Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chamberlayne, John

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CHAMBERLAYNE, JOHN (1666–1723), miscellaneous writer, a younger son of Edward Chamberlayne [q. v.], was born about 1666, probably in or near London. In 1685 he published 'The Manner of making Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate as it is used in most parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, with their Vertues. Neuly done out of French and Spanish.' This amusing tract became very widely popular. The same year he entered as a commoner Trinity College, Oxford, and from here, 24 June 1686, he dates his translation of 'A Treasure of Health by Castor Durante Da Gualdo, Physician and Citizen of Rome.' Leaving Oxford without a degree, he proceeded to Leyden, where on 12 May 1688 he entered himself as a student (Peacock, Index of Leyden Students, 1883, p. 19). Here, it would seem, he chiefly studied modern languages (Sloane MS. 4040, f. 104), of which, accoraing to contemporary report, he knew sixteen. On his return he filled various offices about the court. He was successively gentleman waiter to Prince George of Denmark, gentleman of the Privy Chamber first to Queen Anne and then to King George I. He was also secretary to Queen Anne's Bounty Commission, and on the commission of the peace for Middlesex. In 1702 Chamberlayne was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He contributed three papers to its 'Transactions:'

  1. 'A Relation of the Effects of a Storm of Thunder and Lightning at Sampford Courtney in Devonshire on 7 Oct. 1711' (No. 336, p. 528).
  2. 'Remarks on the Plague at Copenhagen in the year 1711' (No. 337, p. 279).
  3. 'An Account of the Sunk Island in Humber' (No. 361, p. 1014). In the 'Sloane MS.' there are a number of letters from Chamberlayne on the affairs of the society.

None of these, however, are of special importance. Chamberlayne was also a member of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. He translated for this body Osterwald's 'Arguments of the Book and Chapters of the Old and New Testament,' 3 vols. 1716; new ed. 3 vols. 1833.

Chamberlayne's most important work was his translation of Brandt's 'History of the Reformation in the Low Countries,' 4 vols. 1720-3. In the preface to a part of this published in 1719 he relates that Fagel assured Bishop Burnet 'that it was worth his while to learn Dutch, only for the pleasure of reading Brandt's "History of the Reformation."' Chamberlayne also continued his father's 'Present State of England' after his death in 1703, and issued five editions. The son's name still appeared on editions that were published after his own death (as late as 1756). He also published Puffendorf's 'History of Popedom, containing the Rise, Progress, and Decay thereof,' 1691; 'Oratio Dominica in diversas omnium fere gentium linguas versa,' Amstelædami, 1715; Nieuwertyl's 'Religious Philosopher, or the right Use of contemplating the Works of the Creator,' 3 vols. 1718; Fontenelle's 'Lives of the French Philosophers,' 1721; Saurin's 'Dissertations, Historical, Critical, Theological, and Moral, of the most Memorable Events of the Old and New Testaments,' 1723. Chamberlayne died at his house in Petty-France (now York Street), Westminster in 2 November. 1723, and on the 6th was interred in the family burying-ground at Chelsea, where he had a residence, and where on his church wall a tablet was placed to his memory.

[Boyer's Political States of Great Britain, xxvi. 567 (1723); Biographia Britannica, i. 1282; Faulkner's Chelsea (2 vols. 1829); Atkyns's Glostershire; Weld's Hist. Royal Society, i. 414-5; Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses (ed. Bliss), iv. 750; Baumgartner MS. at Cambridge, vii. 47, 48, 49; letters to J. Strype; Brit. Mus. Cat. where under Chamberlayne, John, the names of various works is some way connected with him are given. Among the Museum MSS. are a large number of Chamberlayne's letters, but they posses little or no value.]

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