Stephen White

Stephen White (1574-c1645)

Stephen White was born in Clonmel in 1574.  White was one of the three scholars named in the charter of Trinity College, Dublin, in the year of its foundation, 1592; thereafter, he vanished from the college records, perhaps leaving to avoid taking the oath of supremacy.  He appears next in the Irish College in Salamanca, and became the first student of the college to become a Jesuit, which he did at Villagarca on 13 October 1596, being then a Bachelor of Arts.  In 1600 he was in his third year of theology at Salamanca, and in 1602 he taught Humanities as Lecturer in Arts at the seminary of Salamanca.  From 1603 to 1606 he taught 'metaphysics' at Salamanca.  While teaching philosophy, he assisted William Bathe, the spiritual director of the Irish College, to write his Janua Linguarum, and he also seems to have acquired an interest in Irish antiquities and religious history.  Also there at that time were Richard Conway and, briefly, Henry Fitzsimon.

In 1604 he was posted to Germany, and thus left Castile in 1605, by which stage he had a doctorate in Divinity.  He formally inaugurated his lectures on scholastic theology at Ingolstadt on 7 January, 1606.  He also held the position of confessor to the "Congregation of the Religious", who came from various monasteries to attend lectures.  In 1609 White swapped places with Sebastianus Heiss, taking the latter's postion as Professor of Theology at Dillingen, where he then began to teach sacred scripture.  In 1612 White was listed as first professor of scholastic theology at Dillingen, and he was also librarian of the university, and confessor, as mentioned above.  In 1613 he was listed as professor of scripture, confessor, and president of cases of conscience in the religious college, and on 6 January he made the Profession of Four Vows in the "Academic Hall" of the university.  From 1614-22 he is listed as professor of scholastic theology, and he is mentioned in the printed disputations of his pupils published in 1612, 1613, 1614, 1614, 1615, 1616, 1619, 1619, 1619, and 1622.  In 1623 he disappeared from the records of the Province of Upper Germany.  With him in Dillingen were Jacobus Gretser, the editor of Adamnan, and the Jesuit Ambrose Wadding, the older brother of Luke.  From 1623-7 he was in the Province of Champagne, and confessor of the Germans at Pont-à-Mousson; and from 1627-9 he was confessor of the Germans and Spiritual Father at the college of Metz.  Then he returned to Ireland in 1630.  He was still living in 1645.

Stephen White never published during his lifetime, but he was greatly admired by scholars such as Colgan and Ussher.  Known especially for his studies of Irish saints' lives, on the basis of which he collaborated with Ussher, he also wrote several historical works pertaining to Ireland.  Several of his manuscripts survive, and are currently being edited and translated at the Centre for Neo-Latin Studies, UCC.

Printed works

i.  Letter to John Colgan, dated Dublin, 31 January, 1640.  Printed in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 1861, p.10ff.
ii.  Letter to Rosweyde, dated 3 May, 1615.  Printed in the Acta Sanctorum, T. II. July, p.487.
iii.  Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias: sive fabularum et famosorum libellorum Silvestri Giraldi Cambrensis, sub vocabulis topographiae, sive de Mirabilibus Hiberniae et Historiae Vaticinalis, sive Expugnationis ejusdem insulae refutatio.  [ed. Matthew Kelly, Dublin, 1849].

Manuscript works

i.  Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias: sive fabularum et famosorum libellorum Silvestri Giraldi Cambrensis, sub vocabulis topographiae, sive de Mirabilibus Hiberniae et Historiae Vaticinalis, sive Expugnationis ejusdem insulae refutatio.
Brussels, Royal Library, MS 7661; Trinity College Dublin, MS 573.
ii.  Scoto-Caledonica cornix deplumanda ab avibus orbis, hoc est refutatio recentium pseudo-historiarum prisco-Scoticarum Thomae Demsteri Scoto Britanni, uxorati, professoris latinarum in Academia Bononiensium Italiae; et illius domesticorum Georgii Condi, Guilielmi Camerarii, Hectoris Boet, Pseudo-Leslei (qui Robertus Turnerus, epitomator Hectoris), Joannis Maioris, Georgii Buchanani, Joannis Jordani, Georgii Tomsoni, et ejusdem furfuris antiquariorum.
Poitiers, La Médiathèque François Mitterand, MS 258.
iii.  Commentarii et defensio Venerabilis Bedae, Anglo-Saxonis antiqui, contra novos Anglo-Saxones aliquot et alios bona fide errantes catholicos domesticos exterosque cum multis nuper Scoto-Albanis Dempstero, Camerario, Hectore Boeto, cuius epitomatore Leslaeo, Joanne Majore, Buchanano sociisque, Historias Venerabilis Bedae, indigne tractantibus, torquentibus et varia arte male corrumpentibus.
Brussels, Royal Library, MS 7658.
iv.  Vindiciae Scotorum indigenarum Iberniae, Oceani Manae Insulae, quae olim ab immemorabili tempore passim per Europam usque ad annum Christi saltem 1000 audiebat Scotia; deinde vero per 200 et amplius annos dicebatur Scotia Major sive vetus ad discrimen Scotiae Majoris et Novae quae ante per plurima saecula audiebat Patria Pictorum Britanniae, in tres libros distributae, adversus graves crebrosque errores novorum de rebus scoticis historicorum Hectoris Boeti, Georgii Buchanani, Georgii Tomzoni, Roberti Turneri sub nomine Joannis Leslaei, et asseclarum ipsorum.
Brussels, Royal Library, MS 7658; Trinity College Dublin, MS 573.
v.  Apologia pro innocentibus Ibernis, olim temere traductis per Ricardum Stanihurstum.
Poitiers, La Médiathèque François Mitterand, MS 260.
vi.  Historica disquisitio de Sancta Ursulae, et sodalium virginum ac martyrium Patria gestis, tempore, loco agonis, causa peregrinationis e patria solo.
Trinity College Dublin, MS 573.


There are several other works listed by Sommervogel which I have not included here. Most of these are in fact academic theses over which White presided, hence they were written by his students, not him.


Edmund Hogan, "Life of Father Stephen White, S.J., Theologian and Polyhistor", Journal of the Waterford and South East of Ireland Antiquarian Society, vol. III, no. 12 (April, 1897).
Matthew Kelly’s preface to Stephan White’s, Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri Calumnias: sive fabularum et famosorum libellorum Silvestri Geraldi Cambrensis, ed. Matthew Kelly, Dublin, 1849.
Reeves, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 1861

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