King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
Leonard Hutten was born in 1557. His parentage and place of birth are unknown. A near contemporary biographer, Anthony á Wood, speculated that he might have been of the Hutton family of Priest Hutton, Lancashire. Hutton's first pastoral assignment as vicar of Long Preston, Yorkshire was only twenty-eight miles from Priest Hutton, giving some support to this notion.
Leonard Hutten came to Oxford from Westminster School in 1575 to pursue his university education. He first distinguished himself while at Oxford with his skill in dramatics, writing a comedy entitled Bellum Grammaticale, portraying a civil war between King Noun and King Verb, which was performed for Queen Elizabeth I.
The multi-talented Hutten became prominent in his church and university. He served in parishes as rector for forty-four years. He was closely associated with Christ Church College and the university for a remarkable fifty-seven years. He was not only a dramatist but a poet, and antiquarian.
He married about 1600 to Anne Hamden, the daughter of a prosperous butcher from Croydon, Surrey. Leonard and Anne had one child, a daughter Alice, who married Richard Corbet, a poet who became Bishop of Norwich.
Leonard Hutten was a scholar of substance, being described as "an excellent Grecian". His knowledge of Greek stood him in good stead in his role as Translator. He was elsewhere characterized in these words of tribute: "His younger years were beautiful with all kinds of polite learning. His middle years with ingenuity and judgment. His reverend years with great wisdom in government."
Leonard Hutten died in Oxford on 1 May 1632 at seventy-five, a goodly age for that time. He was buried in the north transept of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford where he had served for so many years. A brass inscription in Latin by his tomb records this about his life and character: he "gave back to God a soul learned, straightforward, godly". His wife Anne survived him, and is buried in Westminster Abbey with their daughter Alice Corbet.
Leonard Hutten's early education was at Westminster School, London, one of the outstanding preparatory schools of his day. In 1574 he was one of a select few to be sent to Christ Church College from Westminster. Despite his election, his admittance was delayed for a time. He began as a student in 1575, graduated B.A. in 1578 and proceeded M.A. in 1582. He commenced B.D. in 1591 and was admitted D.D. in 1600 about the time of his marriage.
Soon after Leonard Hutten arrived in Oxford, he was made a fellow of Christ Church College. He remained associated with Christ Church at Oxford in one capacity or another for the rest of his life.
In 1587 Leonard Hutton, having been ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England, was appointed rector of Long Preston in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He served there but a short time. His next pastoral position was in Rampisham, a small and relatively remote village in Dorset. He held this office for six years, resigning in 1601 to accept the rectory of Floore in Northamptonshire, a post he occupied for the rest of his life. For two years he was also rector of Weedon Bec, also in Northamptonshire.
Along with these pastoral positions, in 1599 Hutten was appointed canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and later was subdean there. These offices brought him significant responsibility for the administration and operation of the cathedral. Some years later, after he had commenced his work on the translation, he became a canon at St. Paul's, London.
In 1602 he was called upon to officiate at the opening of the Bodleian Library. A year later, Leonard Hutten was named pro-vice-chancellor of the university. During this time he was involved in the theological disputes that were a frequent part of life at the university.
He had a keen interest in the institutional history of his college and of Oxford. He wrote histories of both.
It was at Christ Church that Leonard Hutten and his future son-in-law Richard Corbet became acquainted. Corbet had been a student at Christ Church and was serving as dean of the college about the time of his marriage to Alice Hutten.
Leonard Hutten and the Translation
Leonard Hutten was a member of the Second Oxford Company assigned the translation of the Gospels, Acts, and book of Revelation in the New Testament. As mentioned above, Leonard Hutten was known as an excellent Grecian, a competence that served him well, since many of the oldest texts available to the Translators were in Greek.
The other men in his company were similarly learned. Among the number were Sir Henry Savile, and future archbishop, George Abbot. For a devout Christian, as Leonard Hutten certainly was, the opportunity to translate the life and words of Jesus, and of his Apostles must have been viewed as a great privilege and joy.
As alluded to, nothing is known of Leonard Hutten's place of birth, his parentage, or his family circumstance. In fact, less is known of these matters in regard to Leonard Hutten than for any of his fellow Translators. This is remarkable because his early education at Westminster would indicate he came from a family of means or prominence. He lived long, left heirs, wrote extensively, and was known by many, yet the essential facts of his background were never noted or if they were, have not come to light. Perhaps during this anniversary year, the mystery will be solved.