About this series
Charles Payette’s Bible collection — numbering more than 3,000 books, wood blocks and other rare artifacts — is considered one of the world’s finest and rarest in private hands. In fact, some books in his collection are the only known ones in existence. Over the next several weeks, the Forsyth County resident is offering a closer look at some of the Bibles.
Visit forsythnews.com to watch a video of Charles Payette talking about the 1573 Workes of W. Tyndale, John Frith & Dr. Barnes.
In the seventh of a 12-part series on the Payette Bibles, the FCN will offer a look at a hand-colored 1610 John Speed Map of Scotland.
FORSYTH COUNTY — A martyr is someone who is willing to — and does — die for a cause.
This amazing book, the “1573 Workes of W. Tyndale, John Frith & Dr. Barnes,” is the sixth installment in the Forsyth County News series on resident Charles Payette’s Bible collection. It represents some of the most famous martyrs from the Protestant Reformation.
Readers will remember that during the early 1500s, the Bible was not available in English. Priests could read scriptures, although many were actually not able to, and some of the early reformers wanted that to change.
Early reformers saw the corruption within the Catholic Church and felt that much of it stemmed from congregants being unable to read the Bible and interpret it for themselves.
For example, Martin Luther saw the sale of indulgences (which were sort of “get out of purgatory free” cards) by the Catholic Church as a major problem and corrupt practice. Certainly, it was not scripturally based.
Like Luther, William Tyndale condemned these practices. But neither man wanted to do away with the church, but believed rather, in reform.
The powerful Catholic Church was not interested in reform and it was certainly not interested in educating “the little people” about matters of scripture.
Readers will remember from the first installment of our Payette Bible Series, Tyndale risked his life and traveled in secrecy while translating the Bible from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. He created what became known as the Matthews Bible. His amazing work remains 83 percent of the translation we read to this day.
While Tyndale is probably best known for his Biblical translations, he also wrote numerous commentaries about books in the Bible, as well as arguments for the importance of making scripture and commentary available to all peoples.
John Frith (1503-33) was with Tyndale in Marburg and even assisted him with translating the Bible. When Frith returned to England, he was promptly arrested. Readers will remember this was during the reign of King Henry VIII and Thomas More, when Protestants were routinely being burned at the stake for their beliefs.
Frith made a public declaration that claimed purgatory and transubstantiation were not proven by Biblical scripture (blasphemy to the Catholic Church), and was thus burned at the stake. Readers will also remember that Tyndale, too, was burned for his beliefs and writings.
Dr. Robert Barnes (1495-1540) received his doctorate of divinity from Cambridge in 1523. Barnes preached a sermon at a church in 1525 highlighting the Catholic Church’s heresies and later a sermon condemning a specific bishop. He wrote many letters and other writings and was subsequently burned at the stake in 1540.
Historians say that, while many may not be familiar with Barnes or his work, he was incredibly influential when it came to helping people understand what was actually happening with regards to the Reformation — for both Protestants and Catholics.
John Foxe was a martyologist who eventually wrote the “Book of Martyrs” in 1563, chronicling the many martyrs of the early days of the Protestant Reformation.
John Day was considered a master printer during this time and he, along with Foxe, played an important role by editing (Foxe) and printing (Day) numerous works by these martyrs.
Both men felt getting this information together and then printed and out to the public was extremely important for the Protestant movement.
This pristine first edition 1573 Complete Works of Tyndale, Frith & Barnes is printed on heavy and durable stock, in Roman type. It contains several elaborate half and full page woodcuts.
The first two woodcuts actually illustrate the martyrdoms of Tyndale and Barnes. As with so many of the Bibles and books in the Payette Collection, the rare provenance of this book is amazing — that of Lord Patrick Hume.
Hume (1641-1724) was known as Sir Patrick Hume and was a member of the Scottish Parliament in 1665. Hume defended the Covenanters, who were Scottish Presbyterians (i.e. Protestants) that played an important role in Scottish history.
There was much turmoil in Scotland, both politics and religion being at the center of the problems. Hume was imprisoned numerous times for the role he played in various instances. All this while trying to champion the rule of law and justice, opposing tyrannical rule of the leaders of the day.
Did Hume have this book with him while he was imprisoned? The bookplate created for him is dated 1702, which means he clearly possessed these works on or before that time.
The date on the bookplate is a note of interest as this is the year when, as chancellor, he was defeated in a measure proposed by him for securing the Protestant succession and his seals were then taken from him.
As a huge fan of Tyndale, he actually had these works bound in two separate volumes, with the complete works of Tyndale bound alone in the first.
At one point, to avoid once again being arrested and imprisoned, Hume hid in his family’s burial place, under a church. Again, it is fascinating to wonder if he had this book with him during his times of hiding.
Soon, Hume escaped to London and then to Holland, where by some accounts he was greeted warmly by the Prince of Orange, who considered Hume a refugee for the Protestant movement.
He traveled extensively — narrowly escaping arrest — and settled in Holland, where his family joined him. He lived a meager life during this time, using a presumed name to avoid being killed since he was considered a refugee with a price on his head.
After a few years, Hume came “out of hiding,” and in 1689 was once again a member of the Scottish Parliament. Hume was made Lord High Chancellor of Scotland in 1696 and Earl of Marchmont in 1697.
The bookplate in this book is dated 1702 and reads The Right Honarable Patrick Hume, Earl of Marchmont, Viscount of Blasonberry, Lord Polwarth, & Lord High Chancellor of Scotland 1702.
Next week, we will highlight another amazing piece from the Payette Collection of Rare Bibles and Artifacts — a hand-colored 1610 John Speed Map of Scotland. If reading about an “old map” sounds boring, you simply must read about this one, you will be amazed.