Irish historian, polemicist, devotional writer, priest;b. Dublin, 1547; d. Brussels, Belgium, 1618. Richard, son of James Stanyhurst, a zealous Irish Protestant, was educated at University College, Oxford (B.A. 1568) and studied law at Lincoln's Inn. By temperament and training a classicist, he abandoned law for historical and literary study. With (St.) Edmund campion, an Oxford acquaintance, as his tutor, Richard returned to Ireland, where they collaborated on a history of Ireland that was published as part of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles (1577). This work and Stanyhurst's Description of Ireland were accused of having a pro-English bias. After the death (1579) of his young wife, Janet Barnewall, Stanyhurst went to the Netherlands, where he embraced Catholicism (1581?), and never returned to the British Isles again. In the Netherlands, he devoted himself to translating Vergil's Aeneid (Leyden 1582). His translation met with such a storm of criticism that from that time on, he confined himself to Latin prose. His historical works De rebus in Hibernia gestis (Antwerp 1584) and De vita S. Patricii Hyberniae Apostoli (Antwerp 1587) mix history, legend, and theology indiscriminately. Politics and medicine were other Stanyhurst occupations which he practiced both in the Netherlands and in Spain, visited in 1590. The death of his second wife freed him to seek ordination (1602). Stanyhurst, a pensioner of Spain, was appointed chaplain to the rulers of the Netherlands, Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella. He devoted his remaining years to the writing of history, verse, devotional treatises, and polemical tracts including a refutation of the work of his own nephew, James ussher, later Protestant archbishop of Armagh.
Bibliography: k. f. h. bernigau, Orthographie und Aussprache in Richard Stanyhursts englischer Übersetzung der Äeneide (1582) (Marburg 1904). c. lennon, Richard Stanihurst the Dubliner (Blackrock, Ireland 1981). a. j. loomie, The Spanish Elizabethans … (New York 1963). e. waugh, Edmund Campion (New York 1935).
[p. s. mcgarry]