Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gilpin, George

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GILPIN, GEORGE (1514?–1602), diplomatist and translator, usually called the Elder to distinguish him from the eldest son of his elder brother, was the second son of Edwin Gilpin of Kentmere, Westmoreland, by Margaret, daughter of Thomas Layton of Dalemain, Cumberland, and elder brother of Bernard Gilpin [q. v.] In W. Gilpin's ‘Life of Bernard’ (London, 1753, sect. 3) some particulars are given respecting George. When Bernard in 1553 left England, he visited George at Mechlin, where he was studying the civil law. The visit was ‘probably upon a religious account,’ but lasted only a few weeks. In 1554, on Mary's accession, George received a letter from Bishop Tunstall, just released from the Tower, offering Bernard a valuable benefice if he would return to England. George was anxious that his brother should accept the offer, and would seem at this time to have been still a papist. He must, however, have become a protestant soon after, and in Elizabeth's reign become absorbed in politics. He was till his death one of the queen's most trusted agents in her negotiations with the states of the Low Countries. The Earl of Bedford is said to have first brought him to court. Frequent references to him occur in the Domestic and Foreign Series of the ‘Calendar of State Papers,’ from 1561 till his death in 1602. In 1561 the queen in a letter to Sir Thomas Gresham promises to befriend his secretary Gilpin in any reasonable suit, and he would seem to have shortly afterwards become a salaried servant of the English government. In 1577 he petitioned Burghley to ask the queen ‘for arrearages of certain concealed lands.’ He became before his death councillor to the council of estate in the Low Countries. J. L. Motley is of opinion that an unfortunate despatch written by him prevented the relief of Antwerp in 1585, but speaks of him as ‘the highly intelligent agent of the English government in Zeeland’ (United Netherlands, 1867, i. 287–8, 298–9, 403). An instance of his diplomatic ability in the conduct of disputes with the Hanse Towns is given by C. Molloy (De Jure Maritimo et Navali, 1769, ii. 144). His death is announced in a letter to Dudley Carleton, dated 2 Oct. 1602, which mentions the difficulty of finding a successor. Many of Gilpin's letters are to Dudley Carleton. Calisthenes Brook, writing to Carleton in Paris, calls him ‘your cousin Gilpin’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. Addenda, 1580–1625, pp. 153, 410). Gilpin published a (now rare) translation of the ‘Apiarium Romanum’ (1571) by Philip von Marnix, seigneur de St. Aldegonde. The first edition is entitled ‘The Beehive of the Romishe Churche. Wherein the author, a zealous Protestant, under the person of a superstitious Papist, doth so driely refell the grose opinions of Popery, and so divinely defend the articles of Christianitie, that (the Sacred Scriptures excepted) there is not a booke to be founde either more necessarie for thy profite, or sweeter for thy comforte. Translated out of Dutch into Englishe by George Gilpin the Elder,’ 1579, 8vo. The volume is dedicated to Master Philip Sidney, esq. The second edition is entitled ‘The Beehive of the Romishe Churche. A Worke of all good Catholikes to be read, and most necessary to be understood. Wherein the Catholike Religion is substantially confirmed, and the Heretikes finely fetched over the coales. Translated out of Dutch into English by Geo. Gilpin the Elder. 1 Thess. v. 21. Newly imprinted, with a table thereunto annexed,’ 1580, 8vo. Abraham Fleming [q. v.] compiled the table. Other editions followed in 1598, 1623, and 1636.

[Cal. of State Papers, Dom. Ser. and For. Ser. from 1560 to 1602; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), ii. 1119; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Biographie Universelle, vol. xxvii. under ‘Marnix.’]

R. B.