Randle Cotgrave
Randle Cotgrave may possibly be Randal, son of William Cotgreve of Christleton in Cheshire, who is mentioned in the pedigree of the Cotgreve family, contained in Harl. MS. 1500, fol. 118, was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Lexicology is the part of linguistics which studies words, their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words , word groups and the whole lexicon....

 who in 1611 compiled and published A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, a bilingual dictionary that represented a real breakthrough at the time and remains historically important.

Life and work

Born to a Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

 family, Cotgrave was educated at Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, entering St John's College
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, Cambridge, on the Lady Margaret foundation, 10 Nov. 1587. He subsequently became secretary to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, eldest son of Thomas, first earl of Exeter. In dedicating to Lord Burghley his French- English dictionary, Cotgrave says that to his patron's favour he owes "all that he is or has been for many years," and thanks him for his kindness in "so often dispensing with the or- dinary assistance of an ordinary servant." The dictionary was first published in 1611, including many French proverb
A proverb is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim...

s, some English equivalents, as well as a few in Latin.

A second edition was published in 1632, together with an English-French dictionary by Robert Sherwood. Subsequent editions, revised and enlarged by James Howell, appeared in 1650, 1660 and 1673. The author presented a copy of the first edition of his work to Prince Henry, eldest son of James I, and received from him a gift of ten pounds. Cotgrave's dictionary, although not free from ludicrous mistakes, was, for the time at which it was published, an unusually careful and intelligent piece of lexicographical work, and is still constantly referred to by students both of English and of French philology. Two autograph letters of Cotgrave are extant, both addressed to M. Beaulieu, secretary to the British ambassador at Paris. The first of these, dated 27 Nov. 1610, was printed in "Notes and Queries," 3rd ser. viii. 84, and relates to the progress that was being made with the printing of his dictionary, in the preparation of which he says that he had received valuable help from Beaulieu himself and from a Mr. Limery.

In the other letter (Harl. MS, 7002, fol. 221) Cotgrave states that he has sent his correspondent two copies of his book, and requests payment of twenty-two shillings, "which they cost me, who have not been provident enough to reserve any of them, and therefore am forced to be beholden for them to a base and mechanicall generation, that suffers no respect to weigh down a private gain." It appears from this letter that Cotgrave was still in Lord Burghley's service. If he be the same person as the "Randal Cotgreve" of the Harl. MS., he became subsequently registrar to the bishop of Chester, and married Ellinor Taylor of that city, by whom he had four sons, William, Randolf, Robert, and Alexander, and a daughter Mary. The 1632 edition of the dictionary was evidently carried through the press by the author himself, the year of whose death is given in Cooper's "Memorials of Cambridge" as 1634.

External links

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