William Whittingham

Article from the Encyclopedia Britannica
11th edition (1911)

WHITTINGHAM, WILLIAM (c. 1524-1579), English scholar, who belonged to a Lancashire family, was born at Chester. Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, he became a fellow of All Souls' College and a senior student of Christ Church, and later he visited several universities in France and Germany. A strong Protestant, he returned to England in 1553, but soon found it expedient to travel again to France. In 1554 he was a leading member of the band of English Protestant exiles who were assembled at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and in the controversies which took place between them concerning the form of service to be adopted, Whittingham strongly supported the Calvinistic views propounded by John Knox. These opinions, however, did not prevail, and soon the Scottish reformer and his follower were found at Geneva; in 1559 Whittingham succeeded Knox as minister of the English congregation in that city, and here he did his most noteworthy work, that of making an English translation of the Bible. He was probably responsible for the English translation of the New Testament which appeared in 1557, and he had certainly a large share in the translation of both the Old and the New Testaments which is called the Genevan Bible. This was printed at Geneva in 1560 and enjoyed a remarkable popularity (see BIBLE, ENGLISH). He also made a metrical translation of some of the Psalms. Having returned to England in 1560, Whittingham went to France in the train of Francis Russell, 2nd earl of Bedford, and a little later he acted as minister of the English garrison at Havre, being in this place during its siege by the French in 1562. In the following year he was made dean of Durham. He attended well to the duties of his office, but his liking for puritan customs made certain prelates and others look upon him with suspicion, and in 1576 or 1577 a commission was appointed to inquire into his conduct. This had no result, and another commission was appointed in 1578, one charge against Whittingham being that he had not been duly ordained. The case was still under consideration when the dean died on the 10th of June 1579.