Gau, John (DNB01)

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GAU, JOHN (1493?–1553?), author of the earliest protestant work in Scottish prose, is conjectured to have been born at St. Johnstown (Perth) about 1493. He matriculated at St. Andrews in 1509, graduated B.A. in 1510, and M.A. in the following year. Before 1533, possibly as chaplain to the Scots merchants, he moved to Malmo in Sweden, then in the Danish king's possession. Malmö had been one of the earliest towns in northern Europe to adopt the Reformation, and here in 1533 John Hochstraten, the well-known protestant, printed Gau's 'Richt Vay to the Kingdome of Heuine,' of which only one copy is known to be extant. Chalmers and Laing thought Gau's work original, but M. Sonnenstein Wendt pointed out in 1860 that it was a close, though not a literal, translation of Christiern Pedersen's 'Den rette vey till Hiemmeriges Rige,' a Danish book originally printed at Antwerp in 1531. Extracts from the only known copy of Gau's book were printed in the 'Bannatyne Club Miscellany,' vol. iii. (1827, 4to) ; this copy is now at Britwell, and in 1888 the whole work was edited for the Scottish Text Society by Professor Alexander Ferrier Mitchell [q. v. Suppl.] ; the transcription was done by Mr. R. E. Graves, and a glossary was supplied by Mr. T. G. Law.

In 1536 Gau married Birgitta, the daughter of a citizen of Malmo, and about the same time he moved to Copenhagen, where he became prebendary of the church of Our Lady, and where Erasmus was one of his fellow-chaplains. He died at Copenhagen about 1553, his wife having predeceased him in 1551, leaving a daughter aged seven and infant twins. The funeral sermon, preached by Bishop Peter Palladius, was published at Kjobenhavn in 1857, and is reprinted in Mitchell's edition of the 'Richt Vay' (pp. xxv-vi).

[Prefaces to reprints in Bannatyne Club Miscell. vol. iii. and ed. Mitchell, 1888; Lorimer's Patrick Hamilton, p. 240 ; Rordam's Ny Kirkehistoriske Samlinger, vol. ii. (1860). There is no allusion to Gau in the works of Knox, Calderwood, or Spottiswood.]

A. F. P.