Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Coverdale, Miles
COVERDALE, MILES (1488–1568), translator of the Bible, was born in 1488, ‘patria Eboracensis,’ says his friend and contemporary Bale (Scriptores, 1557–9, p. 721), and Whitaker assumes the surname to have been taken from the district of his birth, Cover-dale, in what is called Richmondshire, in the North Riding (History of Richmondshire, i. 16, 107). A William Coverdale, ‘granator’ of Richmondshire, is mentioned in Brewer's ‘Letters and Papers of Henry VIII,’ 1529 (iv. pt. iii. p. 2359). Coverdale was from his childhood given to learning (J. Vowell alias Hooker, Catalog of the Bishops of Excester, 1584). He studied philosophy and theology at Cambridge, was admitted to priest's orders at Norwich in 1514 by John, bishop of Chalcedon, and entered the convent of Austin friars at Cambridge (Tanner, Bibliotheca, 203), where he fell under the influence of Robert Barnes [q. v.], who became prior about 1523. He was a visitor at Sir Thomas More's house, and made the acquaintance of Thomas Cromwell [q. v.], afterwards a powerful friend. An undated letter to Cromwell ‘from the Augustin's this May-day,’ but prior at least to 1527, says Mr. Gairdner, shows his religious inclinations at that period. In it he states that he begins now to taste of holy scriptures, but requires books to help him to a knowledge of the doctors. He desires nothing but books, and will be guided by Cromwell as to his conduct and in the instruction of others (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, v. 106, given in full in State Papers, Henry VIII, 1830, i. 383–4). In another letter to Cromwell, dated 27 Aug. 1527, he says he would be delighted to come to London if he knew that his correspondent wished it (Remains, 1846, pp. 491–2). He was among those who attended the meetings at the White Horse, near St. John's, called ‘Germany,’ says Foxe (Acts and Monuments, 1684, ii. 436), because of the Lutheran opinions held there. Barnes was arrested on a charge of heresy, and sent to London for examination in February 1526. Coverdale escaped a personal accusation, and went to London to help Barnes to draw up his defence when in the Fleet. About this time Coverdale left the convent to give himself entirely to evangelical preaching, and assumed the habit of a secular priest. Early in 1528 he was at Steeple-Bumpstead, where Richard Foxe was minister, preaching against confession and the worshipping of images (ib. ii. 267). In 1531 he took the degree of bachelor of the canon law at Cambridge (Cooper, Athenæ, i. 268), and three years later brought out his first books: ‘Ye Olde God and the Newe,’ and ‘Paraphrase upon the Psalmes,’ both translations. Foxe says that Coverdale was with Tyndale at Hamburg in 1529, and assisted him in the translation of the Pentateuch (ii. 303); but there is no confirmatory evidence of the latter statement. The biographers have been unable to account for his movements between 1528 and 1535, but agree that most of the time was passed abroad.
On 19 Dec. 1534 convocation resolved to petition the king for an English translation of the Bible, and Strype says that Cranmer (Life, i. 34, 38) made an endeavour to bring about the design by co-operation. The want was, however, supplied by a foreign publisher, who issued a folio volume, dated 1535, with the title: ‘Biblia. The Bible, that is the Holy Scripture of the Olde and New Testament, faithfully and truly translated out of Douche and Latyn into Englishe.’ The dedication to Henry VIII is signed ‘Myles Couerdale,’ who submits his ‘poore translacyon unto the spirite of trueth in your grace.’ Some copies omit the words ‘out of Douche and Latyn’ from the intitulation, and have the title and the preliminary matter in an English type. Possibly this was the form in which the book was first issued in England, where James Nicolson of Southwark may have been the producer. No entirely perfect copy is in existence, and only five or six have title-pages. These represent three issues, two in 1535 and one in 1536. The Bible was reprinted by Nicolson in folio and quarto form in 1537, and by Froschouer at Zurich in 1550. The bibliographical peculiarities are detailed in the ‘Bible by Coverdale, 1535’ (1867, 8vo), by Francis Fry, who points out (pp. 8–11) that the dedication to Queen Jane belongs to Nicolson's edition of 1537. The publisher and place of printing of the 1535 Bible have always been a mystery. Humphrey Wanley was the first who attributed it to Christopher Froschouer of Zurich. Mr. Fry drew up a list of fourteen persons who fixed the place either at Zurich, Frankfort (by Christian Egenolph), Cologne, or Paris. Mr. Fry was unable to obtain sufficient evidence to prove the claim of Froschouer, but Dr. Ginsburg possesses two leaves of a German-Swiss Bible which are printed in a type precisely similar to Coverdale's English version of 1535. The comma is not used. The general ‘get up’ and appearance are identical. The woodcuts are the same design, with minute differences in the engraving. The present writer has had the opportunity of comparing these leaves, which Dr. Ginsburg affirms to have belonged to a unique copy of a Bible printed by Froschouer at Zurich, 1529–30, 2 vols. folio, formerly in his possession. The larger types in the 1535 Bible had already been traced to Froschouer, but here for the first time we find the smaller type. The 1531 Bible used by Coverdale for his translation was in a single and larger volume, in larger type and with headings to the chapters. The discovery of this 1529–30 Bible goes far to settle the question of the printer of Coverdale's Bible. The large type is to be found in the German Bible of Mainz, 1534, and the Wittenberg of 1556. The woodcuts encircling the title and other engravings passed into Nicolson's possession, and were afterwards used by other printers.
In 1877 the late Mr. Henry Stevens, in the catalogue of the Caxton Exhibition, first drew attention to a remarkable statement by Simeon Ruytinck in a life of Emanuel van Meteren, appended to the latter's ‘Nederlandtsche Historie,’ 1614. In the French translation, published at the Hague in 1618, the words especially relating to the Bible and its publisher are as follow: ‘Emanuel de Meteren, qui a esté fort diligent à amasser et mettre par escrit les choses contenues en ce livre, nasquit à Anvers le 9 de Juillet 1535. … Son père [Jacob van Meteren] luy avoit faict apprendre en sa jeunesse l'art d'Imprimerie et estoit doüé de la cognoissance de plusieurs langues, et autres bonnes sciences, tellement que dès lors il sceust si bien distinguer la lumière des ténèbres, qu'il employa sa peine et monstra son zèle en Anvers à la traduction de la Bible Angloise, et employa à cela un certain docte escolier nommé Miles Conerdal [sic]’ (f. 721). Mr. Stevens believed that Jacob van Meteren was not only the printer (at Antwerp) but also the translator of the Bible of 1535 (The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition, 1878, pp. 38–42, 68–70). Although great weight is due to any statement of Henry Stevens, more recent evidence does not support the view that Jacob van Meteren was the translator and Coverdale merely ‘the best proof-reader and corrector of his age.’ In 1884 Mr. W. J. C. Moens reprinted a document from an original copy made in 1610, and which had been found by him in an old box in the Dutch Reformed Church in Austin Friars. This was an affidavit signed by Emanuel van Meteren, dated 28 May 1609, to the effect that ‘he was brought to England anno 1550 … by his father, a furtherer of reformed religion, and he that caused the first Bible at his costes to be Englisshed by Mr. Myles Coverdal in Andwarp, the w'h his father, with Mr. Edward Whytchurch, printed both in Paris and London’ (The Registers of the Dutch Reformed Church, Austin Friars, 1884, p. xiv). With the exception of the place of printing and the addition of the name of Whitchurch (which may be a mistaken reference to the folio Bible of 1537 (Matthew's), this statement agrees with that of Ruytinck. It appears probable that the Bible was produced at the instance of Van Meteren, who paid Coverdale for his labours as translator, that this part of the work was done at Antwerp, and that Van Meteren got the volume printed by some other printer, who may have been Froschouer of Zurich. Nicolson seems to have bought the copies for sale in England.
The work must have occupied Coverdale a considerable period. The imprint states: ‘Prynted in the yeare of our Lord 1535, and fynished the fourth daye of October.’ The book is in a German black letter, in double columns, with woodcuts and initials. It contains the Apocrypha. In the prologue to his own second edition of 1550 Coverdale says: ‘It was neither my labour nor desyre to have this worke put into my hande, nevertheless … for the which cause (accordinge as I was desired), anno 1534, I took the more upon me to set forth this specyall translation;’ and in the dedication to Edward VI: I ‘was boldened in God sixteen yeares agoo to labour faithfully in the same.’ He says that the ‘Holy Ghost moved other men to do the cost.’ He was not the projector but the sole worker. He made little or no use of the original texts. The cancelled continental title announces that the Bible was translated ‘out of Douche and Latyn,’ and Coverdale expressly states that he had ‘with a clear conscience purely and faithfully translated this out of five sundry interpreters.’ These are supposed to have been the Vulgate, the Latin of Pagninus, Luther, the Zurich or German-Swiss, and Tyndale's Pentateuch and New Testament (J. Eadie, English Bible, 1876, i. 281). Dr. Ginsburg shows how Coverdale chiefly relied upon the Zurich Bible of 1531 (Ecclesiastes, 1861, app. ii., and in Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature, 1862, i. 567–9), whence he translated the headings of the chapters. Most of the notes are also from this source (J. Eadie, i. 286, &c.) Many quaint renderings are given by Eadie (ib. 298–301). The New Testament, chiefly based on Tyndale, is superior to the Old Testament, but the translation has considerable literary merit, and many charming touches in the authorised version belong to Coverdale. The first edition was soon absorbed, and, although it did not secure the royal license, was not formally suppressed. Convocation passed an apparent slight upon the version in June 1536 by praying the king for a new translation. The quarto and folio editions were issued by Nicolson in 1537, ‘newly ouersene and corrected,’ and for the first time ‘set forth with the kynges moost gracious licence.’ In the following year the same printer produced two editions of a Latin and English New Testament, in order that readers might be able to compare the Vulgate and English versions. The latter, which is by Coverdale, differs from his former translation, and follows the Latin text. The first of these two editions is a handsome well-printed volume, but so full of blunders that when Coverdale received it in July 1538, while superintending the printing of the ‘Great Bible’ at Paris, he put into the press in that city a more accurate edition, which was finished in November. Nicolson produced another edition in spite of Coverdale's remonstrances, and placed the name of John Hollybush on the title-page. It differs from the first issue, but is also very incorrect. In 1537 John Rogers brought out a Bible under the name of Thomas Matthew. It was based largely upon Coverdale and was also printed abroad, probably at Paris.
Cromwell determined to proceed with a new Bible, and Coverdale and Grafton the printer went over to Paris about May 1538 to carry on the work in the press of Regnault. Francis I at the request of Henry granted a license (Strype, Cranmer, ii. 756). Writing on 23 June 1538, Coverdale and Grafton inform Cromwell that they are sending two copies of what was afterwards known from its size as the ‘Great Bible’ of 1539, and state that they ‘folowe not only a standynge text of the Hebrue, with the interpretation of the Caldee and the Greke, but we set, also, in a pryvate table the dyversite of redings of all textes, with suche annotacions, in another table, as shall douteles delucidate and cleare the same’ (State Papers, Henry VIII, 1830, i. 575–6). The text is really that of Rogers revised. Coverdale remained in Paris during the year, and other letters to Cromwell supply details connected with the progress of the ‘Great Bible’ (ib. 578, 588, 591). Before the printing was finished, however, an edict was issued (see Cotton. MS. Cleop. E. v. f. 326, in British Museum) forbidding the work. The Englishmen fled, many sheets were publicly burned, but presses, types, and workmen and some sheets were brought over to England. In the ‘Athenæum,’ 20 May 1871, are a couple of despatches which passed on the subject between the English and French governments. In April 1539 the volume was completed ‘by Rychard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch, cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum,’ and was presented to the king by Cromwell, who appears to have been at the entire cost of its production. Coverdale was also the editor of the second ‘Great Bible,’ or ‘Cranmer's,’ 1540 (issued six times in 1540–1), and its reprint of 1562 (Fulke, Defence of Translations, Parker Soc. 1843, pp. 68, 548).
Besides some publications which cannot be ascribed to him with certainty, and the ‘Goostly Psalmes,’ which possibly belong to a later period, Coverdale translated Luther's exposition on the twenty-second Psalm, and a sermon by Osiander, both printed by Nicolson in 1537. He returned from Paris early in 1539, and applied to Cromwell for a continuation of the royal license to Nicolson for bibles and testaments (Remains, 498). In February and March he was at Newbury helping to carry into effect the ‘Injunctions set forth by the authority of the king against English books, sects, or sacramentaries, also with putting down the day of Thomas Becket’ (ib. 498–502, and Strype, Mem. i. i. 530–2). On the execution in 1540 of Cromwell and of Barnes, Coverdale found it necessary to leave England. Shortly afterwards he married an excellent woman named Elizabeth Macheson. Her sister was the wife of Dr. Joannes Macchabæus MacAlpinus or McAlpine, who helped to translate the first Danish bible. Lorimer says the wife of McAlpine was an English-woman. This practical protest against the doctrine of the celibacy of the priesthood identified him completely with the reforming party. He lived for a certain time at Tübingen, where he obtained the degree of D.D. (Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ, 1743, p. 417.) Later on he was a Lutheran pastor and schoolmaster at Bergzabern, in the duchy of Deux-Ponts, ‘where by translating in his leisure hours … various religious works into our language … he is of very great service in promoting the scriptural benefit of those persons in the lower ranks of life who are anxious for the truth’ (R. Hilles to Bullinger, 15 April 1545, in Original Letters, Parker Soc. 3rd ser. 1846, p. 247). He took the name of Michael Anglus during his exile. Letters from him during this time are printed in the ‘Remains’ (Parker Society, 1846). Coverdale's bibles and other works appear in the proclamation of 8 July 1546 among those forbidden to be imported, bought, sold, or kept (Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 1). He lived at Bergzabern in poor circumstances between 1543 and 1547. The ‘Order of the Communion’ (March 1548) came to Frankfort during the fair-time, and Coverdale translated it into German and Latin. The latter was sent to Calvin with a hope that he might cause it to be printed. This was not done (F. Procter, History of the Book of Common Prayer, 1855, p. 61).
He returned to England in March 1548, was well received at court through the influence of Cranmer, and was appointed chaplain to the king and almoner to Queen Catherine, whose funeral sermon he preached in September 1548 (MS. in Coll. of Arms, i. 15, f. 98). He wrote to Paul Fagius from Windsor Castle, 21 Oct. 1548 (Remains, p. 526). On 27 April 1549 some anabaptists were examined at St. Paul's, and one of them ‘bare a fagot at Pauls crosse, Myles Couerdale preached ye rehearsall sermon there’ (Stow, Annales, 1631, p. 596). In the same year Whitchurch printed the second volume of the ‘Paraphrase’ of Erasmus, with a dedication by Coverdale, who helped in the translation. He was one of the thirty-one persons to whom was issued in January 1550 a commission to proceed against anabaptists as well as those who did not administer the sacraments according to the Book of Common Prayer (Strype, Mem. ii. i. 385). In 1550 there appeared a translation of Otto Wermueller's ‘Spyrytuall and moost precious Pearle,’ with a commendatory preface by the Protector Somerset, who alluded to the consolation he had received from the book, but without speaking either of author or translator. These are specially mentioned by H. Singleton, who reprinted the ‘Pearle’: ‘I have thought it good to set it forth once againe, according to the true copy of that translation that I received at the hands of M. Doctour Milo Coverdale, at whose hand I received also the copies of three other workes of Otho Wermullerus. … The “Precious Pearle,”which the author calleth of “Affliction,” another of “ Death,” the third of “Justification,” and the fourth of “The Hope of the Faithful.” These I have imprinted.’ The original editions seem to have been printed abroad. On 20 July 1550 he had a gift of 40l. from the king (Wood, Athenæ##, Bliss, ii. 762), and on 24 Nov. he preached Sir James Welford's funeral sermon at Little Bartholomew's in London.
When Lord Russell was sent down against the western rebels in 1551, Coverdale accompanied him to assist the secular arm with his preaching, and subsequently delivered a thanksgiving sermon after the victory. On 7 March 1551 he preached at Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the funeral of Lord Wentworth (Machyn, Diary, pp. 3–4), and went with Peter Martyr and others on 19 May of the same year to visit Magdalen College, Oxford (Cooper, Athenæ, i. 556). His behaviour in Devonshire gave satisfaction. He acted as coadjutor to John Voysey, bishop of Exeter, who resigned his see in his 103rd year, and Coverdale was appointed to the bishopric by the king's letters patent on 14 Aug. 1551. He was consecrated at Croydon on the 30th of the same month, and enthroned 11 Sept. (Le Neve, Fasti Eccles. Angl. 1854, i. 377–8). Cranmer specially interested himself in this appointment. Coverdale pleaded poverty as an excuse for not paying first-fruits (Strype, Cheke, p. 125, and Cranmer, i. 382). The revenues of the see had been much reduced by Voysey. Coverdale was one of the eight bishops and twenty-four other persons who were appointed in the same year to reform the ecclesiastical laws (Cranmer, i. 388). From Vowell we obtain our information about Coverdale's episcopal life. He ‘most worthilie did performe the office committed unto him, he preached continuallie upon euerie holie daie, and did read most commonlie twise in the weeke, in some church or other within this citie.’ He was hospitable, liberal, sober, and modest. ‘His wife a most sober, chast, and godlie matron.’ To Dr. Robert Weston, afterwards lord chancellor of Ireland, ‘he committed his consistorie and the whole charge of his ecclesiasticall iurisdiction’ (Catalog of the Bishops of Excester, 1584). On his accession to the episcopal bench he was very constant in attendance at the House of Lords during the parliaments of 1552 and 1553. After the death of Edward VI, Coverdale was deprived, 28 Sept. 1553, and John Voysey reinstated (Le Neve, i. 378). He was required to find sureties (Foxe, iii. 149), and when the protestant prisoners drew up a declaration about a proposed disputation between them and some Roman catholic champions, Coverdale signed in order to signify his consent and agreement. Christian III of Denmark, at the instance of Dr. J. Macchabæus MacAlpinus, Coverdale's brother-in-law, wrote a letter, dated 25 April 1554, to Queen Mary on Coverdale's behalf. In her reply the queen stated that he was only charged with a debt due to her treasury (ib. iii. 149–51), but a second appeal from Christian (24 Sept.) brought permission for him to leave England for ‘Denmarke with two of his servants, his bagges, and baggage without any theire unlawfull lette or serche’ (extracts from Privy Council Register in Archæologia, xviii. 181). One of the two servants is supposed to have been his wife. He was cordially received by Macchabæus, and the king offered him a benefice which was not accepted. His books were included in the proclamation of 13 June 1555 (Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 128). He went to Wesel in Westphalia, where there were many English refugees, and ‘preached there no longe time, till he was sent for by Woulgange, duke of Bypont, to take the pastoral charge’ of Bergzabern once more (Discourse of the Troubles at Franckford (1575), 1846, p. 184). It has been stated that he assisted in the preparation of the Genevan version. He was in that city in December 1558, when he signed the letter to those of Frankfort in congratulation at the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and praying that all private dissensions might henceforth be laid aside (ib. p. 188).
The first edition of the Genevan Bible came out in 1560, but Coverdale had returned to England before that date, as he preached at Paul's Cross on 12 Nov. 1559 (Machyn, Diary, p. 218), as well as on 28 April 1560, before the lord mayor, the aldermen, and a large congregation at the same place. In spite of his deprivation in the previous reign he assisted, with other bishops, at the famous consecration of Archbishop Parker on 17 Dec. 1559 (Account, ed. J. Goodwin, Camb. Antiq. Soc. 1841). Coverdale, although he himself was consecrated in surplice and cope (Strype, Cranmer, i. 389), on this occasion appeared in a plain black gown. It is possible that it was owing to his scruples about vestments that he did not take the bishopric of Exeter again on the deprivation of Turberville in 1559. In 1563 he obtained the degree of D.D. from the university of Cambridge, and in the same year he got over an attack of the plague. On 3 March he was collated to the living of St. Magnus, close to London Bridge (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 398), by Grindal, who petitioned the queen to release Coverdale from the payment of first-fruits, which came to more than 60l. The request was ultimately granted (Strype, Parker, i. 295–6). Grindal had a very high opinion of his piety and learning, and offered him other preferments, and endeavoured to obtain his appointment as bishop of Llandaff. His objections to vestments and other failings in uniformity were connived at (ib. 296; Life of Grindal, p. 171). On 10 April 1564 he was given power by the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University to admit Grindal as D.D. (Grindal, pp. 139–40), and in the same year he published his last book, the ‘Letters of Saintes and Martyrs.’ In 1566 the government determined to enforce a stricter observance of the liturgy, and Coverdale resigned his living. Many of those who attended the churches of other deprived London ministers ‘ran after Father Coverdale, who took that occasion to preach the more constantly, but yet with much fear; so that he would not be known where he preached, though many came to his house to ask where he would preach the next Lord's day’ (Strype, Parker, i. 480). He preached on eleven occasions at the church of the Holy Trinity in the Minories between 1 Nov. 1567 and 18 Jan. following (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 443). There is a considerable difference of opinion among the biographers as to the date of his death; but the register of burials of St. Bartholomew's places the burial on 19 Feb. 1568 (ib'. 1st ser. i. 379). He was eighty-one years old when he died, and ‘was a celebrated preacher, admired and followed by all the puritans; but the Act of Uniformity brought down his reverend hairs with sorrow to the grave. He was buried in St. Bartholomew's behind the Exchange, and was attended to his grave with vast crowds of people’ (Neal, History of the Puritans, 1822, i. 153). In 1568–9 the ballad-printer, John Allde [q. v.], had license to print ‘An Epytaphe of the Lyf and Death of Master Coverdayle’ (Arber, Transcript, i. 384). No copy of this ballad is known. His epitaph was copied by Fuller from the brass inscription on his marble tombstone (destroyed in the great fire of London) under the communion-table in the chancel (Church History, 1655, bk. viii. pp. 64–65). The church was pulled down in 1840 to make way for the new Exchange; but what were thought to have been the remains of Coverdale were carefully reburied on 4 Oct. in a vault in the south aisle of the church of St. Magnus (N. Whittock, Exhumation of the Remains of M. Coverdale, 1840), where the parishioners had in 1837 erected a monument to his memory (Gent. Mag. new ser. viii. 490).
A portrait of Coverdale, engraved by T. Trotter ‘from a drawing in the possession of Dr. Gifford,’ is in Middleton's ‘Biographia Evangelica,’ vol. ii. An engraving apparently from the same portrait is prefixed to the ‘Letters of the Martyrs’ (1837), and redrawn and engraved by J. Brain for Bagster & Sons, who added it to the ‘Memorials' and their reprint of the 1535 Bible; also in Mrs. Dent's Annals,’ 1877. The authenticity is doubtful.
The tercentenary of the first complete English Bible was observed on 4 Oct. 1835. Many sermons and addresses were delivered on the occasion, and medals in honour of Coverdale were struck. Coverdale had a grant of coat-armour in the reign of Edward VI: party per fess indented, gules and or, in chief a seeded rose between two fleurs-de-lis and in base a fleur-de-lis between two seeded roses, all countercharged.
The name of Coverdale will always be revered as that of the man who first made a complete translation of the Bible into English, but he was not a figure of marked historical interest. He was somewhat weak and timorous, and all through his life leaned on a more powerful nature. Barnes, Cromwell, Cranmer, and Grindal were successively his patrons. In the hour of trouble he was content to remain in obscurity, and left the crown of martyrdom to be earned by men of tougher fibre. But he was pious, conscientious, laborious, generous, and a thoroughly honest and good man. He knew German and Latin well, some Greek and Hebrew, and a little French. He did little original literary work. As a translator he was faithful and harmonious. He was fairly read in theology, and became more inclined to puritan ideas as his life wore on. All accounts agree in his remarkable popularity as a preacher. He was a leading figure during the progress of the reformed opinions, and had a considerable share in the introduction of German spiritual culture to English readers in the second quarter of the sixteenth century.
The following are the titles of the editions of Coverdale's Bible and Testament: (a) ‘Biblia. The Bible, that is the Holy Scripture of the Olde and New Testament, faithfully and truly translated out of Douche and Latyn into Englishe, mdxxxv.’ sine nota, folio (title printed in the same type as the Bible, and on the reverse ‘The bokes of the hole Byble’). (b) ‘Biblia. The Byble: that is the Holy Scrypture of the Olde and New Testament, faythfully translated into Englyshe, m.d.xxxv.’ sine nota, folio (title and preliminary matter printed in English black letter, text the same as (a). In ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th ser. vi. 481–2, the Rev. J. T. Fowler describes an edition, now in the Cambridge University library, with a prayer by Bishop Shaxton on the back of the title and other variations from the collation given by Fry). (c) ‘Biblia. The Byble: that is the Holy Scrypture of the Olde and New Testament, faythfully translated into Englyshe, m.d.xxxvi.’ sine nota, folio (title and preliminary matter printed in English black letter, text the same as (a) and (b)). (d) ‘Biblia. The Byble, that is the Holy Scrypture of the Olde and New Testament, faythfully translated in Englysh, and newly ouersene and corrected, m.d.xxxvii.’ Southwarke, J. Nycolson, 1537, folio and 4to (it is doubtful whether the folio or quarto was the first issued in 1537, probably the folio. The original woodcuts and map are reproduced, but the type is the ordinary English black letter). (e) ‘The whole Byble, that is the Holy Scripture of the Olde and Newe Testament, faythfully translated into Englyshe by Myles Couerdale, and newly ouersene and correcte, m.d.l.’ London, A. Hester [printed at Zurich by Christopher Froschouer], 1550, 4to (the second continental edition of Coverdale's Bible, in a German type similar, but smaller, to that of 1535. The title and preliminary leaves were printed in England in ordinary black letter. The original Zurich title had ‘by Mastr. Thomas Mathewe.’ The edition was republished in 1553 by Richard Jugge, with a new title-page, almanac, &c.) The New Testament from the Bible of 1535 was reprinted by Matthew Crom at Antwerp, with Tyndale's prologues, 1538 and 1539, 12mo, and by Grafton and Whitchurch, 1539, 8vo. Lea Wilson (Bibles, Testaments, &c., p. 143) describes a 12mo copy of the New Testament, which he dates circa 1535. Fry had two small New Testaments printed by Nicolson. The Book of Joshua from Coverdale's translation was issued about 1539 in 12mo, possibly by Gibson. The 1535 Bible was reprinted by Messrs. Bagster in 1847, 4to. (α) ‘The Newe Testament both Latine and Englyshe, ech correspondent to the other after the vulgare texte, communely called S. Jeroms. Faythfully translated by Myles Couerdale,’ Southwarke, J. Nicolson, 1538, 4to (the first edition of Coverdale's Latin-English Testament printed while he was in Paris. It is well executed but full of errors, and Coverdale had a more accurate edition (β) printed at Paris). (β) ‘The New Testament, both in Latin and English, after the vulgare texte, which is red in the Churche. Translated and corrected by Myles Couerdale,’ Paris, F. Regnault for R. Grafton and E. Whitchurch, 1538, 8vo. (γ) ‘The Newe Testament, both in Latine and Englyshe, eche correspondente to the other after the vulgare texte, communely called S. Jeromes. Faythfullye translated by Johan Hollybushe,’ Southwarke, J. Nicolson, 1538, 4to. (This edition is also very inaccurate, although it differs considerably from (α) both in the English and Latin.)
Coverdale's other writings are: 1. ‘A Worke entytled of ye Olde God and the Newe, of the Olde Faythe and the Newe, of the Olde Doctryne and ye Newe, or originall Begynnynge of Idolatrye,’ London, J. Byddell, 1534, 12mo (anonymous; translated through the Latin of H. Dulichius from ‘Vom alten und newen Gott,’ 1523; among the books prohibited in 1539 (really 1546, see No. 10), according to the first edition of Foxe (1562–1563, p. 574), also prohibited in convocation 1558, see Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 163). 2. ‘A Paraphrase upon all the Psalmes of Dauid, made by Joannes Campensis, reader of the Hebrue lecture, in the universite of Louane, and translated out of Latyne into Englyshe,’ London, n. d., 16mo (in Cotton's ‘Editions of the Bible,’ 1852, p. 135, two undated editions, one printed by T. Gibson, are mentioned as appearing in 1534 and one in 1535. The translation, which is attributed to Coverdale by Bale, is from the Latin text printed by Regnault at Paris in 1534). 3. ‘The Concordance of the New Testament, most necessary to be had in ye handes of all soche as the communycacion of any place contayned in ye New Testament, anno 1535,’ T. Gibson, small 8vo (attributed to Coverdale by Bale). 4. ‘A faithful and true Prognostication upon the Year 1536, translated out of High German,’ 1536 (among the prohibited books mentioned by Foxe, 1st edition, p. 573; the ‘Prognostication’ also printed by Kele for 1548 and 1549; authorship doubtful). 5. ‘A very excellent and swete Exposition upon the two and twentye Psalme of David, called in Latyn, Dominus regit me et nihil. Translated out of hye Almayne into Englyshe by Myles Coverdale, 1537’ [col.] ‘Imprinted in Southwarke, by James Nycolson for John Gough,’ 16mo (translated from Luther; this is the 23rd Psalm, according to the notation of the Hebrew text). 6. ‘How and whither a Christen man ought to flye the horrible plage of the pestilence. A sermon by A. Osiander. Translated out of hye Almayn into Englishe,’ Southwarke, J. Nicolson, 1537, small 8vo; and London, L. Askell, n. d., small 8vo (anonymous; at the end is ‘A Comforte concernynge them that be dead’). 7. ‘The Original and Sprynge of all Sectes and Orders by whome whan or were they beganne. Translated out of hye Dutch in Englysh,’ J. Nicolson for J. Gough, 1537, 8vo, two editions (see FOXE, 1st edition, p. 574). 8. ‘The Causes why the Germanes wyll not go nor consente unto the councell which Paul 3 hath called to be kept at Mantua,’ Southwarke, J. Nicolson, 1537, 8vo (ascribed to Coverdale by Bale). 9. ‘An Exposicion upon the Songe of the Blessed Virgine Mary, called Magnificat. Translated out of Latine into Englyshe by J. Hollybush,’ Southwarke, J. Nicolson, 1538, 8vo (see Foxe, 1st edition, p. 574; it will be remembered that Nicolson placed the name of Hollybush upon the title of the Latin-English Testament of 1538—see above). 10. ‘Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes drawen out of the Holy Scripture for the comforte and consolacyon of such as loue to reioyse in God and his Worde’ [col.] ‘Imprynted by me Johan Gough,’ n. d., 4to. The only copy known is in the library of Queen's College, Oxford. Bale mentions that Coverdale translated the ‘Cantiones Vuitenbergensium’ (i.e. the ‘Walther'sches Gesangbuch,’ first published at Wittenberg, 1524), but Professor A. F. Mitchell first pointed out (The Wedderburns and their Work, 1867, small 4to) that the ‘Goostly Psalmes’ were translated from the German hymn-books. In the ‘Academy’ of 31 May 1884 Mr. C. H. Herford gave the result of his independent investigations, and Professor Mitchell contributed a letter 28 June 1884. A table of Coverdale's hymns and their correspondences with the Kirchenlied is in Herford's ‘Studies in the Literary Relations of England and Germany in the 16th century,’ 1886, 8vo (pp. 17–20; see also pp. 8–16, 399–402). The Rev. J. Mearns will also supply a table, giving the first lines of the English and of the German hymns, in his article on the ‘Goostly Psalmes’ in the forthcoming ‘Dictionary of Hymnology’ (Academy, 21 June 1884). Coverdale introduced some metrical novelties, and the ‘Goostly Songs’ hold an interesting position in English hymnology. They are selected from originals published between 1524 and 1531. Professor Mitchell thinks they contain an imitation of a hymn which first appeared as late as 1540, but Mr. Herford does not take this view. Among the books attributed to Coverdale in the catalogue of books forbidden at the end of the injunctions issued by Henry VIII in 1539 (see Foxe, 1st edition, p. 573) appears ‘Psalmes and Songes drawn, as is pretended, out of Holy Scripture.’ But the catalogue of forbidden books is omitted in subsequent editions of Foxe, and Townsend (see his edition, v. 565–6, and app. xviii) points out that it was not issued until 1546. 11. ‘Fruitfull Lessons upon the Passion, Buriall, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Sending of the Holy Ghost, gathered out of the foure Evangelists; with a plaine Exposition of the same by Miles Coverdale’ (adapted from H. Zwingli's ‘Brevis commemoratio mortis Christi;’ Tanner says an edition was printed at Marpurg between 1540 and 1547, 8vo; also London, T. Scarlet, 1593, 4to). 12. ‘The Old Faith, an evident probacion out of the Holy Scripture, that the Christen fayth (which is the right, true, old, and undoubted fayth) hath endured sens the beginnyng of the worlde. Herein hast thou also a shorte summe of the whole Byble, and a Probacion that al vertuous men haue pleased God and were saved through the Christen fayth, 1541, by Myles Coverdale,’ 1541, 1547, 16mo (translated from Bullinger's ‘Antiquissima Fides et vera Religio;’ reprinted in 1624, 4to, as ‘Looke from Adam and behold the Protestant's Faith and Religion evidently proved out of Holy Scriptures.’ 13. ‘A Confutation of that Treatise which one John Standish made agaynst the protestacion of D. Barnes in the yeare 1540, wherein the Holy Scriptures (perverted and wrested in his sayd treatise) are restored to their owne true understanding agayne by Myles Coverdale’ [Marpurg, 1541? and 1547?], small 8vo. 14. ‘The Christen state of Matrimonye, the orygenall of Holy Wedlok, what it is, how it ought to proceade, contrary wyse, how shamefull a thinge whordome and aduotry is, and how maried folkes shulde bring up their children in the feare of God. Translated by M. Coverdale,’ 1541, small 8vo, 1543, with preface by T. Becon, 1547 (?), 1552, and 1575, J. Awdeley, 16mo, with four additional chapters, but without Becon's preface (translated from the Latin of H. Bullinger). 15. ‘The Christian Rule or State of the World, from the hyghest to the lowest: and how everie Man should lyue to please God in his callynge,’ 1541, 1552, 16mo (ascribed to Coverdale by Tanner). 16. ‘The Actes of the Disputacion in the Cowncell of the Empyre holden at Regenspurg : That is to saye, all the Artycles concernyng the Christen Relygion, set forthe by M. Bucere and P. Melangton. Translated by M. Coverdale, 1542,’ small 8vo. 17. ‘A Christen Exhortacion unto Customable Swearers what a ryght and lawfull Othe is: whan, and before whom, it ought to be. Item, the Maner of Sayinge Grace, &c. [in verse],’ 1543 (?), 1545 (?), 1547 (?), 1552, and 1575, 16mo. 18. ‘A shorte Recapitulacion or Abrigement of Erasmus Enchiridion, brefely comprehendinge the summe and contentes thereof. Drawne out by M. Coverdale, anno 1545,’ Ausborch, 1545, 16mo (an abridgment of the ‘Enchiridion Militis Christiani’). 19. ‘The Defence of a certayne poore Christen Man, who else shuld haue bene condemned by the Popes lawe’ [col.] ‘Printed at Nurenbergh and translated out of Douche into Englishe by Myles Couerdale in 1545 in the laste of October,’ 16mo. 20. ‘The second tome or volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus upon the Newe Testament,’ London, E. Whitchurche, 1549, folio (dedication to the king on behalf of ‘the translatours and printer of this right fruteful volume,’ signed ‘M. Couerdall,’ who translated the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians; the remainder is by Olde, Coxe, and others, see Strype, Eccles. Mem. ii. pt. i. 45–8). 21. ‘A Spyrytuall and moost Precious Pearle, teachyng all Men to Loue and Imbrace ye Crosse … set forth by the Duke of Somerset,’ 1550, small 8vo; also 1555 (?), 1561 (?), 1593, in Welsh, 1595, 1812, 1838, 1870, 1871. (Translated from the German of Otto Wermueller, but no mention is made of him or Coverdale in the first edition, issued under the patronage of the Protector Somerset, who added a preface. Singleton's reprint (1561?) mentions the authorship.) 22. ‘A most Frutefull, Pithye, and Learned Treatise how a Christen Man oughte to Behaue Hymselfe in the Daunger of Death,’ &c., n. d., 16mo, printed abroad about 1555; also by Singleton, 1561, 1579 (the second of the four treatises of Otto Wermueller translated by Coverdale; contains the first publication of Lady Jane Grey's Exhortation, written the night before her execution). 23. ‘A Godly Treatise, wherein is proued the true Iustification of a Christian Man, to come freely of the Mercie of God, &c., with a Dialogue of the Faithfull and Unfaithfull, translated out of High Almaine by M. Coverdale,’ n. d., 16mo, printed abroad about 1555; also by Singleton, 1579 (the third treatise translated from O. Wermueller). 24. ‘The Hope of the Faythfull, declaryng brefely and clearely the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ past, and of our true Essential Bodies to come,’ &c., n. d., about 1555, 16mo, printed abroad; also by Singleton, 1579 (the fourth treatise translated from O. Wermueller, see Strype, Eccles. Mem. iii. pt. i. 240). 25. ‘An Exhortation to the Carienge of Chryste's Crosse, with a true and brefe confutation of false and Papisticall doctryne,’ n. d., 16mo (anonymous, see Strype, ib. iii. pt. i. 239–40; printed about 1555, and part of a volume containing No. 24). 26. ‘A Faythful and most Godly Treatyse concernynge the most sacred Sacrament of the Blessed Body and Bloud of our Sauiour Christ, compiled by John Calvine … and translated into Lattin by Lacius … and now last of al translated into Englishe by a faythful brother. … Therunto is added the order that the Church and Congregacyon of Christ in Denmarke doth use,’ n. d., 16mo; again by John Day, n. d., with epistle to the reader enlarged (Calvin's ‘De la Cène du Seigneur’ was first published in 1540, and translated into Latin by Nic. des Gallars in 1545; in the preface Coverdale states that the book was not translated from the French ‘bycause it hath pleased the lorde to geve me more knowledge in the Latyne tonge’). 27. ‘The Supplicacion that the Nobles and Comons of Osteryke made lately by their Messaungers unto Kyng Ferdinandus in the Cause of the Christen Religion. Item, the Kynge's answere to the same. Whereupon foloweth the wordes that the messaungers spake again unto the Kyng againe at their departing,’ n. d., 16mo (in Coverdale's preface he speaks of having received a copy of the original in German in the previous March). 28. ‘Certain most Godly, Fruitfull, and Comfortable Letters of such True Saintes and Holy Martyrs of God, as in the late bloodye persecution here within this Realme, gaue their lyves for the defence of Christes Holy Gospel,’ London, J. Day, 1564, 4to (nothing is said as to how these letters were obtained; in the preface Coverdale speaks of desiring to publish some more; reprinted in modernised language, with introduction by Rev. Edward Bickersteth, 1837, 8vo).
Many of Coverdale's works, and nearly all his letters, have been edited for the Parker Society by the Rev. George Pearson, in 2 vols.: ‘Writings and Translations, containing the Old Faith, a Spiritual and most Precious Pearl, Fruitful Lessons, a Treatise on the Lord's Supper, Order of the Church in Denmark, Abridgement of the Enchiridion of Erasmus,’ Cambridge, 1844, 8vo; and ‘Remains, containing Prologues to the translation of the Bible, Treatise on Death, Hope of the Faithful, Exhortation to the Carrying of Christ's Cross, Exposition upon the Twenty-second Psalm, Confutation of the Treatise of John Standish, Defence of a certain poor Christian Man, Letters, Ghostly Psalms, and Spiritual Songs,’ Cambridge, 1846, 8vo.
‘A Christian Catechism’ is attributed to Coverdale by Bale, and ‘A Spiritual Almanacke’ by Tanner, the latter possibly printed with the ‘Prognostication’ (see No. 4). Foxe speaks of having possessed a manuscript ‘Confutation of a Sermon of Dr. Weston's at Paul's Cross, 20 Oct. 1553,’ and a translation of the Canon of the Mass, from the Salisbury Missal, which Foxe reproduces (Acts and Mon. iii. 11). The reprint of ‘Wicklieffe's Wicket, faythfully overseene and corrected,’ n. d., is sometimes attributed to Coverdale.
[The most extensive life is Memorials of Myles Coverdale, with Divers Matters relating to the Promulgation of the Bible in the Reign of Henry VIII, 1838, 8vo. It contains a bibliography. Shorter biographies are in the Parker Society editions of Coverdale's pieces mentioned above; Bagster's reprint of the 1535 Bible, 1847, 4to; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. vol. i.; Kitto's Cyclopædia, 3rd ed. 1862, vol. i.; Middleton's Biographia Evangelica, ii. 101; Fuller's Worthies, 1811; Godwin, De Præsul. Angliæ, 1743; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), 1789, vol. iv. Bale, Foxe, Strype, and Tanner are the only authorities for many particulars. Besides the works referred to in the text, see also General Index to Strype, 1828; H. Gough's General Index to Parker Society, 1855; J. H. Wiffen's House of Russell, 1833, i. 354–5, 361–6; Maitland's Essays on the Reformation, 1849; Rymer's Fœdera, 1727, xv. 281–9, 340; Polwhele's Devonshire, 1797, i. 289; Churton's Life of Nowell, 1809; Berkenhout's Biographia Literaria, 1777, p. 132; J. L. Chester's John Rogers, 1861; Hook's Lives of the Archbishops, vii. 139, ix. 240, 245; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 379, vi. 552, 615, vii. 97, xii. 443, 2nd ser. vi. 433, 3rd ser. vi. 150. Dr. Ginsburg has kindly supplied some information, besides allowing the writer to see his two unique leaves of the German Bible of 1529–30. For Coverdale's Bible and New Testament, see J. Lewis's History of the English Translations of the Bible, 1818; J. W. Whittaker's Enquiry into the Interpretation of the Scriptures, 1819–20; H. Walter's Letter to the Bishop of Peterborough, 1823; Bibles, Testaments, &c., in the Collection of Lea Wilson, 1845; Anderson's Annals of the English Bible, 1845; Cotton's Editions of the Bible in English, 2nd ed. 1852; F. Fry's The Bible by Coverdale, 1867; Westcott's History of the English Bible, 2nd ed. 1872; Eadie's The English Bible, 1876; Caxton Celebration Catalogue, 1877; H. Stevens's The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition, 1878; W. F. Moulton's History of the English Bible, 1884; J. I. Mombert's English Versions of the Bible, 1885; Book Lore, March 1887, pp. 109–16; and communications in the Athenæum, 11 Aug. 1877, pp. 180–2, 9 Nov. 1878, pp. 594–5, 25 Jan. 1879, p. 122, 12 July, p. 48, 19 July, p. 81, 26 July, p. 112, 2 Aug. pp. 146–7, 16 Aug. 1884, p. 206, 30 Jan. p. 166, 27 March, p. 424, 3 April 1886, p. 457; and Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 59, 109, 153, x. 444, 2nd ser. ii. 30, iv. 178, 179, vii. 419, 484, viii. 208, 279, xii. 67, 3rd ser. i. 406, 433, ii. 10, 35, 72, 113, 4th ser. i. 442, 6th ser. vi. 481. See also the bibliographical works of Watt, Lowndes, Ames (by Herbert and Dibdin), Hazlitt, and the Catalogue of Books in the British Museum Library printed to 1640.]