Ryves, George (c1559 - 1613)

Ryves, George

Ryves, George, Dr.


Father: John Ryves
Mother: Elizabeth Mervyn

Birth: c1559
Birth Source: Reliques of the Rives

Death: 31 May 1613
Death Source: Reliques of the Rives


From Reliques of the Rives:
Dr. George Ryves, born about 1559, and one of the illustrious scholars of his day in England, entered seriously upon his education with his entrance into Winchester College in 1574 as "of Blandford"5 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars). He passed from thence to Oxford University where he matriculated at New College, 20 March 1578/9, aged 19, as "of Dorset, armiger." Foster continues with his record as follows, "scholar 1578/9; B. A., 12 Oct. 1582; M. A., 3 June 1586; B. D., 7 Nov. 1594; D. D., 2 July 1599; Warden of his College, 1599-1613; Vice-Chancellor, 1601; Chaplain to Bishop of Winchester and Canon, 1598; licensed to preach, 28 June 1604/5; rector of Bland ford St. Mary, Dorset, 1589; of Alverstoke, Hants, 1591; of Staunton St. John, Oxford, 1600; of Colerne, Wilts, 1606; and of Old Alresford, Hants, 1608."
From the Lansdowne Mss., vol. 983, fol. 125, British Museum, there is taken the following concerning him:
"Minutes of Dr. George Ryves, Warden of New College, Oxford, who died May 31st 1613.
"1599. July 2. Among the Doctors of Divinity in Oxford was George Ryves of New College, Prebendary of Winchester. In December following he was elected Warden of the said College, and dying on the last of May, 1613, was buried as I conceive in the chapell belonging thereunto.
"1600. 3 March. Leave was given to institute Prebendary George Ryves to the church of Staunton St. John."

Wood (Life and Times, vol. iv, p. 173) recounts that on 31 July 1610 at 9 A. M. the first stone of Wadham College at Oxford was laid by the Vice Chancellor, Dr. (George) Ryves, of New College, who made an elegant oration in Latin in praise of the work and its founders.
His chief title to more than casual notice, however, rests in the fact that he was one of the translators of the King James Authorized Version of the Bible, more specifically, overseeing the translation of the New Testament," as appears from a letter addressed on April 19, 1609, by the Bishop of Winchester to Sir Thomas Lake, chief secretary to King James I, as follows:
After my verie harty commendations whereas doctor Ryves Warden of the new Colledge in Oxford and one of the overseers of that part of the New Testament which is there translated out of Greek and Mr. Nicholas Love Scholemaster of Winchester are willing with my allowance to exchange some of their livings being of my patronage that they may lay them near together and more commodious to the rest of there livinges and there is no let to the performance thereof but his majestie's pleasure signified by his letters to the late Bishop of London now Bishop of Canterbury that the next benefice of my gifte and of 20 pounds or above in the King's bookes that shall fall voyde should be reserved for some of those that are employed in the translation of the bible I doe not conceive that his Majesty's meaning thereby was to bar the men from exchanging their livings otherwise permitted by the lawes but that such livings as fell voyd should be reserved for the translators .... I shall hartely thank you if you will take opportunity to know his majesty's pleasure therein and obteyn his letters to signifie to me his princely pleasure. The men are both of good desert, the one imployed in the oversight of the translation and the other toke no small paynes in doing his duetie both for the enterteinement of his majestie and the prince when they were at Winchester." (State Papers, Jas. I., Vol, xiii, No. 73.)

Dr. George Ryves was one of the "privileged persons" taxed by the Vice Chancellor and others of the University of Oxford in 7 James I (1610) in an amount of 20 shillings for lands. He appears as a taxpayer also in 161 1 (Lay Subsidy Roll, 163/437). He left no will and Hutchins is the authority for his death without issue.

Additional biographical detail concerning George Ryves is given below:

With regard to the translation of the King James Bible, recent biographers believe he was associated with the Second Oxford Company having responsibility for the Epistles of the New Testament. George Ryves, was described as "one of the most illustrious scholars of his day". It was fitting that he be involved in the most important English translation project of his time and perhaps of all time.

George contributed towards the restoration of Bath Abbey Church, an exercise that was based upon donations that were solicited by Elizabeth I. Rather than purely making a financial donation (although he did give £5), George donated a 'goodlie oak' from his manor of Colerne which 'yielded well neere 5 tunne of good prime timber, besides the topp and armes'.

In his will, George requested that he be buried next to his mother in the chancel of St Mary's. However, after his death on 31st May 1613, George was buried in the parish church in Hornchurch, Essex where his brother Charles, who had died three years earlier, had served as vicar for four years from 1606 until his death in 1610. In his will Charles had left to his brother George "five yards of good broad clothe that do lie by me".

George's will also provides some further insights into his character. In it he left £25 for the purchase of plate, to be engraved with the motto "Salem habete in vobis et pacem inter vos" ("Have salt within you and peace between you"). This was evidently to be a drinking vessel, as George specified that it was to be used in a drinking ritual to be performed 4 times each year: on Twelfth Night, Candlemas, the Feast of the Annunciation and Whitsun. On these evenings the steward of the College was to present the warden with the cup filled with sweet sack (fortified wine) with the announcement "Domine Custos, propino tibi et omnibus huius Collegii Sociis, pacem et foelicitatem!" ("Master Warden, I administer to you and all the fellows of this College peace and happiness!"). The warden was then to taste from the cup before passing it down to other members of the College according to their position within the College hierarchy. To fund these rituals, George left an annual bequest of 40 shillings.


Childs, James Rives. Reliques of the Rives, p7
An Early-Modern New College Dynasty: George, Thomas and Bruno Ryves, William Poole, Fellow Librarian, New College Oxford, 2013