The Life of JOHN STOW. xxj

The Life of JOHN STOW.

" And was sworn, according to the Form of Donation; and before John Tyler, then Prior of the Place, and the Convent, and many other Neighbours. And a Flitch of Bacon was 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 sworn according to the Form of Donation, before John Canon, then Prior of the Place, and the Convent, and many others of the Neighbours. And a Flitch of Bacon was delivered to the said Richard. "

And tho' he were a Citizen, and bred up to a Shop and Calling there, I make no Doubt he understood Latin well, as many other Citizens have done, and at this Day do; otherwise he could not have made use of those many ancient Historians of British and English Affairs, which he often quoted, and made very judicious Use of in his History. And he tells us expresly of his reading a Latin Inscription on a Stone Cross in the Church-yard, charitably founded by Sir Walter Manny, for Burial in a great Plague; which was this: Anno Dom. 1349. regnante magna Pestilentia, consecratum fuit hoc CĹ“miterium, in qua & infra septa præsentis Monasterij, sepulta fuerunt Mortuorum Corpora plusquam quinquaginta millia, præter alia multa ab hinc usq; ad præsens; quorum animabus propitietur Deus. Amen.

Understood Latin.

In fine, his great Diligence is to be commended in collecting, retrieving, and publishing so much of the English History, to the Honour of his Country, and the Place where he was born. And besides his own Endeavours, he wished and excited others of Ability in his Days, to do their Part in so Noble a Study; and at least, not to be behind hand with the Monks, and the Monkish Times; which he could not but praise for their Industry in writing 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 Collections, the Remembrance he had, and the Record he made not only of Monks in former Times, but of 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 Stow cannot forbear to give this Account of him; That among other his Labours, he collected the Works of Geffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate, and other Learned Writers. Which Works were wrote in sundry Volumes to remain to Posterity; and added, that he had seen them, and partly did profess them. Perhaps it should be read, partly did possess them, unless this his Professing them, may mean his owning himself a Student in them, and such like ancient Writings.

John Shirley,

The second is, Richard Arnold, that lived Anno 1519, a Citizen of London; and, inflamed with a Fervency toward good Learn- ing, travelled principally in observing Matters worthy to be remembred, &c.

Richard Arnold

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 Britain's Antiquities, left his Heirs, in Writing, divers excellent Monuments, who did keep them (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 before.

Sir John Wryst.

And finally, he somewhere giveth this Commendation of Chronicles, and the Histories of Things past, that they were, Witnesses of the Times, Lights of the Truth, Encouragers of Virtue and Honesty, and Correctors of Vice and Wickedness. So that it seems to have been some Publick Spirit for the Common Good, that acted him to follow so industriously these Studies.

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 partly because of his Trade and Calling. Among these Detractors, I must name Dr. Sutcliff, a Person of considerable Eminency in the Church: Who seems too hastily and passionately to write thus of him, in his Answer to Parsons's Three Conversions. When Parsons had alledged Stow's Chronicle, concerning Will. Thomas's Attempt to murther Queen Mary, for which he was executed, as a Traitor, Sutcliff, in Answer, makes Stow to be very partial in Queen Mary's Matters; and takes occasion to speak contemptibly of him, "As in nothing of any Authority, being a silly and unlearned Botcher, and abused by crafty Suggesters." And in another Place, ironically, "A worthy Chronicler to set forth the noble Acts of Taylors and Botchers; of which Trade he was." But it is a Sign that 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 adhered 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 before, to have his Library searched for superstitious Books; and from the Books that were found there: As, A little Book of Homilies, by Bishop Bonner; Sermons by Dr. Watson, Bishop 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 Publick Professor of Divinity in Oxford, a zealous Papist; A Defence of the Sacrifice of the Mass; The Assertion and Defence of the Sacrament of the

His Religion.