The new in the phrase "New Catholics" contrasts these converts to those often wealthy families who had retained their allegiance to Roman Catholicism after Henry VIII left the Roman Church and made Anglicanism the established — that is, official state — religion of Great Britain and deprived Catholics of many civil rights.
The expression "New Catholics" or "New Converts" refers to those Victorians who converted to the Roman Church, generally as a result of Tractarianism (or the Oxford Movement). John Henry Newman — later Cardinal Newman — was the most famous and influential of these converts, and he inspired a number of talented young men to follow his example. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was another Oxonian who converted at a time when an allegiance to Catholicism meant isolation from the nationšs intellectual, poltical, and cultural establishment.
Last modified 1994; link added 24 March 2011