Steward, Richard (DNB00)


STEWARD or STEWART, RICHARD (1593?–1651), dean-designate of St. Paul's and Westminster, and clerk of the closet to Charles I, was baptised at Pateshull, Northamptonshire, on 3 Aug. 1595, probably some two years after his birth. He was third son of Nicholas Steward, esq., of Pateshull. His mother's maiden name was Madox. From Westminster school he matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 1 Dec. 1609. He graduated B.A. in 1612, M.A. in 1615, B.C.L. in 1617, and D.C.L. on 3 July 1624. In 1613 he was elected fellow of All Souls', and in 1622 served the office of proctor. Having taken orders, he became rector of Harrietsham, Kent, in 1626, and on 17 July 1629 was named prebendary of Worcester. In the following year he also became vicar of Aldbourne, and rector of Mildenhall, Norfolk, and of Alton Barnes, Wiltshire. With the last benefice he also held a canonry at Salisbury. He was made a chaplain in ordinary and clerk of the closet to Charles I in 1633, and two years later he received an annuity of 100l. from the royal exchequer. On 6 March 1635 he received in addition the deanery of Chichester. In 1638 he resigned his stall at Worcester on becoming prebendary of Westminster (see Call. State Papers, Dom. 1638, p. 305). On 24 Dec. 1639, on the nomination of the king, who dispensed with the statutory obligation requiring membership of the foundation, Steward became provost of Eton in succession to Sir Henry Wotton. In April of the following year he acted as prolocutor of convocation, and was zealous in obtaining the vote of subsidies. He was rewarded by the nomination to the deanery of St. Paul's in 1641, but for some reason was not definitely appointed. On 15 March 1642 he was admitted to the prebend of St. Pancras, and in 1643 he was made dean of the chapel royal. But in the same year he was dispossessed by parliament of the provostship of Eton in favour of Francis Rous [q. v.], and was subsequently deprived of his other preferments. The civil war also prevented him from taking possession of the deanery of Westminster, to which he was nominated in 1645 on the expiry of Archbishop Williams's commendam.

Steward was held in high favour by Charles I. In January 1645 he, together with five other divines, was sent by the king to Uxbridge, ' to attend the commissioners for their devotions and for the other service of the church, as the management of the treaty required' (Clarendon). He vigorously defended episcopacy. Whitelocke says that Steward 'spake very learnedly (tho' seeming frowardly) against the presbyterian government in the church of England.' After hearing the answers of Henderson and Marshall, he 'thought the disputes to be too various and general, and desired that they might dispute syllogistically as became scholars.' When the discussion was renewed after an interval, he again 'argued very positively.' In August 1646 Charles I, writing from Newcastle, recommended Steward to the Prince of Wales as a trusty servant, and desired him to defer to his opinion 'in all things concerning conscience and church affairs' (Clarendon State Papers). From this time Steward seems to have followed the fortunes of Prince Charles. In 1649 he strongly opposed a clause in the proposed royal declaration drawn up by Hyde, to the effect that foreign divines should be admitted to the national synod which was to consult upon the church of England. He protested to the chancellor that he had not slept on account of the 'agony and trouble' caused by his proposal, 'and went from him to the king to beseech him never to approve it.' In the summer of 1650 he was in Jersey, whence, under the name of Nicholson, he corresponded with Sir Edward Nicholas. In August he told Nicholas that he had been received into his highness's (the Duke of York's) favour. He followed the duke from Paris to Brussels, but returned to Paris in 1651, and Evelyn heard him preach at an extraordinary fast on 21 July. While in France he preached several striking sermons. Steward died at Paris on 14 Nov. 1651. He was buried in the protestant cemetery near St. Germain des Pres. Some words in his epitaph summarise his aspirations: 'Qui moriens nihil aliud hie inscribi voluit quam quod vivens assidue oravit pro pace Ecclesiae ' (cf. Kennet, Register, 1728; Wood, History of the University of Oxford). Steward married a daughter of Sir William Button of Tokenham, Wiltshire, and left two sons: Charles (1666–1735), and Knightley Steward (1673–1746), both of whom were beneficed clergymen.

Steward's influence over Charles II, who twice visited him on his deathbed, did much to counteract the influence of the presbyterian party. Evelyn described his death as a great loss to the whole church. Wood (who spells the name 'Steuart') says that in the university he was accounted a good poet and orator, and that he was an eloquent preacher with 'a smart fluent stile.' Clarendon characterises him as a very honest and learned gentleman, whose heart was set upon vindicating the dignity and authority of the church 'not without some prejudice to those who thought there was any other object to be more carefully pursued' (Life, fol. edit, p. 124). Steward supplied him with some materials for his 'History of the Rebellion,' more especially regarding the Uxbridge conference.

Steward published: 1. 'Three Sermons,' 1656, 12mo; reissued in 1658 with a fourth by Samuel Harsnett, archbishop of York, and an 'Epistle to the Reader,' by T. H. 2. 'Catholique Divinity; or the most solid and sententious expressions of the Primitive Doctors of the Church, with other Ecclesiastical and Civil Authors,' &c., 1657, 8vo (prefatory remarks by H. M.) 3. 'Trias Sacra: a second ternary of Sermons,' 1659, 12mo; reissued as 'Golden Remains, being the last and best Monuments that are likely to be made publick,' 1660. 4. 'A Discourse of Episcopacy and Sacrilege,' 1683; originally printed in 1647 as an answer to a 'Letter to Dr. Samuel Turner' by John Fountaine. 'The Old Puritan detected and defeated,' 1689, is also attributed to him by the printer Sherlock; it was an attempt to prove that the fifty-fifth canon of James I did not favour extempore prayers.

A portrait was engraved by Stow from a picture at Eton. In it he is depicted holding the ribbon, with an angel of gold attached, which was placed round the neck of those who touched for the king's evil.

[The age of Steward as given in his epitaph does not agree with that of his matriculation entry. For his pedigree see Baker's Northamptonshire, ii. 298, 304. See also Welch's Alumni Westmon. pp. 20, 21; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 295-8 n., and Fasti Oxon. i. 357,372,404, 416; Le Neve's Fasti Eccles. Anglicanae, i. 258, ii. 315, 425, iii. 79. 344, 348, 352, 492; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635 p. 122, 1638 pp. 305, 345, 1639-40 p. 175, 1640 p. 76, 1650 pp. 186, 271, 351, 384, 385, 394, 414-15; Cal. Clarendon State Papers, i. 227, 329, 333, 356, 437, ii. 110; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion, ed. Macray, 1888, iii. 475, 479, 481-3, iv. 341, v. 42, 43, 235; Evelyn's Diary; Whitelocke's Memorials, pp. 128, 132; Stanley's Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 3rd edit. p. 513; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. x. 493, 494, xi. 75, 76, 7th ser. iv. 473; Evans's Cat. Engr. Portraits.]

G. Le G. N.