King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
Richard Fairclough was born about 1553 at Fairclough Hall, Weston, Hertfordshire to Thomas and Millicent (Barr) Fairclough. He was one of at least four children. He had three brothers, John, Thomas, and Lawrence. Fairclough Hall was located a mile southeast of Weston Village and had been the family seat for generations.
Richard began his studies at Oxford in 1570 and likely stayed there for the next twenty-two years until he became rector at Bucknell, Oxfordshire in 1592.
While undoubtedly a fine scholar, the bulk of his professional life was spent as a country parson. It appears that he married Anne (Holt) Warner, the widow of John Warner of Bucknell. Anne must have predeceased Richard as she is not mentioned in his will. Richard died in either Goldington, Bedfordshire or nearby at his birthplace in Weston on 16 January 1636. His will left bequests to the children and grandchildren of his wife Anne, and to the poor of Goldington, Bartford, and Weston.
As a child of prosperous parents, Richard Fairclough became a student at Winchester College in 1565 when he was twelve years of age. He enrolled as a student at New College, Oxford in 1570. He graduated B.A. in 1574 and proceeded M.A. in 1578. He was incorporated at Cambridge in 1581.
The record of Richard Fairclough's career is incomplete. He graduated M.A. in 1578, and there is no record his receiving a pastoral appointment until fourteen years later in 1592 when he became rector of Bucknell. He may have been a fellow of New College. As such he would have been a member of the teaching faculty and a scholar in residence at least until he accepted the position at Bucknell. Even then he may have continued in a college post concurrently as was the case with many scholars of his time.
Richard Fairclough gifted to New College in his will, his Bibles in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Richard Fairclough and the Translation
A Fairclough was named in early lists of Translators as a member of the First Oxford Company responsible for translating the words of the major prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah through Malachi.
While the earliest lists of Translators simply refer to a "Mr. Fairclough", Anthony á. Wood and some later writers concluded this Fairclough was not Richard, but Daniel Featley, who was also known as Daniel Fairclough. While Featley, who was a protégé of John Rainolds, may have assisted in some way in the translation, he would have been only twenty-two or twenty-three years old at the time of the project's commencement and still almost a decade away from receiving his B.D. Featley became a recognized scholar and widely read author, yet in none of his biographies is reference made to his having been a Translator or in any way associated with the translation.
On the other hand, Richard Fairclough would have been fifty-one or fifty-two when the translation began. A substantial portion of his adult life was likely spent as a scholar and teacher at New College which contributed men such as Thomas Bilson, Nicholas Love, John Harmer, George Ryves and others to the translation. Also at the time of the translation he was living either at Oxford or in nearby Bucknell. Contrary to some early writers who concluded he was an unknown and thus an unlikely pick, Richard Fairclough fits the pattern of other Translators such as Michael Rabbett, Richard Brett, and Robert Ward who were relative unknowns but clearly qualified for the work.
There is still uncertainty as to where Richard Fairclough is buried. Is his final resting place in Goldington, Beds or nearby Weston, Herts? Both parishes are mentioned in his will and were associated with the Fairclough family. Another possibility is Bucknell where he served so long. Perhaps in this anniversary year the puzzle will be solved.