Early life and education
Thomas Mulledy[c] was born on August 12, 1794, in Romney, Virginia (today part of West Virginia),[a] to Irish immigrant parents. His father, also named Thomas Mulledy, was a poor farmer. His mother, Sarah Cochrane, from Virginia, was not Catholic. So the two could marry, they obtained a canonical dispensation, and agreed that their sons would be raised Catholic, while their daughters would be raised Protestant. Before receiving any higher education, Thomas Mulledy and his brother, Samuel, taught at the Romney Academy in their hometown. Like his brother, Samuel went on to become a Jesuit and the president of Georgetown College. Thomas later enrolled as a student at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 1813, having to pay for his own education, as his brother did. He left the school in February 1815 to travel with nine others to White Marsh, Maryland, where they entered the Society of Jesus. He returned to teach at Georgetown in 1817. While there, he contracted a disease that was unknown to the physicians of the time, and he feared death was imminent. In his debilitated state, he received the viaticum, and was thereafter restored to health, a turn of events that some considered miraculous. He was in 1818 appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to the board of trustees for the town of Romney.
In 1820, he was sent to study philosophy in Rome; on the voyage, he was accompanied by Charles Constantine Pise, James Ryder, and George Fenwick. There, he studied at the Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide for two years, and spent a further two as a tutor to the crown prince of Naples. Alongside his priestly studies, he was exposed to literature and science, and became regarded as among the most eminent American scholars of Italian language and literature. Mulledy was ordained a priest in Rome in 1825, and then began his tertianship in Chieri, near Turin. By 1828, he was teaching logic, metaphysics, and ethics at a Jesuit college in Chambéry. He left Italy later that year. It was not until December 1827 that the Society raised enough money to pay for his and other Jesuit students' return to the United States, and that the Jesuit Superior General was satisfied that the Society had regained a footing in the United States after its suppression. He left from the port of Livorno on a treacherous voyage that lasted 171 days, and caused some in the United States to fear that the three Jesuits aboard had perished. Eventually, he arrived at Georgetown on December 22, 1828, where he was made the prefect of studies, as well as professor of philosophy. Mulledy provided the most comprehensive account of the mysterious events at Wizard Clip at the time.