John Richardson (1664-1747)

Notes

Life
b. Armagh, son of Sir John Richardson; ed. TCD; TCD BA, 1688; holy orders; resided chiefly at Belturbet, Co. Cavan; rector of Annagh (nr. Belturbet), where he frequently preached in Irish, and chaplain to Duke of Ormond; issued A Proposals for the conversion of the Popish natives of Ireland to the Established Religion (1711); Seanmora ar na Priom Phoncibh na Creideamh: Sermons upon the principal points of religion (London 1711), incl. a lengthy sermon of his own with another by Rev. Pilip Mac Brádaigh, and three by William Beveridge, trans. by Seón Ó Mulchronri; assisted by Cathal Ó Luinín, published an Irish translation of The Book of Common Prayer as Leabhar na nOrnaighteadh [g]Comhchoitchionn (1712), chiefly based on Ó Domhnaill’s translation of The Book of Common Prayer of 1608;
 
trans. John Lewis’s catechism as Church Catechism Explain’d: Caitecism na heaglaise minighthe (1712); his Short History of the Attempts Made to Convert the Popish Natives of Ireland (1712), gives an account of the Bible-translation efforts of William Bedell, Uilleam Ó Domhnaill [William Daniel], and others; also published A Cathechism to which are appended brief and plain rules for reading the Irish language (London n.d.); and The Great Folly of Pilgrimages in Ireland (1727), ridiculing their efficacy with particular reference to Lough Derg, which he atttempted to prevent by application of canon law. ODNB OCIL

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Works
  • Seanmora ar na Priom Phoncibh na Creideamh ar na Ttaruing go Gaidhilg, agus ar na Ccur a Ccló a Lunnduin Tre Eibhlin Everingham. Sermons upon the Principal Points of Religion, Tralasted into Irish (London: Printed by Elinor Evingham 1711);
  • The Church Catechism Explain’d by Way of Question and Answer; And Confirm’d by Scripture Proofs. Collected by John Lewis, Minister of Margate, Kent. And Render’d into Irish by JOHN RICHARDSON Minister of Belturbet in Ireland, Chaplain to his Grace James Duke of Ormond, and St. George Lord Bishop of Clocher (London 1712), with Dedication to to Robert Nelson;
  • A Short History of the Attempts Made to Convert the Popish Natives of Ireland to the Establish’d Religion, with a proposal for their conversion [2nd edn.] (Dublin 1713);
  • The Great Folly [ ...] of pilgrimages in Ireland [...] (Dublin: J. Hyde 1727), 8o [copy in Marsh’s Library acquired 1843].

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Commentary
Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Gerard O’Brien (Geog. Publ. 1989), writes: ‘John Richardson (1664-1747), son of Sir John Richardson of Armagh, frequently preached in Irish in his parish in the neighbourhood of Belturbet in Co Cavan ... a firm believer in ... reclaiming the native population from popery through ... Irish ... and published books in Irish among them Seanmora (1711), Caitecismna hEaglaise, and The Great Folly of Pilgrimages in Ireland (1727), as well as a share in the new translation of the Book of Common Prayer (London 1712)’. (Wall, op. cit., p.4.)

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Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Tranlsations, Languages, Cultures (Cork UP 1996), ‘In the context of discriminatory legislation, it was unlikey that those who drafted such legislation were going to be very sympathetic to the efforts to promote a language that was identified amost exclusively with the principle victims of the penal laws. Secondly, the use of religion as the basis for social and economic segragation meant that the “Natives” were less likely to come to an “Acknowledgement of the Truth”, as Rihcarson hoped, than to greatly resent it. richardson as a translator fell foul of these contradictions and none ofhis translations, including his 1712 translation of the Book of Common Prayer, met with any notable success [...] The increading paucity of translations into Irhs y protestant translators as the eighteeth century progesses demonstrates the tangible effects of official indifferece or hostoility to the continued use of the Irish language. The political imperatives of control would gradually silence the religious imperatives of conversion.’ (p.59.); quotes, ‘It is too manifest to be denied that the many dreadful Calamities with which that unfortunate Island hath been miserably Afflicted since the [58] Reformation, are in a great measure owing to the unhappy difference of Religion in it. To prevent them for the time to come, several Laws have been made to weaken and, at last to extinghuish Popery in that Kingdom.’ (Seanmora ar na Priom Phoncibh na Chreideamh, Dedication, pp.iv-v; Cronin, pp.58-59.)

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References
Muriel McCarthy & Caroline Sherwood-Smith, eds., Hibernia Resurgens: Catalogue of Marsh’s Library (1994) [Exhib. Catalogue], cites The church catechism explain’d (London: E. Everingham 1712), 12o, containing Ornaig lé hagiadh usaide na scol charthanais [Prayers for the use of charity schools], and The Elements of the Irish Language (p.30.); also cites The Great Folly [ ...] of pilgrimages in Ireland [...] (Dublin: J. Hyde 1727), 8o [copy in Marsh’s Library acquired 1843].

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Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds John Richardson, A Short History of The Attempts To Convert The Popish Natives of Ireland (London 1712). [ top ]

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Quotations
Politics of language: ‘Preaching the Irish language is not an Encouragement to the Irish interests ... For the Irish Papists, who can speak English, ever were, and still are as great enemies to the English interest, as the Irish Papists who cannot speak English. [...] the Irish language, as such, hath nothing of Impiety, Heresie, or Immorality in it; and no Man, I presume, will be condemned at the Last Day for speaking Irish.’ (Cited in Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, 1986, pp.330-32; also 370.)

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Notes
W. E. H. Lecky: In Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (1892), Lecky cites The Great Folly [ ...] of pilgrimages in Ireland [...] (Dublin: J. Hyde 1727), together with Philip Skelton, Description of the Pilgrimage to Lough Derg and Wright's Purgatory of St. Patrick.

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