GARNETT, HENRY (1555–1606), jesuit, born in 1555 at Heanor, Derbyshire (not at Nottingham, as is commonly stated), was the son of Brian Garnett and his wife, Alice Jay. Father John Gerard states that his parents were well esteemed, and well able to maintain their family. He adds that his father was a man of learning who taught in the free school of Nottingham (Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, ed. Morris, 1872, p. 297; Tablet, 25 May 1889. p. 817). Garnett was brought up as a protestant, and in 1567 was admitted a scholar of Winchester. he did not proceed in due course to New College, Oxford. According to his catholic biographers, he resolved to leave the school on embracing the catholic faith, although some of his teachers at Winchester who were inclined to catholicism tried to induce him to remain. Dr. Robert Abbot (1560-1617) [q. v.] asserts, on the contrary, that the warden admonished him not to remove to New College on account of his gross immoralities at school (Antilogia Epist. ad Lectorem). Jardine admits that the account of Garnett's early depravity has `certainly more of the character of a tale of malignant scandal than of a calm narration of facts.' He quotes, however, some passages, including one from a statement attributed to Garnett in the Tower, to countenance a charge of drunkenness (Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, pp. 172, 179n.) Garnett removed from Winchester to London, where he began to study law, and became corrector of the press to Tottel, the celebrated law printer. While he was in this employment he formed an acquaintance with Chief-justice Popham, who recognised him on his first examination, and treated him throughout the inquiry with great respect. Coke, in his speech at Garnett's trial, represents him as a man having 'many excellent gifts and endowments of nature; by birth a gentleman, by education a scholar, by art learned, and a good linguist.' After remaining with Tottel about two years, during which his dislike to the protestant religion became confirmed, he determined to devote his life to the service of the Roman catholic church. He crossed to Spain, and thence proceeded to Italy in company with Giles Gallop, formerly a Winchester scholar and a fellow of New College, who afterwards became a jesuit. Having resolved to join the Society of Jesus, he entered the novitiate of St. Andrew 11 Sept. 1575, and made his noviceship under Father Fabius de Fabio. He pursued his higher studies in the Roman College under such masters as Christopher Clavius, Francis Suarez, Benedict Pereira, and Robert (afterwards Cardinal) Bellarmin, and became a great proficient in all kinds of learning. He was employed as penitentiary at St. Peter's, and for some time was professor of Hebrew at the Roman College; and during the sickness of Father Clavius he temporarily occupied his chair in the school of mathematics. Clavius found him so profoundly versed in mathematical sciences that he opposed his return to England as a missionary, and, by order of the Father-general Aquaviva, he was detained for two years in Clavius's school. When Clavius resumed his chair, Garnett obtained leave to go upon the English mission, and left Rome in company with Father Robert Southwell on 8 May 1586, landing safely in England on 7 July following. Writers of his own communication describe him as a man of such remarkable gentleness that Aquaviva, when urged by Father Parsons to send him upon the dangerous English mission, replied that he was greatly troubled, because by sending him there he was exposing the meekest lamb to a cruel butchery.
William Weston, alias Edmonds, at this time the only Jesuit in England, gave his colleagues a hearty welcome on their arrival in London. On Weston's commitment to Wisbech Castle in 1587, Garnett was appointed to succeed him as superior of the English province. For eighteen years he governed the province with remarkable prudence, chiefly in London and its vicinity. His conduct, however, in supporting Weston and the jesuits in the Wisbech disputes (1695-6) gave much offence to some of his religion (Tierney, Dodd, iii. 41-5). In March 1596-7 he was living near Uxbridge, in a house called Morecroftes, and had at the same time a house in Spitalfields. He afterwards lived at White Webbs in Enfield Chase, called `Dr. Hewick's house.' He sometimes penetrated in company with the gaolers into the London prisons to minister to members of his flock. More than once he narrowly escaped arrest at the hands of faithless catholics, who were seduced by large rewards offered by the government for his capture. In a letter written on 1 Oct. 1593 to his sister Mary, whom he had sent to tho Augustinian convent at Louvain, he announces that he had reconciled their mother to the Roman church, and expresses a hope that his other two unmarried sisters would embrace the religious state (Oliver, Jesuit Collections, p. 100). On 8 May 1598 he was professed of the four vows. During his Superiorship there was a great increase of catholicism throughout the kingdom. He made great exertions to promote the prosperity of the seminaries abroad, secular and regular, and at his death he left behind him forty Jesuits in the English mission.
When Guy Fawkes [q. v.] was arrested on