The Twickenham Museum
Timeline : 1600 - 1700

The Hampton Court Conference
The origin of the King James Bible

Conference to settle religious differences

Following his accession in 1603 James I arranged a conference at Hampton Court in order to settle religious differences between the Puritan wing of the Church and the bishops. Hampton Court was chosen in preference to London, where the plague had erupted, not realising that it was also in evidence at Hampton.

The Puritans were pressing both for a number of liturgical changes and for the bishops to be deprived of a share of parochial tithes. Their demands were set out in what was known as The Millenary Petition, of which the full text is available at:

At the outset the king had been minded to agree to the latter request, to the consternation of the bishops.

the 1611 King James bible

The conference opened on 14 January 1604 and in the end the bishops prevailed: no changes were made.

A new English Bible

However, the conference was effectively the catalyst leading to the preparation of a new English Bible: the King James Bible. It was decided to proceed with a completely new translation to replace the Geneva bible in current use. This bible, first published in England in 1560 (1569 in Scotland) was much disliked by James for its marginal notes which challenged his divine primacy as monarch.

The new bible was first published in 1611. Although not initially popular it came to exert an enormous influence on the development of the English language.

further reading:

Alister McGrath, "In the Beginning, the story of the KING JAMES BIBLE", Hodder & Stoughton, 2001
C P Halihan, Kings & Puritans, Bishops & Bibles, Trinitarian Bible Society - Quarterly Record Issue Number 566 - January to March 2004

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