Stapleton, Gregory (DNB00)

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STAPLETON, GREGORY, D.D. (1748–1802), catholic prelate, born at Carlton, Yorkshire, in 1748, was seventh son of Nicholas Stapleton, by his third wife, Winifred, daughter of John White of Dover Street, London. He proceeded to the English College, Douay, in 1762. Ten years later, being then a deacon, he was appointed professor of music. On his ordination, a year later, he became procurator of the college, and he retained that post for more than twelve years. After this he travelled abroad with a pupil; and on his return from Italy, in 1787, he was appointed president of the English College at St. Omer, in succession to Alban Butler [q. v.] Some three years after the outbreak of the French revolution he and the students of the English colleges at St. Omer and Douay were imprisoned in the citadel of Dourlens. In 1795 he obtained leave to go to Paris, and after many repulses he procured from the directory an order for the release of all the students, ninety-four in number, who were conveyed to England in an American vessel, and landed at Dover on 2 March 1795. Soon afterwards Stapleton, in company with Bishop Douglass, waited upon the Duke of Portland and Mr. Pitt to solicit their approval of a plan for converting the school at Old Hall Green, near Ware, Hertfordshire, into a catholic college. The duke had previously known Stapleton, and he and Pitt gave them encouragement. Stapleton accordingly conducted his students to Old Hall Green, and on 19 Aug. 1795 the first stone was laid of the college of St. Edmund. Stapleton presided over it till the autumn of 1800, when, having accompanied the Rev. John Nassau to Rome on an important secret mission, he was raised to the episcopate. His appointment to be bishop of Hierocæsarea in partibus and vicar-apostolic of the Midland district, in succession to Dr. Charles Berington [q. v.], was approved by the pope on 29 May 1800, and he was consecrated on 8 March 1801. He took up his residence at Long Birch, near Wolverhampton, and employed Dr. John Milner [q. v.] as his secretary. He died at St. Omer on 23 May 1802, and was succeeded in his vicariate by Dr. Milner.

[Brady's Episcopal Succession; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, No. 21652; Husenbeth's Colleges on the Continent, pp. 15–16; Husenbeth's Life of Milner, p. 84; Michel, Les Écossais en France, ii. 330; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 43; Smith's Brewood, 2nd edit. 1874, p. 49; Ward's Hist. of St. Edmund's College, Old Hall, 1893, p. 343, with portrait.]

T. C.