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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is now home to the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible to be printed in Canada.

the biblePrinter John Henry White published this two-volume edition in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 1832 or 1833. At the time, it was illegal to print the King James Version of the Bible in Canada. The King James Version takes its name from the fact that its text is the English translation of the Bible commissioned in 1604 by King James I of England. The translation is considered Crown property; therefore, only the Crown can give permission to print it. However the rights of the British Crown were not well-respected in the United States. In 1776 American printers began to print their own editions of the King James Bible after the American Revolutionary War. J.H. White was born in England, but he passed through the United States before settling in Canada and it is possible that he purchased the stereotype printing plates he used to print his Bible while living in Boston. He may not have been aware that he was breaking the law with his Canadian Bible project, and there is no record to suggest that he faced any repercussions for the undertaking.

Whiteís Bible was not a great success and few copies are known to have survived. Two have made their way to American collections; in Canada, five copies can be found in library and archival collections in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, but LACís is the only copy outside the Maritimes.

LAC acquired this copy in December 2012 as a gift from the Friends of LAC. The Bible is now housed in LACís Rare Book Collection along with the rest of its rich holdings of pre-Confederation published Canadiana.

 

 

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