Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Studley, John
STUDLEY, JOHN (1545?–1590?), translator, born about 1545, was one of the original scholars of Westminster school, and the earliest to be elected to Cambridge (Alumni Westmonast. p. 45, where the Christian name is given erroneously as Joseph). He matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1561; he graduated B. A. in 1566 and M.A. in 1570, being elected a fellow of the college in the interval. He was a good classical scholar, and at a very early age prepared, in continuation of the labours of Jasper Heywood, translations of four of Seneca's tragedies 'Agamemnon,' 'Medea,' 'Hippolytus,' and 'Hercules Oeteus.' He employed the common ballad metre for the dialogue, and rhyming decasyllabics for the choruses, but freely and tediously paraphrased his text with ludicrously tame and bathetic effects. Occasionally he made deliberate changes. To the 'Agamemnon' he added an unnecessary scene at the close, in which he re-narrated the death of Cassandra, the imprisonment of Electra, and the flight of Orestes. To the 'Medea' he prefixed an original prologue and amplified the choruses. The 'Agamemnon' and the 'Medea' were both licensed for publication to Thomas Colwell in 1566, and the 'Hippolytus' to Henry Denham in 1567. No copy of the original edition of either the 'Medea' or the ‘Hippolytus’ is extant. The ‘Agamemnon’ was published in 1566 with a dedication to Sir William Cecil, and many commendatory verses. The title-page ran: ‘The Eyght Tragedie of Seneca entituled Agamemnon translated out of Latin into English’ (London, 12mo). Studley’s four translations were included in the edition by Thomas Newton [q. v.] of ‘Seneca his tenne tragedies translated into English,’ London, 1581 (cf. reprint by the Spenser Society, 1887).
Studley wrote Latin elegies on the death of Nicholas Carr [q. v.], the Greek professor at Cambridge, which were printed with the professor’s Latin translation of Demosthenes in 1571. In 1574 he published, ‘with sondrye additions,’ a translation of Bale’s ‘Acta Pontificum Romanorum’ under the title of ‘The Pageant of the Popes, conteyning the lyves of all the Bishops of Rome from the beginninge of them to the yeare 1555,’ London, 1574, 4to. It was dedicated to Thomas Radcliffe, third earl of Sussex [q. v.] Some Latin verses by Studley addressed to Sir William Cecil about 1564 are among the domestic state papers (cf. Cal. 1547–80, p. 248).
Studley’s religious opinions were stoutly Calvinistic. On 1 Feb. 1572–3 he was summoned before the heads of colleges at Cambridge on a charge of nonconformity. A few months later he vacated his fellowship. He is doubtfully said by Chetwood to have crossed to the Low Countries, to have joined the army of Prince Maurice, and to have met his death at the siege of Breda. That siege took place in 1590, but no contemporary authority seems to mention Studley’s share in it.
[Cooper’s Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 100; Wood’s Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 10; Tanner’s Bibl. Brit.; Warton’s Hist, of English Poetry; Collier’s Registers of Stationers’ Company (Shakespeare Soc.), i. 127, 140, 147.]