Googe, Barnabe (c.1538–94), poet and translator, and provost-marshal to the presidency court in Connacht, was son of Robert Googe, recorder of Lincoln, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Walter Mantell. He was born at Alvingham, Lincolnshire, and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, and New College, Oxford. He matriculated at Christ's College in May 1555, before leaving university without graduating in 1556. In 1560 he was a member of Staples Inn, but did not pursue his legal studies, preferring to become a poet and translator. He had published a poem in 1559, and from 1560 started to translate the work of the poet Marcellus Palingenius. Entitled The Zodiac of life, it was brought out in a series of twelve books, the first three of which were published that year. The work was finally completed in 1565 and was widely admired. A further work of his, Eglogs, Epytaphes and Sonettes, was published in 1561, copies of which are preserved in the Huth, Caell, and Britwell libraries. In 1570 he published the work by which he is best known, a translation into English of Thomas Kirchmeyer's The popish kingdome, or reigne of Antichrist, a Latin work which reflected Googe's puritan sympathies.
His mother had died when he was only six weeks old, and his father, who married (1552) Ellen Gadbury Parris, died in 1557. Barnaby thus inherited his father's estates in Lincolnshire, but his stepmother, with whom he had a poisonous relationship, was entitled to a substantial portion of his inheritance during her life. As a result, he was forced to pursue a public career in order to maintain himself. Fortunately, he was a kinsman to one of the queen's chief ministers, Sir William Cecil, serving as his retainer from the 1560s onwards. He was appointed one of the queen's gentlemen-pensioners in 1563 and sat as MP for Aldborough, Yorkshire, in 1571.
In 1574 Googe was sent to Ireland by Cecil, now Lord Burghley, as an intelligencer or letter-writer to keep him informed of the activities of Walter Devereux (qv), earl of Essex, who was involved in establishing a plantation in Ulster. Googe was conscientious in reporting to Burghley, and was present at the meeting of the earl with Turlough Luineach O'Neill (qv) on 16 March 1574, close to the bank of the Blackwater, when a truce was concluded between them, and Arthur O'Neill, Turlough's son, was given as a hostage. Googe was fond of drawing and drew a pen and ink sketch of Turlough Luineach and another one entitled ‘The order of the camps at the meeting of the earl of Essex with Turlough Lynagh’, which he sent to Burghley along with a map of Drogheda. Googe continued to accompany Essex until the summer of 1574, when he returned to England with letters from the earl in which he is mentioned as having the makings of a good soldier. He remained in England for the next eight years busying himself with various literary exercises including Four books of husbandry (1577), dedicated to Sir William Fitzwilliam (qv) and a prose epistle to Barnaby Rich's (qv) Allarme to England, (1578).
In 1582 Googe returned to Ireland, this time with the definite appointment of provost-marshal of the presidency court of Connacht, at a salary of £40 a year. He was to act as an intelligencer to the lord president, Sir Nicholas Malby (qv), a man who had been with Googe in the earl of Essex's service in the 1570s and with whom he was particularly friendly. On arrival in Connacht (December 1582) he was warmly received by Malby, who gave him an escort so that he could make a tour of the district. During the spring of 1583 Googe progressed through Connacht, but was not welcomed anywhere by the Irish chieftains. He was refused admittance at O'Brien's castle in Inchiquin and, although tired and hungry, was forced to continue his journey. He relates that after a short time he became conscious of O'Brien with a substantial troop of horsemen shadowing him from the heights. In 1583 Googe attempted to take over the office of gaoler in Galway. The position had been occupied for some time by William Martin, a man well regarded by the English government. Googe attempted to use his influence with Burghley, but a year later the matter had not been resolved in his favour. Googe also came into contention with a Galway merchant, Peter Lynch, whom he accused of uttering slanderous statements concerning the lords justices and other highly placed officials in Ireland and England. Lynch denied the charge, accusing Googe of seeking to discredit him because he had some short time previously refused to allow the provost-marshal to cess himself and his men on him. Nothing further came of the charge.
From this time onwards Googe experienced a series of disappointments. In the spring of 1584 his great friend Malby died and was replaced by Sir Richard Bingham (qv), a man with whom he had no personal connections. At the same time Sir John Perrot (qv) was appointed lord deputy – a change for the worse, since Googe now found his liberties and privileges considerably restricted. He was refused permission for leave to deal with pressing personal business at home, a decision he was unable to get overturned in spite of appealing to both Burghley and Walsingham. Then Googe lost his case against William Martin, who was reinstated in the office of gaoler at Galway; and, following this, a series of perquisites were withdrawn from him so that he wrote to Burghley that his position was now more a burden than a benefit to him. In any case, his stepmother had died, reducing his need for public office. He requested a patent for his office so that he could sell it and return home. This appears to have been granted to him, since on 24 April 1585 Googe surrendered the patent of provost-marshal to Capt. Francis Barkley, and almost immediately left for England, where he spent the rest of his life engaged mainly in literary work. He died in February 1594 and was buried in Cokering church.
Googe married (February 1564) Mary, daughter of Thomas Darell, of Scotney, Kent. It was a love match; her parents did not initially approve, but (with the influence of William Cecil and Archbishop Parker) finally gave permission for the marriage. They had eight children, one of whom, Robert, was fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and another, Barnabe, became master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.