John Gau - Encyclopedia

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JOHN GAU (c. 1 495 - ? 1 553), Scottish translator, was born at Perth towards the close of the 15th century. He was educated in St Salvator's College at St Andrews. He appears to have been in residence at Malmo in 1533, perhaps as chaplain to the Scots community there. In that year John Hochstraten, the exiled Antwerp printer, issued a book by Gau entitled: The Richt vay to the Kingdome of Heuine, of which the chief interest is that it is the first Scottish book written on the side of the Reformers. It is a translation of Christiern Pedersen's Den rettevey till Hiemmerigis Rige (Antwerp, 1531), for the most part direct, but showing intimate knowledge in places of the German edition of Urbanus Rhegius. Only one copy of Gau's text is extant, in the library of Britwell Court, Bucks. It has been assumed that all the copies were shipped from Malmo to Scotland, and that the cargo was intercepted by the Scottish officers on the look out for the heretical works which were printed abroad in large numbers. This may explain the silence of all the historians of the Reformed Church - Knox, Calderwood and Spottiswood. Gau married in 1536 a Malmo citizen's daughter, bearing the Christian name Birgitta. She died in 1551, and he in or about 1553.

The first reference to the Richt Vay appeared in Chalmers's Caledonia, ii. 616. Chalmers, who was the owner of the unique volume before it passed into the Britwell Court collection, considered it to be an original work. David Laing printed extracts for the Bannatyne Club (Miscellany, iii., 1855). The evidence that the book is a translation was first given by Sonnenstein Wendt in a paper "Om Reformatorerna i Malmo," in Rordam's Ny Kirkehistoriske Samlinger, ii. (Copenhagen, 1860). A complete edition was edited by A. F. Mitchell for the Scottish Text Society (1888). See also Lorimer's Patrick Hamilton.

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