Kaye, John

, a learned English physician and co-founder of Gonvil and Caius college, Cambridge, the son of Robert Kaye, of a Norfolk family, was born at Norwich, Oct. 6, 1510. After having received his school education at Norwich, he was admitted very young of Gonvil-hall, of which he became fellow. While here, among other proofs of literary application, he informs us that at the age of twenty-one, he translated out of Greek into Latin, Nicephorus Callistus’s treatise of “Confession in prayer,” another of Chrysostom, on the “manner of prayer;” and out of Latin into English, Erasmus’s paraphrase on Jude. He also epitomized his book | De Vera Theologia.” The study of divinity might probably have engaged his attention at this time, but we find that when he went afterwards, according to the custom of the age, to Italy, he studied physic under the learned Montanus, and soon became himself so eminent in that faculty, as to read lectures in the university of Padua for some years. We also find him reading lectures on Aristotle at that university about 1542, but he took his doctor’s degree at Bononia. In 1543 he travelled through the greatest part of Italy, Germany, and France, and on his return to England, commenced M. D. at Cambridge, and practised both at Shrewsbury and Norwich with such success, as to be considered one of the ablest physicians in England. It was doubtless this high reputation which procured him the honour of being successively physician to Edward VI. queen Mary, and queen Elizabeth.

In 1547, he was admitted fellow of the college of physicians in London, of which he held all the higher offices, of censor, president, &c. and upon every occasion shewed himself a zealous defender of the college’s rights and privileges, and a strict observer of her statutes, never, even in advanced life, absenting himself from the comitia, or meetings, without a dispensation. He also compiled the annals of the college from 1555 to 1572, entering every memorable transaction in its due time and order. In 1557, being in great favour with queen Mary, and,as it is said, almost an oracle in her opinion, he determined to employ this influence in behalf of literature in general, and accordingly obtained a licence to advance Gonvil-hall, in which he had been educated, into a college. As yet it was not a corporation, or body politic; but, by Caius’s interest at court, it was now incorporated by the name of Gonvil and Caius College, which he endowed with considerable estates, purchased by him on the dissolution of the monasteries, for the maintenance of an additional number of fellows and scholars. He also built, at his own expence, the new square called Caius Court. The first statutes of this new foundation were drawn up by him, and that he might have the better opportunity of consulting its interest, he accepted, and retained, the mastership, almost as long as he lived. Some short time before his decease he caused another master to be appointed in his room, but continued in college as a fellow-commoner, assisting daily at divine service in a private seat in the chapel, which he | had built for himself. Here -he died July 29, 1573, amf was buned in the college-chapal, with the short epitaph of “Fui Caius. Vivit post funera virtus.

Caius’s religious principles have been disputed. The most probable conjecture is, that he had a secret inclination to the principles of his early years, but conformed, at least in outwarcl observances, to the reformation in his latter days. Of his learning there is no difference of opinion. It was various and extensive; and his knowledge of the Greek language, particularly, gave him a superiority over most of hrs contemporaries, the study of that language in this country being then in its infancy. His zeal ibr the interests of learning appears from his munificence to his alma mater, and the same motive led him in 1557 to erect a monument in St. Paul’s cathedral to the celebrated Linacre. As an author, he wrote much; but some of his works have not been published. He revised, corrected, and translated several of Galen’s works, printed at different times abroad. He published also, 1. “Hippocrates de Medicamentis,” first discovered in ms. by him; also “de ratione V ictus,” 8vo. 2. “De medendi methodo,Basil, 1544, Lond. 1556, 8vo. 3. “De Ephemera Britannica,” or an account of the sweating sickness in England, Lond. 1556, and reprinted so lately as 1721. 4. “De Thermis Britannicis.” 5. “Of some rare Plants and Animals,” Lond. 1570. 6. “De Canibus Britannicis,” Lond. 1570, and inserted entire in Pennant’s “British Zoology.” 7. “De pronunciatione Graecae et Latinae linguae,” Lond. 1574, with several other works, a history of his college, &c. still in manuscript.*


There is considerable difficulty in recovering the proper titles and dates of books of the sixteenth century; and Bale, Pits, and even Tanner, often give as separate publications what belong to a collection. We are not sure that in the above list we have not fallen into the same error; but we can refer the reader to a very scarce volume, in which the best of Caius’s tracts are to be found, and in which they were collected by the author. It is entitled, “J. Caii Britanni Opera aliquot et Versiones, partim jam nata, partim recognita atque aucta.” Lovaine, 1556, 8vo. To this edition is prefixed a print of Dr. Caius, accurately cut in wood, with a large beard, according to the custom of the age. Dr. Jebb’s volume of Caius’s tracts ineludes, “De Canibus” “DC varii* Animalibus;” “De libris propriis” and “De pronunciatione Gr. & Lat.

One only of his works we reserve for a more particular notice. This was his History of the university of Cambridge, occasioned by the appearance of a work written by the subject of our next article, in which it was asserted that Oxford was the most ancient | university, founded by some Greek philosophers, the companions of Brutus, and restored by king Alfred in 870, consequently older than Cambridge. Dr. Caius, however, completely defeated his antagonist by going farther back in ancient history, and asserting, that Cambridge was founded by Cantaber, 394 years before Christ, and consequently was 1267 years older than Oxford Strype says that Caius published this work (in 1568, 8vo.) at the motion of archbishop Parker. It is to be regretted that either should have embarked in so ridiculous a controversy. 1

Biog. Brit.—Strype’s Parker, p. 199—201, 257, 380.—Peck’s Desiderata.