Annals of the English Bible by Christopher Anderson

Anderson’s Annals of the English Bible is a full history of the Bible in the English language.

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate: Some subject matter knowledge helpful.

Book Contents


Brief survey of the ages which preceded any printing of the Scriptures in the English tongue — Including the revival and triumph of classical learning and the arts, contrasted with the times of Wickliffe, with his version of the entire Sacred Volume, and its effects — The invention of printing, its rapid progress to perfection, and the point to which the European nations, but more especially England and Scotland had been brought, before ever this invaluable art was applied to any version of the Sacred Scriptures in the language Spoken by the peeple,

Book 1. England

The Reign of Henry the Eighth

Section 1. 1484? - 1509 - 1523

From the birth of Tyndale, the original translator, to his embarkation for the Continent, in pursuit of his design

Section 2. 1524-1525.

The New Testament in English preparing by Tyndale, for circulation in his native land; and in two editions from the press by the close of 1525 — State of England immediately before the reception of either edition

Section 3. 1526.

Memorable introduction of the New Testament into England — the first two editions — the first alarm in London, Oxford, Cambridge — the first burning of books — New Testament denounced by the King and Wolsey — then by Tunstal and Warham — The Third Edition — Violent contention respecting it — Burning the Sacred Volume, abroad and at home — but all this fury is ineffectual

Section 4. 1527.

The Translator’s progress — His earliest compositions — Agitation of Europe — Sack of Rome — Consequences — Persecution in England — -Virulent Opposition to the New Testament — Warham and the Bishops buying it up — Fresh importations — The Fourth Edition — Scriptures singularly introduced once more

Section 5. 1528.

Tyndale and Fryth — England and Spain — England and Italy — Retrospect — Present persecution in England — Arrested by prevailing disease — Persecution in Antwerp — Nobly withstood, and the English Envoy defeated — Wolsey’s pursuit after Tyndale and others — His efforts are all in vain

Section 6. 1529.

Tyndale’s progress in the Old Testament — Persecution in England — Thwarted once more — Tunstal at Antwerp — Wolsey’s career — Tyndale’s influence in the Palace — Cranmer first employed — Wolsey’s fall — Lord Chancellor More — Rise of Crumwell — Parliament assembled — Commotion there — More, the Bishops, and the King, in league against the Scriptures — Coverdale sent to Hamburgh — Another or fifth edition of the New Testament, so dreaded by the authorities

Section 7. 1530.

Tyndale’s progress in the Old Testament — Practice of prelates — State of England — Wolsey’s final ruin, sickness, death — Persecution goes on — King and prelates denounce the Scriptures — Latimer’s bold remonstrance — New Testaments burnt by Tunstal — Another, the sixth edition — Vigorous importation going forward — Death of S. Fyshe

Section 8. 1531.

Formidable opposition — Pursuit after Tyndale by the King and Crumwell — Still in vain — Tyndale’s answer to Sir T. More — - Epistle of John eXpounded — Jonah, with a prologue — Critical state of England — renewed persecution — Brother of Tyndale — Bilney — Bayfield — Many books importing — Constantyne caught — Escapes — Pcrsccution abroad — Powerful remonstrance from Antwerp, by Vaughan the English ambassador, with Crumwell, including the King and the Lord Chancellor More

Section 9. 1532.

Tyndale’s progress — Exposition in Matthew — His sentiments under persecution — The King not appeased — Renewed pursuit of Tyndale — Now by Sir Thomas Elyot — Still in vain — State of England — Parliament — The Bishops fined — The King’s affairs — Persecution goes on — Bainham — Latimer — More against Tyndale — Fryth arrives in England — In peril — In the Tower — Writing there in defense of the truth, and addressing the Christians in England

Section 10. 1533.

One distinguishing feature of Tyndale’s course and character as compared with all his contemporaries — His answer to Sir T. More — His letter to Fryth in prison — State of England — Fryth’s voice from the Tower — Strange condition of England — The King married — Cranmer’s procedure — Gardiner roused — Fryth’s examination before the Bishops assembled — His triumph in argument — DIartyrdom — England and the Continent — One effect of Fryth’s death — Sir T. More writing still — One powerful opponent at home — More, considered as a controversialist — His prodigious exertions — Other qualities — Finally overcome — The prospect is rather brightening

Section 11. 1534.

Tyndale all alone after Fryth’s death — Genesis, second edition — Fresh issue of the Pentateuch — Surreptitious edition of the New Testament by Joye — The corrected and improved edition by Tyndale — Joye’s interference explained — State of England — Parliament assembled — Separation from Rome — Constructive treason — More and Fisher in trouble — The Pontiff’s supremacy at an end — The import of that event equally misunderstood in England, by sovereign and subject — Divine truth in progress — Richard Harman, an early importer of New Testaments, is now in London — Restored to favor by the Queen — Glance at the past and present — The New Testament importing in several editions, in forcible contrast with the idle dreams of the Convocation

Section 12. 1535.

Tyndale’s apprehension at Antwerp — Imprisonment in the Castle of Vilvorde — Distinct information conveyed to Crumwell and Cranmer — The strenuous exertions of Thomas Poyntz — Risking his own life for Tyndale’s sake — Tyndale’s progress in prison — State of England — Key to its commotion — Henry’s supremacy — Fisher and More fall before it — The odium ensuing — The visitation of Monasteries — Cranmer and the Bishops — Cranmer and Gardiner in collision — The latter offending — His dexterity or address — He is translating Luke and John! — Gardiner and Polc — Spain — France — German States, and Barnes as envoy — The Bishops applied to for a translation of the New Testament — A fruitless attempt — And in contrast once more, with fresh editions of Tyndale’s translation, printed and importing this year

Section 13. 1536.

Last year of Tyndale — State of England — Monasteries — The two Queens — Anne Boleyn — Mock trial — Queen executed — Scene succeeding — The new or unprecedented Parliament — Queen Anne’s treatment reviewed — Her character — The new or unprecedented Convocation — Latimer preaching before it — State of parties there — Old and new learning — Proceedings in Convocation — The first articles — Crumwell’s first injunctions — No Bible mentioned — Tyndale’s latter days — Phillips once more — Cold indifference of England — The Court of Brussels — Home and abroad now deeply implicated — The martyrdom of Tyndale — His benevolent character — His reward — Poyntz, the friend of Tyndale — Future history of the miserable betrayers — State of the Continent at the time of Tyndale’s death — State of England and her King — The only prosperous cause, or the year which excelled all the preceding — Nine or ten editions of Tyndale’s Testament

Section 14. 1537.

Memorable introduction of the entire Sacred Volume — Myles Coverdale — His circumstances compared with Tyndale’s — Coverdale’s temporary success — The remarkably sudden change — Tyndale’s Bible — State of England before its introduction — Cranmer’s previous engagements — Tyndale’s Bible arrived — Immediately received — Must be bought and read — The King agrees — This at first seems to be incredible — Grafton the pro — prietor — All parties most memorably overruled — Distinction between the Bible rejected and the Bible received — Conclusion of the first year of triumph

Book 2. Reign of Henry the Eighth, continued

Section 1. 1538.

Introductory paragraph — Crumwell’s policy with Henry — Matrimonial alliances — Negotiations with France and Spain — Gardiner recalled — Bonner sent to France — The German States — Gardiner, Norfolk, and Tunstal met — The first articles in their natural consequences — Persecution resumed. The second year of triumph — The English Bible printing in Paris — Press interrupted — Inquisition overmatched — The Bible finished in London — First injunctions for Tyndale’s Bible — New Testaments, fresh editions — Coverdale’s Testaments — The destitute state of England — Joy over the Scriptures — Retrospect

Section 2. 1539.

Eventful year — State of parties — Henry still a widower — Disturbed from different quarters — Norfolk beguiling Crumwell — German States — Parliament and Convocation — Royal message — Mitred abbots — Dissolution of Monasteries — New articles — Bills of attainder — The six articles applied — Frustrated — Cranmer safe — Latimer imprisoned — Alexander Ales escapes — - Constantyne in danger — The tide turning — Execution of Abbots — Crumwell’s policy — Monastic spoils. — The Scriptures printing in various editions — Crumwell’s remarkable energy in this department — The King swayed once more — The cause in progress — Cranmer busy in prospect of his first edition, next spring — It is distinctly sanctioned by Henry — singular proclamation — Henry now commanding all his subjects to use the Scriptures in English

Section 3. 1540.

Political affairs — Henry’s fourth marriage — Jealousy of Francis — Alliance with the Emperor — Gardiner against Barnes and Garret — Parliament opened — Crumwell now Earl of Essex — The use all along made of him by Henry — Crumwell’s last demands in Parliament and Convocation — Henry has taken offence — Crumwell apprehended — Parties opposed to him — Cramner’s letter — First charges — Bill of attainder — Henry’s fourth marriage annulled — Final charges against Crumwell — His death and character — The King and his two Vicars-general in review — More executions — Henry’s fifth marriage — The old learning party in triumph.

Retrospect — Common mistake as to the Crown — The large folio Bibles, in six editions — The first of Cramner’s — A different edition — The second of Cranmer’s — The third preparing, to be issued next year, but with a different title — One in five volumes, small size — Quarto New Testament

Section 4. — 1541.

European powers verging to hostility — Scotland — Henry at York, in rain — Queen already in disgrace — Norfolk family implicated — The third large Bible, with Tunstal’s name, by command — The fourth, in May, with Cramner’s name — Expense of these large undertakings — The memorable proprietor, Anthony Marler — Bonner’s feigned zeal — Earnest reading and listening — The fifth great Bible, with Tunstal’s name — The sixth, with Cranmer’s name — Gardiner returned, to witness the progress now made during his absence

Section 5. — 1542.

The enemy on the rack — Parliament Opened — The fifth Queen executed — Henry bent on war with Scotland — Negotiating with France and Spain. Convocation met — The Bible introduced there for discussion at last — Singular display — Gardiner’s grand effort in opposition — Cramner informs the King — They are all discomfited, though yet sitting, or before the bishops left London — Progress of the truth in England

Section 6. 1543.

Parliament opened — The Convocation baflled, acknowledge their inability to stay the progress of divine truth by applying now to Parliament — Parliament disgraces itself by malignant but vain opposition — Bonner withdrawn or sent abroad — Extraordinary arrangement of all the European powers — Henry’s sixth marriage

Section 7. 1544.

Parliament assembled — Henry’s style and title — Longs to be King of France! — War with Scotland — Henry in France — Gardiner — Cranmer — Henry’s confession of impotence in all his injunctions to his bishops — His inconsistency — New Testament of Tyndale’s, a foreign print

Section 8. 1545.

War with France — Exhausted state of England — Undermining Cranmer — His enemies covered with shame — Henry addressing his privy council — His deliberate opinion of its character — Addressing his Parliament for the last time

Section 9. 1546.

War with Scotland — Peace with France and Scotland — England exhausted as the result of war — Persecution revived — Anne Askew — Her heroic conduct under illegal persecution — Shocking Cruelties inflicted — Her martyrdom, along with three other individuals — Latimer still in prison — Enmity to English books.

The impotence of human malice — The supplication of the poor Commons — Their grievances — Tunstal and Heath exposed — The Queen in danger — Gardiner in trouble — Norfolk and his son, Surrey, arraigned — Duke of Norfolk and his family — Execution of Surrey — Norfolk doomed to die, and only escapes by the death of the King himself — Henry and his couriers — Henry VIII., Francis I., Charles V., — Retrospect

Book 3. England. From Edward VI to the Commonwealth.

Section 1. 1547-1558. Reign of Edward

A reign, however brief, distinguished as having no parallel in British history, with regard to the printing and publication of the Sacred Scriptures in the language of the people

Section 2. 1553-1558. Reign of Queen Mary

A reign, discovering the actual state of the nation, as such; but one, however painful in its details, which so far from retarding the progress of divine truth, only deepened the impression of its value; and as it became the occasion, so it afforded the opportunity for the Sacred Scriptures being given afresh to England, more carefully revised — the exiles from the kingdom proving, once more, its greatest benefactors

Section 3. 1558-1603. Reign Of Elizabeth.

A reign, extending to more than forty — four years, but however powerful in every other department, having no actual control over the choice or preference of the people of England, with . regard to the Sacred Scriptures in their native tongue, and thus presenting the only exception to unlimited sway

Section 4. 1603-1650. James I. To The Commonwealth

Accession of James — His journey to London — -IIis strange progress through the country — His heedless profusion — Conference at Hampton Court explained — Revision of the Scriptures — Our present version — Consequent letters — The revisers — Instructions given — Progress made — Revision of the whole — Money paid, but not by his Majesty, nor by any Bishop, after the King’s application, but by the patentee — The present version published — No proclamation, no order of Privy Council, or any act of the Legislature upon record, on the subject — Did not become the version generally received throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland, till about forty years afterwards — The London Polyglot Bible published by the people, for the people — The last attempt to interfere with the English Bible by a Committee of Parliament, representing England, Ireland, and Scotland Utterly in vain — That acquiescence of the people at large in the existing version of the Scriptures soon followed, which has continued unbroken ever since

Book 4. Scotland.


Brief notice of Scotland during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries — The opening of the sixteenth before the Sacred Scriptures in print were first imported.

From James the Fifth to the Commonwealth

Section 1. 1526. Reign Of James V.

State of Scotland — The first introduction of the Sacred Volume in print, that is, of the New Testament in the English language — Earliest arrivals at Edinburgh and St. Andrews — Singular condition of the country, and especially of its Primate, at the moment

Section 2. 1527-8.

Anno 1527-1528 — Consternation of the authorities in Scotland — The New Testament soon followed by one living voice, that of Patrick Hamilton — His martyrdom — Alexander Seton, the next witness, persecuted — He escapes to England — The New Testament goes on to be imported

Section 3. 1529-34.

From 1529 to 1534 — All-important period, hitherto unnoticed — Alexander Ales or Aless — Cruelly persecuted by Hepburn, the Prior of St. Andrews — At last escapes by sea, from Dundee, first to France, and then to Germany — His epistle addressed to James V.; or the commencement of the first regular controversy in Britain respecting the Scriptures printed in the vulgar tongue — The abusive publication of Cochlaeus professedly in reply — The representations of Ales confirmed by the state of the country, and the second martyrdom — Answer of Ales to the calumnies of Cochlaeus — Ales pleads, most earnestly, for the New Testament to be read — But especially in families — Extols divine revelation, and as to be found in the English version now importing — Cochlaeus, quite enraged, addresses James V. — And is rewarded — Had mendaciously averred that the writings of Ales proceeded from Melancthon — The persecutions and martyrdoms of 1534 again confirm the statements of Ales — Who is now standing by himself alone, in defense of the truth, or the Scriptures in the vernacular tongue

Section 4. 1535-37.

From 1535 to 1537 — The future exertions and writings of Ales, till his death in 1565 — State of Scotland — Provincial council of the prelates — Agitation — Reading of the New Testament forbidden by proclamation — Progress of the cause

Section V. — 1538-42.

From 1538 to l542 — State of the country — Beaten a Cardinal, and persecution revived — The martyrdoms of 1538 — Dean Forret — The cause of all the tumult in opposition traced to the New Testament in the native tongue — Another martyrdom — Men escaping — The cruel progress of Cardinal Benton — Death of the King James V. — Gloomy state of the country as to its Government at this moment

Reign Of Mary Queen Of Scots — 1543.

The year 1543, a memorable one — Critical state of the Government — Remarkably sudden change — The Primate of St. Andrews, though a Cardinal, in prison — His clergy in mourning, and all their churches closed, when Parliament assembled, and by a bill and proclamation throughout Scotland, sanctioned the general perusal of those Scriptures, which had been reading in secret for sixteen years — Contrast with England at this moment — Extent to which the Scriptures had been possessed, and therefore perused in Scotland — The Earl of Arran, the Governor, very soon abjures, and falls under the power of Benton, now enlarged — The singular existing position of all the European sovereigns, with the Pontiff and the Turk included — More martyrdoms by hanging, drowning, and the flames — The death of Beaton — Peculiarity in the history of the Bible in Scotland

Queen Mary, James VI., To The Commonwealth. 1543-1650.

From 1543 to 1650 — Singular history of the Scriptures in Scotland, during this entire period — Not supplied from its own native press, but by importation, for more than a hundred years — Stato of literature and education — The Apocrypha.

The present version of the Bible become the only one in use, and at a period indisputably significant of Divine superintendence over the entire kingdom

Book 5. Great Britain. From the Commonwealth to Queen Victoria.

Section 1. 1650-1780. The Commonwealth To George III.

Brief survey — Downward progress of the Stuart dynasty — Opposition at home ineffectual — League, in which even the Pontiff and Germany concurred and assisted — The line of succession in Britain broken — The Revolution of 1688-9 — Preceding opposition to the Scriptures by James II., an adherent of the old learning — Consequences of the Revolution — State of the Bible press in England — Canne’s Bible — Guy’s Bibles — Baskerville’s — Blayney’s Bible — State of the Bible press in Scotland — James II. equally busy in Opposition there — The number of Bibles is now past all human computation — The results, if but too feeble in Britain, must be looked for elsewhere

Section 2. — North America. — 1620 — 1780. The Reign Of James I. To George III.

New movement in reference to the English Scriptures — The Bible first beheld by the natives in America, an English one — copies carried away to New England by the refugees and following settlers — No individual ever specified as particularly zealous in the transit of copies — Yet were they sent across the Atlantic Ocean for above a hundred and sixty years! — A movement such as never distinguished any other European version, and new never will — The extraordinary results during this long period — Williams, Eliot, Mather, Edwards, Brainerd, and many thousands beside — The restrictive and unnatural policy of Britain — She must be overruled, as her monarchs had been in England — In justification of its continued independence of all human authority, the English Bible is at last printed in America — No consultation of the mother country — The first edition only in 1782 — The independence of America acknowledged by Britain, Holland, etc. — The first Bibles in octavo, quarto, and folio, printed there in 1791 — The second in duodecimo not till 1797

Final Section. 1780-1844. Reign of George III. to Queen Victoria.

The last sixty-four years

The commencement of a greater movement than ever before — Te be understood only by first looking abroad — The Revolutionary times in France — The agitation extends — Neither Britain nor her colonies remain unscathed — The sagacity of English authors in every form of composition is exhausted, without averting or even allaying the storm — Action is called for — But the obstacles to united action appear to be insuperable — The Sovereign Disposer of all events, as a secret mover, unobserved — In secret he must be acknowledged — The first feeble movement taking its name from the Bible — The second — Its entire failure no ground for discouragement — Ten years before, Divine Providence had fixed on one young man — Reading the English Bible in obscurity, his mind is ripe for action — A new feeling, or spirit of enlarged benignity is imbibed — In maturer years. his history and exertions gradually interpret the beneficial reflex influence of foreign operations — Two other men go to his aid — These efforts much impress a few powerful minds at home — The Bible without either note or comment draws more attention — The destitution of it in Wales — The British and Foreign Bible Society with its auxiliaries — their exertions up to the present day — The United Kingdom and her colonies embrace above four thousand similar assistant or independent unions — These form only an inferior division of the vast field of action — After a distribution and sale of so many millions of the English Scriptures, there occurs an extraordinary and unprecedented fall in the price of the Sacred Volume — Thus lending to the present history, its last providential movement, or a conclusion as cheering as it was unanticipated.

Britain at the height of a responsibility not easily conceived, as it battles all adequate description — On the summit of her highest privilege there is no repose, no release from far greater exertions throughout her foreign dependencies, or the world in general — The present history indicates a course of action, if not the only one, which involves her future welfare and stability — A path of duty which cannot, with impunity, he evaded

Conclusions drawn from the preceding history


The family of Tyndale. Facsimile of his Prologue and first two New Testaments. Chronological Index List of Bibles and Testaments.

Publication Information

  • Lutheran Library edition first published: 2020
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0