Richard Rowlands, real name Richard Vestegen, was of Dutch descent, his grandfather having come to England around 1500, probably as a religious refugee. The son of a barrel maker, Richard was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, but left without taking his degree to avoid taking the Oath of Supremacy because of his Catholic faith. He became a goldsmith’s apprentice and in 1574 became a Freeman of The worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the Great Livery Companies of the City of London.
In 1576 he published a guidebook to western Europe, translated from German, entitled The Post of the World. He was exiled in 1581, having published an account of the execution of William Campion and was briefly incarcerated in Paris at the behest of the English ambassador. He then moved to Rome where he published accounts of the persecution of Catholic priests in England.
In 1886 he moved to Antwerp to set up a business as a publisher and engraver and also worked as a smuggler of people and banned books. He wrote extensively in Dutch, producing epigrams, characters and jest books. He also wrote commentaries, satires and articles for the newspaper, Nieuwe Tidingen (Current News). He never returned to England, dying in Antwerp in 1640. In addition to his Dutch prose works, he wrote one popular poem in English, Lullaby.