Walpole, Henry, St.
WALPOLE, HENRY, ST.
Jesuit priest, martyr; b. Docking, near Sandringham, Norfolk, England, 1558; d. York, England, Apr. 7, 1595. As the eldest son of Christopher Walpole, he was educated at Norwich Grammar School (1567–74), Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Gray's Inn, London. He is said to have been converted to the faith when he witnessed, on Dec. 1, 1581, the execution of St. Edmund campion, in whose
honor he wrote a long narrative poem, secretly printed and offensive to the government. Crossing to Paris, he went on to Rheims, where he entered the English seminary on July 7, 1582. On April 28, 1583, he was admitted into the English College, Rome. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1584 and, to benefit his poor health, continued his studies for the priesthood at the Scots College, Pont-á-Mousson. After his ordination at Paris, Dec. 17, 1588, he acted as chaplain to the Spanish army in the Netherlands, and was caught and imprisoned for a year by the English at Flushing. He was then sent to teach in the English seminaries at Seville and Valladolid. Under Father Robert persons's direction he visited Philip II and from him obtained a charter for the erection of an English school at Saint-Omer. He was sent to England in November 1593 and took ship at Dunkirk. Since the ports of southern England were closed as a result of the plague, he embarked with his brother Thomas and an English soldier, Edward Lingham, in a convoy of three warships sailing for Scotland.
On the night of December 6, after ten stormy days at sea, he was put ashore north of Bridlinton, Yorkshire. At Kelham, ten miles inland on the road to York, while resting for the night at an inn, he was arrested on suspicion of being a priest. He had, in fact, been betrayed by a Scottish soldier who had landed three days earlier. At York he was frequently examined, first by Lord Huntingdon, the president of the Council of the North, then by Richard Topcliffe, sent for that purpose from London. In late February 1594, he was transferred to the Tower of London, where he was examined ten times between April and June and submitted to torture fourteen times; he completely lost the use of his fingers. The reports of his examinations, partially forged, were not used in evidence against him in the York trial in the spring of 1595. Indicted under the Act (27 Eliz, cap. 2) that made it high treason for a native Englishman ordained overseas to minister as a priest in England, he pleaded that he had been arrested before the 36 hours' grace, allowed by the statute, had expired. Nevertheless, he was condemned and executed at the York gallows.
Feast: April 7; Oct. 25 (Feast of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales); May 4 (Feast of the English Martyrs in England); Dec. 1 (Jesuits).
See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.
Bibliography: a. jessop, One Generation of a Norfolk House … (London 1879). p. caraman, Henry Garnet (London 1964). j. gerard, Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, ed. and tr. p. caraman (New York 1952). r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969) 223–32. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 2:50–51. j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 88–90.