Gerard, Richard

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Recusant and confessor; b. probably Staffordshire, c. 1635; d. London, March 22, 1680. Counting among his antecedents both the solicitor general under Elizabeth I (Gilbert Gerard) and the famous Jesuit missioner (John Gerard), Richard seems representative of the lesser English peerage of the mid-17th century, on whom both recusant Catholicism and conformity to the Established Church laid rival traditional claims. How he himself became a Catholic is not known, but certainly by the 1670s he had become identified as a friend of the Jesuits, having three sons at Saint-Omer and administering some small properties on behalf of the society. This friendship was to prove convenient for the anti-Catholic purposes of the "Whig" opposition to the Duke of York, for when Gerard came to London to testify in favor of the five Catholic peers who had been impeached following Titus Oates's revelation of the Popish Plot, he found himself arrested on a similar charge of conspiracy. His acknowledged contact with Father John Gavan on Aug. 15, 1678, at Bascobel in Worcestershire, was cited by the informer Stephen Dugdale as evidence of treason; and on this charge he was committed to the Gatehouse prison by the Lords' committee on May 19, 1679. Ten months later, in the meantime removed to Newgate prison and still awaiting trial, he died.

Bibliography: j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time, 2:432433. h. foley, ed., Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 v. (London 187782), 5:434436.

[r. i. bradley]