CHALLONER, RICHARD (1691-1781), English Roman Catholic prelate, was born at Lewes, Sussex, on the 29th of September 1691. After the death of his father, who was a rigid Dissenter, his mother, left in poverty, lived with some Roman Catholic families. Thus it came about that he was brought up as a Roman Catholic, chiefly at the seat of Mr Holman at Warkworth, Northamptonshire, where the Rev. John Gother, a celebrated controversialist, officiated as chaplain. In 1704 he was sent to the English College at Douai, where he was ordained a priest in 1716, took his degrees in divinity, and was appointed professor in that faculty. In 1730 he was sent on the English mission and stationed in London. The controversial treatises which he published in rapid succession attracted much attention, particularly his Catholic Christian Instructed (1737), which was prefaced by a witty reply to Dr Conyers Middleton's Letters from Rome, showing an Exact Conformity between Popery and Paganism. Middleton is said to have been so irritated that he endeavoured to put the penal laws in force against his antagonist, who prudently withdrew from London. In 1741 Challoner was raised to the episcopal dignity at Hammersmith, and nominated co-adjutor with right of succession to Bishop Benjamin Petre, vicar-apostolic of the London district, whom he succeeded in 1758. He resided principally in London, but was obliged to retire into the country during the "No Popery" riots of 1780. He died on the 12th of January 1781, and was buried at Milton, Berkshire. Bishop Challoner was the author of numerous controversial and devotional works, which have been frequently reprinted and translated into various languages. He compiled the Garden of the Soul (1740 ?), which continues to be the most popular manual of devotion among English-speaking Roman Catholics, and he revised an edition of the Douai version of the Scriptures (1749-1750), correcting the language and orthography, which in many places had become obsolete. Of his historical works the most valuable is one which was intended to be a Roman Catholic antidote to Foxe's well-known martyrology. It is entitled Memoirs of Missionary Priests and other Catholicks of both Sexes who suffered Death or Imprisonment in England on account of their Religion, from the year 1577 till the end of the reign of Charles II. (2 vols. 1741, frequently reprinted). He also published anonymously, in 1745, the lives of English, Scotch and Irish saints, under the title of Britannia Sancta, an interesting work which has, however, been superseded by that of Alban Butler.
For a complete list of his writings see J. Gillow's Bibl. Dict. of Eng. Cath. i. 452-458; Barnard, Life of R. Challoner (1784); Flanagan, History of the Catholic Church in England (1857); there is also a critical history of Challoner by Rev. E. Burton.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)