This person, who was largely occupied in the Bible translation, was born at Hereford. His father had made a good fortune as a fletcher, or maker of bows and arrows, which was once a prosperous trade in "merrie England." The son was entered at Corpus Christi College, in 1568 but afterwards removed to Brazen Nose College, where he took his degrees, and "proved at length an incomparable theologist." He was one of the chaplains of Christ's Church. His attainments were very great, both in classical and oriental learning. He became canon-residentiary of the cathedral church of Hereford. In 1594, he was created Doctor in Divinity. He had a four-fold share in the Translation. He not only served in the third company, but was one of the twelve selected to revise the work, after which it was referred to the final examination of Dr. Smith and Bishop Bilson. Last of all, Dr. Smith was employed to write that most learned and eloquent preface, which is become so rare, and is so seldom seen by readers of the Bible...This noble Preface, addressed by "the Translators to the Reader," in the first edition, "stands as a comely gate to a glorious city." Let the reader who would judge for himself, whether our Translators were masters of the science of sacred criticism, peruse it, and be satisfied.
Dr. Smith never sought promotion, being, as he pleasantly said of himself, "covetous of nothing but books."* But, for his great labor, bestowed upon the best of books, the King, in the year 1612, appointed him Bishop of Gloucester. In this office he behaved with the utmost meekness and benevolence. He died, much lamented, in 1624, being seventy years of age, and was buried in his own cathedral.*(Nullius rei praeterquam librorum avidus.)
He went through the Greek and Latin fathers, making his annotations on them all. He was well acquainted with the Rabbinical glosses and comments. So expert was he in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, that were almost as familiar as his native tongue. "Hebrew he had at his fingers' ends." He was also much versed in history and general literature, and was fitly characterized by a brother bishop as "a very walking library." All his books were written in his own hand, and in most elegant penmanship.
In the great Bible-translation, he began with the first of the laborers, and put the last hand to the work. Yet he was never known to speak of it as owing more to him than to the rest of the Translators. We may sum up his excellent character in the words of one stiffly opposed to his views and principles, who says, "He was a great scholar, yet a severe Calvinist, and hated the proceedings of Dr. Laud!"
This reverend clergyman was of a respectable family, and was born at London, in 1567. He entered at Hart Hall, Oxford, where he took his first degree. He was then elected Fellow of Lincoln College, where, by unwearied industry, he became very eminent in the languages, divinity, and other branches of science. Having taken his degrees in arts, he became, in 1595, Rector of Quainton in Buckinghamshire, in which benefice he spent his days. He was made Doctor in Divinity in 1605. He was renowned in his time for vast attainments, as well as revered for his piety. "He was skilled and versed to a criticism" in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic tongues. He published a number of erudite works, all in Latin. It is recorded of him, that "he was a most vigilant pastor, a diligent preacher of God's word, a liberal benefactor to the poor, a faithful friend, and a good neighbor." This studious and exemplary minister having attained this exalted reputation, died in 1637, at the age of seventy, and lies buried in the chancel of Quainton Church, where he had dispensed the word and ordinances for three and forty years.
The author has bestowed great labor in endeavoring to identify this person. After exhausting all the means of information within his reach, he is led to the belief, that the last on the list of this company of Translators, who is designated simply as "Mr. Fairclough," is Daniel Fairclough, otherwise known as Dr. Daniel Featley; which, strange to say, is a corrupt pronunciation of the name Fairclough. This is distinctly asserted by his nephew, Dr. John Featley, who wrote a life of his uncle, and printed it at the end of a book, entitled "Dr. Daniel Featley revived." The nephew states, that his uncle was ordained deacon and priest under the name Fairclough. The main ground for questioning the identity, is the age of Daniel Fairclough, who, when the Bible-translators were nominated, was only some twenty-six years old, which is considerably less than the age of most of his associates. He was, however, an early ripe, and a distinguished scholar; and comparatively young as he was, it devolved on him to preach at the funeral of the great Dr. Reynolds, who died during the progress of the work. This funeral service was performed with much applause, at only four days' notice.
The birth-place of Daniel Fairclough, or Featley, to call him by the name whereby he is chiefly known, was Charlton, in Oxfordshire, where he was born about the year 1578. He was admitted to Corpus Christi College in 1594; and was elected Fellow in 1602. He stood in such high estimation, that Sir Thomas Edwards, ambassador to France, took him to Paris as his chaplain, where he spent two or three years in the ambassador's house. Here he held many "tough disputes" with the doctors of the Sorbonne, and other papists. His opponents termed him "the keen and cutting Featley," and found him a match in their boasted logic; "For he a ropeof sand could twist, as tough as learned Sorbonnist."
On returning to England, he repaired to his College, where he remained till 1613, when he became Rector of Northill, in Cornwall. Soon after, he was appointed chaplain to Dr. Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, also one of the Translators, by whom he was made Rector of Lambeth, in Surrey. In 1617, he held a famous debate with Dr. Prideaux, the King's Professor of Divinity at Oxford. About this time, the Archbishop gave him the rectory of Allhallows Church, Bread Street, London. This he soon exchanged for the rectory of Acton, in Middlesex. He was also Provost of Chelsea College; and, at one time, chaplain in ordinary to King Charles the First.
Being puritanically inclined, Dr. Featley was appointed, in 1643, to be one of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. As he was not one of' the "root and branch" party, who were for wholly changing the order of government, he soon fell under the displeasure of the Long Parliament. Some of his correspondence with Archbishop Usher, who was then with the King at Oxford, was intercepted. In this correspondence, he expressed his scruples about taking the "solemn league and covenant," and for this, was unjustly suspected of being a spy. He was cast into prison, and his rectories were taken from him. The next year, on account of his failing health, he was removed, agreeably to his petition, to Chelsea College. There, after a few months spent in holy exercises, he expired, April 17th, 1645. "Though he was small of stature, yet he had a great soul, and had all learning compacted in him." He published some forty books and treatises, and left a great many manuscripts. His other labors have passed away; "but the word of the Lord," which, as it is believed, he aided in giving to unborn millions, "abideth for ever."
The fourth company of these famous scholars was composed of Oxford divines; and to them, as their portion of the work, were assigned the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine.
Next ||| Main Listing of Translators