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Antiquarian and polyhistor; b. at Clonmel, Ireland, in 1574; d. in Galway, 1646. He belonged to a family devoted to religion and education. In 1592 Trinity College, Dublin, was founded, and S. White (in all probability Stephen White) was one of the few students named in the charter. Unwilling to take the oath of supremacy, he left his native land and entered the Irish College at Salamanca, Spain, where in 1596 he joined the Society of Jesus, and taught from 1602 to 1606. The domestic record says of him "plurimum profecit in litteris". This skill he employed as one of the two principal collaborators of William Bathe's systematic language method called "Janua linguarum", a work on which Comenius twenty years later based his celebrated "Janua linguarum reserata". In 1606 he went to Germany and lectured on theology at Ingolstadt, at Dillingen, and other places. He applied himself assiduously to the study of history and was generally reputed to be one of the most leaned men of his time in Europe. Ussher calls him "a man profoundly versed in the ancient records, not of Ireland alone, but of other countries". His chief interest was in Irish history. To him is due the honour of fixing the historic label "Scotia" where it belongs — to Ireland. He called attention to the rich treasures of Irish literature preserved in the monasteries and libraries of Germany, and generously supplied many noted scholars, as Ussher and Colgan, with accurate copies of Irish manuscripts accompanied by critical emendations and valuable commentaries. His biographical notices of early Irish saints were utilized in the "Acta SS." What gave him the bent towards early Irish history seems to have been the publication at Frankfurt by Camden of two works by Gerald of Wales, libelling Ireland and its people. In refutation he wrote his best-known work "Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias". After an absence of nearly thirty-eight years he returned to Ireland to join the staff at the Jesuit college recently established at Dublin. The college, however, was in a short time suppressed by the Government, and the property was confiscated and handed over to Trinity College. For some years he laboured in his native Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, mainly engaged in teaching catechism to children. In 1644 he went to Galway where he died.
HOGAN, Life of Father Stephen White, S.J. in The Waterford Archaeological Journal, III (1897); REEVE, Memoir of White 1861); CORCORAN, Studies in the History of Classical Teaching, 1500-1700 (Dublin, 1911); KELLY, notes to WHITE, Apologia; SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la comp. de Jesus.
M. J. Flaherty.