King James Bible Translators
(Perrinne, Perne, Peryn)
Personal and Family Life
John Perin was, according to a noted genealogist, born "of a French Huguenot family of nobility" that fled to England after the edict of Pacification in 1570. They settled in St. Dunstan's Parish, London. From school records John's birth can be set at about 1558.
He stayed in London for his preparatory education before beginning his university training at Oxford. He spent the rest of his life living in Oxford associated with the university.
He married Anne, the daughter of Jean Bruneau. The Bruneaus were likely members of the English Huguenot community. Anthony á Wood's City of Oxford register records the death of his son, John, on 30 December 1607. The Translator died on 9 May 1615 and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford in one of the north aisles adjoining the choir, without a memorial marking the spot. Wood's record also notes the Oxford burial of Anne Peryn on 31 August 1619. This Anne was likely John's widow.
John Perin was admitted to the Merchant Taylors School, London in 1572 at age fourteen. Three years later he enrolled in St. John's College, Oxford. He graduated B.A. in 1579, proceeded M.A. in 1583, B.D. in 1589 and D.D. in 1596.
John Perin began his Oxford career when he was made a fellow at St. John's College the very year of his entrance, 1575. He was appointed regius professor of Greek at the university in 1597, while also serving as Greek reader at his college. He maintained the regius professorship until his death.
John Perin served in at least two church positions during his lifetime. He became vicar of the parish church in Wartling, Sussex in 1605, holding office until 1611. He was elected canon of Christ Church Cathedral in 1604 and served there for the rest of his life.
John Perin and the Translation
John Perin was a member of the Second Oxford Company responsible for translating the Gospels, Acts and book of Revelation. The source documents for this portion of the New Testament were written primarily in Greek. John Perin as a veteran Greek reader and regius professor of Greek was one of the most experienced and esteemed Greek scholars in England if not in all Europe. He resigned his college readership in order to devote time to the translation, demonstrating his commitment to the project.
For a Christian like John Perin, perhaps no greater privilege and responsibility could be bestowed than to translate the scripture setting forth the life and teachings of Jesus. John Perin's contribution to this effort must have been considerable.
In 1605 Oxford welcomed King James I and Queen Anne on their first visit to the city with an elaborate ceremony. When the royal procession arrived at Carfax in the center of Oxford where four major roads converge, the king's party stopped. They were then treated to a "brief but apposite" oration in Greek from the king's own scholar, John Perin. King James, who was well learned in ancient languages apparently enjoyed Perin's speech. For the queen, however, who knew no Greek it must have proved a puzzlement.
Robert Fludd, who became a prominent physician, mathematician, cosmologist and astrologer, was tutored by John Perin while a student at St. John's College, Oxford. Fludd was known even then as a practitioner of astrology. He related that on one occasion Dr. Perin burst into his room and implored Fludd to consult his astrological charts to determine who it was that had stolen a considerable quantity of gold coins from the professor's apartment. Fludd complied with his tutor's request and identified the culprit. A subsequent search of the suspect's quarters yielded Dr. Perin's coins.
The French Huguenots, the religious party to which John Perin's family belonged, were a devout group of French Protestants who identified themselves with the beliefs of John Calvin. They were a persecuted minority in 16th century France and on 23 August 1572 became victims of a massacre starting on the eve of St. Bartholomew's Day, which left many thousands of them dead. Well before this, Huguenots began to emigrate from France. They began to leave in groups as early as the 1550's going to destinations such as Brazil, South Africa, Florida, the Netherlands, Switzerland and England. As many as 50,000 Huguenots immigrated to England seeking asylum. A French Protestant church was established by Royal Charter in London in 1550 and stood in what now is Soho Square. Other refugees like the Perins associated themselves with the Protestant, Church of England.