|The Life of JOHN STOW. ||xxj
And was sworn, according to the Form of Donation; and before John Tyler, then
the Place, and the Convent, and many other Neighbours. And a Flitch of Bacon
delivered to him.
One Richard Wright of Badbrough, next Norwich, in the County of Norfolk, Yeoman,
came and asked for the Bacon of Dunmow, the 17th of Apr. 24. Hen. VI. and was
according to the Form of Donation, before John Canon, then Prior of the Place,
Convent, and many others of the Neighbours. And a Flitch of Bacon was delivered
And tho' he were a Citizen, and bred up to a Shop and Calling there, I make no
understood Latin well, as many other Citizens have done, and at this Day do;
could not have made use of those many ancient Historians of British and English
which he often quoted, and made very judicious Use of in his History. And he
expresly of his reading a Latin Inscription on a Stone Cross in the Church-yard,
founded by Sir Walter Manny, for Burial in a great Plague; which was this: Anno
1349. regnante magna Pestilentia, consecratum fuit hoc Cœmiterium, in qua
septa præsentis Monasterij, sepulta fuerunt Mortuorum Corpora plusquam
quinquaginta millia, præter alia multa ab hinc usq; ad præsens;
animabus propitietur Deus. Amen.
In fine, his great Diligence is to be commended in collecting, retrieving, and
much of the English History, to the Honour of his Country, and the Place where
born. And besides his own Endeavours, he wished and excited others of Ability
Days, to do their Part in so Noble a Study; and at least, not to be behind hand
Monks, and the Monkish Times; which he could not but praise for their Industry
their own Histories, or of the Times before them.
Excites to the Study of Antiquity.
And further, it is to be marked in Stow, to shew his Zeal for Historical
Remembrance he had, and the Record he made not only of Monks in former Times,
such as in latter Days bestowed their Labour and Pains this way. I will recite
what he saith
of Three such. The
First is John Shirley, who deceased in 1456, and lies buried in the
Church of St. Bartholomew the Less, and hath a Monumental Inscription, where
cannot forbear to give this Account of him; That among other his Labours, he
Works of Geffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate, and other Learned Writers. Which
were wrote in sundry Volumes to remain to Posterity; and added, that he had seen
and partly did profess them. Perhaps it should be read, partly did possess
this his Professing them, may mean his owning himself a Student in them, and
The second is, Richard Arnold, that lived Anno 1519, a Citizen of London; and,
with a Fervency toward good Learn-
ing, travelled principally in observing Matters worthy to be remembred, &c.
The Third is, Sir John Wryst, [the same Name, I suppose, as Wryse, or Wristey.]
"Who gathered, by Commandment, at the Suppression of Abbies, Charters of the
Foundations of divers Abbies, Colleges, &c. This Sir John, studious of
Antiquities, left his Heirs, in Writing, divers excellent Monuments, who did
(saith Stow) too long from the Sight of the Learned."
So that he seems to
have been in
the like Commission with John Leland. But these two last I have mentioned
Sir John Wryst.
And finally, he somewhere giveth this Commendation of Chronicles, and the
Things past, that they were, Witnesses of the Times, Lights of the Truth,
Virtue and Honesty, and Correctors of Vice and Wickedness. So that it seems to
some Publick Spirit for the Common Good, that acted him to follow so
His Praise of History.
And yet notwithstanding all his Skill, Study, Exactness, and laborious
Collections, he had
the Misfortune to have his Pains and Faithfulness undervalued by some; and that
because of his Trade and Calling. Among these Detractors, I must name Dr.
Person of considerable Eminency in the Church: Who seems too hastily and
write thus of him, in his Answer to Parsons's Three Conversions. When Parsons
alledged Stow's Chronicle, concerning Will. Thomas's Attempt to murther Queen
for which he was executed, as a Traitor, Sutcliff, in Answer, makes Stow to be
in Queen Mary's Matters; and takes occasion to speak contemptibly of him,
nothing of any Authority, being a silly and unlearned Botcher, and abused by
And in another Place, ironically,
"A worthy Chronicler to set
noble Acts of Taylors and Botchers; of which Trade he was."
But it is a Sign
Reverend Man knew little more of Stow, than that he was a Taylor.
Detractors of Stow.
NOW, as to Mr. Stow's Religion and moral Qualities; let us add something for a
Conclusion. He was, no doubt, at first, a Favourer of the Popish Religion, and
rather to that than to the Reformed; as may appear from the Jealousy the State
had of him;
which occasioned the Order to Grindall, Bishop of London, Anno 1568. mentioned
to have his Library searched for superstitious Books; and from the Books that
there: As, A little Book of Homilies, by Bishop Bonner; Sermons by Dr. Watson,
of Lincoln; a great printed Book, containing a List of the Saints [which seems
to be the
Golden Legend;] A Buckler of the Catholick Faith, by Richard Smith, sometime
Professor of Divinity in Oxford, a zealous Papist; A Defence of the Sacrifice of
The Assertion and Defence of the Sacrament of the