King James Bible Translators
(Duporte, Dewport, or Dewporte)
Personal and Family Life
John Duport was born in Shepshed, Leicestershire about 1550 to Thomas and Cornelia (Norton) Duport (see Bio Bits). The Duports were of a family who came from Normandy during the reign of Henry IV. John had at least six siblings, four sisters and two brothers. One sister was named Mary and a brother, Henry.
John entered Jesus College, Cambridge in 1564. He spent much of the rest of his life associated with his college and university.
He married Rachel Cox, the daughter of Richard Cox the Bishop of Ely. Eventually they had eight children, four sons and four daughters. Their names were John, Richard, Thomas, James, Cornelia, Eudocia (Jane), Rachel and Lucy.
John Duport died at Christmas time 1617 and was buried in St. Giles' Church at Medbourne, Leicestershire where he had long served as rector. He was survived by his wife and seven children. Religiously he was a moderate Puritan.
He commenced his university studies at Jesus College, Cambridge in 1564. He graduated B.A. in 1570 and proceeded M.A. in 1573. He became a doctor of divinity in 1590.
John Duport began his college and university career in 1574 when he accepted a fellowship at Jesus College with its teaching and administrative responsibilities. He held this post for eight years. He became a university proctor in 1580. In 1590 he was made master of Jesus College and remained in this position until his death twenty seven years later in 1617. He served four different terms as vice chancellor of Cambridge University.
He was also the master of the Free School at Wotton-Under Edge, Gloucestershire.
His church service began when he was ordained a deacon at Ely in 1577. He was subsequently ordained priest in 1580. He held a number of rectories including Harlton, Cambridge, (1580-1584) Medbourne, and, Husbands Bosworth, both in Leicestershire, and Fulham, Middlesex (1583-1617). Additionally, he was precentor at St. Paul's London (1585-1617), and Bishop Stortford, Hertsfordshire (1585), and a prebendary of Ely Cathedral (1607-1617).
In his role as master of Jesus College he established a patronage relationship between the college and St. Mary's Church, Harlton, Cambridgeshire, as well as Elmstead, Essex. He presided over university disciplinary actions such as that taken against Nicolas Rush for preaching what was characterized as false doctrine, from the pulpit of Great St. Mary's Church. He also mediated the disputed election of Sir Frances Bacon to a university office.
John Duport and the Translation
John Duport was appointed as the head of the Second Cambridge Company which had responsibility for translating the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha was considered scripture but of a lesser importance than the Old and New Testaments. Nonetheless, it was included in many Bible compilations down to modern times and was part of the King James Bible. The scholars in this company, such men as William Branthwaite, John Bois, Andrew Downes, Jeremiah Radcliffe, Robert Ward and Samuel Ward, were of the same caliber as those comprising the other companies. Under Bishop Richard Bancroft's rules, they reviewed the work of the other companies. Two of their members, Bois and Downes, were among the final revisers of the translation. The selection of John Duport as the company head demonstrated the esteem in which he was held by the king and his colleagues on the translation project.
John Duport in his role as precentor of St. Paul's preached a sermon against the evils of idleness. By way of example he told his audience that his father, Thomas, was so opposed to inactivity that he would rather "unloop his old doublet and sew it up again" than be found idle. Thomas Duport was a prominent figure in Shepshed. He was the owner of "the manor of Shepshed", forty residences, two watermills, three dove houses, thirty gardens, five hundred acres of land, one hundred acres of meadow, two hundred acres of pasture, two hundred acres of woods, three hundred acres of furze and heath and one hundred acres of alders. He also collected rents from his properties in Shepshed, Thorpe, Long Whatton, Hemington, Charnwood, and Charnwood Forest. There is a brass portraying Thomas and Cornelia Duport and their children on the wall of St. Botolph's Church, Shepshed. John Duport, despite his family's wealth, devoted himself tirelessly to church and university service. He learned well his father's lessons on industry.
John Duport's son James (1606-1679), named after John's grandfather, became a notable Cambridge scholar in his own right. Among his accomplishments were: master of Magdalene College, regius professor of Greek, Lady Margaret Preacher, vice chancellor of the university, king's chaplain, and translator of portions of the Old Testament into Greek.