Field, Richard (1553–1606), Jesuit priest, was born at Corduff, north Co. Dublin. He was in attendance at the Jesuit college in Paris in September 1579, entered the society in 1584 and was ordained a priest c.1589. He spent some years at the university of Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine, where his presence was recorded in 1587 and 1593. This was followed by periods at the college of Fribourg and at Lucerne in Switzerland.
In January 1599, when Christopher Holywood (qv), recently appointed superior of the Irish Jesuit mission, was captured at Dover and imprisoned, Field was ordered to take his place. He arrived in Ireland sometime before 1 September 1599 and worked for the next six years in the vicinity of Dublin, providing a range of pastoral services. In common with other leading Jesuit missionaries, he strongly eschewed links with the Spanish monarchy and gave little support to O'Neill (qv) and the confederates. Writing to the general of the order in 1600, he stressed the need for more missionaries ‘to teach, instruct, and keep from the various excesses and vices to which they are addicted these raw people, who are indeed nominally and in a general way fighting for the faith, but who in their lives and manners are far removed from Christian perfection' (Morrissey, 27). He was optimistic that catholicism would be officially restored, and listed a number of sites in the city and county of Dublin where Jesuit colleges might be located.
On 9 April 1603 news of Queen Elizabeth's death reached Ireland, and the expected accession of James VI gave the recusants new confidence. In all the principal towns of Munster, and in Wexford, Kilkenny, and other Leinster towns, the recusant clergy, with the support of the magistrates, took possession of the churches. On 11 April Field reconsecrated the church of St Patrick in Waterford, and the following day publicly officiated at high mass. He then reconsecrated the cathedral of the Holy Trinity, and on 13 April (Wednesday in Passion week) celebrated high mass there. These proceedings alarmed Lord Mountjoy (qv) who hurried to Wexford with a considerable army and quickly forced the submission of the magistrates.
In 1604 Field was replaced as superior of the Irish mission by Holywood, who had been released from prison on Elizabeth's death. In the following year, when the government initiated its campaign to enforce conformity by ordering Dublin city councillors to attend divine service, Field joined his confrères Henry Fitzsimon (qv) and Holywood in encouraging them to resist the official mandates and in preparing cases for their defence. He did not comply with the proclamation requiring priests and Jesuits to leave the kingdom by 10 December 1605 and, though he was in poor health, continued to preach in Dublin. In a sermon given at the end of the year, he took as his text ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.’ He died in Dublin 21 February 1606.