Open main menu


OLD, JOHN (fl. 1545–1555), translator and religious writer, was educated in all probability at Cambridge, and about 1545 was presented to the vicarage of Cubington, Warwickshire, by the Duchess of Somerset. He was probably the John Old, chaplain to Lord Ferrars, who was accused before the council, on 10 July 1546, of having been a 'man of light disposicion concerning metiers of religion,' but, having confessed his fault and shown signs of repentance, 'was with a good lesson dismissed. In his ' Confession of the most Auncient and True Christen Catholike Olde Belefe,' 1556, he admits that he had been a Roman catholic at one time, and dates his conversion ' some ten or eleven years ago.' He was a commissioner for the dioceses of Peterborough, Oxford, Lincoln, and Lichfield, and also 'Register' in the visitation of 1547, and made allusion to his experiences in the prologue to 'The Epistle to the Ephesians' in one of his translations. It is suggested by Strype that at one time he kept a school, which he must have done, if he did it at all, about this time. He was made prebendary of Bedford Minor in the cathedral of Lincoln, and of Dunford in the cathedral of Lichfield in 1551. When Mary came to the throne he fled. He seems afterwards not to have been altogether satisfied with his conduct at the crisis, for he confesses that he had left his vicarage 'somewhat before extreme trouble came' (A Confession, &c.); but he adds that there were other reasons than fear. He does not seem to have left England at once, as Becon has recorded that Old entertained him and Robert Wisdome when they were in hiding (Becon, Jewel of Joy). When Elizabeth succeeded Mary, he must have been dead, as he was not restored to his prebends.

Old took part in the translation of Erasmus's 'Paraphrase of the New Testament,' London 1548, fol.; his share embraced the canonical epistles. He is said to have afterwards translated the books themselves. He also published a translation of five of Gualter's 'Homilies,' under the title of 'Antichrist,' London, 1556; republished as 'A short Description of Antichrist' in 1557. He edited 'Certaine Godly Conferences betweene N. Ridley... and H. Latimer,' London, 1556, 8vo; another edition, 1574. He wrote: 1. 'The Acquital or Purgation of the moost Catholyke Christen Prince, Edward VI,' Waterford, 1555, 4to. This has been said to have been the second book ever printed in Ireland, but it seems more probable that, like most of the books of the same kind, it appeared really at Antwerp (cf. Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iii. 29). 2. 'A Confession of the most Auncient and True Christen Catholike Olde Belefe,' Southwark, 1556, 8vo.

[Strype's Cranmer, i. 397, Memorials, n. i. 47, &c.; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 597, ii. 110; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 664, Fasti, i. 101; Acts of the Privy Council, 1542-7, p. 479; Colville's Worthies of Warwickshire, pp. 553-4; Becon's Works, vol. i. p. ix, ii. 422-4, Cranmer's Works, i. 9, ii. 63, Ridley's Works, 151 (all in the Parker Soc.); Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, ii. 481.]

W. A. J. A.