Walsingham, Francis (1577-1647) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Walsingham, Francis (1577-1647)

by Thomas Seccombe
1904 Errata appended.

WALSINGHAM, FRANCIS (1577–1647), jesuit, who assumed the name John Fennell, the son of Edward Walsingham of Exhall, near Alcester, Warwickshire, was born at Hawick, Northumberland, early in 1577. His father died before his birth, and his mother, who was a Roman catholic, brought him to London. His uncle, Humphrey Walsingham, who was kindred of Sir Francis, placed him at St. Paul's school. As the result of his instruction there he read the protestant divines Foxe, Jewell, Calvin, and Beza, and in 1603 was ordained deacon by Martin Heton, bishop of Ely. Doubts were raised as to the validity of his orders and of his belief by reading the ‘Manual’ of Robert Parsons (1546–1610) [q. v.], and in October 1606 Walsingham entered the English College at Rome. He was ordained priest on 12 April 1608, and early next year, having entered the Society of Jesus, he visited England, and there published his ‘Search made into Matters of Religion, by F. W., before his change to the Catholike’ (s. l. 1609, 4to; 2nd edit. St. Omer, 1615). The work was dedicated to James I, to whom the author states he had formerly submitted his religious difficulties. Down to the time of Alban Butler it has been frequently commended to those showing an inclination to Roman catholicism, and has been often reprinted and abridged. In the controversial parts, and especially in the attack upon the ‘falsities’ of Matthew Sutcliffe [q. v.], it is probable that the author was aided by Father Parsons. In 1618 Walsingham published his ‘Reasons for embracing the Catholic Faith’ (London, 16mo). Two years previously he had been formally attached to the ‘English mission,’ and served in Leicestershire. In 1633 he removed to the college of the Immaculate Conception, Derbyshire, and there he died on 1 July 1647. He left in manuscript at the convent at Newhall, Essex, a little prayer manual, ‘The Evangelique Pearle,’ dedicated to the abbess of the English nunnery at Pontoise.

[Foley's English Province of Soc. of Jesus, vii. 811, ii. 318, vi. 241; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, 1845, pp. 215–16; More's Hist. of the English Prov. bk. ix. p. 404; Southwell's Bibliotheca Script. Soc. Jesu, p. 264; De Backer's Bibl. de la Compagnie de Jésus, Brussels, 1898, viii. 974; Butler's Hist. Memoirs, i. 332 seq.; The Catholic Miscellany, December 1824; Walsingham's Search made into Matters of Religion, 1609 (Brit. Mus.)]

T. S.

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  
241 ii 9-13 Walsingham, Francis (1577-1647): for He left in manuscript .... nunnery at Pontoise read A manuscript manual of prayer, ‘The Evangelique Pearle’ (now preserved at the convent at Newhall, Essex), which was written for the use of the English nunnery (the Benedictine Dames) of Pontoise, has been erroneously assigned to Francis Walsingham, whose death preceded by eleven years the conventual settlement at Pontoise; the manuscript is from the pen of Edward Walsingham [q. v.].