Richard Rowlands, whose real name was Verstegen, was the son of a cooper whose father, Theodore Roland Verstegen, a Dutch emigrant, came to England about 1500. Under the name of Rowlands, Richard went to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1565, where he studied early English history and the Anglo-Saxon language. Leaving the university without a degree, he published in 1576 a work of antiquarian research, translated from the German, entitled The Post of the World, describing the great cities of Europe; and soon afterwards he moved to Antwerp, where he resumed the name of Verstegen, and set up in business as a printer and engraver. In 1587 he went to Paris, and in 1595 to Spain, where he studied in the college at Seville, afterwards returning to Antwerp, where he lived so far as is known until his death, the date of which, though certainly later than 1620, is unknown.
Rowlands was a zealous Roman Catholic, and in 1587 he published at Antwerp Theatrum Crudelitatum haereticorum, in which he criticized the treatment of the Roman Catholics in England under Elizabeth so freely that when a French translation of the book appeared in the following year he was thrown into prison at the instance of the English ambassador in Paris. Many of his writings were published in the name of Verstegen.
His works included A Dialogue on Dying Well (1603), a translation from the Italian; Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities co-neerning the English Nation, dedicated to James I. (1605); Neder Deutsche Epigrammen (1617); Sundry Successive Regal Governments in England (1620); Spiegel der Nederlandsche Elenden (1621). The verses on the defeat of the Irish rebels under Tyrone, entitled England's Joy, by R. R. (1601), is doubtfully attributed to him. Richard Verstegan, author of Nederlantische Anhiquiteyten (Brussels, 1646), is probably another person, possibly Rowlands's son.
See Anthony à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, edited by P. Bliss (4 vols., London, 1813-20); J. W. Burgon, Life and Times of Sir T. Gresham (2 vols, London, 1839); W. C. Hazlitt, Collections and Notes (London, 1882 and 1887).
Being the entry for ROWLANDS, RICHARD in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.