Saint-German, Christopher (DNB00)

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SAINT-GERMAN, CHRISTOPHER (1460?–1540), legal writer and controversialist, born about 1460, was son of Henry Saint-German, knight, and his wife Anne, daughter of Thomas Tindale. He was born probably about 1460 at Shilton, Warwickshire; both his parents are buried in the church there. He was educated at Oxford, as a member, it is said, of Exeter College. He then entered the Inner Temple, where he studied law and was called to the bar. According to Wood he became a ‘counsellor of note,’ and ‘won immortal fame among the citizens of London.’ In July 1534 some of Cromwell's agents requested his services in legal matters, and in 1536 the northern rebels mentioned him as one of those whose heresies should be destroyed (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vii. 1008, xi. 1246). But as a rule Saint-German avoided politics, and confined himself to legal and literary work, and to the collection of a library which exceeded that of any other lawyer. He died an octogenarian in September 1540, and was buried near Thomas Lupset [q. v.] in the church of St. Alphage-within-Cripplegate, in which parish he had lived during his latter years. No mention of wife or children appears in his will (dated 10 July 1540 and proved 30 May 1541); but the confused wording of a letter to Cromwell (Letters and Papers, xiv. pt. i. No. 1349) seems to imply that he was twice married and had three children. By his will he desired alms to be given at Shilton till 1550, and left other sums to Lawford and Builton in Warwickshire.

In religious matters Saint-German was a moderate reformer. Probably in 1532 he issued, anonymously, his ‘Treatise concernynge the diuision betwene the spiritualtie and the temporaltie’ (8vo, Th. Berthelet, n.d.). This work is very rare, but copies are in the British Museum and Huth Libraries. In it Saint-German lays the blame of the division on the clergy. It is said to have been commended to Sir Thomas More for its moderation, in contrast to his own intemperance of language. Early in 1533 More made a vigorous attack upon it in his ‘Apology,’ referring to the author as ‘the pacifier.’ This provoked a reply from Saint-German entitled ‘A Dialogue betwixte two Englishmen, whereof one was called Salem and the other Bizance’ (Th. Berthelet, 1533, 8vo), and More retorted in the same year with his ‘Debellacyon of Salem and Bizance,’ which ended the controversy. Another work by Saint-German of a similar character—‘A Treatise concernynge the power of the clergye and the lawes of the realme’—was issued with no date by Thomas Godfrey.

Saint-German is, however, chiefly remembered as author of ‘Doctor and Student,’ a handbook for legal students, which was not superseded until the appearance of Blackstone's ‘Commentaries.’ This work was first issued by Rastell in 1523 in Latin, under the title ‘Dialogus de Fundamentis Legum et de Conscientia.’ Herbert possessed a copy, but none is now known to be extant. Another edition was published by Rastell in 1528 (Brit. Mus.). An English translation, entitled ‘A Fyrste Dialoge in Englysshe,’ was brought out in 1531 by Wyer, and a ‘Second Dialoge in Englysshe’ was published by Peter Treveris in 1530. Both these were printed in 1532 ‘with new addycions’ by Redman. Subsequent editions were numerous, both in English and in Latin. In 1604 Thomas Wight published a Latin edition, with Bale's account of the author and his will prefixed. A ‘complete abridgement’ appeared in 1630. The sixteenth edition, enlarged, was published in 1761, and the last appeared at Cincinnati in 1874. Two copies of a ‘replication’ to the ‘Doctor and Student’ are extant (in Harl. MSS. 829 and 7371). Bale attributes various other works to Saint-German; but some of their titles are variations of the books already noticed, and the others are not known to be extant. [Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; Cat. Huth Libr.; Maitland's Cat. Early Printed Books at Lambeth; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, i. 332, and Dibdin, iii. 86–7, 191–2; Hazlitt's Coll. 1st ser. p. 371; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner; Sir T. More's Apology and Debellacyon of Salem and Bizance, 1533; More's Life of Sir T. More, ed. Hunter, pp. 335–9; Hutton's Life of More, 1895, pp. 225–6; Bale; Pits; Tanner's Bibl. p. 313; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. i. 120; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 205; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; Blackstone's Legal Tracts, 1771, p. 225; Reeve's English Law, iv. 416; Bridgman's Legal Bibliogr. pp. 290–5; Marvin's Legal Bibl. p. 626.]

A. F. P.