Verstegan, Richard

, principally known as an antiquary, was the grandson of Richard Roland Verstegan, of an ancient family in the duchy of Guelderland, who being driven out of his own country by the confusions of war, came to England in the time of Henry VII. Here he married, and dying soon after, left an infant son, who was afterwards put apprentice to a cooper, and was father to the subject of this article. Richard was born in St. Catherine’s parish, near the Tower of London, and after receiving the rudiments of education, was sent to Oxford, where he was generally called Roland. It does not appear what college he belonged to, cr whether he is to be considered as a regular member of any, but he seems to have | distinguished himself in Saxon literature, then very little studied. He was, however, a zealous Roman catholic, and finding no encouragement in his studies without taking oaths adverse to his principles, he quitted the university, and settled at Antwerp, and practised drawing and painting. About 1592 he published a work, now very rare, entitled “Theatrum crudelitatum Hsereticorum nostri temporis,” a thin quarto, with curious cuts representing the deaths of the Jesuits, and other missionaries who were hanged or otherwise put to death for their machinations against the church and state. This effort of zeal does not appear to have been in all respects agreeable to some of his own party; and either his fears on this account, or some other causes, induced him to leave Antwerp for Paris. There being complained of by the English ambassador as a calumniator of his royal mistress, he was thrown into prison by the French king’s orders. How long he was confined is not known, but when released he returned to Antwerp, and resumed his studies, which produced his “Restitution of decayed Antiquities,1605, 4to, several times reprinted, a work of very considerable merit and judicious research; but, the principal subjects on English antiquities having been since more accurately investigated and treated, Verstegan’s work is rather a curious than a necessary addition to the historical library. When he published it he seems to have been in better humour with England, and dedicated it very respectfully to James I. He corresponded much with sir Robert Cotton, and other antiquaries of the time. It is uncertain when he died, but some place that event soon after 1634. Verstegan wrote also “The successive regal Governments of England,Antwerp, 1620, in one sheet, with cuts; “A Dialogue on Dying well,” a translation from the Italian; and a collection of very indifferent poetry, entitled “Odes; in imitation of the seven penitential Psalmes. With sundry other poems and ditties, tending to devotion and pietie,” imprinted 1601, 8vo, probably at Antwerp. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I.; one of the most confused of all Anthony Wood’s lives. Dodd’s Ch. Hist. Biog. Brit. Censura Lit. vol. II.