King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
William Eyre (Aires, alias), was "of Rampton, Nottinghamshire". He may have been related to Anthony Eyre, who established the Eyres in Rampton in the late 1500's. William arrived in Cambridge for his university studies in 1592 making it likely that he was born sometime in the late 1570's.
He stayed in Cambridge as a student, then teacher and scholar, until 1616 when he left to assume pastoral responsibilities which occupied the rest of his life. There is evidence that he married and had children. When he died in 1642 he was serving as rector of Great Horkesley in Essex, and one report states he was followed in the rectory by his son Thomas Eyre, M.A.
William Eyre commenced at Cambridge in 1592 at Emmanuel College, under the tutelage of its renowned master Laurence Chaderton, a future Translator. William graduated B.A. in 1596, and proceeded M.A. in 1599, and B.D. in 1606.
William Eyre was made a fellow of Emmanuel College in 1599, holding that office until 1611. It was during this period that he aided in the translation of the King James Bible (hereinafter KJB). He resigned his fellowship to become a chaplain to Archbishop George Abbot. He received his first pastoral position in 1616 when he became rector of Fordham, Essex. A year later he left Fordham to become rector of nearby Great Horkesley. He served there from 1617 until his death in 1642
William Eyre and the Translation
William Eyre was likely involved in the translation not as a Translator per se but as an "overseer" of the First Cambridge Company translating the Old Testament from 1 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon. Eyre was well acquainted with most of the members of this company as they were also Cambridge men. Chaderton in fact had been his master for many years at Emmanuel.
Gordon Campbell, a historian of the KJB, has stated that Eyre was an orientalist and linguist. Campbell concluded he was an overseer of the company on the basis of a 1608 letter from Eyre to James Ussher seeking his assistance in the return of a copy of the draft translation that had been lent to one William Daniel. It is apparent Eyre was involved in the project. The term "overseer" may carry the connotation of one who exercised authority and control over the group. Eyre, who was still a relatively young scholar, was more of an operations officer. Whatever his responsibility, he was part of the translation team and contributed to the success of the project.
The times of the translation and its aftermath were tumultuous ones, leading eventually to civil war. After the translation, as lines were being drawn to define theological and ecclesiastical positions, some resorted to satire to paint in caricature those holding positions different than their own. One such group in the early 1630's ridiculed William Eyre by claiming that "if times of papery could come, a dainty friar he [William Eyre] would make". Perhaps his critic had noted Eyre's migration from being a long time affiliate of the staunchly Puritan Emmanuel College, to becoming staunchly conformist and traditionalist. The image of William as a "dainty friar" may suggest he was less than physically imposing.