Thomas Hussey was born about 1746 at Harristown, Ballyboggan. He went on to be the first President of Maynooth College and Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. Hussey studied at Irish College at Salamanca. He entered the Trappist order but the Pope ordered him ordained and attached him to the court of the king of Spain. About 1767 Hussey became chaplain to the Spanish Embassy in London. While in London Hussey He became friendly with the Irish politician Edmund Burke and the writer Dr. Johnson and other notable people. He was a powerful preacher and highly regarded by his contemporaries. Butler, the historian of English Catholics, said Hussey was ‘of great genius, of enlightened piety, with manners at once imposing and elegant, and of enchanting conversation; he did not come in contact with many whom he did not subdue; the highest rank often sunk before him.’
Hussey remained in London when Spain became allied to with France and the American colonies. The Spanish ambassador returned to Spain. George III sent him on a mission to Madrid to attempt to detach Spain from the alliance. A committee of English Catholics wanted to send Hussey to Rome to support their cause but the Spanish ambassador refused to give Hussey leave of absence. Hussey opposed the republicanism of France.
The Irish bishops wanted to develop a seminary in Ireland to train priests and approached Burke for his assistance. Burke described Hussey as ‘the ablest man of business and the best clergyman he knew’ and it was Hussey who became involved in the establishment of Maynooth College. Hussey was appointed first President of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in 1795. King George also sent Hussey to examine unrest among Catholic troops serving in the British army in Ireland.
In 1797 he was consecrated Bishop of Waterford and Lismore and he settled in Waterford while his predecessors governed the diocese from Carrick-on-Suir or Clonmel. In that year he issued a pastoral letter strongly condemning government interference in ecclesiastical discipline and the danger of religious schools to the Catholic faith. This caused controversy as the government ministers took offence. As a result of the controversy and lack of support from his fellow bishops Hussey left Ireland and did not return until 1802. Hussey drew up a concordat between Napoleon and the Pope in 1802.
In 1803 Hussey officially opened the first monastery and school of Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, at Mount Sion, Waterford. In his will he left funding for the education of the poor children of Waterford by Edmund Rice.
Hussey died in Tramore in 1803 while bathing in the sea. His funeral on July 12th was disrupted by a group of drunken soldiers returning from an Orange march. Lecky describes Hussey as ‘the ablest English-speaking bishop of his time’.