Who Were The King James Version Translators?

The Translators Revived

by Alexander McClure, 1858

HAVING thus traced the history of our Common Version, through the successive steps by which it has come down to us in its present shape, it remains for us to inquire as to the persons who put the finishing hand to the work, and to satisfy ourselves as to their qualifications for the task. It is obvious that this personal investigation is of the utmost importance in settling the degree of confidence to which their labors are entitled.

Unless it can be proved that they were, as a body, eminently fitted to do this work as it ought to be done, it can have no claim to be regarded as a "finality'' in the matter of furnishing a translation of the Word of God for the English speaking populations of the globe.

It is exceedingly strange that a question of such obvious importance has been so long left almost unnoticed. Numerous histories of the Translation itself have been drawn up with great labor; but no man seems to have thought it worth his while to give any account of the Translators, except the most meagre notices of a few of them, and general attestations to their reputations, in their own time, for such scholarship and skill as their undertaking required. Even the late excellent Christopher Anderson, in his huge volumes, replete as they are with research and information upon the minutest points relating to his subject, allots but a page or two of his smallest type to this essential branch of it.

It is nearly twenty years since the writer of these pages began to consider the desirableness of knowing more of those eminent divines, and he has ever since pursued a zealous search wherever he was likely to effect any "restitution of decayed intelligence" respecting them. At first, he almost despaired of ascertaining much more than the bare names of most of them. But by degrees he has collected innumerable scraps of information, gathered from a great variety of sources; amply sufficient, with due arrangement, to illustrate the subject. His object is simply to shew, that the translators commissioned by James Stuart were ripe and critical scholars, profoundly versed in all the learning required; and that, in these particulars, there has never yet been a time when a better qualified company could have been collected for the purpose.

Of the forty-seven, who acted under King James's commission, some are almost unknown at this day, though of high repute in their own time. A few have left us but little more than their names, worthy of immortal remembrance, were it only for their connection with this noble monument of learning and piety. But their being associated with so many other scholars and divines of the greatest eminence, is proof that they were deemed to be fit companions for the brightest lights of the land.

This is confirmed by the bet that, though the king designed to employ in this work the highest and ripest talents in his realm, there still many men in England distinguished for learning, like Broughton and Bedell, who were enrolled on the list of translators. It is but just to conclude, therefore, that even such as are now less known to us, were then accounted to deserve a place with the best. What we may know of the greater part of them, must lead to the highest estimate of the whole body of these good men. The catalogue begins with one whose name is worthy of the place it fills. —Preface

       We do not know much about the men who translated the King James Bible—the word of God for the English-speaking people. Perhaps this is fitting lest too much honor should be bestowed upon man. However, given the current controversy over our beloved Authorized Version I believe it good and profitable to learn more about these men of God. Some defender of modern Bible perversions will immaturely accuse us of "worshipping the translators." But what saith the scriptures?

Romans 13:7, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

Will you ask for the old paths? When you find profitable things there, will you take heed to them? Unlike folks of today, the men of King James' time were true divines and scholars. The King James Bible translators were men who regularly debated in Latin and Greek. One in particular had read the entire Bible in Hebrew by the time he was 6-years old. But even more importantly, they were godly men devoted to spiritual pursuits. They believed that they were translating the very words of God—and they took their sacred duties seriously. 

William Tyndale who translated from the Textus Receptus line, was strangled and burned at the stake by the Catholic religion because of translating the Bible. Time fails me here to speak of John Rogers, Myles Coverdale and others who labored AND DIED that we might have the word of God in our hands. The Authorized Version is a Book forged in blood, sweat and tears. Treasure it. The King James translators said this of the cumulative nature of their work...

"Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one...but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one..."

Please do not be deceived into thinking that the King James Bible is only an amalgamation of previous translations.  These scholars consulted the original languages and related languages...

"Neither did we think much to consult the Translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek or Latin, no nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered: but having and using as great helps as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowness, nor coveting praise for expedition, we have at length, through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass that you see."

The following accounts of the King James translators are taken from, The Translators Revived by Alexander McClure published in 1858. 

It is commonly reported that there were 54 translators selected to the translation, but only 47 actually participated in the work. Mr. McClure's book chronicles 51 translators. As you read the translator's rules, you will see that other principal and learned men of the kingdom were also invited to make their comments on the work at hand.

The King James Bible translators were a collection of some of the world's best scholars. They approached this translation with the mindset that they were translating the very Word of God, not just some book. The King James Bible has been called "the monument of English prose" as well as "the only great work of art ever created by a committee." 


Please note that Translators Revived has not been published in its entirety herein.


I.    The First Westminister Company--translated the historical books, beginning with Genesis and ending with the Second Book of Kings.

II.    The Cambridge Company--translated Chronicles to the end of the Song of Songs.

III.    The Oxford Company--translated beginning of Isaiah to the end of the Old Testament.

IV.    The Second Oxford Company--translated the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine.

V.    The Fifth Company of Translators at Westminster--translated all of the Epistles of the New Testament

VI.    The Sixth Company of Translators at Cambridge translated the apocryphal books.

  • Dr. John Duport, Dr. William Brainthwaite, Dr. Jeremiah Radcliffe
  • Dr. Samuel Ward
  • Dr. Andrew Downes, John Bois
  • Dr. John Ward, Dr. John Aglionby, Dr. Leonard Hutten
    Dr. Thomas Bilson, Dr. Richard Bancroft
The King James translators did not consider Apocrypha scripture:

Why the Apocrypha is not is the Bible

Ye Must Be Born Again!