Francis Dee (d. 1638)

Francis Dee graduated from St John's in 1600, gained his MA in 1603, and was elected to a Fellowship. He was ordained in 1602 and later proceeded BD and DD. He held various clerical positions including the chancellorship of Salisbury Cathedral, a chaplaincy to the English Ambassador to Paris, and the deanery of Chichester. From 1634 he was Bishop of Peterborough, and associated himself very closely with Laud's reforms, in particular those regarding altars. These were very unpopular but Dee died before the repercussions were felt.


Dee's gift to the Library


Upon his death, Dee bequeathed his library to St John's, and there are over 100 volumes bearing his book label. These are predominantly theological in nature, but also include various philological, classical and scientific texts from the 16th and early 17th centuries. A random sample might include a finely bound volume of Antonio de Guevara's work on the conduct and education of nobility, L'orloge des princes (1550); tracts on the Marprelate controversy, for example An almond for a parrat, or, Cutbert Curry-knaves almes (1589); The famous game of chesse-play (1618); and Giambattista della Porta's De humana physiognomonia (1601), where various human face types are compared with those of animals. His donation also includes two incunabula: a Venetian Bible of 1485, and the dialogues of William of Ockham (Lyon, 1495).


Provenance markings


The books given by Dee bear a book label detailing his bequest. Translated it reads:

The Reverend father in Christ Francis Dee, Doctor of Sacred Theology and Bishop of Peterborough, among other gifts of estates and holy vessels and ornaments, he bequeathed by his most generous will this book and many others from his collection, which this Library of course lacked, to this College of St John (of which he was once a scholar and brought distinction). In the year of human salvation 1638.