Witham, Robert (DNB00)

WITHAM, ROBERT (d. 1738), biblical scholar, brother of Bishop George Witham [q. v.], received his education in the English College at Douay, where he was for several years professor of philosophy and divinity. Subsequently he was sent to England on the mission, and was much esteemed by his brethren. Upon the decease of Edward Paston [q. v.], president of Douay College, he was promoted to that dignity in 1714. Resuming his studies, he delivered lectures on divinity and was created doctor in that faculty by the university of Douay on 8 July 1692. He built a handsome church and erected a noble structure upon part of the ruins of the ancient college, and he was most diligent in promoting learning and discipline. He died on 29 May (N. S.) 1738.

He was the author of: 1. ‘Theologia,’ Douay, 1692, fol., containing the theses which he maintained on being created D.D. 2. ‘Annotations on the New Testament of Jesus Christ, in which, 1. The literal sense is explained according to the Expositions of the ancient Fathers. 2. The false Interpretations, both of the ancient and modern Writers, which are contrary to the received Doctrine of the Catholic Church, are briefly examined and disproved. 3. With an Account of the chief differences betwixt the Text of the ancient Latin Version and the Greek in the printed Editions and Manuscripts,’ [Douay], 1730, 2 vols. 8vo. This work contains a translation of the whole of the New Testament. The preface is reprinted in the appendix to ‘Rhemes and Doway’ (1855) by Archdeacon Henry Cotton [q. v.], who says that the work ‘stands in high favour with Roman catholics at present, both as to its text and its annotations.’ The annotations were reprinted at Manchester in 1813 in Oswald Syers's ‘Bible.’ A reply appeared under the title of ‘Popery an Enemy to Scripture. By James Serces, vicar of Appleby, Lincolnshire,’ London, 1736, 8vo.

[Barnard's Life of Bishop Challoner, p. 67; Cotton's Rhemes and Douay; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 488; Horne's Introd. to the Holy Scriptures (1846), v. 109.]

T. C.