Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Phiston, William

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PHISTON or FISTON, WILLIAM (fl. 1570–1609), translator and author, describes himself as ‘a student of London,’ where apparently he resided most of his life. He acquired a knowledge of Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, and his works brought him under the notice of Nowell, dean of St. Paul's, Grindal, archbishop of Canterbury, and Robert Ratcliffe, earl of Sussex, to all of whom he dedicated books; but no further particulars of his life are known.

His works are: 1. ‘A Testimonie of the True Church of God … translated out of the French [of Simon de Voyon] by William Phiston,’ London, 4to; the British Museum Catalogue conjectures the date to be 1560? but 1570 is probably more correct. 2. ‘A Lamentacion of Englande for John Ivele [Jewel], bishop of Sarisburie, by W. Ph.’ London [1571]. 3. ‘Certaine Godly Sermons … First set foorthe by Master Bernardine Occhine … and now lately collected and translated out of the Italian tongue into the English by William Phiston of London, student,’ London, 1580, 4to. 4. ‘The Welspringe of Wittie Conceites … translated out of the Italian by W. Phist., student,’ London, 1584, 4to; besides the translation, Phiston added other matter, ‘partly the invention of late writers and partly mine own.’ 5. ‘The Estate of the Germaine Empire, with the Description of Germanie,’ London, 1595, 4to; a translation from two works, one Italian the other Latin. 6. ‘The Auncient Historie of the Destruction of Troy … translated out of the French [of Le Fevre] into English by W. Caxton Newly corrected and the English much amended by William Fiston,’ London, 1596, 4to; another edit. 1607, 4to. 7. ‘The Most Pleasant and Delectable Historie of Lazarillo de Tormes, a Spanyard; and of his marvellous Fortunes and Adversities. The second part, translated out of Spanish by W. P[histon],’ London, 1596, 4to. 8. An edition of Segar's ‘Schoole of Good manners, or a new Schoole of Vertue … by William Fiston,’ London, 1609, 8vo; another edition, ‘newly corrected’ by Phiston, appeared in 1629, 8vo; but Phiston himself can scarcely have been alive then.

[Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; Bodleian Cat.; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, iii. 255 n.; Ritson's Bibl. Anglo-Poetica, p. 299; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, p. 1012; Brydges's Brit. Bibl. i. 569; London Monthly Mirror, 1803, ii. 17; Collier's Engl. Lit. ii. 500–1; Timperley's Encycl. Typogr. p. 449; Hazlitt's Handbook, pp. 118, 196, 388, and Collections, 2nd ser. p. 475, 3rd ser. p. 94.]

A. F. P.