Yonge, James (fl.1423) (DNB00)

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YONGE, JAMES or JOHN (fl. 1423), translator, belonged to an English family settled in the Irish pale. William Yonge, archdeacon of Meath from 1407 to 1437, was possibly his brother (Cotton, Fasti Eccl. Hib. iii. 127). Both James and John Yonge occur in the Irish patent and close rolls early in the fifteenth century. James Yonge was in prison in Trim Castle from January to October 1423, being removed in the latter month to Dublin Castle, and being pardoned on 10 May 1425 (Cal. Rot. Pat. et Claus. Hiberniæ, pp. 234 b, 236 b, 252 b). A John Yonge was serjeant of the county of Limerick in the reign of Richard II, held a lease of various lands, and was convicted of unspecified felonies (ib. pp. 116, 128, 148). The translator was servant to James Butler, fourth earl of Ormonde [q. v.], at whose request, about 1423, he translated into English the ‘Secreta Secretorum’ attributed to Aristotle. It was a book in much request in the middle ages, and translations were made in the early fifteenth century by Hoccleve, John Shirley (1366?–1456) [q. v.], Lydgate, and Burgh, and Gower used it in his ‘Confessio Amantis.’ Yonge's translation appears to have been made from a French version by one Gofroi of Waterford; it was dedicated to Ormonde and is ‘perhaps the only lengthy work known written in the English of the Pale early in the fifteenth century’ (Steele). It is divided into seventy-two chapters and is interspersed with passages from Irish history, including some of Ormonde's exploits in 1422. Several manuscripts of it are extant; (1) Rawlinson MS. B 490, which has been printed by Mr. R. Steele in his ‘Three Prose Versions of the Secreta Secretorum’ (Early English Text Soc. 1898, pp. 121 sqq.); (2) Lambeth MSS. 633 (Todd, Cat. Lambeth MSS. p. 144); and (3) Carew MS. 633; a note on this manuscript in Sir George Carew's handwriting states that it was written in the time of Henry V, and attributes it, as does the Lambeth manuscript, to John Yonge (Book of Howth, ed. Brewer, pp. 226, 331–3); while in the Rawlinson manuscript it is ascribed to James Yonge, an ascription accepted by Mr. Steele. Yonge appears also to be the author of the abridged translation of Giraldus Cambrensis' ‘Expugnatio Hiberniæ,’ which precedes the translation of the ‘Secreta’ in Rawlinson MS. B 490.

[Authorities cited; Ware's Writers of Ireland, ed. Harris; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib.; Mr. Steele's introduction and notes to his edition of Yonge's version have not yet appeared.]

A. F. P.