Peter Valesius Walsh

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Peter Walsh, O.F.M., (Latin: Petrus Valesius; c. 1618 – March 15, 1688), Irish theologian and controversialist, was born near Mooretown, County Kildare, and studied at Leuven, where he joined the Friars Minor, and acquired Jansenist sympathies.[1]


In 1646 Walsh went to Kilkenny, then in the hands of the rebel "confederate Catholics," and, in opposition to the papal nuncio Rinuccini, urged, and in 1649 helped to secure, peace with the viceroy Ormonde on behalf of King Charles I.[1] Walsh was arrested by the militant Irish Confederate Catholic faction in 1646,[1] along with other "peace party" advocates like Richard Bellings in 1646, after the Treaty they had negotiated with Ormonde and the English Royalists was rejected in the Confederate General Assembly. Those opposed to the Treaty included militant Catholic clergy led by the Papal Nuncio Rinuccini) who wanted Roman Catholicism established as the state religion in Ireland and Irish lords, such as Owen Roe O'Neill, who wanted to recover the lands and power their families had lost after the Plantations of Ireland. Walsh returned to favour in 1649, when military defeat made the Confederates accept a new Peace Treaty with Ormonde and Charles I. However, the new Royalist/Confederate alliance was crushed after Cromwell's conquest of Ireland in 1649-53.[citation needed] All Catholic clergy captured by the Cromwellians were executed and Walsh, in danger of death, fled Ireland. He subsequently lived obscurely in London and abroad.[1]

The Irish Remonstrance[edit]

On the restoration Walsh urged his patron, Ormonde, to support the Irish Roman Catholics as the natural friends of royalty against the Protestant sectaries, who had supported the Parliament during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Walsh endeavoured to mitigate their lot and efface the impression made by their successive rebellions by a loyal remonstrance to Charles II, boldly repudiating papal infallibility and interference in public affairs, and affirming undivided allegiance to the crown. For eight years he canvassed for signatures to this address, but in spite of considerable support the strenuous opposition of the Jesuits and Dominicans deterred the clergy and nearly wrecked the scheme. (See also: Act of Settlement 1662 for Irish politics at the time).[1]

Later life[edit]

From 1669 until his death, Walsh lived in London, much respected for his honesty, loyalty and learning. He and his supporters were declared renegades to be spurned by other friars by the Order's General Chapter of 1670 for having published without the permission of the Minister General of the Order, but he remained a devout adherent of the Catholic Church, although he maintained friendly relations with the Anglicans, accepting their Holy orders and attending their churches. He was reported as having made a full submission to the papacy before his death, though the fact has been questioned.[1] At his death, his books and papers were removed by the friars. He was buried in the churchyard of the Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West.


Walsh wrote (1672-1684) a series of controversial letters against Pope Gregory VII's doctrine of papal supremacy over princes; a voluminous History of the Remonstrance (1674); Hibernica (1682), a history of Ireland; in 1686 a reply to the Popery of Thomas Barlow (1607-1691), Barlow being the Bishop of Lincoln; and other works. In these writings he consistently upheld the doctrine of civil liberty against the pretensions of the papacy.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chisholm 1911, p. 292.
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 292, 293.