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

WALPOLE, RICHARD (1564–1607), jesuit and controversialist, was the second of the four brothers of Henry Walpole [q. v.], and was baptised at Docking, Norfolk, on 8 Oct. 1564. Another brother was Michael Walpole [q. v.] Richard entered at St. Peter's College, Cambridge, on 1 April 1579, a fortnight before his brother Henry left the university. He was elected to one of the scholarships lately founded at his college by Edward, lord North [q. v.], but took no degree at Cambridge. In the summer of 1584 he left England and at once became an alumnus of the seminary at Rheims. Here he continued only a few months, and on 25 April 1585 he entered himself at the English College at Rome. His ability and scholarship were at once recognised, and, after remaining there for the next four years, he was admitted to priest's orders on 3 Dec. 1589, and was then sent to Spain, where Father Parsons was busily engaged in founding the Spanish colleges for which Philip II provided the larger part of the funds. Parsons at once recognised that in Richard Walpole he would have a very able coadjutor. He became accordingly the first rector of the college of Valladolid (1592), and in the ceremonials at the opening of the college of Seville in February 1593 he took a prominent part, and became rector there also. At this time he was admitted to the Society of Jesus. Though he had signified a strong wish to accompany his brother Henry on his disastrous mission to England, Parsons overruled him, and kept the younger brother at his own side, while Henry Walpole was allowed to go on his way. When, after Henry Walpole's execution at York, Father Cresswell wrote his friend's ‘Life’ (1596), the little book produced a profound impression upon Doña Luisa de Carvajal, who thereupon became consumed by a fanatical desire to set out for the conversion of England. This she did in 1606, and, after going through a great deal, she died in London in January 1614 (Gardiner, Hist. of the Spanish Marriage, i. 11 et seq.). In the meantime Richard Walpole became her spiritual adviser, and in the will which Doña Luisa made previous to her departure from Spain he appears as the lady's executor.

In 1598 Walpole was denounced by Edward Squire [q. v.] as having suggested the ‘fantastic plot’ ‘whereby it was said to have been contrived to poison Queen Elizabeth by rubbing a fatal salve upon her saddle. Squire was hanged, but no man of sense believed in the plot’ (Goodman, Court of James I, 1839, i. 156). Richard remained in almost constant attendance on Father Parsons till his death at Valladolid in 1607.

He published:

  1. ‘The Discoverie and Confutation of a Tragical Fiction devysed and played by Ed. Squyer, yeoman, soldiar, hanged at Tyburn on the 23rd of November 1598—mdcxix.’
  2. ‘Answere to Matthew Sutcliffe's Challenge,’ Antwerp, 1605, 8vo.

His younger brother, Christopher (1569–1606?), born in October 1569, was one of John Gerard's early converts when that busy proselytiser was at work in Norfolk. He was admitted as a jesuit at Rome on 27 Sept. 1592. During the last few years of his life he seems to have been associated with his brother Richard in the management of the college at Valladolid. He appears to have died in 1606.

[In addition to the authorities given above, see Authentic Memoirs of that exquisitely villanous jesuit Father Richard Walpole. … Illustrated with a very pertinent Appendix, Lond. 1733. This pamphlet, in 16mo, was printed from a manuscript much fuller than that which was printed in quarto in 1599 in eight pages. It is exceedingly scarce. For Richard and Michael Walpole's connection with Doña Luisa, see Vida y Virtudes de la Venerable Virgen Doña Luisa de Carvaial y Mendoça. … Por el Licenciado Luis Muñoz, Madrid, 1632, 4to, pp. 100, 181, &c. See also Foley's Records; Jessopp's One Generation of a Norfolk House; and T. G. Law's Archpriest Controversy (Camden Soc.)]

A. J.