Henry Walpole

(c. 1558—1595) Jesuit and martyr

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(1558–95), Jesuit, priest, and martyr. Born at Docking (Norfolk), Walpole was educated at Norwich Grammar school, at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and at Gray's Inn. He is said to have joined the R.C. Church as a consequence of the martyrdom of Edmund Campion, in whose honour he wrote and secretly printed a long narrative poem. He entered the English College, Rome, in 1583, but joined the Society of Jesus in 1584. In spite of poor health he was ordained priest at Paris in 1588, served as chaplain to the Spanish army in the Netherlands, and then taught in the English seminaries of Seville and Valladolid. From King Philip II of Spain he obtained a charter which authorized the establishment of the English College at Saint-Omer. In 1593 he returned to England, landing at Bridlington on 6 December, but was arrested the very next day at Kelham on suspicion of being a priest.

He was interrogated at York, transferred to the Tower of London where he was tortured fourteen times in two months, and as a result lost the use of his fingers. Indicted at York under the Act of 27 Elizabeth which made it high treason for an Englishman ordained abroad to minister in England, he was condemned to death. His plea that he was arrested before the thirty-six hours grace allowed by the Statute had elapsed was not allowed and he was executed at York on 7 April. He was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast: 25 October.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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