Kaye, John (1783-1853) (DNB00)

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KAYE, JOHN (1783–1853), bishop of Lincoln, the only son of Abraham Kaye, by his wife, Susan Bracken, was born 27 Dec. 1783 in Angel Row, Hammersmith, where his father was a linendraper. He received his early education from the eminent Greek scholar, Dr. Charles Burney [q. v.], first at Hammersmith, and afterwards at Greenwich. From Burney's school he passed to Cambridge, where he matriculated as a pensioner at Christ's College 6 Feb. 1800, before he had completed his seventeenth year. He became a foundation scholar 17 Dec. of the same year, and graduated B.A. in 1804. He was both the senior wrangler and senior chancellor's medallist of his year, a rare distinction, gained only twice before, by Webster of Corpus in 1756, and Brundish of Caius in 1773, and once subsequently by Edward (afterwards Sir Edward) Hall Alderson [q. v.] of Caius in 1809. Kaye also obtained the second Smith's prize, Brundish and Alderson both obtaining the first. Kaye's subsequent degrees were M.A. 1807, B.D. 1814, D.D. 1815. He was elected to a fellowship at Christ's 5 Dec. 1804, became a foundation fellow 1 June 1811, and was tutor of the college 1808–14. John (afterwards Lord-chancellor) Campbell [q. v.] visited Cambridge in June 1805, and again in January 1811. On both occasions he dined with ‘a Mr. Kaye, a young man scarcely of age’ (Life, i. 170), and ‘seldom saw anywhere … things conducted in better style’ (ib. p. 265).

On the death of Porson in 1808 Kaye was a candidate for the regius professorship of Greek, but retired in favour of James Henry Monk [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. He was chosen master of his college 5 Sept. 1814, although only in his thirty-first year, and served the office of vice-chancellor the following year. His commencement speeches were always notable for their pure latinity and good taste. In 1816 he was elected regius professor of divinity, and revived the public lectures, which had been suspended for considerably more than a century. He was the first to recall theological students to the study of the fathers. His earliest course of lectures, on ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, illustrated from the Writings of Tertullian,’ was published at Cambridge in 1825, and reached a fifth edition in 1845. His course on Justin Martyr was issued in 1829 (other editions 1836 and 1853), while that on Clement of Alexandria appeared in 1835, and that on ‘the Council of Nicæa in connection with the Life of Athanasius’ just after his death in 1853. Another course, ‘The External Government and Discipline of the Church during the first Three Centuries,’ intended as an introduction to the ‘Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius,’ was published posthumously in 1855. The style of these works is pleasingly simple, and recent research has hardly diminished the value of any of them.

In 1820 Kaye was appointed bishop of Bristol, being consecrated by Archbishop Manners Sutton at Lambeth 30 July. He was translated to Lincoln in February 1827, and continued to hold his mastership at Cambridge till November 1830. In his primary charge to the clergy of the Bristol diocese in 1821 he condemned the inadequate views of baptism and holy communion then common, and the careless and irreverent manner of celebrating those sacraments. He directed the reintroduction of catechising, enforced residence, and discouraged pluralities. In the wide diocese of Lincoln he found ample scope for his energies. Under his auspices the number of resident clergy was greatly increased; more than two hundred parsonages were built or rendered habitable; schools were established; the fabrics of the churches put in better repair, and the services conducted with greater regularity and solemnity. Confirmations were held more frequently and in a larger number of centres. The office of rural dean, which had become almost obsolete, was revived, and he was the first bishop to insist on his candidates for holy orders passing the voluntary theological examination of the university of Cambridge, thus carrying into effect a recommendation he had made as regius professor in 1819. Throughout his episcopal life he sought by his example to raise the character of his clergy. As bishop of Lincoln he resided at the old palace of the see at Buckden in Huntingdonshire till 1837, when that county was transferred to the diocese of Ely. He thereupon removed to the newly erected palace at Riseholme, near Lincoln. In 1848, on the death of Archbishop Howley, he was elected visitor of Balliol College, Oxford, though he belonged to the sister university, and he was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society.

Kaye did not take any prominent part in political matters; but he spoke and voted in favour of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828, and against the repeal of the disqualifying laws in the case of Roman catholics. He was an active member of the church commission, and published a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, defending the recommendations of the commissioners, and vindicating the usefulness of cathedral establishments. He delivered and published triennial charges from 1831 to 1852, discussing with calm judgment the chief ecclesiastical questions of the day. Under the signature of ‘Philalethes Cantabrigiensis’ he contributed papers to the ‘British Magazine,’ some of which attained wide celebrity. Of these the chief were ‘Remarks on Dr. Wiseman's Lectures’ (in January and February 1837), and the ‘Reply to the Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion’ (i.e. Tom Moore).

Kaye was always cautious in controversy, and was free from bitterness or exaggeration. Though a sound churchman his theological sympathies were rather with the evangelical than with the high church party. He was opposed to the revival of convocation, upheld the Gorham judgment on the baptismal question, and regarded the ‘Oxford Movement’ with suspicion. Kaye could not be called a missionary bishop, and towards the end of his life he was distanced in his useful reforms by younger members of the episcopal bench, but no prelate stood higher in the esteem of the English church at his death, which took place at Riseholme 18 Feb. 1853. He was buried in the churchyard of the church which he had built there at his own cost. He married in 1815, soon after his election as master of Christ's, Eliza, the eldest daughter of John Mortlock, banker, of Cambridge, by whom he had one son and three daughters. The son, William Frederic John Kaye, was appointed by his father's successor in the see archdeacon of Lincoln in 1863.

Kaye's ‘Nine Charges, with other Works,’ chiefly sermons and occasional addresses, were issued by his son in 1854. A collected edition of his works in eight volumes was published in 1888. The first five volumes contain his writings on the fathers, and the remaining three his sermons, charges, letters, and miscellanea, together with a memoir by Dr. James Amiraux Jeremie [q. v.]

A portrait by Lane is in the episcopal portrait gallery at Lincoln, and has been engraved.

[Memoir by Dr. Jeremie; private information.]

E. V.