Memorial XXV: The Bishop's Bible placed in the Hall, 1578

Pages 126-127

Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London. Originally published by Harrison, London, 1875.

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1. "The glory of putting forth the first English Bible in print was reserved for Miles Coverdale," (fn. 3) who in 1535 published a "special translation," in 1548–9 preached before the Company (receiving 6s. 8d. (fn. 4) for his sermon), and in the decline of his life was a tenant of one of their houses in St. Benet's Fink. (fn. 5)

"Sunday, the last day of January 1567.

"First at this day the Master and Wardens, at the humble request of Mr. Myles Coverdale, professor of holy divinity, have granted license unto Edward Babbington, gentleman, to transport unto the said Mr. Miles Coverdale, all that his right, interest and term of years, which he hath or ought to have to and in one tenement with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the parish of St. Benit Fink, within the ward of Broad Street of London, wherein Richard Mynsterley late dwelled, as well by virtue of a lease thereof made to the said Rychard Minsterley by Mr. Thomas Acworth, the late Master of this mystery, and his Wardens as otherwise. So that he the said Myles do from henceforth yield and pay unto the foresaid Master and Wardens, and to their successors yearly, during the residue of the said term of years yet to come mentioned in the said Indenture of Lease in and by all things according as the said Richard Minsterley was bound to do by virtue of the said Indenture of Lease."

2. In 1560 he also assisted, with other refugees at Geneva, in forming a new translation—dividing the Bible into verses; and in 1568 another edition, called the Bishop's or Parker's Bible, was put forth for the use of parish churches.

3. This Bible was ordered to be placed in the Hall by this Court Minute:—"The Master and Wardens decree that a Bible of the new form, lately printed by Christopher Barker, the Queen Majesty's printer, shall be bought and set up in their Common Hall, in some convenient place for such as resort unto the said Hall, may occupy themselves at Court days while they attend for the hearing of their cause."—[30th October 1578.]

4. In consequence of objections raised to the Bishop's Bible at a conference of Divines at Hampton Court, a new translation was agreed upon, in which Bishop Andrews, and other divines, some of whom had been educated in the Company's School, were engaged. This was printed in 1611, and in process of time supplanted the older edition; for in the Mastership of Mr. Edward Cotton in 1627, it was purchased for the Company, as this entry proves:—

"Item paid Mr. Churchman, wch hee laid out for a Bible to stand in the Hall, the summe of 39s."

5. The Bible was not destroyed by the fire in 1666, but is still in the possession of the Company. It was rebound in the Mastership of Mr. Foster White, and bears the marks of the chain which attached it to the lecturn.


  • 3. Short's History of the Church of England, par. 535.
  • 4. See Appendix A.
  • 5. He died in 1568, and was buried in Great Bartholomew's Church on 19th February (Stowe, book ii., pp. 121–2).