Cheke, Sir John

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Cheke, Sir John (1514–57). Cambridge-born protestant Greek scholar, educator, and man of affairs, Cheke was fellow of St John's College from 1529. As regius professor 1540–51, he was supported by his friends Sir Thomas Smith and Roger Ascham in introducing the new ‘Erasmian’ pronunciation of Greek, against the vice-chancellor's ban. Under Henry VIII, Cheke was tutor to Prince Edward who, as Edward VI, gave him land, a knighthood, and the provostship of King's College, Cambridge; he was also member of Parliament, clerk to the council, and secretary of state. A supporter of Lady Jane Grey, he was imprisoned for treason under Mary 1553–4 but allowed to migrate to Basle, whence he travelled in Italy and taught at Strasbourg before being enticed to Brussels by Mary's agents in 1556 and again imprisoned in London. Securing release by renouncing his religion, he died soon after. Cheke's edition of two sermons by St John Chrysostom, with his Latin translation, was the first text to be printed in England in Greek type (1543). His strongly nationalist feelings in favour of the English language are evident in his gospel translations and his preface to Hoby's translation of Castiglione's Courtier (1561).

J. B. Trapp

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Sir John Cheke

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