Nathanael Richards (fl. 1630–1654) was an English dramatist and poet, perhaps from Kent. He should not be confused with Nathaniel Richards (1611–1660), a cleric.
A possible relative, Gabriel Richards, is mentioned in William Hammond's letters as a "cousin".Some unresolved issues remain about the putative family connection.
George Charles Moore Smith concluded in 1909 that Nathanael Richards the dramatist had up to that point been misidentified, and was a Richards of Rowling, rather than from a Devon family. He pointed out the match of his coat of arms, as shown in the portrait engraving of 1640.
Nathanael Richards wrote an acrostic poem, published in 1630, for Sir Thomas Stanley of Cumberlow on his marriage to Mary Hammond, relative of William Hammond.There was also a poem for Lady Mary, when with child.
Richards was a friend of Thomas Middleton, leading to the suggestion that the William Hammond to whom Middleton gave the manuscript of A Game at Chess in 1625 may have been of St Alban's Court (from the point of view of date, this would be the grandfather of William Hammond who died in 1685).
Richards issued in 1630 The Celestiall Publican, a religious poem.At the end are epitaphs on James I, Sir Francis Carew, and others, with an anagram on Sir Julius Cæsar and verses on the author's friend, Sir Henry Hart, K.B. These poems were reprinted, with some additions, in 1641, as Poems Sacred and Satyricall, London, for H. Blunden, 1641.
Richards's major work was the tragedy Messallina (1640), a historical play based on Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the younger, and the sixth satire of Juvenal.There are anachronisms, such as firearms, and a hundred vestal virgins are gratuitously introduced. The work is dedicated to John Cary, Viscount Rochford, and there are complimentary verses by Robert Davenport, Thomas Jordan, Thomas Rawlins, and others. It is one of the few plays of the period that have a cast list: it includes William Cartwright senior (Claudius), John Robinson (Saufellus), Christopher Goad (Silius), John Barret (Messalina), and Thomas Jordan (Lepida).
Some verses by Richards were prefixed to Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women .
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Richards, Nathaniel". Dictionary of National Biography . 48. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
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