Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bulkeley, Richard (1644-1710)

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Date of birth 1660 in ODNB.

BULKELEY, Sir RICHARD (1644–1710), author, the eldest son of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Dunlavan, county Wicklow, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated B.A. in 1680, and M.A. in 1681, being also made a fellow in the same year. On 4 March 1680 he was specially created B.A. of Christ Church, Oxford (Wood, Fasti, ii. 377). He succeeded in 1685 to the Irish baronetcy which had been conferred on his father in 1672. He was elected a member of the Royal Society, and among its ‘Transactions’ are to be found the following communications: 1. In 1685 (No. 172) ‘On a New Sort of Calesh,’ so constructed that it was almost impossible to overturn it, but having, as is mentioned by Evelyn (Diary, ii. 242), the disadvantages that it would hold only one person, that it was ready to take fire every ten miles, and that it created an almost insufferable noise. 2. In 1693 (No. 199) ‘An Account of the Giant's Causeway’ (by no means accurate). 3. In 1693 (No. 205) ‘About Improvements to be made in Ireland by growing Maize.’ 4. In 1693 (No. 212) ‘On the Propagation of Elmseed.’ Later in life he became a convert of certain French enthusiasts pretending to the gift of prophecy and the power of working miracles, and in defence of their opinions printed ‘An Answer to several Treatises lately published on the subject of the Prophets,’ 1708, part i.; ‘An Impartial Account of the Prophets of the Cevennes in a Letter to a Friend,’ written as an introduction to ‘Prophetical Extracts’ (1695?); and to ‘Warning of the Spirit’ by Abraham Whitro' (1709) wrote a preface, ‘which is also a continuation of an answer to diverse treatises lately written on the subject.’ In support of the pretensions of the enthusiasts he quoted his own experience, asserting that he had been cured of continuous headache, of stone, and of rupture, so that he no longer required to wear a truss. It was also asserted that he cherished the confident expectation of being cured of a crooked back, a deformity natural to him (MS. of Dr. Calamy, Biog. Brit. ed. Kippis, iii. 144). Hearne (Reliquiæ, i. 149) refers to an Anne Topham who received ‘great sums of money from Sir Richard Bulkeley to carry on this cheat.’ Such was his fanatical devotion to the sect, that he had formed an intention of selling his estates to distribute among them, when he died on 7 April 1710. He was buried in his impropriate church in Ewell, Surrey, under the altar, where there is a monument to him and his wife in black marble. His house at Ewell, Surrey, was, on account of his debts, sold shortly after his death.

[Ware's Writers of Ireland, ed. Harris, p. 263; Aubrey's Antiquities of Surrey, ii. 220–1; Le Neve's Monumenta; Lodge's Irish Peerage, v. 22–4.]

T. F. H.