Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sterne, Richard
STERNE, RICHARD (1596?–1683), archbishop of York and alleged author of the ‘Whole Duty of Man,’ born about 1596, was son of Simon Sterne of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Simon, son of William Sterne, who is said to have migrated to Mansfield from Suffolk, where the name is common, married Margery, daughter of Gregory Walker of Mansfield. The future archbishop was educated at the free school at Mansfield, and on 8 July 1611 was matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge. He was admitted a scholar on 6 May 1614, graduated B.A. in 1614–15, M.A. in 1618, and B.D. in 1625. He was elected fellow of Benet or Corpus Christi College in 1620, and was incorporated B.D. at Oxford on 10 July 1627 (Wood, Fasti, i. 433). He became chaplain to Archbishop Laud, probably in 1633, and on 17 Nov. in that year was selected by him to preach at St. Paul's Cross (Laud, Works, vii. 47). On 7 March 1633–4 he was elected master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and in the same month was collated by Laud to the rectory of Yelverton, Somerset. About the same time he received the rectory of Harleton, Cambridgeshire, and in 1635 he graduated D.D.
On the outbreak of the civil war, Sterne zealously adopted the royalist cause, and in August 1642 he arranged for the despatch of large quantities of college plate to the king. Cromwell, however, who, as one of the burgesses of Cambridge, was engaged in securing that town for parliament, had Sterne arrested on 11 Aug., with Dr. John Barwick (1612–1664) [q. v.] and Dr. William Beale (d. 1651) [q. v.] They were brought up to London, being subject to hostile demonstrations on the journey, and, on the order of the House of Commons, were committed to the Tower (Barwick, Querela Cantabrigiensis, 1644). Sterne remained there nineteen weeks until 12 Jan. 1642–3, when he was ordered to confine himself to Lord Petre's house in Aldersgate Street; after seven months' imprisonment he was placed on board an Ipswich coal-ship in the Thames. Being shut down beneath hatches he suffered great privation, and his enemies were credited with the intention of selling him into slavery. After ten days, however, he was put on shore and confined in Ely House. Meanwhile he was sequestered from his livings, and in March 1643–4 he was ejected by the Earl of Manchester from the mastership of Jesus College. On 7 Jan. 1644–5, at Laud's request, Sterne was permitted by parliament to attend the archbishop in the Tower, and he was with him from the 8th until his execution on the 10th. Some notes of Sterne's conversations with Laud during this time are printed in Laud's ‘Works’ (vii. 660–1), and the written address which Laud read to the people on the scaffold on 10 Jan. was handed by him to Sterne, under whose supervision it was printed in 1677 (Oxford, reprinted in Laud, Works, iv. 430 et sqq.). Soon afterwards Sterne regained his liberty, and during the Commonwealth and Protectorate he maintained himself by keeping a school at Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
At the Restoration he was at once singled out for preferment. He was reinstated in the mastership of Jesus College, but a few months later was made bishop of Carlisle. The congé d'élire was dated 9 Oct. 1660, the royal assent was given on 28 Nov., the temporalities were restored on 19 Dec., and he was enthroned on 4 Jan. 1660–1. From April to July 1661 he attended the Savoy conference. ‘Among all the bishops,’ wrote Baxter, ‘there was none who had so promising a face as Dr. Sterne, the Bishop of Carlisle. He look'd so honestly, and gravely, and soberly, that I scarce thought such a face could have deceived me; and when I was intreating them not to cast out so many of their brethren through the nation, as scrupeled a ceremony which they confessed indifferent, he turn'd to the rest of the Reverent Bishops and noted me for saying “in the nation.” “He will not say in the kingdom,” saith he, “lest he own a king.” This was all I ever heard that worthy bishop say. But with grief I told him that half the charity which became so grave a bishop might have sufficed to have helpt him to a better exposition of the word’ (Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, 1696, ii. 305). On 5 March 1661–2 convocation is said to have entrusted the revision of the Book of Common Prayer to Sterne, George Griffith [q. v.], bishop of St. Asaph, and Brian Walton [q. v.], bishop of Chester (Le Neve, Protestant Archbishops; but cf. Luckock, Studies in Hist. of the Common Prayer).
Sterne is said to have left his bishopric in an impoverished state to his successor, Edward Rainbowe [q. v.], with whom he had a lawsuit (Hutchinson, Cumberland, ii. 632–633). In 1664 he was translated to the archbishopric of York, being elected on 28 April and confirmed on 10 June following. In that capacity, according to Burnet, he ‘minded chiefly the enriching of his family’ (Own Time, ii. 427). He was a regular attendant at parliament (cf. Tanner MSS. xlii. 46), and, according to Burnet, was ‘more than ordinarily compliant in all things to the court, and was very zealous for the duke’ of York. He was also suspected for this reason of inclinations towards popery. He died at Bishopthorpe, aged 87, on 18 June 1683 (cf. letter of his son Richard to Sancroft, 20 June 1683, in Tanner MSS. xxxiv. 47), and was buried in St. Stephen's Chapel, York Minster, where there is an inscription to his memory. He gave 1,850l. towards the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, and left 40l. a year to found four scholarships at Jesus College, and 20l. a year to found two at Corpus Christi College.
Sterne married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Dickinson, lord of the manor of Farnborough. She died in London on 6 March 1673–4, aged 57, and was buried at Farnborough, where there is an inscription to her memory. By her Sterne had thirteen children. The eldest son, Richard, died at York in 1700; another son, Simon, was grandfather of Laurence Sterne [q. v.], the author of ‘Tristram Shandy’ (Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis, ed. Whitaker, i. 214). An anonymous portrait of the archbishop was engraved by F. Place. There is a portrait in the hall of Jesus College, Cambridge.
Sterne published ‘A Comment on Psalm ciii’ (London, 1649, 8vo), and a work on logic entitled ‘Summa Logicæ’ (London, 1685, 8vo). He has verses in the ‘Genethliacon Caroli et Mariæ’ (1631) and in ‘Irenodia Cantabrigiensis ob paciferum Caroli e Scotia reditum’ (1641). He also assisted in the preparation of Walton's Polyglot Bible.
Sterne has also been claimed as the author of the ‘Whole Duty of Man’ and the six works published anonymously as by that writer (cf. The Whole Duty of Man, ed. W. B. Hawkins, 1842, pp. xiii–xxiii; Bibliographer, 1882, ii. 73–9, 94, 164). The claim was based solely on the assertion that the manuscript of the work was once in Sterne's possession (Evelyn, Diary, ed. Bray, ii. 321). But Sterne, who was, according to Burnet, ‘a sour ill-tempered man,’ possessed worldly characteristics quite incompatible with Bishop Fell's account of the author of the ‘Whole Duty.’ The latter, moreover, in the seventh tract of the series, ‘The Christian's Birthright’ (sect. vii. paragraph 2), states that he had been driven abroad during the troubles, whereas Sterne never left England. There can indeed be little doubt that the ‘Whole Duty of Man’ was written by Richard Allestree [q. v.], though severely edited by Bishop John Fell (1625–1686) [q. v.], his biographer and literary executor (Mr. C. E. Doble in Academy, 1882, ii. 348, 364, 382; cf. art. Pakington, Dorothy, Lady).[Tanner MS. xxxvi. 73, xxxviii. 130, xl. 42, xlii. 46, lxx. 79, cxcliv. 130; Rawlinson MSS. A. 290. 20, C. 983. 11; Harl. MS. 3784, arts. 2, 3; Lords' and Commons' Journals; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–71; A True Relation of the Taking … of Dr. Sterne, London, 1642, 4to; Baillie's Letters and Journals, ii. 148; Evelyn's Diary, ii. 321, 389; Luttrell's Brief Relation; Burnet's Own Time, i. 312, ii. 427; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 146–7; Peter Barwick's Life of John Barwick, 1724, pp. 41, 42, 281; Le Neve's Protestant Archbishops, 1720, pp. 241–57, and Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 433–4, ii. 336; Laud's Works, iv. 423–4, 430, vii. 47, 660–1; Masters's Hist. Corpus Christi Coll. Cambridge; Worthington's Diary (Camden Soc.); Baker's Hist. St. John's Coll. Cambridge, ed. Mayor, i. 219, ii. 633, 638, 647; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 328–30; Granger's Biogr. Hist.; Nichols's Lit. Illustrations, ii. 603–4; Nicholson and Burn's Cumberland and Westmoreland; Hutchinson's Cumberland, ii. 632–3; Thoroton's Nottinghamshire, ii. 311; Hook's Eccl. Biogr. viii. 479–83; Brown's Nottinghamshire Worthies, pp. 230–1; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714.]