Wolfe, David (DNB00)

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WOLFE, DAVID (d. 1578?), papal legate in Ireland, was born in Limerick. After seven years spent in Rome, under the guidance of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Borgia, he entered the order of the jesuits about 1550, was rector of the college at Modena, and about August 1560 returned to Ireland to superintend ecclesiastical affairs, endowed by the pope with the powers of an apostolic legate. He was instructed to regulate public worship, and to keep up communication with the catholic princes. He speedily attracted the attention of the English officials by his activity, and in 1561 Elizabeth stated to Pius IV, as one of her chief reasons for not sending representatives to the council of Trent, that Wolfe ‘had been sent from Rome to Ireland to excite disaffection against her crown.’ For several years he was unable to enter the pale, and on 7 Dec. 1563 he delegated his jurisdiction for Dublin and its vicinity to Thady Newman, affirming that he feared to visit the district on account of the dangers besetting the journey. In 1564 Pius V, by a bull dated 31 May, entrusted to Wolfe and to Richard Creagh [q. v.], archbishop of Armagh, the erection of universities and schools in Ireland (Moran, Spicilegium Ossor. i. 32–8).

About 1566 Wolfe was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, the influence of the nuncio at Madrid being exerted in his behalf in vain. In 1572 he escaped to Spain (Cal. State Papers, Irish Ser. 1509–73, pp. 472, 524), but in a short time returned again to Ireland. On 14 April 1577 Sir William Drury [q. v.] informed Walsingham that Wolfe was to be sent to the Indies (ib. 1574–85, p. 112). On 24 March 1578 Drury informed the privy council that James Fitzmaurice had put to sea with Wolfe, and had captured an English ship, whose crew had been handed over to the inquisition (ib. p. 130). On 28 June Everard Mercurian, the general of the jesuits, wrote to James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald (d. 1579) [q. v.], whose chaplain Wolfe had been at one time, stating that he would ‘be glad of any employment for old David Wolf’ (ib. p. 136). A priest named David Wolfe was shortly afterwards residing in Portugal, but according to another account he ended his days in Ireland, on the borders of Galway, about 1578.

[O'Reilly's Lives of Irish Martyrs and Confessors, 1878, pp. 32–8; Foley's Hist. of the English Prov. vii. 855, Appended Catalogue of the Irish Province, p. 2; Lenihan's Hist. of Limerick, 1866, pp. 662–4; Original Letters and Papers in illustration of the Hist. of the Church in Ireland, 1851, pp. 128–9, 171–2; Renehan's Collections on Irish Church Hist. 1861, i. 184.]

E. I. C.