The Polyglot Puzzle

Contributed by Peter Tipton, and first written for St Peter's Millennium Exhibition 2000


Who presented the Polyglot Bible to St Peter‘s, Yateley?

There are three different persons mentioned in different records:



Which is correct?


Most likely explanation

James Swayne was the actual churchwarden who noted that he took possession of the Polyglot on behalf of the church on 3 Nov 1675. Since Sir Richard Ryves had died in Aug 1671, it is unlikely that he had personally presented the special bible to the Church because four years had elapsed from the date of his death. The note in the Churchwardens‘ Accounts claiming that Sir Richard gave the Polyglot could merely be the rememberance that he had once owned the Bible.


An inscription on the index page (reproduced on this board) seems to be more reliable evidence that John Helyer actually presented the Polyglot to St Peter‘s. However the inscription is neither signed by John Helyer, nor is it dated. It is therefore entirely possible that the inscription was written onto the title page, much later, by someone who believed that John Helyer had made the presentation, but was unaware of the true facts.


Analysis of the original Churchwardens‘ Accounts for this exhibition reveals that the Polyglot appears to be listed as one item of three presented to the church in 1675 by Sir Richard‘s widow, leading us to the most likely explanation that the Polyglot was presented in 1675 by Lady Ryves in memory of Sir Richard.


This explanation accords with our conclusion that Lady Ryves and Mrs Sarah Ball made various presentations to St Peter's around that time, including the Yateley Crystal Cup in memories of their husbands.


But ...

Why was the Polyglot Bible presented to St Peter's and

Was the author of the Polyglot a relation of Mrs Sarah Ball?



Click here for Yateley Polyglot mini-biographies


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