Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/James, Thomas (1573?-1629)
JAMES, THOMAS (1573?–1629), Bodley's librarian, uncle of Richard James [q. v.], was born about 1573 at Newport, Isle of Wight. In 1586 he was admitted a scholar of Winchester College, matriculated at Oxford from New College on 28 Jan. 1591-2, and was fellow of his college from 1593 to 1602 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars, p. 152). He graduated B.A. on 3 May 1595, M.A. on 5 Feb. 1598-9, B.D. and D.D. on 18 May 1614 (Wood Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, vol. i.) His learning was extensive, and he was 'esteemed by some a living library.' He assisted in framing a complete body of the ancient statutes and customs of the university, in which he was well versed. He was also skilled in deciphering manuscripts and in detecting forged readings. His first attempts at authorship were translations from the Italian of Antonio Bruciolo's 'Commentary upon the Canticle of Canticles,' which was licensed for the press in November 1597 (Arber, Stationers' Registers, iii. 37), and from the French of 'The Moral Philosophy of the Stoicks,' 16mo, London, 1598 (ib. iii. 273). He next edited Bishop Aungervile's 'Philobiblon,' 4to, Oxford,1599, which he dedicated to Sir Thomas Bodley. About this time he obtained leave to examine the manuscripts in the college libraries at Oxford, and was allowed by the easy-going heads of houses (especially those of Balliol and Merton) to take away several, chiefly patristic, which he gave in 1601 to the Bodleian Library, together with sixty printed volumes. As the result of his researches he published 'Ecloga Oxonio-Cantabrigiensis, tributa in libros duos,' 4to, London, 1600, a work much commended by Joseph Scaliger. It gives a list of the manuscripts in the college libraries at Oxford and Cambridge, and in the university library at Cambride, besides critical notes on the text of Cyprian's 'De Unitate Ecclesiae' and of Augustine's 'De Fide.'
From the first Bodley had fixed upon James as his library keeper, and the appointment was confirmed by the university in 1602. On 14 Sept. of that year he also became rector of St. Aldate, Oxford. His salary as librarian was at the commencement 5l. 13s. 4d. quarterly, but he threatened forthwith to resign unless it was raised to 30l. or 40l. a year. At the same time he demanded permission to marry. Bodley, who had made celibacy a stringent condition in his statutes, expostulated with James on his 'unseasonable and unreasonable motions,' but eventually allowed him to take a wife (Reliquiæ Bodleianæ, pp. 52, 163, 183). In 1605 appeared the first catalogue of the library compiled by James, and dedicated to Henry, prince of Wales, at the suggestion of Bodley, who thought that 'more reward was to be gained from the prince than from the king' (ib. p. 200). It includes both printed books and manuscripts, arranged alphabetically under the four classes of theology, medicine, law, and arts. A continuation of this classified index, embracing writers on arts and sciences, geography and history, is to be found in Rawlinson MS. Miscell. 730, drawn up by James after quitting the library for the use of young students. An alphabetical catalogue prepared by him in 1613 in 'two small hand-books ' was not printed, but remains in the library. In December 1610 the library began to receive copies of all works published by the members of the Stationers' Company, in pursuance of an agreement made with them by Bodley at the suggestion of James. In 1614 James, through Bodley's interest, was preferred to the sub-deanery of Wells.and in 1617 he became rector of Mongeham,Kent. At the beginning of May 1620 he was obliged through ill-health to resign the librarianship, but not before he had superintended the preparation of a second edition of the catalogue, which appeared in the ensuing July. It abandons the classified arrangement of the former catalogue, and adopts only one alphabet of names. There was also issued in 1635 'Catalogus Interpretum S. Scripturee juxta numerorum ordinem qui extant in Bibliotheca Bodleiana olim a D. Jamesio … concinnatus, nunc vero altera fere parte auctior redditus. … Editio correcta,' 4to, Oxford.
At the convocation held with the parliament at Oxford in 1626 he moved that certain scholars be commissioned to peruse the patristic manuscripts in all public and priyate English libraries in order to detect the forgeries introduced by Roman catholic editors. His proposal not meeting with much encouragement, he set about the task himself. James died at Oxford in August 1629, and was buried in New College Chapel. One portrait of him hangs in the Bodleian Library; another is in the library of Sion College (Hearne, Collections, Oxf. Hist. Soc., iii. 416).
James's works not already described are:
- 'Bellum Papale, sive Concordia discors Sixti Quinti & Clementis Octavi circa Hieronymianam Editionem,' 4to, London, 1600; 12mo, 1678.
- 'Concordantio sanctorum Patrum, i.e. vera & pia Libri Canticorum per Patres universos, tam Graecos quam Latinos, Expositio,' 4to, Oxford, 1607.
- 'An Apologie for John Wickliffe, shewing his Conformitie with the new Church of England,' 4to, Oxford, 1608; in answer to Robert Parsons and others.
- 'Bellum Gregorianum, sive Corruptionis Romanae in Operibus D. Gregorii M. jussu Pontificum Rom. recognitis atque editis ex Typographlca Vaticana loca insigniora, observata, Theologia ad hoc officium deputatis,' s. sh. 4to, Oxford, 1610.
- 'A Treatise of the Corruption of Scripture, Counsels, and Fathers, by … the Church of Rome. … Together with a sufficient Answere unto J. Gretser and A. Possevine, Jesuites, and the unknowne Author of the Grounds of the Old Religion and the New,' 5 pts. 4to, London, 1611; other editions in 1612, 1688, and 1843.
- 'The Jesuits Downefall threatened against them by the Secular Priests for their wicked lives, accursed manners, heretical doctrine, etc. Together with the Life of Father Parsons,' 4to, Oxford, 1612.
- 'Index generalis sanctorum Patrum, ad singulos versus cap. 5. secundum Matthaeum,' 8vo, London, 1624.
- 'G. Wicelii Methodus Concordim Ecclesiasticæ … Adjectre sunt notee … et vita ipsius … unn cum enumeratione auctorum qui scripserunt contra squalores … Curiae Romanae,' 8vo, London, 1625.
- 'Vindiciæ Gregorianæ, seu restitutus innumeris paene locis Gregorias M., ex variis manuscriptis … collatis,' 4to, Geneva, 1625, with a preface by B. Turrettinus.
- 'A Manduction or Introduction unto Divinitie: containing a confutation of Papists by Papists throughout the important Articles of our Religion,' 4to, Oxford, 1625.
- 'The humble … Request of T. James to the Church of England, for, and in the behalfe of; Bookes touching Religion,' 16mo, Oxford? 1625?
- 'An Explanation or Enlarging of the Ten Articles in the Supplication of Doctor James, lately exhibited to the Clergy of England' [in reference to a projected new edition of the 'Fathers'], 4to, Oxford, 1626.
- 'Specimen Corruptelarum Pontificiorum in Cypriano, Ambrosio, Gregorio M. et Authore operis imperfecli, & in jure canonico,' 4to, London, 1626.
- 'Index generalis librorum prohibitorum a Ponteficiis,' 12mo, Oxford, 1627.
James is said to have been the 'Catholike Divine' who edited, with preface and notes in English, the text entitled 'Fiscus Papalis; sive, Catalogus Indulgentiarum & Reliquiarum septem principalium Ecclesiarum urbis Romae ex Vetusto Manuscripto Codice descriptus,' 4to, London, 1617; another edition, 1621, was accompanied by the English version of William Crashaw, In 1608 James edited Wyfliffe's 'Two short Treatises against the Orders of the Begging Friars.' Four of his manuscripts are in the Lambeth Library:
- 'Brevis Admonitio ad Theologos Protestantes de Libria Pontificorum caute, pie, ac sobrie habendis, legendis,emendis,'&c.
- 'Enchiridion Theologicam, seu Chronologia Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, ordine alphabetico,' &c.
- 'Suspicionum et Conjecturarum liber primus, in quo ducenia ad minus loca SS. Patrunt in dubium vocata, dubitandi Rationes, Rationum Summae perspicue continentur.'
- 'Breviarium Episcoporum totius Angliae, seu nomina, successio, et chronologia eorundem ad sua usque tempora.
In the Bodleian Library (Bodl. MS. 662) is his 'Tomua primus Animadversionum in Patres, Latinaeque Ecclesiae Doctores primarios.' Two letters from James to Sir Robert Cotton dated 1625 and 1628, are preserved in Cotton MS. Julius C. iii.. ff. 159, 183. Bodley's letters to James are in 'Reliquiae Bodleianae,' published by Hearne, from Bodleian MS. 699, in 1703.
[Wood's Antiquities of Oxford (Gutch); Wood's Colleges and Halls (Gutch); Wood’s Athenae Oxoin. (Bliss), li. 464-70; Macray's Annals of Bodleian Library; Camden’s Brittania (1607), 'Monmouthshire;' Parr's Life of Ussher, 1685. pp. 307, 320; Todd's Cat.of Lambeth MSS.: Reg. of Univ. of Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), vol. ii.]