Online Encyclopedia

SIR EDWARD PETRE (1631-1699)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 315 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR EDWARD PETRE (1631-1699), Jesuit confessor of King James II. of England, was born in Paris. He was the son of Sir Francis Petre, Bart., of Cranham, head of a junior branch of the family of the Barons Petre, and his wife Elizabeth Gage, daughter of Sir John Gage, both strong Roman Catholics. In 1649 he was sent for his education to the Jesuit College at St Omer, and he entered the order under the name of Spencer in 1657, but did not receive the full orders till 1671. In 1679 he succeeded his elder brother in the title and family estates. On the accession of James II. in 1685 he was chosen as confessor by the king, who looked upon him as " a resolute and undertaking man." During the whole of the king's reign Petre was one of his advisers who did the most to encourage him in the policy which ended by producing the revolution of 1688. The king contemplated making him archbishop of York, as the see was then vacant, but the pope, Innocent XI., who was not friendly to the order, would not grant a dispensation to hold it, and even directed Petre's superiors to rebuke him for his excessive ambition. In 1687 he was made privy councillor. When the revolution broke out Petre was compelled to flee disguised as a woman. After his flight ,he had no further relations with James II. After a visit to Rome, he became head of the Jesuit College at St Omer in 1693, from whence he was transferred to Walten in Flanders in 1697. He died on the 15th of May 1699. A younger brother Charles (1644-1712) was also a member of the order.
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