Henry Walpole

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Saint Henry Walpole
Henry Walpole.jpg
Born 1558
Docking, Norfolk
Died (1595-04-07)7 April 1595
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
Feast 7 April

Henry Walpole (1558 – 7 April 1595) was an English Jesuit martyr.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Docking, Norfolk, in 1558, the eldest son of Christopher Walpole, by Margery, heiress of Richard Beckham of Narford, and was educated at Norwich School, Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Gray's Inn.[1] He was present at the execution of Edmund Campion, and his clothes were sprinkled with Campion's blood. Walpole then converted to Roman Catholicism, gave up his law practice and followed in Campion's footsteps,[2] he went by way of Rouen and Paris, to Reims, where he arrived, 7 July 1582. On 28 April 1583, he was admitted into the English College, Rome, and in October received minor orders, on 2 February 1584, he became a probationer of the Society, and soon after went to France, where he continued his studies, chiefly at Pont-à-Mousson. He was ordained subdeacon and deacon at Metz, and priest at Paris, 17 December 1588.

Later life[edit]

While incarcerated in the Salt Tower, Jesuit priest Henry Walpole carved his name in the plaster along with those of saints Peter, Paul, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

After being twice imprisoned at Newgate for religion in 1586, Walpole arrived at Reims, 23 December 1589; he was ordained subdeacon at Laon, 23 September 1589, deacon and priest at Soissons, 17 March and 18 March 1590, was sent on the mission the following 9 April, and landed at Whitby. After acting as chaplain to the Spanish forces in the Netherlands, suffering imprisonment by the English at Flushing in 1589, and being moved about to Brussels, Tournai, Bruges, and Spain, he was at last sent on the mission in 1590. He was arrested shortly after landing at Flamborough for the crime of Catholic priesthood, and imprisoned at York, the following February he was sent to the Tower of London, where he was frequently and severely racked. He remained there until, in the spring of 1595, he was sent back to York for trial, where he was hanged, drawn and quartered on 7 April 1595, with him suffered Alexander Rawlins, of the Diocese of Gloucester.


A Spanish account of Walpole's life and martyrdom was brought out by Joseph Creswell as Historia de la Vida y Martyrio que padecio en Inglaterra, este año de .1595. el P. Henrique Valpolo sacerdote de la Compañia de Iesus, que fue embiado del Colegio de los Ingleses de Valladolid, y ha sido el primer martyr de los Seminarios de España. Con el martyrio de otros quatro Sacerdotes: los dos de la misma Compañia, y los otros dos de los Seminarios (En Madrid, en casa de Pedro Madrigal, 1596).[3]

Augustus Jessopp wrote a biography of Walpole under the title One generation of a Norfolk house,[4] and edited his letters, which were printed at Norwich in 1873 under the title Letters of Fa. Henry Walpole, S.J..

Walpole was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast day is celebrated on 7 April.


  1. ^ "Walpole, Henry (WLPL575H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Chapman, John H. "The Persecution under Elizabeth" Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Old Series Vol. 9 (1881), pp. 33-34. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
  3. ^ Available on Google Books.
  4. ^ Second edition (1879) Available through the Internet Archive.