Pierre François le Courayer was born at Rouen. While canon regular and librarian of the abbey of St Genevieve at Paris, he conducted a correspondence with Archbishop William Wake on the subject of episcopal succession in England, which supplied him with material for his work, Dissertation sur la validité des ordinations des Anglais et sur la succession des évéques de l’Eglise anglicane, avec les preuves justificatives des faits avancés (Brussels, 1723), an attempt to prove that there has been no break in the line of ordination from the apostles to the English clergy.
His opinions exposed him to a prosecution, and with the help of Francis Atterbury, then in exile in Paris, he took refuge in England, where he was presented by the University of Oxford with a doctor’s degree. In 1736 he published a French translation of Paolo Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent, and dedicated it to Queen Caroline, from whom he received a pension of £200 a year.
Besides this he translated Johann Sleidan’s History of the Reformation, and wrote several theological works. He died in London, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.
In his will, dated two years before his death, he declared himself still a member of the Roman Catholic Church, although dissenting from many of its opinions.