The Provenance of the Canterbury KJBs
In 1982 the Dean and Chapter of Christchurch's Anglican Cathedral gave a copy of the KJB to the University of Canterbury along with a series of other books.
The 1611 Canterbury copy's original provenance remains unclear. Prior to entering into the cathedral's collection, it had once formed a part of the library of Christ's College, an educational institution established in Christchurch during the 19th century. While no written record remains, it is possible that the Bible was donated to the college by members of Christ Church College, Oxford.
The Canterbury 1611 KJB is missing a number of its pages. These include the engraved title page for the Old Testament and the Dedication to the Reader. Some of the last pages (including the Apocalypse) have been eaten by rats. Whether this occurred in Christchurch or while the volume was undertaking its perilous sea voyage is unclear.
The cover, although rather tattered, is original. It is made from boards covered with leather, with a stamped pattern on the leather still visible. The spine is still strongly bound in leather.
The interior of the Bible reveals several clues that indicate it was once in private ownership. The map of the Holy Land and the gazetteer have been removed. Futher, there are 41 pencil "X" marks added at various points in the text, suggesting the importance of certain passages to a private owner.
Only recently rediscovered in 2012, UC's 1613 edition is believed to have been a part of Christchurch artist William (Bill) Sutton's private collection.
The cover, like that of the 1611 version, was made from boards and covered with leather, although with the 1613 edition someone has re-covered the parts that have worn over time and placed fresh lining pages at the start of the inside covers.
Like its 1611 brother, the map of the Holy Land and the gazetteer are missing from the 1613 edition. The Bible also has markings throughout its pages suggesting private ownership. Instead of "X"s, these take the form of hand-written notes. On the back page we find a list of the family dead. Recording the dead was a common practice when early settlers arrived in New Zealand. It enabled them to remember and trace their family tree. This in not Willian Sutton's family tree, although this did not stop him from writing his name on the page.
Although some research has been done, a series of ongoing projects relating to the KJB will continue at Canterbury, one aim of which will be to establish the broader history of these two copies. Where did these Bibles come from? How did they reach Christchurch?
Christchurch's Anglican cathedral before the 2010/11 earthquakes
Full Text of the KJB (Canterbury Staff/Students only)
Ruth Lightbourne, 'Shipwreck Bible, Soldier's Bible, First New Testament in Maori, and More...' [National Library of New Zealand, December 2012]
Peter Carrell, 'The King James Bible', in Treasures of the University of Canterbury Library, ed. by Chris Jones, Bronwyn Matthews and Jennifer Clement (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2011), pp. 75-78.
Gordon Campbell, The Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611-2011 (Oxford: OUP, 2011) , Chapter 5.
Resources @ Canterbury
The Holy Bible: Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New: Newly translated out of the originall tongues: & with the former translations diligently compared and revised by His Majesties speciall comandement: appointed to be read in churches (London: Robert Barker, 1611).