King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
Ralph Hutchinson was born in London about 1552 to John and Agnes Hutchinson. Ralph had at least two brothers, Henry and William. One early biographer noted that his father "was charged with a great nombre of children". Henry was his older brother and preceded Ralph at the Merchant Taylors' School and at St. John's College, Oxford. Henry showed great promise as a mathematician and sadly died in 1573 only three years after Ralph arrived at Oxford (see Bio Bits).
Before Ralph Hutchinson completed his education he married Mary Woodson, the daughter of Nicholas Woodson, a fish merchant and holder of the ceremonial post of Squire Bedell of Divinity at Oxford. Mary's mother Katharine, Nicholas Woodson's widow, married Francis Willis who became the president of St. John's College and the immediate predecessor of Ralph Hutchinson, his stepdaughter's husband.
Ralph and Mary had nine children, Annie, William, Henry, John, Robert, Martin, Katharine, Ralph and Nicholas. Hutchinson was a successful churchman, college administrator and scholar. He died on 16 January 1606 in Oxford and was buried in the chapel of his college, St. John's where a monument showing the Translator, with book in hand, adorns the wall.
Ralph Hutchinson began his education at the Merchant Taylors' School in London under the wise tutelage of the famed school master, Richard Mulcaster. He probably entered the school at ten or eleven years of age as did most students.
Joan White, the widow of the school's founder, Sir Thomas White, nominated Hutchinson in 1568 for one of the forty-five scholarships she maintained for students from Merchant Taylors' School attending St. John's College, Oxford. He was admitted in 1570 and graduated B.A. in 1574. He proceeded M.A. in 1578, B.D. in 1596, and D.D in 1602.
Ralph Hutchinson was elected to the position of reader of rhetoric at St. John's College in 1579. This was followed by a fellowship in 1581. He became vice-president of his college in 1583. By 1590 he was elected president of St. John's and held the post until his death sixteen years later. His administration of the college was a successful one and it was observed that the college was "much blessed and increased duringe the tyme of [his] government there".
His church service began with his ordination to the priesthood, and in 1593 he became vicar of Charlbury near Oxford. Later he was vicar of Cropthorn, Worcestershire.
Ralph Hutchinson and the Translation
Ralph Hutchinson was assigned to the Second Westminster Company that was responsible for translating the Epistles of the New Testament. He was joined by the head of the company, William Barlow, and members, John Spencer, Roger Fenton, William Dakins, Michael Rabbett, Thomas Sanderson, Nicholas Felton, George Ryves, Arthur Lake, and Nicholas Love.
Ralph Hutchinson died in 1606 as the translation was getting under way. Because there is little information available about the workings of this company it is difficult to know the extent of Hutchinson's contribution. He may well have given input which affected the work of his company long after he died.
As mentioned above, Ralph Hutchinson's older brother Henry led the way for Ralph at the Merchant Taylors' School and at St. John's College, Oxford. He was a gifted student and showed great promise as a scholar before his premature death while he was still in his early to mid twenties. He left a library which contained important works in the field of mathematics. At his passing he must have been deeply mourned by his brother Ralph and other members of his college. Yet, nothing survived at St. John's to indicate where Henry was buried or if anything remained to mark his life. Ralph outlived Henry by thirty-three years. When death came to Ralph he was buried in the college chapel and his widow Mary caused to be erected, the monument in her husband's honor. In 1905 Vyvyan Hope uncovered behind paneling in the college chapel a brass memorial to Henry Hutchinson, the Translator's brother. Likely it was Ralph who placed the brass, that his brother not be forgotten.