Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Sir Richard Bellings

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 2
Sir Richard Bellings

by David James O'Donoghue


(Or Belling)

Irish historian, b. near Dublin early in the seventeenth century; d. in 1677. He was the son of Sir Henry Bellings, a Catholic landowner in Leinster. He was trained to the law and entered Lincoln's Inn, London, and while there wrote a supplementary book (the sixth) to Sir Philip Sydney's "Arcadia", which has been generally printed with that work. He returned to Ireland, became a member of the Irish Parliament, and married a daughter of Viscount Mountgarret. In 1642, when the Irish Confederation was formed, Bellings joined, his father-in-law being president, and became secretary to the Supreme Council. He was sent to the continent in 1644 as a representative of this body. In the following year he returned to Ireland and was active as a royalist till 1649, when he withdrew to France, most of his property having been confiscated by the Cromwellians. His estate was restored to him after the accession of Charles II, who, with Ormonde, held him in high regard. He died in 1677 and was buried near Dublin. Perhaps his chief work is his defence of the Catholics of Ireland, "Vindiciarum Catholicorum Hiberniae libri duo", which, under the pseudonym of "Philopater Irenaeus", was published at Paris in 1650. During his later years he also wrote an account of Irish affairs (1641-48), an imperfect copy of which was printed in 1772. The complete work was, however, recovered, and was published under the editorship of John T. Gilbert, with the following title: "History of the Irish Confederation and the War in Ireland, 1641-48". This edition (Dublin, 1882-85) is enriched with many valuable documents and many illustrative notes, and was published form the original MSS. The above-mentioned "Vindication" is regarded as one of the most trustworthy of the many works written on that period. However, the Irish Franciscan, Father John Ponce, controverted many of its statements in his "Richardi Bellingi Vindiciae Eversae" (Paris, 1653). A "Letter from Richard Bellings to M. Callaghan" on Irish affairs (Paris, c. 1652) is to be found in a French translation of the same date in the Gilbert Library, Dublin.

Harris, Writers of Ireland (Dublin, 1764), I, 165.

D.J. O'DONOGHUE