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White, Stephen


Distinguished 17thcentury Jesuit scholar; b. Clonmel, Ireland, 1575; d. Galway, c. 1647. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and the Jesuit College in Salamanca, Spain. White perhaps did more for Irish historical research and learning in the first half of the 17th century than any other Irish Catholic scholar studying on the Continent. He was a renowned teacher in Germany for many years, a prolific student and writer on Irish manuscripts, a universally acknowledged chronologist, and at one time the rector of the College at Cassel. Not only Germany, but Austria, Switzerland, and more than a dozen other European countries felt the influence of his scholarship in schools and colleges. Although often at odds, in matters theological, with the Calvinistic James Ussher, archbishop of Armagh, White corresponded frequently with him; and the two men worked together in Irish hagiography while the respect one had for the other's learning was outstanding. He contributed much to the collectanea of other Irish scholars of his generation, especially in manuscripts on Patrick, Brigid, Columba, and other Irish saints. Following a long academic career on the Continent, Father White returned to Ireland in the 1630s and collaborated with Ussher and other scholars, Irish and British, Protestant and Catholic. In Ireland he taught at a number of Jesuit colleges, especially in Dublin and Waterford. Of Father White the learned Dr. Reeves says: "It was he who opened that rich mine of Irish literature on the Continent, which has ever since yielded such valuable returns." White copied many manuscrips in German monasteries, including lives of St. Colman, St. Erhard, and St. Patrick.

Bibliography: r. bagwell, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 21:7576. j. s. crone, Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin 1937). w. reeves, Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down, Connor and Dromore (Dublin 1847). j. ussher, A Discourse of the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish and British (4th ed. enl. London 1687).

[e. j. murray]

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