Kyffin, Maurice (DNB00)


KYFFIN, MAURICE (d. 1599), poet and translator, was the second son of Richard Kyffin of Glasgoed, in the parish of Llansilin, Denbighshire (Williams, Eminent Welshmen, 1852, p. 270). In 1587 he published 'The Blessednes of Brytaine, or a Celebration of the Queenes Holyday. … Composed, and set foorth, in due Reuerence, and ioyfull Memoriall, of her Maiestiee present entrance into the Thirtieth yeere of her most triumphant raiffue,' &c., 4to, London, of which a reprint was issued by the Cymmrodorion Society in 1885, from a copy then suposed to be unique in the Lambeth Palace Library. There is, however, a second but much mutilated copy in Archbishop Harsnett's library at Colchester (Cat. of Harsnett Library, 1888, pp. xxxi-ii, 95). An inaccurate reprint had previously appeared in Huth's 'Fugitive Tracts in Verse,' 1st series, 1875. This fine piece of versification is a eulogy on the government of Queen Elizabeth, and an exhoriation to loyalty, provoked, as it would seem, by Babington's conspiracy, in which two Welshmen were implicated. A second edition was issued in 1588 'newly set forth with a New Addition containing the late Accidents and Occurrents of this yeere 88,' of which the only two copies known are those in the British Museum and Huth Library (Cat. of Huth Library, iii. 810-ll). Kyffin, in dedicating his poem to the Earl of Essex, gratefully refers to the kindnesses received by his deceased father at the hands of the earl's grandfather and father. In the same year appeared his prose translation of the 'Andria' of Terence, 4to, London, 1588. He had nearly finished, but abandoned, a translation in verse. The tone of his dedicatory epistles to William, Henry, and Thomas Sackville, sons of Lord Buckhurst, makes it clear that he had been their tutor. In May 1592 Kyffin held the office of vice-treasurer of Normandy (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1591-4, p. 219). In 1594 or 1595 he issued his Welsh translation of Bishop Jewel's 'Apologia pro Ecclesia Anglicana,' a work remarkable for its pure idiomatic diction. It was republished in 1671 by Charles Edward of Rhydycroesan, and again in 1808 by T. Charles of Bala. In his preface Kyffin announced his intention of making a translation of the Psalms into Welsh verse, which, however, never appeared. He seems to have died unmarried in 1599, as on 20 April of that year administration of his estate (with will annexed) was granted by commission to his brother Edward Kyffin, 'preacher,' his cousin William Meredith first renouncing executorship of the will (registered in P.C.C. 31, Kidd). Kyffin was a devout believer in astrology, and bequeathed 10l. to John and Jane Dee of Mortlake; he also left 5l. to Hugh Broughton 'towards the printing and publishinge of some of his observacons on the Bible.' There are commendatory verses by him before Sir Lewis Lewkenor's translations of Olivier de la Marche's 'The Resolved Gentleman,' 1594, and of Contarini's 'Commonwealth and Government of Venice', 1599. An anonymous tract entitled 'A Defence of the Honorable Sentence and Execution of the Queene of Scots,' 4to, London 1587, has been wrongly assigned to Kyffin (J. P. Collier, Bibliographical and Critical Account, ii. 207–8). Gabriel Harvey mentions Kyffin with respect in his ‘Pierces Supererogation,’ 1593 (p. 194 of Collier's reprint).

[Hunter's Chorus Vatum (Addit. MS. 24488, f. 382); Rowlands's Cambrian Bibliography; Cat. Advocates' Library, iv. 391; Baker's Biog. Dram. 1812, i. 442, ii. 38; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 5, 142.]

G. G.