|The Life of JOHN STOW. ||xij
after Antiquities, and the Weal Publick of the Countries that he governed, rather
Lands and Revenues) had lying by him a great while; and desirous to have it printed, sent
for Dr. Powel, requiring him to peruse and correct, that it might be committed
to the Press.
For the polishing and improving this Work, this learned Briton took a great deal
by comparing Copies, and adding many things. And among other Assistants, our
was none of the least; supplying him with a considerable Number of Manuscript
Historians, as the said Powel acknowledges in his Preface. And who those
were, will be shewn hereafter.
He made many Notes and Corrections of the Works of the ancient Poet Chaucer. Of
himself giveth this Account, (where he mentions his Tomb in the South Isle of St.
Westminster, set up to that Poet's Memory by Nicolas Brigham) That through his
painful Labour he had corrected those Works, and twice increased them in Queen
His Notes and Corrections upon Chaucer.
Survey, Edit. 1603. p. 465.
It doth not appear either what Honour or Advantage Mr. Stow obtained, after all
extraordinary Pains and Study for the Publick Good; unless that he seemed to
made by the City their Chronicler, (for so I find him called in a Cause between
the City and
the Lieutenant of the Tower, about the Bounds and Liberties) and had therefore
Honorary Fee allowed him. By which Place it is likely he had the Liberty of
Access to the
City Records, which it seems plain he had, by his so often quoting them in his
I cannot but take Notice, how by an additional Word his Credit, as a Writer of
seems to be diminished, being styled, The City's Fee'd Chronicler; yet meaning
hope, that he took Fees of the City, not to write so much, what was true, as
turn best to its Honour and Advantage; but rather, that he received a Salary
from it, for his
great Labours, Pains, and Researches in its Records and Archives, for the
Knowledge partly of its true History, and partly of the Customs, Privileges and
belonging to it.
The City Chronicler.
He was afflicted near his End very much with Pain in his Feet; which, perhaps,
Gout. In the Year 1602, or 1603, he was fain to keep his Bed four or five
Months with it.
Where he observed how his Affliction lay in that Part that formerly he had made
use of in walking many a Mile to search after Antiquities, and ancient Books and
was now within a Year or two of a good old Age, that is, Fourscore Years.
Together with his Age, and with his Infirmities, he was now, in his last Years,
with Need: Having spent his Patrimony, and the best Part of his Estate in these
Labours, useful to this City, and to the English Nation, though not to himself.
he, poor Man, was reduced at last, and what Damage he had sustained hereby,
was plain enough hinted by one, who being moved to undertake and carry on a
Continuance of Stow's Chronicle, after his Death, answered,
"I thank God, that I am
not yet so mad, to waste my Time, spend 200l. a Year, trouble myself, and all my
only to gain Assurance of endless Reproach, Loss of Liberty, and bring all my
These various Afflictions, it seems, he met with in his Life:
But as for
Reproach, his Memory hath out-lived that, being now esteemed one of the best and
of our English Historians.
Ep. Dedicat. to the Abridgment of the English
The Description of his mean Circumstances was true enough. So that he was
obtain a Licence, or Brief, as we now call it, from King James I. to collect the
Benevolence of well disposed People, for his Subsistence, (A thing as
surprizing to hear) which that King granted. And the Grounds and Reasons which
him to do it, (as they were expressed in the Licence) are remarkable; namely,
That the said
Stow had desired such a Licence under his Great Seal, in Recompence of his
Travel of Forty five Years in setting forth the Chronicles of England, and Eight
up in setting forth the Survey, and towards his Relief now in his old Age;
having left his
former Means of living, and only employing himself for the Service and Good of
Country. This License bore Date in October 1604. It may not be amiss in this
exemplify a Brief for a Person, and upon an Occasion so remarkable, according to
Copy communicated to me from the Reverend Dr. Tanner, Chancellor of Norwich, by
Hands of the Reverend Dr. Edmund Gibson, now the Right Reverend the Bishop of
Gets a License to collect Alms for
"JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland,
Defender of the Faith, &c. To all and singular Archbishops, Bishops,
Deans, and their Officials; Parsons, Vicars, Curates: And to all Spiritual
Persons. And also
to all Justices of Peace, Maiors, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Constables, Churchwardens,
Headboroughs. And to all Officers of Cities, Boroughs, and Towns Corporate.
And to all
other our Officers, Ministers, and Subjects whatsoever, as well within Liberties
to whom these presents shall come, Greeting.
Brief granted him by King James.
Whereas our true and loyal Subject, John Stow, Citizen of London, having, for
of the Commonwealth, and Posterity to come, employed all his Industry and Labour
commit to the History of Chronicle, all such things worthy of Remembrance, as
to time happened within this whole Realm, for the Space of Five and forty Years,
Christmas last past, (as by divers large and brief Chronicles of his writing may
besides his great Pains and Charge in making his Book, called his Survey of