James, Thomas

, a learned English critic and divine, was born about 1571, at Newport in the Isle of Wight; and, being put to Winchester-school, became a scholar upon the foundation, and thence a fellow of New college in Oxford, 1593. He commenced M. A. in 1599; and the same year, having collated several Mss. of the Philobiblion of Richard of Durham, he published it in 4to at Oxford, with an appendix of the Oxford Mss. and dedicated it:o sir Thomas Bodley, apparently to recommend himself to the place of librarian to him, when he should have completed his design. Meanwhile James proceeded with the same spirit to publish a catalogue of all the Mss. in each college- library of both universities and in the compiling of it, having free access to the Mss. at Oxford, he perused them carefully, and, when he found any society careless of them, he borrowed and took away what he pleased, and put them into the public library. These instances of his taste and turn to books effectually procured him the designation of the founder to be the first keeper of the public library; in which office he was confirmed by the university in 1602. He filled this post with great applause and commencing D. D. in 1614, was | promoted to the subdeanery of Wells by the bishop of that see. About the same time, the archbishop of Canterbury also presented him to the rectory of Mongeham in Kent, together with other spiritual preferments. These favours were undeniably strong evidences of his distinguished merit, being conferred upon him without any application on his part. In 1620, he was made a justice of the peace; and the same year resigned the place of librarian, and applied himself more intensely to his studies. Of what kind these were, we learn thus from himself: “I have of late,” says he in a letter, May 23, 1624, to a friend, “given myself to the reading only of manuscripts, and in them I find so many and so pregnant testimonies, either fully for our religion, or against the papists, that it is to be wondered at.” In another letter to archbishop Usher, the same year, he assures the primate he had restored 300 citations and rescued them from corruptions, in thirty quires of paper. He had before written to Usher upon the same subject, Jan. 28, 1623, when having observed that in Sixtus Sinensis, Alphonsus de Castro, and Antoninus’s Summae, there were about 500 bastard brevities and about 1000 places in the true authors which are corrupted, that he had diligently noted, and would shortly vindicate them out of the Mss. being yet only conjectures of the learned, be proceeds to acquaint him, that he had gotten together the flower of the English divines, who would voluntarily join with him in the search. “Some fruits of their labours,” continues he, “if your lordship desires, I will send up. And might I be but so happy as to have other 12 thus bestowed, four in transcribing orthodox writers, whereof we have plenty that for the substantial points have maintained our religion (40l. or 50l. would serve); four to compare old prints with the new; four other to compare the Greek translations by the papists, as Vedelius hath done with Ignatius, wherein he hath been somewhat helped by my pains; I would not doubt but to drive the papists out of all starting-holes. But alas! my lord, I have not encouragement from our bishops. Preferment I seek none at their hands; only 40l. or 60l. per ann. for others is that I seek, which being gained, the cause is gained, notwithstanding their brags in their late books.” In the convocation held with the parliament at Oxford in 1625, of which he was a member, he moved to have proper commissioners appointed to collate the Mss. of the fathers in all the libraries in | England, with the popish editions, in order to detect the forgeries in the latter. This project not meeting with the desired encouragement, he was so thoroughly persuaded of the great advantage it would be both to the protestant religion and to learning, that, arduous as the task was, he set about executing it himself. We may form a probable conjecture of his plan, from a passage in the just cited letter to Usher, where he expresses himself thus: “Mr. Briggs will satisfy you in this and sundry other projects of mine, if they miscarry not for want of maintenance: it would deserve a prince’s purse. If I was in Germany, the state would defray all charges. Cannot our estates supply what is wanting? If every churchman that hath 100 per annum and upwards, will lay down but Is. for every hundred towards these public works, I will undertake the reprinting of the fathers, and setting forth of five or six orthodox writers, comparing of books printed with printed or written; collating of popish translations in Greek; and generally whatsoever shall concern books or the purity of them. I will take upon me to be a magister of S. Patalii in England, if I be thereunto lawfully required.

He had made good progress in this undertaking, and no doubt would have proceeded much farther towards completing his design, had not he been prevented by death. This happened August 1629. He was buried towards the upper end of New college chapel at Oxford. Wood informs us, that he left behind him the character of being the most industrious and indefatigable writer against the papists, that had been educated in Oxford since the reformation; and in reality his designs were so great, and so well known to be for the public benefit of learning and the church of England, that Camden, speaking of him in his ife-time, calls him “a learned man and a true lover of books, wholly dedicated to learning; who is now laboriously searching the libraries of England, and proposeth that for the public good which will be for the great benefit of England.

His works are, 1. “Philobiblion R. Dunelmensis,1599, 4to. 2. “Ecloga Oxonio-Cantabrigiensis,” Lond. 1600, 4to. 3. “Cyprianus Redivivus, &c.” printed with the “Ecloga.” 4. “Spicilegium divi Augustini hoc est, libri de fide ad Pet. Diacon. collatio & castigatio,” printed also with the “Ecloga.” 5. “Bellum papale seu concordia discors Sext. V. & dementis VIII. circa Hieronym. | Edition.” Lond. 1600, 4to, and 1678, 8vo. 6. “Catalogus Librorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana,Oxford, 1605, 4to, reprinted with many additions in 1620, 4to, to which was added an appendix in 1636: in this catalogue is inserted that of all the Mss. then in the Bodleian library. 7. “Concordantiae Ss. patrum, i.e. vera & pialibri Canticorum per patres universes, &c.Oxford, 1607, 4to. 8. “Apology for John Wickliffe, &c.Oxford, 1608, 4to to this is added the “Life of John Wickliffe.” 9. “A Treatise of the Corruption of Scriptures, Councils, and Fathers, &c.” Lond. 1611, 4to, and 1688, 8vo; this is reckoned his principal work. It is amply analyzed by Oldys in his “Librarian.” 10. “The Jesuits’ Downfall threatened for their wicked lives, accursed manners, heretical doctrine, and more than Machiavelian policy,Oxford, 1612, 4to; to this is added “The Life of father Parsons, an English Jesuit.” 11. “Filius Papae papalis,” ch. 1. Lond. 1621; translated from Latin into English by William Crashaw: the author’s name is not put to it 12. “Index generalis sanct, Patrum ad singulos versus cap. v. secundum Matthseum, &c.” Lond. 1624, 8vo. 13. “Notae ad Georg. Wicelium de methodo concordiae ecclesiasticae,” &c. 1695, 8vo. 14. “Vindiciae Gregorianae, seu restitutus Gregorius Magnus ex Mss. &c. de Genevas,” 1625. 15. “Manuduction, or Introduction unto Divinity, &c.Oxford, 1625, 4to. 16. “Humble and earnest Request to the Church of England, for and in the behalf of books touching Religion,” in one sheet, 1625, 8vo. 17. “Explanation or enlarging of the Ten Articles in his Supplication lately exhibited to the clergy of the church of England,Oxford, 1625, 4to. 18. “Specimen Corruptelarum poutificiorum in Cypriano, Ambrosio, Greg. Magno, &c.” Lond. 1626. 19. “Index librorum prohibitorum a pontificiis, Oxford,1627, 8vo. 20. “Admonitio ad theologos protestantes de libris pontificiorum caute legendis,ms. 21. “Enchiridion theologicum,ms. 22. “Liber de suspicionibus & conjecturis,ms. These three Wood says he saw in the Lambeth library, under D. 42, 3; but whether printed, says he, I know not, perhaps the “Enchiridion” is. Dr. James likewise translated, from French into English, “The Moral Philosophy of the Stoics,” Lond. 1598, 8vo; and published two short treatises against the order of begging friars, written by Wickliffe; with a book entitled “Fiscus papalis, sive catalogus indulgentiarum,” &c. Lond. 1617, 4to: | but some were of opinion this book was published by William Crashaw, already mentioned. Several letters of our author are in the appendix to Parr’s “Life of Usher.1

1 Biog. Brit. Supplement. Gen. Dict. —Ath. Ox. vol. I. Usher’s Life and Letters. Oldys’s Librarian.