Verstegan, Richard (Rowlands)

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Author, publisher, engraver, and agent for Catholic exiles; b. London, c. 1550; d. Antwerp, 1640. His father, John, of a Dutch immigrant family, was a cooper. Under the surname Rowland, a family Christian name, Richard entered Christ Church, Oxford, as a sizar in 1565, but since he was a Catholic he could not take a degree. About 1570 he returned to London, became a goldsmith, and acquired great skill as an engraver. He also gained experience at printing and was responsible for publishing a book on E. campion's martyrdom in 1582. When this press was discovered, he had to flee to France. In Paris he continued as a Catholic publisher and engraver and he was arrested in 1583 at the instigation of the English ambassador, for publishing an illustrated account of the persecution in England; however Cardinal William allen quickly secured his release. After visiting Rome and Paris he settled in Antwerp in 1587. For the next 20 or 30 years he was an important link of communication between leading Catholics at home and abroad, especially Allen, R. persons, and H. garnet, and he was the chief publisher and distributor of recusant books printed at Antwerp. For this service he was made a Spanish pensioner and obtained a license to import English cloth. In later years he was absorbed into the Dutch way of life, particularly after his second marriage, to Catharina de Sauchy, which took place in 1610.

His works, more than 30 in number and in four languages, include polemic tracts, epigrams, emblem verse, and many other forms. The controversial works include the martyrology, Theatrum crudelitatum (1587), two replies to the proclamation of November 1591, and part authorship of A Conference about the Next Succession (1595). Most successful among his devotional works are the Primer or Office of the Blessed Virgin Marie (1599)the first in English and Latinand the collection of sacred verse, Odes (1601). His outstanding nonreligious work is the scholarly Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities (1605).

Bibliography: r. verstegan, "Letters and Despatches," ed. a. g. petti, Publications of the Catholic Record Society 52 (1959). e. rombauts, Richard Verstegen, een Polemist der Contra-Reformatie (Brussels 1933). a. g. petti, "A Bibliography of the Writings of Richard Verstegan," Recusant History 7 (1963) 82103. A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time 5:566568.

[a. g. petti]