Broughton, Richard (DNB00)

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BROUGHTON, RICHARD (d. 1634), catholic historian, was born at Great Stukeley, Huntingdonshire, towards the close of Queen Mary's reign. In his preface to the 'Monasticon Britannicum' he claims descent from the ancient family of Broughton of Broughton Towers in Lancashire.

After studying for a time at Oxford, where however he was not entered as a student, Broughton proceeded to the English college at Rheims. Here he devoted himself chiefly to the study of Hebrew and English antiquities, and theology. On 24 Feb. 1592 he was admitted into deacon's orders, and was ordained priest on 4 May 1593, the same year in which the English college quitted Rheims and returned to their old home at Douay after an absence of fifteen years. Soon after this he was sent to England for the purpose of making converts to the Roman catholic church, and of furthering the political schemes of the Jesuits. John Pits, a contemporary of his, speaks of him as being 'most diligent in gathering fruit into the granary of Christ,' and the same writer, alluding to his literary acquirements, says that he was 'no less familiar with literature than learned in Greek and Hebrew.' Dodd, writing of him a century later, says 'he was in great esteem among his brethren, an assistant to the archpriest, a canon of the chapter, and vicar-general to Dr. Smith, bishop of Calcedon.' At one time he was secretary to the Duchess of Buckingham, and it is to her and her mother, the Countess of Rutland, that his 'Ecclesiasticall Historie' is dedicated. In 1626 we find him 'sojourner' at Oxford. He died on 15 Feb. 1634, and was buried by the side of his father and mother at Great Stukeley, as we learn from his epitaph: 'Quo cum matre, patre sub saxo conditur uno.'

As a writer he was dull, painstaking, laborious, inaccurate, and credulous to a degree rare even for the age in which he lived. Among his principal works are: 1. 'A New Manual of Old Catholic Meditations,' 1617. 2. 'The Judgment of the Apostles,' Douay, 1632, dedicated to Queen Marie, wife of Charles I. These two works are published under the initials 'R. B.' The letter elicited an indignant pamphlet from one 'P. H.,' entitled 'A Detection or Discovery of a Notable Fraud committed by R. B., a Seminarie Priest,' in which Broughton's manner of treating Nos. 23 and 36 of the Thirty-nine Articles is strongly assailed. 3. 'The Ecclesiastical Historie of Great Brittaine,' Douay, 1633. 4. 'A True Memorial of the Ancient, most Holy, and Religious State of Great Britaine,' 1650. In a later edition (1654), the title runs 'Monasticon Britannicum, or a Historical Narration of the first Founding and Flourishing State of the Antient Monasteries, Religious Rules, and Orders of Great Brittaine.' 5. 'An Apologetic Epistle in answer to a Book that undertakes to prove that Catholics cannot be good Subjects.' 6. 'A Continuation of the Catholic Apology taken from Christian Authors.'

[Records of the English Catholics under the Penal Laws, chiefly from the Archives of the See of Westminster, 1878; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 428; Wood's History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford; Dodd's Church History; Fuller's Worthies; Pits, De Rebus Anglicis, 1619; Histoire du College de Douay, 1672; Foley's Records, vi. 181.]

N. G.