Challoner, Luke (1550–1613), Church of Ireland clergyman and vice-provost of Trinity College, Dublin, was born into a prosperous family, which had emigrated from London to Dublin late in Henry VIII's reign. All that is known of his father is that he owned property in Dublin, but his uncle John Challoner (qv) was more prominent, serving as secretary to the Irish privy council, and as an alderman and mayor of Dublin. Luke initially followed a secular career and was certainly well-to-do – he rented a very large estate at Finglas from the archbishop of Dublin. However, in his thirties he discovered a vocation for the church. On 13 October 1582 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and on 15 May 1584 he gained a scholarship; he graduated BA in 1585 and MA in 1589. He returned to serve the protestant church in Ireland in two capacities: as prebendary of Mulhuddart at St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin (1597–1613), and as one of the founding fellows of TCD. He married Rose, daughter of Walter Ball (qv), a Dublin alderman; after she died of plague on 25 October 1604, he married Elizabeth Percevall. He had one child, Phoebe, from his first marriage, who married James Ussher (qv), archbishop of Armagh.
Challoner's contribution to TCD during its first two decades was incalculable. One authority describes him, with pardonable exaggeration, as the ‘real founder’ of Trinity (Maxwell, 8). Certainly he was a member of the tight-knit group of Dublin protestants, including his father-in-law, Walter Ball, Archbishop Adam Loftus (qv), and Henry Ussher (qv), who were responsible for pushing through the establishment of the college in 1592. Subsequently he was closely involved, as fellow (he is named as one of the three foundation fellows in the charter of March 1592), vice-provost, and vice-chancellor (in the absence of the provost, or during vacancies), in the day-to-day running of the college; he guided the institution safely through its early financial troubles and difficult interregnums as provosts came and went. In 1601 he was awarded a DD by TCD. At the end of his life, by which time the college was finally on a sound financial footing, he proposed a considerable expansion of the number of scholars on the foundation. Along with the young James Ussher, he was responsible for a massive expansion of the college library, travelling to London in 1603, 1606, and 1609 on book-buying expeditions. He himself had a very large, mainly theological, library, probably numbering more than 900 volumes by 1608.
The suggestion that Challoner was the first holder of the chair of divinity at TCD is unproven, but he certainly played a significant role in the religious life of Dublin. In one of his notebooks he recorded the number of sermons he had preached up to 1608 – a total of 1,428, including 472 on the book of Genesis over a period of seven years. He died 27 April 1613 and was buried in the chapel at TCD.