Nicholas Bernard

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Nicholas Bernard (c. 1600-1661) was an English clergyman and pamphleteer. A dean in Ireland at the time of the Rebellion of 1641, he wrote descriptions of current events. He was also the biographer of James Ussher.


He was born around 1600, and educated at Cambridge. Having migrated to Ireland, he was ordained by Archbishop James Ussher, in St. Peter's church, Drogheda, in 1626. He became the archbishop's chaplain and librarian. In 1627 he became dean of Kilmore, a titular position. In 1637 he exchanged with the Very Rev. Henry Jones the deanery of Kilmore for that of Ardagh, and became prebendary of Dromore.

He attended Bishop John Atherton, executed in 1640, in his last days, and wrote an account.,[1] which became a popular chap-book. Atherton was convicted of sexual offences; there was a background in church politics, and historians believe that Bernard's writing points to the context behind the scandal, as well as being a tract on repentance.[2][3]

In connection with the rebellion he wrote pamphlets, about the events in Drogheda and County Louth, and at Derry.[4] In 1647 he preached in London, but came to the attention of the Committee for Plundered Ministers. They took exception to his not having a licence to preach, and Bernard spent time in the Fleet Prison.

He left Ireland around 1649, was appointed preacher of Gray's Inn in 1651, and became chaplain to Oliver Cromwell. When Ussher died in 1655, Bernard took care of the funeral expenses, and in 1656 published the Life and Death of Archbishop Ussher in a Sermon preached at his Funeral at Westminster, 1656. A further apologetical work on behalf of Ussher he published in 1657 mentioned Peter Heylin, who replied to both works. Bernard opposed the Laudian position, according to which the Papacy was not to be identified with the Antichrist.[5]

In 1660 John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater as patron appointed Bernard rector of Whitchurch, Shropshire, and he declined to return to Ardagh. He continued to write, including a work on William Bedell. He died on 15 October 1661.


  1. ^ The penitent Death of a woful Sinner, John Atherton [Bishop of Waterford], executed at Dublin the 6th of December 1640. With a Sermon preached at the Funeral of the said John Atherton, Dublin, 1641.
  2. ^ Barry Richard Burg, Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English sea rovers in the seventeenth century Caribbean (1995), p. 8.
  3. ^
  4. ^ 1. The whole Proceedings of the Siege of Drogheda in Ireland, with a thankful Remembrance of its wonderful Delivery, raised with God's Assistance by the Prayers and sole Valour of the Besieged, with a Relation of such Passages as have fallen out there and in the Parts near adjoining, Dublin, 1642. 2. A Letter sent from Dr. Barnard [sic], Parson of Tredagh . . . wherein divers very memorable Passages twixt the King's Armies and the Rebels, 1641. 3. The whole Proceedings of the Siege of Derry, 1642. 4. A worthy Relation from Deane Bernard concerning . . . our Forces in the County of Louth, 1642.
  5. ^ Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 (2002), p. 123.