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

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SHEPREVE or SHEPERY, JOHN (1509?–1542), hebraist, born at Sugworth, in the parish of Radley, Berkshire, about 1509, was admitted a probationer fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1528, graduated B.A. on 3 Dec. 1529, and M.A. in 1533 (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 81). He was Greek reader in his college, and was appointed Hebrew professor of the university about 1538, in succession to Robert Wakefeld. In April 1542 he obtained permission from the university to expound in the public schools the book of Genesis in the Hebrew language, 'provided that he lectured in a pious and catholic manner.' He died at Agmondesham, Buckinghamshire, in July 1542. When his death became known at Oxford many learned men composed Greek and Latin verses to his memory, and pasted them on the doors of St. Mary's Church. These verses, together with some of Shepreve's own compositions, were collected with a view to their publication, under the editorship of George Etheridge, but they never appeared in print. Wood says Shepreve was 'one of the skilfullest linguists (his age being considered) that ever was in Oxon . . . and was thought to surpass Origen in memory. So excellent a poet also he was that his equal scarce could be found, it having been an ordinary matter with him to compose one hundred very good verses every day at vacant hours.' Several authors, including John Leland (Encomia, 1589, pp. 81-2) and Dr. John White, have celebrated his memory in their books of poems.

He was the author of: 1. 'Summa et Synopsis Novi Testamenti distichis ducentis sexagmta comprehensa,' published by John Parkhurst at Strasburg about 1556, 8vo; reprinted London, 1560, Oxford, 1586, 8vo, the last edition being revised by Dr. Laurence Humfrey. The verses are also reprinted in 'Gemma Fabri,' London, 1598. They were composed for the purpose of giving mnemonical aid to students of divinity. 2. 'Hippolytus Ovidianae Phaedrae respondens,' published at Oxford about 1584 by George Etheridge, a physician who had been one of Shepreve's pupils. The original manuscript is in the library of Corpus Christi, Oxford, No. 266. 3. 'Vita et Epicedion Johannis Claymondi Praesidis Coll. Corp. Chr.,' manuscript in the library of that college. There is another copy in Wood's collection, 8492, and a transcript among Rawlinson's manuscripts. Misc. 335, both in the Bodleian. This poem is important as being the main authority for Claymond's life (see Fowler, Hist. Corpus Christi Coll., pp. 79, 83, 84, 86, 88, 370). 4. 'S. Basilius, Episc. Caesariensis. In Esaiam Prophetam commentariorum tomus prior,' translated into Latin from the original Greek (Birch MSS. in Brit. Mus. No. 4355). 5. 'Oratio in laudem Henrici VIII,' manuscript in the Royal Library, Brit. Mus. 16 A 2. In the same volume there are two orations by Shepreve, in Hebrew, on the same subject. 6. 'Carmen de Christi Corpore.' He is also credited with a translation into Latin of the 'Hecuba' of Euripides, and a translation into English of Seneca's 'Hercules Furens.'

[Addit. MS. 24491 p. 364; Bale, De Scriptoribus, is. 30; Foster's Alumni Oxon. early ser. iv. 1346; Leland's Cygnia Cantio (1646); Leland's Encomia, 1689, p. 81; Pits, De Angliae Scriptoribus, p. 730; Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 164, 348 ; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 667; White's Diacosio-Martyrion. 1553, ff.86,89; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), i. 106. 134; Wood's Hist, et Antiq. Univ. Oxon. ii. 233.]

T. C.