Downes, Andrew (DNB00)


DOWNES, ANDREW (1549?–1628), Greek professor at Cambridge, was born in Shropshire in or about 1549, and educated under Thomas Ashton in the grammar school at Shrewsbury, where was also Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, with whom he afterwards became acquainted at Cambridge. He was admitted a scholar of St. John's College, Cambridge, on the Lady Margaret's foundation, 7 Nov. 1567, took his B.A. degree in 1570–1, was elected a fellow of his college 6 April 1571, commenced M.A. in 1574, was admitted a senior fellow 30 Jan. 1580–1, and graduated B.D. in 1582. When he entered St. John's the Greek language had been almost forgotten and lost in the society, and the study of it was revived by Downes and his pupil, John Bois [q. v.] Downes was elected regius professor of Greek in the university in 1585 (Graduati Cantab. ed. 1873, p. 487).

He was one of the learned divines appointed to translate the Apocrypha for the ‘authorised’ version of the Bible. Subsequently he, Bois, and four other eminent scholars were charged with the duty of reviewing the new version. For this purpose they came to London, repaired daily to Stationers' Hall, and in three quarters of a year completed their task. During this time they were duly paid by the Stationers' Company thirty shillings a week, though they had received for their previous work of translation nothing ‘but the self-rewarding ingenious industry.’ Downes afterwards became so jealous on account of Sir Henry Savile's greater approbation of Bois's notes on Chrysostom that he was never reconciled to his pupil, who nevertheless often confessed that ‘he was much bound to blesse God for him.’

In an undated letter to Salisbury preserved in the State Paper Office, and supposed to have been written in 1608, Downes expressed a desire to have part of the 160l. per annum that was assigned for the better maintenance of the Lady Margaret's divinity lecture. On 27 April 1609 Dudley Carleton informed J. Chamberlain that Sir Henry Savile had been appointed to correct the king's book, which task had been entrusted first to Downes, next to Lionel Sharpe, then to Wilson, and lastly to Barclay, the French poet. On 17 May following a warrant was issued for the payment of 50l. to Downes of the king's free gift.

He used to give private lectures in his house, which D'Ewes declined to attend, on the ground of expense. Under date 17 March 1619–20 D'Ewes writes: ‘I was, during the latter part of my stay at Cambridge, for the most part a diligent frequenter of Mr. Downes' Greek lectures, he reading upon one of Demosthenes' Greek orations, “De Coronâ.” … When I came to his house near the public schools he sent for me up into a chamber, where I found him sitting in a chair, with his legs upon a table that stood by him. He neither stirred his hat nor body, but only took me by the hand, and instantly fell into discourse (after a word or two, of course, passed between us) touching matters of learning and criticisms. He was of personage big and tall, long-faced and ruddy coloured, and his eyes very lively, although I took him to be at that time at least seventy years old’ (Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Autobiography, ed. Halliwell, i. 139, 141).

In his seventy-seventh year, after having worthily held the regius professorship of Greek for thirty-nine years, he was reluctantly compelled to vacate the chair, but the usual stipend was continued by the university. He now retired to the village of Coton, near Cambridge, but before the expiration of the year he died, on 2 Feb. 1627–8. A mural monument, with a Latin inscription to his memory, was placed in the parish church.

His works are: 1. ‘Eratosthenes, hoc est, brevis et luculenta Defensio Lysiæ pro cæde Eratosthenis, prælectionibus illustrata,’ Greek and Latin, Cambridge, 1593, 8vo, with dedication to Robert, earl of Essex, dated from Trinity College, Cambridge. 2. Notes in the appendix to Sir Henry Savile's edition of St. Chrysostom, vol. viii. (1613). 3. ‘Prælectiones in Philippicam de Pace Demosthenis,’ with the text in Greek and Latin, London, 1621, 8vo. Dedicated to James I. These prælections are reprinted in Christian Daniel Beck's edition of the ‘Oratio de Pace,’ Leipzig, 1799, and in William Stephen Dobson's edition of the works of Demosthenes and Æschines, 9 vols. Lond. 1827. 4. Letters in Greek to Isaac Casaubon, printed in ‘Casauboni Epistolæ.’ The originals, beautiful specimens of Greek caligraphy, are preserved in the Burney MS. 363, f. 252 seq. 5. Greek verses on the death of Dr. Whitaker, master of St. John's College, appended to vol. i. of his works; and Greek and Latin verses at the end of Nethersole's ‘Oratio funebris’ on the death of Prince Henry in 1612.

[Addit. MSS. 5805 f. 18, 5867 f. 9, 17083 f. 109; Anderson's Annals of the English Bible, ii. 377 n., Baker's St. John's (Mayor), pp. 289, 326, 333, 598, 1149; Birch MS. 4224, f. 178; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Leigh's Treatise of Religion and Learning, p. 183; Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 660; Lewis's Hist. of Translations of the Bible (1818), p. 312; Lysiæ Orationes et Fragmenta, ed. Taylor (1739), præf. p. xv; Parr's Life of Usher, pp. 329, 546, Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, 1st edit. II. viii. 47–9; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1601–3) p. 116, (1603–10). pp. 478, 506, 513.]

T. C.