Phreas, John

, or Freas, an English writer, celebrated by Leland as one of those who were the first to raise their country from barbarism, was born in London, towards the close of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century. He was educated at Oxford, and became fellow of Baliol -college. After taking holy orders, he settled as minister of St. Mary’s church on the Mount, in the city of Bristol; where he pursued the studies for which he had made himself famous at the university. Many merchants being at that time going from Bristol to Italy, his curiosity was excited by the learning which he was told abounded in that country, and particularly by the fame of Guarini, an old philosopher and orator, who taught at Ferrara. To him he went, attended his lectures, studied under him the knowledge of medical herbs, and, by an odd assortment, the civil law, and gained the esteem of many of the learned there; so as with great applause to read medical lectures, first at Ferrara, and afterwards at Florence and Padua; in which latter place he obtained the degree of doctor. He also visited Rome, and there met with John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, then absent from his country, on account of the civil wars prevailing between the houses of York and Lancaster. Phreas wrote “Epistles,” and “Poems;” some of which he dedicated to his patron Tiptoft. To him also he dedicated a Latin translation of “Synesius de laude Calvitii.Basil, 1521, and translated into English by Abraham Flemming, Loud. 1579. | Phreas translated also into Latin, the history of “Diodorus Siculus,” which was by some falsely attributed to Poggius. Leland mentions that he had seen a copy, in the Brst leaf of which a later pen had written, “Paul (II). the Roman pontiff, on account of this translation, which was dedicated to him by Phreas, gave him the bishopric of Bath, which presentation he survived only one month, and died at Rome in 1465, before he was consecrated.' 7 Leland adds, that some supposed him to have been poisoned by a person who was a competitor for that appointment. The same author subjoins, that he had seen a book,” de rebus Geographicis," which he, from various circumstances, collected to have been written by Phreas. He speaks also of an elegant epitaph composed by him for the tomb of Petrarch. He was much praised by Omnibonus Leonicenus, and Rhenanus, particularly for his version of Synesius, and in general for his great learning. According to Leland, he was reported to have made a great deal of money by practising physic in Italy, and to have died rich. Some epistles of Phreas are still extant in ms. in the Bodleian and in Baliol college libraries, which, Warton says, discover an uncommon terseness and facility of expression. 1


Leland. Tanner. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry. Aikin’s Biog. Memoirs of Mediant.