Elrington, Charles Richard (1787–1850), Church of Ireland clergyman and professor of divinity, was born 25 March 1787 in Dublin, the elder son (there were also several daughters) of Thomas Elrington (qv), provost of TCD (1811–20) and later bishop of Limerick and then of Leighlin and Ferns, and his wife Charlotte, daughter of the Rev. Plunket Preston, rector of Duntryleague, Co. Limerick. One of Elrington's sisters later married a brother of the physicist Sir George Gabriel Stokes (qv). Elrington was educated at home until 1800, when he entered TCD, where in 1805 he won both the gold medal and Bishop Law's mathematics premium, in 1806 the Hebrew prize, and in three consecutive years from 1807 the Madden prize. He graduated BA (1805), MA (1811), BD (1816), and DD (1820). He became a fellow of Trinity in 1810, and later that year, on 28 October, was ordained deacon in the Church of Ireland; on 23 February 1812 he was admitted to priest's orders. He was Donnellan lecturer at the university in 1819.
Elrington was appointed regius professor of divinity at TCD in 1829, at which time he was obliged to resign his fellowship. Impressed by his academic record, in 1825 the Irish lord chancellor had made Elrington vicar of St Mark's, Dublin, a position he held until 1831, when he resigned, becoming in January 1832 rector and prebend of Edermine, Co. Wexford. This preferment he exchanged three months later for the chancellorship of Ferns, proffered by his father. Elrington's pluralism can scarcely have benefited the diocese of Ferns, but apparently it did not adversely affect the college, for during Elrington's time the divinity school earned an excellent reputation, with a steady flow of students and adequate teaching staff. Although Elrington was in general the epitome of conservatism in religious matters, he introduced important reforms in the teaching, syllabus, and examination system in the school. Strongly held anti-catholic views, which drew him on occasion into public controversy, underpinned his thought, yet he also distrusted what he would have viewed as the emotional excesses of the evangelical movement. He took great pains to thwart the efforts and ambitions of evangelically minded Trinity fellows such as Joseph Henderson Singer (qv): in 1849 Elrington was able to prevent Singer's appointment to the chair of Hebrew.
Elrington resigned the chancellorship of Ferns in 1840, and later that year the archbishop of Armagh, John George de la Poer Beresford (qv), collated him to the rectory of Loughgilly, Co. Armagh; the following year Beresford made him rector of Armagh. In 1839 Elrington helped to form the Church Education Society, the purpose of which was to provide funds to support primary schools connected with the Church of Ireland in order to counteract what he and the other founders saw as the pernicious national school system of primary education without religious instruction. His outspoken opposition in 1842 to government policy on education is said to have prevented his elevation to a bishopric, though in later years he had to acknowledge that the state system was successfully meeting the needs of the country's children. He published a number of pamphlets on education, but from the 1840s he concentrated on his magnum opus, an edition of the works of Archbishop James Ussher (qv), prefixed by a thorough biography. He finished fifteen of the seventeen volumes before his death, and the others were published posthumously. Another projected work, an improved edition of the History of the Irish bishops by Sir James Ware (qv), never materialised, and Elrington's unrivalled knowledge of the history of the seventeenth-century church was lost when he died suddenly at Armagh 18 January 1850 of ‘gout in the stomach’ (Ballina Chronicle). He was buried in St Mark's churchyard in Armagh. A bust is in the Long Room at TCD, and a replica is on display at Armagh public library.
In December 1814 Elrington married Letitia Anne (d. 1827), daughter of David Babington of Rutland Square, Dublin, and his wife, Mary, daughter of the Rev. George Bannerman, from Co. Armagh. Letitia Babington was a niece of the physician and mineralogist William Babington (qv). One of their two sons, Joseph Favier Elrington (1823–83) was a prominent lawyer; there were also three daughters.