Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Walpole, Edward

WALPOLE, EDWARD (1560–1637), jesuit, son and heir of John Walpole of Houghton, Norfolk, by Catherine Calibut of Coxford in the same county, was born on 28 Jan. 1559–60, matriculated as a fellow commoner at St. Peter's College, Cambridge, in May 1576, the year after his cousin Henry Walpole [q. v.] had entered at the same college as a pensioner. Here he was so powerfully influenced by his cousin that he showed sympathy for the Roman creed, and, making no secret of it, incurred the displeasure of both parents, so that in 1585 he was turned out of his home at Houghton, and adopted the name of Poor to indicate his want of means. Another cousin, William Walpole, of the same way of thinking with himself, offered him an asylum at North Tuddenham in Norfolk. He repaid this service by reconciling William to his wife, from whom he had been for some years estranged. In October 1587 William Walpole died, leaving the great bulk of his large property to his cousin Edward, subject to the life interest of his widow. Just about this time John Gerard (1564–1637) [q. v.] was going about Norfolk among the recusant gentry, and succeeding to a wonderful extent as a proselytiser. Among the first to be won over was Edward Walpole, whom he received into the Roman church; at the same time Gerard induced him to sell the reversion of the manor of Tuddenham for a thousand marks. In April 1588 Walpole's father, John of Houghton, died, leaving all he could leave to his second son, Calibut, and not even naming his elder son and heir in his will. Five months later Robert, earl of Leicester, died. The earl had a life interest in the estates of Amy Robsart, which lay contiguous to those of the Walpoles, and these now descended to Edward Walpole as heir-at-law to Sir John Robsart, Amy's father. Edward Walpole at once surrendered by deed all claim and title on the Robsart and the Houghton estates to his brother Calibut, and, having thus denuded himself of his large possessions, he slipped away to the continent, determined to offer himself to the Society of Jesus, as his cousin had done before. He was in Belgium in 1590, apparently on his way to Rome, where he was admitted to the English College on 23 Oct. 1590, and remained two years studying theology. He was ordained priest on Ascension day 1592, and shortly afterwards was admitted into the society, and next month was summoned to Tournai to go through his period of probation. The news of his receiving priest's orders at Rome was before long carried home by the spies who were watching him, and in 1597 he was outlawed ‘for a supposed treason done at Rome.’ Undeterred by this proclamation, Walpole returned to England the next year, and began to exercise his functions as a Roman priest and Jesuit missioner, though hunted about from place to place, not seldom in great peril of his life. After his return to England he passed under the name of Rich as an alias. In 1605 he was granted a pardon, which would have put him in possession of the family estates on the death of his mother. She survived till 1612; but, instead of availing himself of his legal ability, he renewed his deed of surrender to his brother, and the estates accordingly descended through him to Sir Robert Walpole and the earls of Orford. He had the reputation of being a preacher of no ordinary gifts. He died in London on 3 Nov. 1637, in his seventy-eighth year.

[Jessopp's One Generation of a Norfolk House, 1878, and the authorities there given; cf. Foley's Records of the English College S.J., 1879.]

A. J.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.274
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
163 i 23 Walpole, Edward: for embraced read showed sympathy for
ii 35 for Jessop's read Jessopp's