The Life of JOHN STOW. xij

The Life of JOHN STOW.

after Antiquities, and the Weal Publick of the Countries that he governed, rather than their 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 of Pains, by comparing Copies, and adding many things. And among other Assistants, our Stow 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 Historians were, will be shewn hereafter.

Powel's Pref.

He made many Notes and Corrections of the Works of the ancient Poet Chaucer. Of which himself giveth this Account, (where he mentions his Tomb in the South Isle of St. Peters Westminster, set up to that Poet's Memory by Nicolas Brigham) That through his own painful Labour he had corrected those Works, and twice increased them in Queen Elizabeth's Reign.

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 his extraordinary Pains and Study for the Publick Good; unless that he seemed to have been 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 some 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 Books. But I cannot but take Notice, how by an additional Word his Credit, as a Writer of Chronicles, seems to be diminished, being styled, The City's Fee'd Chronicler; yet meaning not, I hope, that he took Fees of the City, not to write so much, what was true, as what might 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 retrieving the Knowledge partly of its true History, and partly of the Customs, Privileges and Rights belonging to it.

The City Chronicler.

He was afflicted near his End very much with Pain in his Feet; which, perhaps, was the 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 so much use of in walking many a Mile to search after Antiquities, and ancient Books and MSS. He was now within a Year or two of a good old Age, that is, Fourscore Years.

His Sickness.

Together with his Age, and with his Infirmities, he was now, in his last Years, oppressed with Need: Having spent his Patrimony, and the best Part of his Estate in these Studies and Labours, useful to this City, and to the English Nation, though not to himself. And how 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 Friends, only to gain Assurance of endless Reproach, Loss of Liberty, and bring all my Days in question." 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 exactest of our English Historians.

His Poverty.

Ep. Dedicat. to the Abridgment of the English Chronicle.

The Description of his mean Circumstances was true enough. So that he was forced to obtain a Licence, or Brief, as we now call it, from King James I. to collect the charitable Benevolence of well disposed People, for his Subsistence, (A thing as lamentable, as surprizing to hear) which that King granted. And the Grounds and Reasons which moved 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 Labour and Travel of Forty five Years in setting forth the Chronicles of England, and Eight Years taken 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 his Country. This License bore Date in October 1604. It may not be amiss in this Place to exemplify a Brief for a Person, and upon an Occasion so remarkable, according to the Copy communicated to me from the Reverend Dr. Tanner, Chancellor of Norwich, by the Hands of the Reverend Dr. Edmund Gibson, now the Right Reverend the Bishop of Lincoln, viz.

Gets a License to collect Alms for himself.

"JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all and singular Archbishops, Bishops, Archdeacons, Deans, and their Officials; Parsons, Vicars, Curates: And to all Spiritual Persons. And also to all Justices of Peace, Maiors, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Constables, Churchwardens, and 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 as without, 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 the Good of the Commonwealth, and Posterity to come, employed all his Industry and Labour to commit to the History of Chronicle, all such things worthy of Remembrance, as from time to time happened within this whole Realm, for the Space of Five and forty Years, until Christmas last past, (as by divers large and brief Chronicles of his writing may appear) besides his great Pains and Charge in making his Book, called his Survey of "

London,