Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rivers, Antony

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RIVERS, ANTONY (fl. 1615), jesuit, who also went by the name of Thomas Blewett, was living in London from 1601 to 1603, and was socius or secretary to Father Henry Garnett [q. v.] He corresponded with Robert Parsons (1546–1610) [q. v.], and, after the execution of Garnett in 1606, he seems to have joined Parsons in Italy. From London Rivers wrote letters, extant partly in the Old Clergy Chapter and partly in the Record Office, containing minute accounts of palace intrigues and state secrets. The description of the movement fostered by Elizabeth against the jesuits is interwoven with court news and amusing remarks on the queen's habits.

In 1692 a dedication to a new issue of Shirley's fine tragedy ‘The Traytor’ (then recently revived at Covent Garden) spoke of the play as being originally the work of ‘Mr. Rivers,’ and Motteux, in the ‘Gentleman's Journal’ for April 1692, stated that the real author was a jesuit, who wrote the play in Newgate, where he subsequently died. ‘The Traytor’ was, however, licensed as by James Shirley on 4 May 1631, and produced as by him at the Cockpit in 1635. Both Dyce and Mr. Fleay treat the ascription to Rivers in the dedication of 1692 as a dishonest attempt to claim the play for a Roman catholic (Shirley, Dramatic Works, ed. Dyce, vol. i. p. xiv; Fleay, Biogr. Chronicle, s.v. ‘Rivers’).

[Foley's Records of the Engl. Prov. of the Soc. of Jesus, i. 3 f.; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 180; Baker's Biogr. Dram. ed. 1812, iii. 249.]

E. C. M.