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The son of a London linen draper, Kaye was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1804 and became a fellow and a college tutor. In 1814 he became Master of the college, and the following year received his doctorate.
In 1816 Kaye was elected as Regius Professor of Divinity. He continued to live and work at Cambridge despite being appointed in 1820 as Bishop of Bristol.
In 1827, Kaye became Bishop of Lincoln and gave up his academic work. He was an energetic bishop, and worked hard to tighten up procedures in his diocese, encourage church attendance and church schools, and strengthen the church against dissenters, evangelicals, and Anglo-Catholics.
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