Rider (Ryder), John (1562–1632), Church of Ireland bishop of Killaloe and lexicographer, was born at Carrington, Cheshire, son of Edward de Rythre of Carrington and his wife Emily Periam. In 1576 he entered Jesus College, Oxford, where he graduated BA (3 February 1581) and MA (5 July 1583). After taking holy orders, he held the rectories of Waterstock in Oxfordshire (1580–81) and of South Ockenden, Essex (1583–90), as well as being beneficed at Bermondsey, Surrey, for a time. However, he based himself at Oxford, where he taught grammar and continued to study. In 1589 he published at Oxford an English–Latin and Latin–English dictionary entitle Bibliotheca scholastica, which he claimed included 4,000 more words than any dictionary written by any other English lexicographer to date. This work was generally well received, and became the standard school textbook being reprinted many times up to 1657.
In 1597 he was presented to the lucrative rectory of Winwick, in Lancashire, which he held until 1615. However, he settled in Dublin later in 1597 after being made dean of St Patrick's cathedral there. In 1599 he was also made prebend of Geashill. He was determined to further the spread of the protestant religion in Ireland and believed this could best be achieved by engaging catholic priests in theological disputations, something his colleagues had hitherto avoided. On 21 October 1600 he addressed an open letter to the catholic clergy of Ireland, challenging them to prove that their faith was that of the early Christians. The challenge was taken up by Henry Fitzsimon (qv), a Jesuit and former protestant imprisoned in Dublin castle, who wrote a reply to Rider in January 1601.
Rider's rebuttal was his Friendly caveat, which was published in September 1602 and is noteworthy for being the first work of theological controversy published in Ireland. In it, he attempted to prove that the doctrine of transubstantiation had not been taught by the early fathers of the church and was an innovation introduced relatively recently by the Roman catholic church. Drawing on his skills as a lexicographer, he examined in detail the various translations of the sacred texts from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, analysing the changes in the meaning of certain words. This approach was intended to undermine the claims of the catholic church to be the guardian of an unchanging and absolute truth.
Rider presented Fitzsimon with a copy of the book who, after perusing it, wrote a rebuttal and requested that it be printed. At first the two clerics, who had been contemporaries at Oxford, maintained a friendly and respectful rivalry but Fitzsimon became increasingly enraged as he was denied permission to print his riposte and Rider declined to engage in a public theological debate with him. Fitzsimon's fury deepened when Rider wrote and published his Rescript in early 1604, in which he blamed Fitzsimon for the failure of their disputation to go ahead and argued that the early Irish church was essentially protestant. The Rescript has not survived, but Fitzsimon's eventually published response survives and has been quoted from extensively.
Fitzsimon's many supporters in Dublin were furious at the manner in which Rider was trying to capitalise on the government's censoring of their champion and tried to embarrass him into agreeing to a public debate with Fitzsimon. This event never took place, although the two men debated privately on several occasions. One such encounter about May 1604 degenerated into an unseemly row. On 14 May, the (protestant) fellows of TCD, having been authorised to adjudicate on the controversy and having read Rider's printed and Fitzsimon's manuscript arguments, unsurprisingly awarded the debate to the former. Fitzsimon was deported in June.
The matter did not end there as Fitzsimon was able finally to retaliate in print from his base in catholic Europe in 1608 with his A catholick confutation in which he belittled Rider for his humble social origins and for being a mere dictionary compiler, and accused him of being a puritan, of being obsessed with accumulating material wealth and of ignorance of theology in particular and of all branches of the humanities in general. According to Fitzsimon himself, he bested Rider so comprehensively in their 1604 disputation that royal officials rebuked the protestant cleric afterwards for his incompetence. Given that Fitzsimon hurls a number of obviously scurrilous charges at Rider in this work, this account cannot be taken seriously.
In 1607 Rider resigned as dean of St Patrick's cathedral to become archdeacon of Meath, before being appointed bishop of Killaloe on 15 August 1612. His consecration took place on 12 January 1613. At Killaloe he could count on the support of the local magnate, the earl of Thomond (qv), but he had to cope with a largely hostile populace and a serious lack of clergy and resources. However, he threw himself into recovering church property and livings, and had considerable success. The number of resident clergy in the diocese increased from seven in 1612 to twenty-six in 1615. Efforts were also made to recruit native clergymen and most of the reading ministers in Killaloe were Gaelic speakers, although few native preachers could be found. During the early years of his episcopate, he was able with Thomond's backing to compel many of the locals to attend protestant church services. However, over time he found the local law officials and juries less willing to prosecute recusancy. Following the government's effective abandonment of its policy of enforcing religious conformity in 1621, attendance at protestant churches in Killaloe slumped dramatically. In the summer of 1622 he compiled a document on the state of his diocese, which made clear that protestantism had failed to make any headway with the natives there. In his later years, infirmity prevented him from attending to his duties and he handed over the administration of his diocese to George Andrews (qv), dean of Limerick. He died 12 November 1632 and was buried at St Flannan's church. Married to Fitzwold Crosby (d. 25 Jan. 1616), he had two sons, John and Thomas, and two daughters, Jane and Eleanor.