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Richard Stanihurst

Richard Stanihurst (1547-1618)

Richard Stanihurst (or Stanyhurst) was born in Dublin in 1547, the son of James Stanihurst (d.1573), speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

Stanihurst in his De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis mentions that he attended school at Peter White's academy in Kilkenny after which he studied at University College, Oxford, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1568. Following this he was a student at Furnivall's Inn and Lincoln's Inn, London. He published his first work, a Latin commentary on Porphyry in 1570 which was remarked upon for its scholarship by scholars of the time.

At Oxford he had met Edmund Campion, and he accompanied the latter on his visit to Ireland, helping him to collect material for his history of Ireland. He himself contributed the "Description of Ireland" and the "History of Ireland under Henry VIII", to Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles (London, 1577). In Ireland he tutored the children of Gerald, the 11th earl of Kildare, especially Garret whom he accompanied to London in 1575; the tutorship ended with Garret's death in 1580. A letter dated 30 July 1576 to Arland Ussher, his sister's husband, discussing business matters is extant in the library of Trinity College Dublin (MS 568, f.174).

Stanihurst's first wife was Janet, daughter of Sir Christopher Barnewall, whom he married before they moved to London. In August 1579 Janet, aged 19, died in childbirth. She was buried in Chelsea and he wrote a Latin elegy on her which is appended to his translation of the Æneid. In 1581 he left for the Low Countries never to return to his native country or England. He then converted to Roman Catholicism. At Leiden he published his translation of Virgil's Æneid into English hexameters (1582). Later he wrote De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis (Antwerp, 1584) which is dedicated to Patrick Plunket, lord Dunsany (a brother-in-law through his wife's family): this work describes Ireland from an Old English viewpoint. Barnaby Rich criticized him in his "New Description of Ireland" (1610); Geoffrey Keating in his General History of Ireland (1723) condemns him on his youth, alleged lack of knowledge of the Irish language, and charges him of receiving bribes to write such material; Sir James Ware likewise asserts that Stanihurst's view of Irish history is malicious.

His second wife was Helen Copley of Surrey, a Roman Catholic, who had moved with her expatriate family to Dunkirk. There were two sons of the marriage, Peter and William, both of whom became Jesuits. Invited to Spain by King Philip II in the early 1590s he had a laboratory in the Escorial and also offered advice to the Spanish government. He wrote to Justus Lipsius from Madrid on 1 February 1592; in this letter, he refers to an interview with Philip II (Justi Lipsi Epistolae pars V 1592, ed. by Jeanine De Landtsheer and Jacques Kluyskens (Brussels: Koninklijke Academie voor WLSK van België, 1991), pp.92-95); Lipsius replies to Stanihurst on 27 February 1592 speaking of their friendship and his hope that it will continue (pp.160-62). During this period an alchemical tract is attributed to him Un tratado intitulado El Toque de Alquimia internally dated 1593, now in Madrid Biblioteca Nacional MS 2058, volume 5, folios 248-257. Another manuscript entitled “Margarita Mariana” (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 3816) dated to 1600 is of a devotional nature. A further devotional work, Psalmi, Litaniae et Orationes was published in 1597 in Antwerp, of which only a single copy of the third edition (1598) is extant.

Helen, his second wife, died in 1602. Stanihurst then took holy orders; he was appointed chaplain to Archduke Albert, ruler of the Netherlands, and his wife Isabella (daughter of Philip II). It seems that he was also chaplain to the English Benedictine convent at Brussels.

From this time on, he published two devotional works of Marian theology: Hebdomada Mariana (Antwerp, 1609), dedicated to the Infanta Isabella, and Hebdomada Eucharistica (Douai, 1614), dedicated to Nicholas Montmorency. His last work was Brevis præmunitio pro futura concertatione cum Jacobo Usserio (Douai, 1615), in which he replied to the treatise of his Protestant nephew, James Ussher, afterwards Archbishop of Armagh. Stanihurst was buried in Brussels.

— Margaret Lantry

Links: Raphael Holinshed Chronicle (selections) Center for Electronic Text and Image (University of Pennsylvania Library)
Ricardo Estanihurst “El Toque de Alquimia” Azogue. Historia de la Alquimia



Texts available online

Inter-disciplinary seminar

The translation of Stanihurst'sDe Rebus in Hibernia Gestis by Mr John Barry, of the Department, is now finished with the help of a four-year weekly seminar. Notes of the discussions at each meeting were taken; these will be used as a basis for the commentary. The members of the group was drawn from many areas of the University: Ancient Classics, English, Hispanic Studies, History, Modern Irish, Old Irish, and also from outside the University. The meeting read the text in Latin and notes were taken of the discussion: this is crucial as the interdisciplinary nature of the gathering ensured that different angles were highlighted. Back at the CNLS, the project collated these notes and prepared the translation. Publication is being investigated.


Primary sources


  1. 1576: Miscellanea quaedam de ecclesia SS. Trin. juxta Dublin. Daniel (W.) Archiep. Tuam. De herenachia. De sanctis Hiberniae ex diversis martyrologiis mss. Dublin (Trinity College Library) MS 568, 174r-v. [Letter of Richard Stanihurst to Arland Ussher, 30 July 1576]
  2. 1585: Translation of the tract "De tribus habitaculis", ascribed sometimes to St Patrick, sometimes to St Augustine, by R.S. (Richard Stanihurst), with a prologue by the translator. Oxford (Bodleian Library) MS Rawl. D.1349.
  3. 1587: Curas hechas por el irlandes, Richard Stanihurst. Simancas, MS Archivo General, Seccion de Estado, legajo 593, folio 65.
  4. 1593: Un tratado intitulado El Toque de Alchemia. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, MS 2058, 95, tomo 5, ff. 248r-257v. [Transcribed at by José Rodríguez Guerrero]
  5. 1593: Two letters, in English, from Stanihurst to Sir Francis Englefield on behalf of his brother-in-law, William Copley, August 2 and 16, 1593. Valladolid, MS St Alban's College, serie II, legajo 6
  6. 1601: Petition requesting the arrears of his pension, Feb. 3, 1601. Simancas, MS Archivo General, Estado 1743, no folio
  7. 1613: Letter from Richard Stanihurst, in Brussels, in favour of Christopher Cusack, John Roche and (Thomas?) Shelton, Feb. 15, 1613. Rome (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) MS Barberini Lat. MS 8626.
  8. (16th-17th c.): Richardi Stanihursti, Hiberni Dublinensis Margarita Mariana: in qua continentur quotidianae exercitationes, ad laudem et honorem beatissimae Virginis Mariae accomodatae ex sacris depromptae scripturis; oecumenicis Conciliis; orthodoxis patribus; tam Latinis, quam Graecis. Opus eiusdem divinissimae Virginis Matris Sodalitati dicatum. Tomus secundus, complectens Iulium ac reliquos quinque menses sequentes. Brussels (Bibliothèque Royale) MS 3816.
  9. (17th c.): Preface by R.S. (Richard Stanihurst?) to a translation by him of the "golden treatise of St. Vincentius against heresies and novelties". Oxford (Bodleian Library) MS Rawl. D.1347.

Printed works

  1. 1570: Harmonia seu catena dialectica in Porphyrianas institutiones: summam difficiliorum quaestionum & solutionum breuiter & perspicuè complectens, ex optimis Autoribus vndecunque conflata. Autore Richardo Stanihursto Dubliniensi, Collegii Universitatis apud Oxonienses Alumno. Cum Indice locupletissimo in calce libri adiecto. Excusum Londini, apud Reginaldum Wolfium.
  2. 1577: "A plain and perfect description of Ireland" and "A history of the reign of Henry VIII" in R. Holinshed (ed.) The firste volume of the chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande: conteyning the description and chronicles of England, from the first inhabiting vnto the Conquest: the description and chronicles of Scotland, from the first originall of the Scottes nation, till the yeare of our Lorde 1571: the description and chronicles of Yreland, likewise from the first originall of that nation, vntill the yeare 1547. London: imprinted for Lucas Harrison. The compilation was begun by Reyner Wolfe, assisted by Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison; after Wolfe's death, Holinshed completed it, with the assistance of William Harrison and Richard Stanyhurst. 
    The Irish section is repr. Holinshed, Raphael, comp. Holinshed's Irish Chronicles. The history of Ireland from the first habitation thereof, unto the yeares 1509 & continued till the yeare 1547. Ed. Liam Miller and Eileen Power with the cancels restored and the woodcut ill. of the 1st ed. Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1979. This ed. based on the 1577 ed. with restoration of passages cancelled in the original.
  3. 1577: 17 couplets and a 16-line poem in Latin. Chap. 6 "The lordes temporall, as well English as Irishe, which inhabite Ireland" In: Description of Ireland (Dublin: Dolmen, 1979) pp. 78-95.
  4. 1582: Thee first foure books of Virgil His Aeneas Translated intoo English heroical verse, wyth oother Poëtical divuises theretoo annexed. (Leiden: Iohn Pates). Repr. London: 1583; Edinburgh: 1836.
  5. 1582: "Epitaphes" (in Latin) in The first foure bookes of Virgils Aeneis, translated into English Heroicall Verse, by Richard Stanyhurst: with other Poeticall deuises thereto annexed (Leiden: Iohn Pates). pp. 97-100.
  6. 1584: De rebus in Hibernia gestis libri quattuor ... Accessit ... Appendix, ex Siluestro Giraldo Cambrensi ... collecta; cum eiusdem Stanihursti adnotationibus apud Christophorum Plantinum, Antuerpiae.
  7. 1587: De vita S. Patricii, Hiberniae apostoli libri duo. Nunc primum in lucem editi ex officina Christophori Plantini, Antuerpiae.
  8. 1598: Psalmi, litaniae, et orationes, quae coram Augustissima Eucharistia perapposite recitari possunt. Tertia editio, castigatior & auctior apud Ioannem Moretum, Antuerpiae.
  9. 1609: Hebdomada Mariana, ex orthodoxis Catholic[a]e Roman[a]e Ecclesiae patribus collecta: in memoriam septem festorum Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, per singulos dies hebdomadae distributa ex officina Plantiniana apud Ioannem Moretum, Antuerpiae.
  10. 1614: Hebdomada eucharistica ex sacris litteris atque orthodoxis Catholicae Romanae Ecclesiae patribus collecta ex officina Baltazaris Belleri, Duaci.
  11. 1615: Brevis praemunitio pro futura concertatione cum Jacobo Usserio ... qui in sua historica explicatione conatur probare, Pontificem Romanum ... verum & germanum esse Antichristum. Ex typographia Baltazaris Belleri, Duaci.


  1. "James Ussher to Richard Stanihurst, his uncle" Epistolae, part 1,
  2. 1592: "Letter of Richard Stanihurst to Justus Lipsius, 1 February 1592". Jeanine De Landtsheer and Jacques Kluyskens Justi Lipsi Epistolae pars V: 1592 (Brussels: Koninklijke Academie voor WLSK van België, 1991), number 1141, pp. 92-95.
  3. 1597: Letter of John Danyell to Sir R. Cecil, concerning a prisoner Peter Nangle. Nangle was great with the primate of Armagh, killed in Connaught, with the Archbp. of Tuam who died in Antwerp, Sir W. Stanley, Jacques, Richard Stanehurst and others. May 28, 1597. (Hist. Mss. Comm. Salisbury Mss. Pt. VII., 1899, p. 218)
  4. 1624: "Sermo Sancti Patricii Hiberniae Apostoli, ad Hibernos habitus, Anno circiter 430. Ex Richardo Stanihursto, lib. 2 de vita S. Patricij". In: Florilegium Insulae Sanctorum. (Ed: Messingham,Thomas) ex officina Sebastiani Cramoisy, Parisiis, pp. 437-441.
  5. 1586: Aqua vitae: its commodities describ'd / by Richard Stanihurst, & delineated by Bridget Swinton (Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1954, repr. 1956). Extracted from "A treatise contayning a playne and perfect description of Irelande," the introduction to vol. 1, pt. 3 of 1586 ed. of Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland.
  6. 1595: Letter from King Philip II of Spain to Duke Ernest of Bavaria, the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, 4 April, 1595. Simancas, MS Archivo General, Estado, legajo 174, no folio [describes Stanihurst]


Secondary sources

  1. Anon. (1901) Chamber's Cyclopaedia of English Literature. (London: W. & R. Chambers). Vol. 1, p. 332. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  2. Arber, Edward (1880) Richard Stanyhurst. Translation of Aeneis I-IV: with other poetical devices (June) 1582 (London). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  3. Atienza, Juan García (1995) Los saberes alquímicos : diccionario de pensadores, símbolos y principios (Madrid: Temas de Hoy), pp. 301-02 [about Stanihurst's alchemical text]
  4. Atkins, S. H. (1931) "Certain of Sir Thomas More's Epigrams Translated by Stanihurst" Modern Language Review 26, pp. 338-40
  5. Bernigau, Karl (1904) Orthographie und Aussprache in Richard Stanyhursts englischer Übersetzung der Äeneide (1582). (Marburger Studien zur englischen Philologie, 8). (Marburg: N. G. Elwert'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  6. Brenan, Michael J. ([1864]) An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, from the introduction of Christianity into that country, to the year M.DCCC.XXIX (Dublin: James Duffy), new ed., revd., p.444-45 (p. 215-16 in 1848 edition)
  7. Brydges, Egerton (1805-09) Censura Literaria, containing titles, abstracts and opinions of Old English books, with original disquisitions, articles of biography, and other literary antiquities. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme). Vol. 4, p. 234 ff. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  8. Burton, Edwin (1912) "Richard Stanyhurst" in The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Charles G. Herbermann, vol. 14, p. 248 (London: Caxton Publishing Company)
  9. Carpenter, N. C. (1977) "Thomas More and Music: Stanyhurst's Translation of the Abyngdon Epitaph." Moreana 62, pp. 63-68.
  10. Danyell, John (1597) "Letter of John Danyell to Sir R. Cecil, concerning a prisoner Peter Nangle. Nangle was great with the primate of Armagh, killed in Connaught, with the Archbp. of Tuam who died in Antwerp, Sir W. Stanley, Jacques, Richard Stanehurst and others. May 28, 1597". Hist. Mss. Comm. Salisbury MSS Pt. VII, 1899, p.218.
  11. Dyce, Alexander (1831) The Dramatic Works of Robert Greene (London: W. Pickering). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  12. Dyroff, Jan Michael (1971) Approaches to the Study of Richard Stanyhurst's Translation of Virgil's Aeneid (1582), PhD thesis, Boston University Graduate School (abstr. in Dissertation Abstracts International (Ann Arbor MI) (33) 1678A (1972)). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  13. Elze, Karl (1867) Die englische Hexameter: eine abhandlung (Dessau). p. 14 ff. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  14. Eslava Galán, Juan (1987): Cinco tratados españoles de alquimia (Madrid: Tecnos), pp. 134-148 [transcription of Stanihurst's alchemical text]
  15. Esteva de Sagrera, J. (1993) "La Alquimia y la Política Imperial de los Austrias". In: Campos Y Fernández de Sevilla, F. Javier (ed.), La ciencia en el Monasterio del Escorial: actas del Simposium (1/4-IX-1993) (Madrid: Ediciones Escurialenses, 1993) vol. 1, pp. 189-205 [comments on Stanihurst and alchemy]
  16. García Font, Juan (1995) Historia de la Alquimia en España (Barcelona: MRA), pp. 180-6 [about Stanihurst's alchemical text]
  17. Grose, Nancy Pollard (1948): Studies in the life and English works of Richard Stanyhurst (1547-1618). MA thesis, University of London
  18. Guerrero Rodríguez, José and Pedro Rojas García (2001) "La Chymica de Richard Stanihurst en la Corte de Felipe IIAzogue: Electronic Journal for the Historical-Critical Study of Alchemy 4, Jan-Dec
  19. Hallam, Henry (1855) Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries (London: J. Murray). p. 229. [about Stanihurst's use of English hexameters]
  20. Hobsbaum, Philip, ed. (1969) Ten Eizabethan poets: Wyatt, Chapman, Marston, Stanyhurst, Golding, Harington, Raleigh, Greville, Sidney, Spenser (Harlow: Longmans).
  21. Hoppe, Harry R. (1955) "The period of Richard Stanihurst's chaplaincy to the Archduke Albert" Biographical Studies 3 (October), pp. 115-117.
  22. Keating, Geoffrey (1902) Foras feasa ar Éirinn (The history of Ireland), ed. Comyn, David (London: Irish Texts Society). Vol. 1, pp.30-43
  23. Kington Oliphant, T. L. (1886) The New English. (London: Macmillan & Co.). Vol. 1, p. 598 ff. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  24. Lennon, Colm (1975/6) "Recusancy and the Dublin Stanihursts" Archivium Hibernicum 33
  25. Lennon, Colm (1978) "Richard Stanihurst (1547-1618) and Old English identity" Irish Historical Studies 21 (82), pp. 121-143.
  26. Lennon, Colm (1979) "Reform ideas and cultural resources in the inner Pale in the mid-sixteenth century" Stair 2, pp. 3-10.
  27. Lennon, Colm (1981) Richard Stanyhurst the Dubliner, 1547-1618: a biography, with a Stanihurst text, On Ireland's past (Blackrock: Irish Academic Press)
    • Robinson-Hammerstein, Helga [review] (1983) Richard Stanihurst: The Dubliner, 1547-1618: A Biography with a Stanihurst Text on Ireland's Past Colm Lennon American Historical Review, Vol. 88 (4) (October), pp. 991-992
  28. Lipsius, Justus (1592) "Letter of Justus Lipsius to Richard Stanihurst, 29 March [sic: 27 February] 1592". Jeanine De Landtsheer and Jacques Kluyskens Justi Lipsi Epistolae pars V: 1592 (Brussels: Koninklijke Academie voor WLSK van België, 1991), number 1178, pp. 160-162.
  29. Lohr, Charles H. (1982) "Renaissance Latin Aristotle Commentaries: Authors So-Z" Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 35 (2) (Summer), pp. 164-256 [Stanihurst, p.173]
  30. Loomie, Albert J. (1963) The Spanish Elizabethans. The English Exiles at the Court of Philip II (New York: Fordham University Press)
  31. Loomie, A. J. (1964) "Richard Stanihurst in Spain: two unknown letters of August 1593" Huntington Library Quarterly 28, pp. 145-155.
  32. Mc Kerrow, Ronald B. (?, ?) "On the use of so called classical metre in Elizabethan verse" Modern Language Review 4, p. 172 ff.; 5, p. 6 ff. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  33. Mc Kerrow, R. B., ed. (1904-10) The Works of Thomas Nashe. (London: A. H. Bullen). Vol. 1, p. 299; vol. 3, p. 319. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  34. Maley, William (1996) "Spenser 'View' and Stanyhurst 'Description'" Notes & Queries 43(2), pp. 140-142.
  35. Marsh, George P. (1862) The Origin and History of the English Language: and of the early literature it embodies. (London: Sampson Low). p. 538 ff. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  36. Omond, Thomas S. (1903) English Metrists. (Tunbridge Wells: R. Pelton). p. 13. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil]. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  37. Omond, T. S. (1897) English Hexameter verse, with a specimen. (Edinburgh: David Douglas ). p. 6, 13. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  38. Plantin, Christopher (1587) "Letter of Christopher Plantin to Richard Stanihurst". M. Rooses and J. Denucé Correspondance de Christophe Plantin 9 vols. (Antwerp 1883-1918), 8-9, no. 1271 (?), letter of 30 June 1587.
  39. Ramón de Luanco, J. (1889) La Alquimia en España: escritos ineditos noticias y apuntamientos que pueden servir para la historia de los adeptos espanoles, vol. 1 (Barcelona: F. Giro & Redondo y Xumetra) pp. 77-80 [about Stanihurst's alchemical text]
  40. Rosier, James L. (1961) "Richard Stanyhurst and 16th-Century Lexical Usage" Studia Neophilologica 33, pp. 115-27
  41. Saintsbury, George (1923) A History of Prosody: from the twelfth century to the present day. (London: Macmillan & Co.). Vol. 2, p. 175. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  42. Schmidt, Heinrich L. (1887) Richard Stanyhursts Übersetzung von Vergils Aeneide I-IV: ihr Verhältnis zum Original. Stil und Wortschatz (Breslau: Anton Schreiber). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  43. Schmidt, H. L. (1887) "Richard Stanihursts Übersetzung von Vergils Aeneid I-IV". Vergiliana Vol. 2 (Zweidorf). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  44. Seymour, St John D. (1929) Anglo-Irish Literature, 1200-1582 (Cambridge: University Press).
  45. Southey, Robert (1822) The Vision of Judgment (Paris: A. Belin). Pref. IV, XXIV. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  46. Stephen, Leslie (1898) Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith, Elder & Co.), vol. 54, pp. 88-92
  47. Stone, William Johnson (1899) On the Use of Classical Metres in English. (London: Frowde). p. 12. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  48. Tausiet Carles, M. (1993) "El Toque de Alquimia: un método casí infalible dedicado a Felipe II por Richard Stanyhurst". In: Campos Y Fernández de Sevilla, F. Javier (ed.), La ciencia en el Monasterio del Escorial: actas del Simposium (1/4-IX-1993) (Madrid: Ediciones Escurialenses, 1993) vol. 1, pp. 525-558 [comments on Stanihurst and alchemy and includes transcription of his alchemical text]
  49. Taylor, René (1992) Arquitectura y magia: consideraciones sobre la idea de El Escorial (Madrid: Ediciones Siruela), pp. 26-7 [about Stanihurst's alchemical text]
  50. van der Haar, Dirk (1933) Richard Stanyhurst's Aeneis. (Klassieke Latijnse letterkunde, 18.46). (H. J. Paris: Amsterdam). [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  51. Ward, A. W., and A. R. Waller, ed. (1909) The Cambridge History of English Literature. (London: Cambridge University Press). Vol. 4, p. 16 f. [about Stanihurst's translation of Vergil].
  52. Wood, Anthony à (1813) Athenae Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, Philip (London: Rivington), vol. 2, p. 252

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