The first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster lived in Leyton. Reporter LAURA O’CALLAGHAN finds out more...

Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman lived in Etloe House in Church Road, Leyton, from 1858 to 1864.

Born in Seville, Spain, on August 2, 1802, to an Irish father and a Spanish mother, Wiseman went on to make his mark in history.

Upon the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales in 1850 he was the first to be appointed Archbishop of Westminster.

When his father James Wiseman, who was a merchant, died in 1805 he was taken to Ireland by his mother, Xaviera Strange.

In 1810, after spending two years at school in County Waterford, Wiseman was sent to Ushaw College in County Durham, where he was educated until 16.

It was at Ushaw that he resolved to become a priest.

In 1818 he was chosen as one of the first batch of students for the English College in Rome.

The college had recently reopened after being closed for 20 years due to French occupation.

He graduated as a doctor of theology with distinction in 1825 and ordained a priest in 1826.

The following year he was appointed vice-rector of the English College, and in 1828 he was made rector before he turned 26.

He held this office until 1840 which gave him the status of official representative of the English Catholics in Rome.

He entertained visitors to the college, speaking six languages during his rectorship.

Wiseman visited England from 1835 to 1836, delivering lectures on the doctrines of Roman Catholicism. The effect of his lectures was considerable. John Henry Newman reviewed them in the British Critic treating them as a triumph over popular Protestantism.

Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 after a miracle was attributed to his intercession, was an English cardinal.

Wiseman founded the Dublin Review in 1836 to give English Roman Catholics higher ideals of their own religion and enthusiasm for the papacy.

He wanted to return England to Catholicism.

On his arrival from Rome in 1847, Wiseman acted as an informal diplomatic envoy from the pope.

Wiseman moved to Golden Square in London, where he worked for the reclamation of Roman Catholic criminals.

He had a zeal for establishing religious communities for both men and women and held many retreats and missions.

In the autumn of 1853, he travelled to Rome to see Pope Pius IX.

It was during this visit to Rome that Wiseman projected, and began to write the historical romance, Fabiola.

Published in 1854, it was based on stories about the Church of the Catacombs.

It was translated into almost every European language.

Wiseman wrote Fabiola in part as an answer to the vigorously anti-Catholic book Hypatia (1853) by Charles Kingsley. The novel was mainly aimed at the embattled Catholic minority in England.

He was in a position to secure concessions that bettered the position of Roman Catholics in regard to poor schools, reformatories and workhouses, and in the status of their army chaplains.

In 1863, addressing the Roman Catholic Congress in Mechelen, Belgium, he said since 1830, the number of priests in England had increased from 434 to 1242.

Convents of nuns had increased from 16 to 162, while there were 55 religious houses of men in 1863 and none in 1830.

The last two years of his life were troubled by illness before he died in London on February 15 1865. He is buried at Westminster Cathedral.