Wakefield, Robert

, a learned divine in the reign of Henry VIII. was born in the north of England, and educated at the university of Cambridge, whence, after taking his degrees in arts, he went abroad to study the Oriental languages. In a few years he made a considerable progress in the Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Syriac; and | taught those languages both in Paris and in Germany. In 1519 he was Hebrew professor at Louvain, but after holding that office only a few months, he returned home, and became chaplain to Dr. Pace, then dean of St. Paul’s, who recommending him to the king as an able linguist, he was sent to Cambridge, and there honoured with the degree of B. D. which qualified him for ecclesiastical preferments. When the controversy relating to king Henry VIII.‘s divorce commenced, Wakefield is said to have been of the queen’s party, and thought the divorce unjustifiable, but was afterwards induced to be of the king’s opinion. Dodd says that the reason he gave for changing sides was the circumstance of prince Arthur’s having consummated the marriage, of which he was not before aware; and Dodd adds, that “as the world is apt to judge the worst of things of this nature, Mr. Wakefield was represented as a mercenary writer, especially by those that maintained the queen’s cause.” We have, however, the evidence of another Roman catholic biographer that the world was not much to blame for its unfavourable opinion. Phillips, in his Life of cardinal Pole, assures us, that a letter is extant, “to Wakefield’s eternal infamy,” addressed by secretary Pace to the king, in which he informs him, that “he had treated with Dr. Wakefield of the divorce, and that the doctor was ready to solve the question, either in the negative or affirmative, just as the king thought proper, and in such a manner as all the divines in England should not be able to make any reply.” This letter is dated 1526. Accordingly he soon after wrote a work in favour of the divorce; and in 1530, the king sent him to Oxford, and made him public professor of Hebrew; by which means he had an opportunity of being more serviceable to his majesty. In 1532, he was made a canon of Wolsey’scollege, and incorporated bachelor of divinity. He appears to have been a lover of learning, and when, in 1536, the lesser monasteries were dissolved, he took care to save from destruction several valuable books and Mss. especially such as were in Greek and Hebrew; and, among others, several curious Mss. in Ramsay-abbey, particularly a Hebrew dictionary, which had been lodged there by Robert Holbeach, a monk of that monastery in the reign of Henry IV. Wakefield died at London, Oct. 8, 1537. He left some learned works, as, 1, “Oratio de laudibus et militate trium linguarum, Arabics, Chaidaicae, et | liebraicae, atque id -viaicis qua- ii utfoque Testajnr- io niveniuntur,” 15^4, 4to. Thepmuei w. Wynix lie Worde; and the author complains, that he was obliged to omit his whole third part, because the printer had no Hebrew types. Some few Hebrew and Arabic characters, however, are introduced, but extremely rude, and evidently cut in wood. They are the first of the sort used in England. 2. “Koster Codicis,” &c. the same mentioned by Bale and Pits, with the title “De non ducenda fratria,” and is the book he wrote in favour of king Henry’s -divorce, Lond. 1628, 4to. Tanner and Wood attribute other pieces to him, but they are probably in ms. except “Syntagma de Hebraeorum codicum incorruptione,” 4to, without date; and " Paraphrasis in Hbrum Koheleth (Ecclesiasticen) succincta, clara, et fidelis, 4to. 1

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Tanner. Bale and Pits. —Ath. Ox. vol. I. new edit. Cole’s ms Alhenae in Brit. Mus. Dodd’s Ch. Hiit. Philiips’s Life of Cardinal Pote, p. 38, 4to edit. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry. Dibdin’s Ames, vol. II.