Book dealers have been urged to be on the lookout after a second edition of the King James Bible from 1614 was stolen from a Berkshire church.
Housed in a locked display cabinet at St Mary's in London Road,
Datchet, it was probably taken in mid June, but the theft was only
discovered on Sunday, June 22. It seems that a similar-sized hymn
book had been put in its place.
The church has a very close link to the printer of that edition:
Robert Barker (1570-1645). He was from Datchet and was actually
baptised at St Mary's and went on to be a regular worshipper.
Barker was the Queen's/King's Printer from 1593 and that
position gave him the right to print the Bible and the Book of
Common Prayer in English. Barker continued as King's Printer even
after being committed to prison for debt in 1635 (his financial
troubles were partly due to costs incurred through the printing of
the first authorised version of the Bible). He died in jail.
In 1604, King James I had authorised the start of a new
translation of the Bible into English. It was finished in 1611,
just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into
English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). This authorised version soon
became the standard for English-speaking Protestants.
In 2011 St Mary's celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King
James Bible and their second edition was joined by a 1611 first
from St George's Chapel in Windsor. Datchet's Barker Bridge House
Trust, a charity which helps to look after the church among other
things, is thought to have been established by Barker in 1644, the
year before he died in the debtor's prison, but its origins go back
Skinner of Boston sold a Robert Barker Bible from 1611/13 for
$2900 on June 1 last year (then about £1960), while Halls of
Shrewsbury sold one with a New Testament title dated 1613 for £1100
on May 22 that same year.
In November 2012, Halls sold a 1614 Barker Bible for £1050, and
in February that year a 1613-dated example made £1200 at Tennants
of Leyburn, North Yorkshire.
Anyone with information about the theft should call the police
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