King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
George Ryves was born about 1559 in Blandford, Dorsetshire, the second son of John and Elizabeth (Mervyn) Ryves. Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir John Mervyn of Fonthill, Wiltshire. George Ryves came from a large family with as many as eleven brothers and sisters. The Ryves family had been resident at Damory Court, Blandford for several generations. George entered nearby Winchester College as a student in 1574. As was the case with many Winchester students, he went on to New College, Oxford. He was a gifted speaker and a scholar of renown. One observer called him "a man of valor as well as of much learning". He spent much of his life associated with Oxford University and his college. Ryves also held church positions in a number of parishes. There is no evidence he ever married. When he died on 31 May 1613, he was buried in the parish church in Hornchurch, Essex where his brother Charles, who had died three years earlier, had been vicar.
George Ryves received his preparatory education at Winchester College, entering there as a student in 1574. He commenced at New College, Oxford four years later at age nineteen in 1578. He graduated B.A. in 1582, proceeded M.A. 1586, B.D. in 1594, and D.D. in 1599.
George Ryves held numerous academic and church offices during his lifetime. In 1580 he became a fellow at New College. Twenty years later he was elected warden of the college (1599). He served as warden until the time of his death. He also, for a time, was vice-chancellor of the university.
On May 8, 1610 he met with other university dignitaries and guests at the future site of Wadham College where he delivered what was described as "an elegant oration" at the laying of the foundation stone.
His scholarship was well attested to, being called by one a "very bountiful and studious doctor". George Ryves' church life was equally full. He was selected rector of his native Blandford in 1589, of Alverstone, Hampshire (1591), of Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire (1600), of Colerne, Wiltshire (1606), and of Old Alresford, Hampshire (1608). He became chaplain to the Bishop of Winchester and canon of Winchester in 1598. He received his license to preach in 1604. He was also made chaplain to King James I following an impressive Latin oration in honor of King James upon the occasion of the king's visit to Oxford.
George Ryves and the Translation
Although George Ryves has not been listed until recently as among the Translators, there is no doubt that he was a participant in the project either as a Translator or overseer. He is mentioned as overseeing the translation of a portion of the New Testament out of Greek, in a letter from the Bishop of Winchester to Thomas Lake, secretary of state to King James. Recent biographers believe he was associated with the Second Oxford Company having responsibility for the Epistles of the New Testament.
George Ryves, was described as "one of the most illustrious scholars of his day". It was fitting that he be involved in the most important English translation project of his time and perhaps of all time.
There is a certain mystery connected with George Ryves' burial. He died on 31 May 1613 and was buried on 4 June 1613 in the parish chapel of Hornchurch, Essex. George had been the rector of at least five parishes, including that of St. Mary's, Blandford, the parish of his birth, but for some reason was not to be buried at any one of them. Also, he had been a canon of Winchester but was not buried in the cathedral. Likewise he had been a long serving and much beloved warden of New College, Oxford and certainly could have been buried in the college chapel, but was not. Hornchurch was where his brother, Charles had served as vicar for four years from 1606 until his death in 1610. In his will Charles had left to his brother George "five yards of good broad clothe that do lie by me". George was a bachelor but he had many family members who could have arranged for his internment in what would have seemed a more appropriate location. Perhaps George was visiting Hornchurch when he died and was buried there for convenience. Or, he may have been especially close to Charles and had made provision to be buried by him. Charles also appeared to have been unmarried at the time of his death.