Nathanael Richards

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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. [1]


Nathanael Richards, 1640 engraving Nathanael Richards.jpg
Nathanael Richards, 1640 engraving

Background and possible connections to the Hammond family

A possible relative, Gabriel Richards, is mentioned in William Hammond's letters as a "cousin". [2] 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. [4]

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. [4] There was also a poem for Lady Mary, when with child. [8]

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). [9] [10]


Richards issued in 1630 The Celestiall Publican, a religious poem. [11] 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. [12]

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. [13] 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). [12]

Some verses by Richards were prefixed to Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women . [12]


  1. Sanders, Julie. "Richards, Nathanael". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/23537.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Michael G. Brennan (2004). The Origins of the Grand Tour: The Travels of Robert Montagu, Lord Mandeville (1649-1654), William Hammond (1655-1658), and Banaster Maynard (1660-1663). Ashgate Publishing, Limited. p. 213. ISBN   978-1-4724-6072-1.
  3. Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Goodneston', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 9 (Canterbury, 1800), pp. 241-250. British History Online [accessed 21 April 2016].
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Notes and Queries". Internet Archive . 1909. pp. 461–2. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  5. Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Braborne', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8 (Canterbury, 1799), pp. 14–27. British History Online [accessed 31 March 2016].
  6. "Goodnestone Church, near Sandwich M.I.'s noted by Rev Bryan Faussett 1758" . Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  7. Bernard Burke (1864). The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales: Comprising a Registry of Armorial Bearings from the Earliest to the Present Time. Harrison & sons. pp. 852–3.
  8. "Nathanael Richards' Tragedy of Messallina, the Roman emperesse". 1910.
  9. John Lavagnino (22 November 2007). Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works. OUP Oxford. p. 265. ISBN   978-0-19-818570-3.
  10. John Lavagnino (22 November 2007). Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works. OUP Oxford. p. 308. ISBN   978-0-19-818570-3.
  11. ‘The Celestiall Pvblican, a Sacred Poem: lively describing the Birth, Progresse, Bloudy Passion, and glorious Resurection of our Saviovr, The Spiritvall Sea-Fight, The Mischievous Deceites of the World, the Flesh, The Vicious Courtier, The Jesuite, The Divell,’ &c., London, for Roger Michell. Issued with a new title and some unimportant omissions in 1632 (for James Boler) as Poems, Divine, Morall, and Satyricall.
  12. 1 2 3 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Richards, Nathaniel"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 48. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  13. Printed as The Tragedy of Messallina, the Roman Emperesse. As it has been acted with generall applause divers times, by the company of his Maiesties Revells, London, for Daniel Frere.

Wikisource-logo.svg  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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