King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
Richard Edes was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, and was christened there on 23 January 1554. He was the eldest son of Lawrence Edes, a clothier dwelling in "ye corner house in ye Beaste-market" in Newport. His mother Alice was the daughter of Thomas James.
Richard attended preparatory school in London before commencing his university studies at Oxford. In addition to his scholarly pursuits he had a literary interest, and was known for his poetry and plays (see Bio Bits). He, like contemporary playwright, William Shakespeare, composed a tragedy on the life of Julius Caesar that was presented at Christ Church, Oxford in 1582. Richard was, of course, a renowned scholar, and biographer Anthony á Wood called him "a most noted and celebrated preacher". He was admired for suaveness by those who knew him.
Richard Edes married Margaret, daughter of Herbert Westfaling, bishop of Hereford, before 1592. They had at least two children, Margaret born in 1592 and Tobyas born in 1594. Both were born in Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight while Richard was serving in the church there. Margaret was named for her mother, and Tobyas for Tobias Matthews, Richard's very close friend, fellow poet, and future Archbishop of York.
Richard Edes died on 19 November 1604 and was buried in Worcester Cathedral.
Richard Edes was a student at Westminster School, London before entering Christ Church College, Oxford in 1571. He graduated B.A. in 1574, proceeded M.A. in 1578, B.D. in 1584, and D.D. in 1589.
Richard Edes was elected a proctor of the university in 1583, followed by a series of ecclesiastical promotions. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578, and in 1584 he was made a prebendary in Salisbury Cathedral, and canon of Christ Church, Oxford in 1586. Likely owing to his father-in-law's influence, he was made a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral in 1590, and treasurer in 1596.
His pastoral service began in 1587 with his appointment as rector of Freshwater, Isle of Wight followed by the rectory of Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire.
Additionally, he was honored with a chaplaincy to both Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. The queen called Edes the doctor "for her sowle", as his relative, Dr. Thomas, was "for her bodye". Among his sermons for the queen were Princes, Nurses of the Church and The Diference of Good and Evil.
One of Edes' last offices was as dean of Worcester Cathedral. He had been serving in Worcester for seven years when he died there in 1604. His wife, Margaret placed a monument in the cathedral over his tomb with an inscription in punning Latin verse.
Richard Edes and the Translation
Richard Edes attended the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 where the decision was made by King James to undertake a new translation of the Bible. He was then selected as one of the Translators assigned to the Second Oxford Company responsible for the Gospels, Acts, and book of Revelation. He unfortunately died at the outset of the project, being the first of the Translators to die. Nonetheless, like fellow Translator, Edward Lively, who also died early on, he will always be associated with the grand endeavor.
Richard Edes was a dramatist and poet of the same period as Shakespeare, and was mentioned along with the Bard of Avon by a contemporary commentator, Francis Meres in his 1598 book, The Wits Commonwealth. Though none of Edes' plays have survived, some of his poetry has. An example of one of his poems from the Rawlinson collection at the Bodleian Library is as follows:
OF MAN AND WIFE. No love to love of man and wife, No hope to hope of constant heart, No joy to joy in wedded life, No faith to faith in either parte, Fleash is of fleash, and bone of bone When deeds, and woords and thoughtes are one. No hate to hate of man and wife, No feare to feare of double heart, No death to discontented life, No griefe to griefe when friends departe, They teare the flesh and breake the bone, That war in woorde or thought alone. Thy friend an open friend maybe, But other selfe is not the same, Thy wife and selfe same is with thee, In bodie, mynd, in goodes and name, No thine, no mine may other call For all is one, and one is all.—Finis. Mr. Doctor Edes, Oxon.