who and yearbook, 1908. Quoted in ODNB.
  2. ^ a b J. F. X. Bevan, ‘Gillow, Joseph (1850–1921)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 1 Aug 2008
  3. ^ Bevan, J. F. X., Index and finding list to the bibliographical dictionary, 1986
  4. ^ Catholic Records Volume List 1-76

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