London: volume 2

Knight, Charles.


XXXVII.-London Antiquaries.

XXXVII.-London Antiquaries.




Few words spoken among men have, or have ever had, so much significancy for the imagination as the word LONDON. Rarely has a single name been so full of meaning to so many minds, or been gifted with the power of awakening so many various trains of reflection. Perhaps the thought that is apt to be called up by the name is of the height of modern civilization and splendour-the newest of all that is new on earth, the busiest, hottest activity of the social elements now in action among living human beings; but the next direction in which it sets the meditative faculty a-spinning is the opposite of all this-away back to the old buried world--to the social life that was, and is no longer---to the dream and the mystery of the far past, which seems to every of us like the previous part of a journey we have ourselves travelled--a scene we have known in some former state of existence, and yet so wholly different from the reality around us that we can with difficulty conceive the strange drama to have been played on


this same globe, or by beings having like passions with ourselves. The dead who have been dust for it may be centuries were then what we are now, the animating soul of the scene, the diversified crowd filling it with life and motion and all the struggle and turmoil of humanity. The imagination has scarcely a more affecting or arresting picture than this, in which life and death, the present and the past, the evanescent and the enduring, meet together, as it were, in a war embrace. Or if the former era to which we turn be comparatively recent, it is still the same; still the scene in which the men of that other time moved about remains, at the least the sure and firm-set earth on which they trode, and the everlasting heaven over it, but the men themselves are passed away for ever. Probably in this case even the works of their hands, for the most part, are yet all around us--the monuments which they reared, the streets which they paved and walked upon, the houses which they built and dwelt in, while they who once possessed them are all vanished. If any of us were to come upon a great city, like that in the Arabian tale, not in ruins or decay, but presenting all the appearances of recent occupancy, yet with its streets silent and every house untenanted, how should we be excited and thrilled by so touching a sight! Yet is not every old town even such a spectacle? Full as it may be of inhabitants, its streets and dwellings are as completely deserted by those who once filled them as those of the absolutely depopulated city in the tale. We have but to forget the new generation that has taken their place, and the impressive picture is before us of a solitude amid standing temples and towers, and furnished tenements, as perfect as that of Pompeii itself.

London is probably the oldest great city now existing on this side the Alps. Its existence, as a capital, reaches back, even like that of Rome itself, to the days of what we call the ancient world, as if it were literally another world divided by some mighty gulf from ours, or as if the beings that then inhabited the earth were of another species; and over the whole of this extended space its history carries back the eye of contemplation in continuous line of view, dimmer indeed in some plices than in others, but nowhere absolutely broken, so that we behold as it were following each other in long procession, and combined into many-coloured multitude, all the successive races and generations that have kept up the ferment of social existence on this spot of earth, from the half-wild Britons and the Roman colonists, passing away in the extreme distance, to the Popes and the Swifts, the Addisons and the Steeles, who are still individually and distinctly visible, and the Burkes and the Johnsons, whose very voices we seem to hear as they move about almost under our eyes.

Not rude nor barren are the winding ways

Of hoar antiquity, but strewn with flowers,

has said who was himself both an antiquary and a poet; and doubtless there is at least in some departments of antiquarianism no want of excitement and gratification for the poetical temperament. No mere history or description revives the past, and makes it again present to us, so vividly as the sight of the actual spot to which the history relates; however this is to be explained, all have felt it who have ever looked upon a celebrated old building or ruin, or even found themselves on ground that has been illustrated by any great event, though nothing but the name remains to recall what once was. The very air seems to preserve something


of the life of those who once breathed it, even if nothing of their handiwork be there; every natural sight and sound has to our fancies caught a portion of their spirit; or, what is equally good and more strictly true, these natural features and elemental influences, surviving the flight of hundreds or, it may be, thousands of years, were actually part of the being of the men of that by-gone time, had contributed to make them what they were, had nourished and formed their moral and intellectual nature, were among the things that supplied ideas and pictures to their imaginations, passions and affections to their hearts. Even thus, as still the blue Aegean tumbles among its sunny isles, did the Ocean, from childhood to blind old age, paint itself to the mind of Homer; even as at this day

the mountains look on Marathon, and Marathon looks on the sea,

did that scenery send down its melancholy grandeur into the eyes and the souls of Miltiades and his little host encamped there -and- centuries ago. The works of men's hands, again, that have long outlasted their authors and the generations once familiar with them, are almost equally interesting whether they remain uninjured or have fallen into decay and ruin,--whether they surprise us by bringing the past back in all its entireness, or perplex us with the strange changes that the lapse of time has wrought. A great city, in particular, if it be of ancient foundation, will always furnish matter of this latter kind in abundance; and perhaps there is no richer storehouse of such metamorphoses than our own London, which, as the capital of the kingdom since the foundation of the monarchy, has been illustrated by so many famous events and has served as the head-quarters of most of the remarkable of the national history, while it has also, from the pre-eminent opulence and commercial activity of which it has long been the centre, been subjected to perhaps as frequent and extensive renovation of all kinds as any other town, at least in modern Europe, that has any pretensions to be compared with it in point of extent. Forests as ancient as the creation rooted out-lakes and marshes drained-streams that originally diffused their water in permanent inundations bridled and taught to flow within artificial embankments-natural heights levelled and hollows filled up--here a passage partially excavated through the soil, there a channel covered over and concealed-fields and farms, where once was to be seen only the corn growing or the cattle browzing, converted into streets and squares, and resounding with the swarm of men;--and then, again, among the streets and buildings themselves, the sites of old renown obliterated and almost passed away from remembrance, the public monuments of other times to be found by the curious searcher only in their foundations under the earth, the palaces of kings and nobles become the workshops of mechanical industry or the warehouses of trade, the former high places of business or recreation abandoned to neglect and silence;--these mementos and visions of mutability, and such as these, disclose themselves in London to the inquiring and contemplative spirit at every turn. It is all over an exhibition of what Spenser has called

the ever-whirling wheel

Of Change, the which all mortal things doth sway.

Among the earliest investigators of the antiquities of London, or of the class of inquirers and writers properly entitled to be called London Antiquaries, to some notices of the most remarkable of whom the present paper will be devoted,


are the chroniclers Fabian and Arnold. They afford an illustration of what has been said as to the natural alliance of antiquarianism and poetry; for both were poets as well as antiquaries and chroniclers. Both figure in the pages of the great-historian of our English poetry, Warton, who introduces his account of Fabian by anticipating the surprise of his readers at finding

a mercer, a sheriff, and an alderman of London descending from his important occupations to write verses.

Fabian was certainly rather an uncommon sort of alderman.

He was esteemed,

Warton goes on to tell us,

not only the most facetious, but the most learned, of all the mercers, sheriffs, and aldermen of his time; and no layman of that age is said to have been better skilled in the Latin language.

Undoubtedly, however high we might be disposed to rate the qualifications of their worships for the discharge of their more appropriate functions, such as presiding on criminal trials at the , or witching the world with noble horsemanship in a great civic procession, would hardly think now-a-days of looking among their number for the greatest classical scholar of the time. Fabian's

Chronicle, or Concordance of Histories,

comes down, in the edition, to the year ; and it is in this work that his verses are found, narratives, soliloquies, and other pieces, introduced usually at the divisions between the Books. Warton is not laudatory in his account of the worthy alderman's metre :--

Our author's transitions from prose to verse,

he remarks,

in the course of a prolix narrative, seem to be made with much ease; and when he begins to versify the historian disappears only by the addition of rhyme and stanza.

Nor is he less severe upon poor Fabian's historical merits.

As an historian,

says Warton,

our author is the dullest of compilers. He is equally attentive to the succession of the Mayors of London,: and of the monarchs of England; and seems to have thought the dinners at


, and the pageantries of the City companies, more interesting transactions than our victories in France, and our struggles for public liberty at home.


of Fabian's historical anecdotes, under the important reign of Henry V., is, that a new weathercock was placed on the cross of

St. Paul's


But the truth is, these notices of little matters generally considered beneath the dignity of history, though more illustrative of the manners and spirit of the past than the greater part of what is found in ordinary histories, give its chief value and interest to Fabian's work. In descanting on the dinners at and the pageantries of the City companies he talks to us at any rate of things that he really knew and understood and had a genuine feeling for, which is in all cases the best course that any writer can take: in tracing the course of the national

struggles for public liberty,

he would not, we take it, have been quite so completely at home, and we are just as well pleased therefore that he has let that subject very much alone-even treating it and all its grandeur as subordinate in importance to the history of the weathercocks on . Warton, with all his love of old literature, had little of the London antiquary, or perhaps of the topographical antiquary at all, in him, else he would not have made such contemptuous mention of the information Fabian has preserved as to matters of this kind. Why should the chronology of the successive weathercocks on not be as faithfully recorded as that of many other things about which history is wont to busy itself? the succession, for instance, of prime ministers and cabinets, which, after all, are but the


weathercocks that show how the winds of party blow?-nay, are hardly entitled to be classed so high among the indicators of the state of the times as weathercocks, for they are apt to be not only turned but sometimes turned out by the changes of weather to which they are obedient ;--they are in fact made and unmade, as well as moved, by the currents and commotions of the political atmosphere, and may be better likened to straws and feathers caught up by the air than to weathercocks.

Fabian is supposed to have died in . Arnold's

Chronicle, or Customs of London,

appeared in . To Arnold we owe, if not the authorship, at least the preservation of the beautiful old ballad of the

Nut-brown Maid.

His curious volume

is perhaps,

says Warton,

the most heterogeneous and multifarious miscellany that ever existed. The collector sets out with a catalogue of the mayors and sheriffs, the customs and charters of the City of London. Soon afterwards we have receipts to pickle sturgeon, to make vinegar, ink, and gunpowder; how to raise parsley in an hour; the arts of brewery and soap-making; an estimate of the livings in London; an account of the last visitation of St. Magnus's church; the weight of Essex cheese; and a letter to Cardinal Wolsey. The

Nut-brown Maid

is introduced between an estimate of some subsidies paid into the exchequer, and directions for buying goods in Flanders. In a word, it seems to have been this compiler's plan, by way of making up a volume, to print together all the notices and papers, whether ancient or modern, which he could amass, of every sort and subject.

But this omne-gatherum turn is of the characteristics of your true antiquary-nor, were it but for the sake of the

Nut-brown Maid

alone, ought either historian or lover of our early poetry to be scandalized at the compass and varied voracity of Arnold's literary appetite, though it does range from poetry to pickling, from sturgeons to Lord Mayors.

Fabian and Arnold, and after them Leland, Norden, Camden, and others, all broke ground in different parts of the great field of the antiquities of London: but the trudger and trencher of the field in its whole extent was the excellent John Stow. His venerable tome lies as the foundation of all that has yet been written on the subject; indeed it has supplied the most valuable part of every work that has since appeared calling itself a history or survey of London. He and it therefore claim our particular notice here; and there is much curious matter both in Stow's biography and in his books. He was born in the year , in the reign of Henry VIII., and died in , a few years after the accession of James I., having thus in the beginning of his earthly pilgrimage of summers and winters witnessed the substitution of a new religion in the Church, and at its close the establishment of a new family on the throne. Stow's antiquarian taste possibly did not greatly relish either of these changes, the more especially; but his love of the past also drew him away from what was going on around him, and that and his moderate temper and good sense together got him out of any trouble into which his known or suspected opinions brought him. In the year his collection of manuscripts and other old volumes exposed him to some danger:


we are told by his biographer Strype,

was brought to the Queen's Council, as though he were a suspicious person, and had a great many dangerous books of superstition in his custody.

The Council thereupon sent to Grindall, the Bishop of London, to cause the poor antiquary's


study to be searched; and the bishop's chaplain and other divines were accordingly despatched to his house, and overhauled all his literary treasures. To this curious proceeding, so expressive of the state and spirit of the time, we are indebted for an account of the contents of Stow's library, which is interesting. The divines reported to the bishop that in the place he had great collections of his own for the English chronicles; upon which, as the chaplain particularly remarked, he seemed to have bestowed much labour. They, found also many printed old books, among which were some fabulous, such as

Sir Degory Triamour,


and a great parcel of old manuscript chronicles, both in parchment and paper.

And then the report went on to state

that, besides, he had miscellaneous tracts, touching physic, surgery, and herbs, and medicinal recipes; and also fantastical old Popish books printed in old time; also others written in old English in parchment.


it is added,

another sort of books he had more modern; of which the said searchers thought fit to take an inventory, as likely most to touch him; and they were books lately set forth in the realm or beyond sea in defence of papistry. Which books, as the chaplain said, declared him a great fautor of that religion.

A list of some of these papistical books is appended; among them are treatises by Bonner, Edgeworth, Pollard, and other Romish divines; but it is probable, after all, that our antiquary had been led to collect them and store them up rather as curiosities, as the relics of an order of things passed or fast passing away, than from any strong affection he felt for the doctrinal theology expounded in them. We believe he would not have been the man to disturb the fabric of the old religion, any more than he would have been inclined to pull down any other fabric venerable for its antiquity, however much it might stand in the way of modern notions of propriety or convenience; at any rate it was his business to preserve the memory of whatever was in danger of being forgotten and doomed to oblivion by the rest of the world. Like Spenser's Eumnestes,

This man of infinite remembrance was,

And things foregone through many ages held,

Which he recorded still as they did pass,

Ne suffer'd them to perish through long eld.

Strype is inclined to think that he came at length

to have a good opinion of the Church of England ;


adds that grave narrator, whose dulness, however, is more amusing than the liveliness of most other writers,

in the reign of Queen Elizabeth he hath somewhere this expression,

that doctrine is more pure now than it was in the monkish world;

but whether he spake it ironically or in earnest, I do not dispute.

What or whether anything befell Stow in consequence of the chaplain's report is not recorded; and it may be hoped that he got out of the scrape without any more serious annoyance; at least we trust they did not plunder him of any of his beloved books, either printed or manuscript, on parchment or on common paper.

Stow, it seems, is an ancient London name; and our antiquary, who was born in the city whose history he has done so much to illustrate, although but of humble parentage, was not altogether a .

Certain it is,

writes the solemn Strype,

that, as St. Paul made it his boast, as to the flesh, that he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews; so John Stow was a citizen born of citizens of

London; for both his father and his grandfather were citizens, and tradesmen of good substance and credit, dwelling in


, the chief place of trade and credit in the city; and both lying buried in St. Michael's


Church, under monuments: Thomas Stow, his grandfather, buried about the year


; and Thomas Stow, his father, in the year


; as himself writes in



In this same church, by the by, was buried Stow's predecessor in his favourite pursuit, Robert Fabian, alderman, also under a monument, which however was gone when Stow wrote his Survey, although he has preserved some moral verses, not unlikely to have been of the alderman's own composition, which were inscribed on it. And here, it appears, in the same family burying-place, Stow's great-grandfather also lay; so that the family had been established in this parish for a long while. Strype, in his edition of the

Survey of London,

has furnished, from the Register, the will of the Thomas Stow, the chronicler's grandfather, which helps to show the condition of the family, and is also curious as a specimen of the time--the last hours of popery in England. The testator designates himself Citizen and Tallow-chandler; and, after bequeathing his soul to

Jesus Christ and our blessed Lady St. Mary the Virgin,

and his body to be buried

in the little green churchyard of the parish church of St. Michael in


, between the cross and the church-wall, nigh the wall as may be,

by his father and mother, sisters and brothers, and also his own children, he proceeds:--

Also I bequeath to the high altar of the aforesaid church, for my tithes forgotten,


Item, to Jesu's Brotherhood,


I give to our Lady and St.-- Brotherhood


I give to St. Christopher and St. George


Also, I give to the


altars in the church aforesaid, in the worship of the


sacraments, every year during






to have on every altar a watching candle, burning from


of the clock till it be past


, in worship of the


sacraments; and this candle shall begin to burn and to be set upon the altar from All Hallowen-day till it be Candlemas-day following; and it shall be watching-candle, of


in the pound. Also, I give to the brotherhood of Clerks to drink,


Also, I give to them that shall bear me to church every man


Also, I give to a poor man or woman, every Sunday in




, to say


Paternosters and Aves and a Creed for my soul. Also, I give. to the reparations of Paul's


Also, I will have


new torches, and


torches of St. Michael, and


of St. Anne, and


of St. Christopher, and


of Jesus, of the best torches.

The notion that the old tallow-chandler had of the light of the Gospel seems to have been somewhat professional. Having thus settled the important matter of the watching-candles and the torches, he has little more to say; but in a few words he bequeaths to his son Thomas (probably the only of his children that survived),


in stuff of household,

that is to say, as he goes on to explain, his great melting-pan, with all the instruments thereto belonging; and also in plate; namely,

a nut,

of silver gilt, of the value of ;

a pounced piece,

weighing above ounces, of the value of ;

a mass of a pint,

valued at ; and a

little macer,

of the value of (making in all, by the by, if the figures be rightly given by Strype, more than the sum mentioned). And he concludes by naming his wife Elizabeth as his executrix.



Strype also gives us an abstract of the will of Stow's mother, Margaret Stow, made in , shortly before her death. In this there is no popery: she merely bequeaths to bury her decently; to her children and friends,

to drink withall after the funeral;

to the poor in bread; to the Company of Tallow-chandlers, to follow her corpse to the church; and legacies to her sons and daughters, but, of them all, to John, the eldest, the least, that is to say, only We should infer from all this that the antiquary's father was, like his grandfather, a tallow-chandler; but Strype chooses to conceive, though he gives neither authority nor reasons for his notion, that Stow followed

his father's trade and calling, whatever it were ;

and then he proceeds to show that he was a tailor. He is called expressly

Stow, the tailor,

in Grindall's report to the Privy Council of the search made among his books by the divines,

which perhaps,

observes his biographer,

might be more than barely relating to the Company of Merchant Tailors, whereof he was free. It might bespeak him a tailor by trade; since in former times in


men of that occupation lived and had their shops; who were then of more reputation and wealth than of later times those of that calling are. . .. These shopkeepers, as they sold cloth out of the piece, so they seemed also sometimes to make and fit it up for wearing. And in Birching Lane, and along thence in


, westward, lived upholders, or frippers, that is, such as sold apparel and old household stuff. These were not of equal credit with the drapers and tailors, but yet their trades came near.

However, it is pretty clear that Stow's trade was really that of a tailor. Strype assumes that he lived and carried on business originally in ; but of this we find no evidence. In , it appears, he dwelt near the Pump in . This we learn from a remarkable incident which he relates in his account of ward in his


During the great insurrection of the commons in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and other shires, which broke out in the above-mentioned year, the of Edward VI.,

strait orders,

says Stow,

being taken for the suppression of rumours, divers persons were apprehended and executed by martial law, amongst the which the bailiff of Rumford in Essex was


, a man very well beloved. He was early in the morning of Mary Magdalen's day (then kept holiday) brought by the sheriffs of London and the knight marshal to the well within


, there to be executed upon a gibbet set up that morning; where, being on the ladder, he had words to this effect:--

Good people, I am come hither to die, but know not for what offence, except for words by me spoken yesternight to Sir Stephen, curate and preacher of this parish, which were these: He asked me, What news in the country? I answered, Heavy news. Why? quoth he. It is said, quoth I, that many men be up in Essex, but, thanks be to God, all is in good quiet about us. And this was all, as God be my judge,

&c. Upon these words of the prisoner, Sir Stephen, to avoid reproach of the people, left the city, and was never heard of since amongst them to my knowledge. I heard the words of the prisoner, for he was executed upon the pavement of my door, where I then kept house.

This was the same Sir Stephen, the fanatic curate of St. Catherine Cree, whose sermon preached a short time before this at Paul's Cross occasioned the destruction of the ancient Maypole from which


the church of St. Andrew derived its name, as also related by Stow in a passage quoted in a preceding paper.[n.189.1]  We may here give another story which Stow tells, and which also has some bearing upon his family history. Where is now the hall of the Company of Drapers, on the north side of , stood formerly a sumptuous palace erected in the place of a number of old and small tenements by Sir Thomas Cromwell, afterwards Lord Cromwell and Earl of Essex, the famous minion of Henry VIII.

This house being finished,

writes Stow, in his description of ward,

and having some reasonable plot of ground left for a garden, he (Cromwell) caused the pales of the gardens adjoining to the north part thereof on a sudden to be taken down,


foot to be measured forth right into the north of every man's ground, a line there to be drawn, a trench to be cast, a foundation laid, and an high wall to be builded. My father had a garden there, and there was a house standing close to his south pale; this house they loosed from the ground, and bare upon rollers into my father's garden


foot ere my father heard thereof; no warning was given him, nor other answer, when he spake to the surveyors of that work, but that their master, Sir Thomas, commanded them so to do. No man durst go to argue the matter, but each man lost his land; and my father paid his whole rent, which was

6s. 8d.

the year, for that half which was left.

This much,

adds our antiquary, in the quiet, yet pungent, way in which he sometimes permits himself to give expression to a strong feeling,

of mine own knowledge have I thought good to note, that the sudden rising of some men causeth them to forget themselves.

The house which was so summarily disposed of was no doubt of wood, like almost all the houses of moderate dimensions of that age. The cool impudence of the proceeding, affecting, as it were, to make the poor plundered citizens believe that their gardens remained as large as ever, and that the apparent curtailment was a mere fancy of their bewildered optics or dreaming imaginations, gives a touch of humour to a picture of flagrant insolence and oppression.

Stow had probably often played in this garden when a boy. Another spot with which he was familiar in his. early years is commemorated in his account of the former condition of the district lying to the north-west of , now called , and of the origin of that name. Near adjoining to the nunnery of the ,

on the south side thereof,

he writes,

was sometime a farm belonging to the said nunnery, at the which farm I myself, in my youth, have fetched many a halfpenny-worth of milk, and never had less than


alepints for a halfpenny in the summer, nor less than


ale-quart for a halfpenny in the winter, always hot from the kine, as the same was milked and strained.


Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there, and had




kine to the pail. Goodman's son, being heir to his father's purchase, let out the ground,


for grazing of horses, and then for garden-plots, and lived like a gentleman thereby.

Our antiquary probably intended this anecdote to be received as a proof of the greater plenty of former days; but it is in truth rather an illustration of the scarcity of halfpence than of the abundance of milk.



Afterwards, according to Strype, Stow removed to the parish of St. Andrew's in ward, and there continued to live till his death,

following his beloved study of the history and antiquity of England more than his trade.

His biographer determines that it was about the year that

he addressed all his cares and cogitations to these searches for the composing of a chronicle.



in its form of an abridgment, or, as he entitled it, a

Summary of the Chronicles of England,

was published in , and was often reprinted during his life, and also several times after his death. The early editions are very minute volumes, manuals or vade-mecums, apparently intended for being carried in the pocket. It was not till some years later that he published his larger


entitled his


of which there were also several reprints during his life and afterwards. The various prefaces and dedications to these works contain a good deal of matter which throws light upon the history and circumstances, and also upon the character, of the author. The earlier editions of the


are dedicated to the Lord Mayor of London for the time,

the Right Worshipful Aldermen, his brethren, and the Commoners of the same city;

but in the edition of the inscription includes

the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Merchant Tailors,

of which Company, as we have seen, Stow was a member. On this occasion he says,

It is now full


years since I, seeing the confused order of our late English chronicles, and the ignorant handling of ancient affairs, leaving mine own peculiar gains, consecrated myself to the search of our famous antiquities.

This would give as the date at which he commenced his labours, or at least at which he began to make the study of English antiquities his sole or principal business. He would be then . In the edition of he speaks of years as the time during which he had dedicated himself to that study-counting, apparently, from the publication of his book. But no doubt such inquiries had occupied many of his hours from a much earlier date. The


had been originally drawn up at the request of the Lord Robert Dudley, who became before it was published Earl of Leicester, and the edition was dedicated to that nobleman--in reward whereof, Stow states in his


he had always received his Lordship's hearty thanks, with commendations, but nothing more. In the Dedication of the edition, which appeared in , to the then Lord Mayor and Aldermen, the author says,

Although, Right Honourable and Worshipful, I was myself very ready to dedicate this my small travail of English Chronicles unto you . . . I thought good to begin with the Right Honourable


e Earl of Leicester. For, speaking nothing of my own duty, the commodity of my own countrymen moved me hereunto, who, seeing they were deceived through his authority by the furnishing of a frivolous abridgment with his noble name in the fronture, I thought good . . . at vacant times to take me to my old delectable studies, and, after a summary of English Chronicles faithfully collected, to require his Lordship's authority to the defence of that wherein another had both abused his Lordship's name and deceived the expectation of the common people. But, now, at the request of the printer and other of my loving friends, having brought the same into a new form, such as may both ease the purse and the carriage, and yet nothing omitted convenient to be known; and, besides all this,

having example before my face to change my patron (reserving still my printer, as careful of his advantage rather than mine own), I am bold to submit it unto your Honour and Worships' protection.

The rival, or adversary, to whom Stow here alludes is Richard Grafton, whose smaller


appeared in . Both it and his larger work on the same subject, printed in , are poor performances; and Stow has many indignant complaints, scattered up and down in his various publications, both of the way in which his painful labours had been appropriated without acknowledgment by Grafton, and of the inaccurate and wretched work that compiler palmed upon the world even with the advantage of such assistance. Thus, in the Dedication to the edition of his


which appeared in , after noticing and accounting for some alleged mistakes in preceding editions, which, it appears, Grafton had animadverted upon, he adds,

This hath been laid to my charge, and very great words made of it, by him who with more honesty might have holden his peace, for that himself (since I began to write) hath always followed me in matter, but not in truth.

And the Preface, or Address to the Reader, which follows, is chiefly devoted to a vindication of himself from Grafton's charges. The conduct of this plagiarist and plunderer, he intimates, had well nigh driven him in disgust from the further prosecution of his favourite study, or at least from giving the public any more of the benefit of his inquiries.

Calling to memory,

he says,

gentle reader, with what diligence (to my great cost and charges) I have travailed in my late

Summary of Chronicles;

as also the dishonest dealings of somebody towards me (whereof I have long since sufficiently written and exhibited to the learned and honourable), I persuaded with myself to have surceased from this kind of travail, wherein another hath used to reap the fruits of my labours-setting as it were [he notes on the margin] his mark on another man's vessel. But now, for divers causes thereto moving me, I have once again briefly run over this small abridgment,

&c. And he recurs to the subject in his farewell to the reader at the end of the volume, when his sense of injury actually bursts out into song-- :--

Take this,

he writes,

and other my larger travails in good part, like as I have painfully (to my great cost and charges) out of many old hidden histories brought the same to light, and freely for thy great commodity bestowed them upon thee. I wish to be plain and true, and I wish the readers to try or they trust; then they shall see who of late hath abused me and deceived them with lies smoothly told:--

Of smooth and flattering speech remember to take heed; For truth in plain words may be told; of craft a lie hath need.

These little outbreaks, as we have said, display the character and temper of our good antiquary, who was evidently himself the soul of truth and honesty, but was also, as such natures are apt to be, somewhat tender-skinned to any apparent breach of these virtues in the treatment he received from others, and, having a proper sense of his own merits, was not disposed to compliment away the credit to which he felt himself to be entitled by any weak deference either to the pretension and impudence of inferior men, or even to their unfounded claims, however inoffensively urged. He knew the difference between real labour and ability,


and mere quackery and assumption, and he had no notion of allowing the things to be confounded or mistaken the for the other. This humour, however, was likely to expose him to some rubs in his passage through life; besides that such a temperament is more easily fretted than of less delicacy, the world does not like so jealous and unbending an honesty, which it considers a satire upon itself and nicknames narrow and pedantic, in revenge for the alarm it gives it. Stow, accordingly, we find, had other enemies and assailants, by whom he was sorely vexed, besides his rival chronicler, Grafton. We have mentioned the trouble in which he was involved in , when he was subjected to the domiciliary visit of the officers of the newly established system of church and state, in consequence of being suspected of being, as Strype expresses it,

an admirer of antiquity in religion as well as in history.

years after he was again brought before the ecclesiastical commissioners,

and that,

says Strype,



that had been his servant, after he had defrauded him of his goods, and now sought to deprive him of his life too, by a false accusation, consisting of no less than


score and odd articles


So extended an indictment, would think, must have comprehended nearly every material passage of the unfortunate antiquary's life; but it turned out not only that all the witnesses against him were deemed unworthy of credit, some of them having been previously convicted of perjury, others burned in the hand for felony, but that besides, if we rightly understand Strype's account, they could not or would not swear up to the mark. Stow, we are told, would have prosecuted some of his false accusers on this occasion,


says his reverend biographer,

he was answered by some that there was no remedy against them, by means of the statute made, which it seems favoured informers for the Queen.

The worst feature of this affair is, that the dishonest and ungrateful servant with whom the accusation originated appears to have been Stow's own brother. He was indeed throughout his life exposed to this kind of danger and annoyance to a degree that would seem to betoken something very peculiar either in himself or the times. So early as the year we read of a false accusation made against him by a priest;

but the priest's perjury,

says Strype,

either against him or some other, at length was discovered, and met with a due desert, the priest being adjudged in the Star Chamber to stand upon the pillory, and have his cheek marked with F. A. for False Accuser.

But the attempt made to destroy him in this way by his own brother was what he naturally could least forget; and he often alludes to it in his various books. In his


under the year , we find the following paragraph:--

The said

21 of November

a man was brought from


Hall, riding with his face to the horse-tail, and a paper on his head, to the Standard in Cheap, and there set on the pillory, and then burned with an hot iron on both his cheeks, with


letters F and A, for False Accusing


of the Court of Common Place in


of treason. The like justice I once wished to the like accuser of his master and eldest brother, but it was answered, that in such case could be no remedy, though the accuser himself were in the same fact found the principal offender, wherethrough it followeth, the accuser never showed sign of shame (the way to repentance), but terribly curseth, and blasphemously sweareth he never committed any such act, though the same be registered before the honourable

the Queen's Majesty's High Commissioners; and what horrible slanders by libelling and otherwise with threats of murder he daily bruiteth against me, the knower of all secrets (God I mean) knoweth, unto whom I refer my cause, being comforted with this sentence of the prophet David,

Fret not thyself with these cursed harmful men, neither envy angrily these workers of wickedness, for like grass anon shall they be cut down, and like the green fresh bent of the flower shall they wither away,

&c. And in a marginal note he thus directs attention to the incident, and makes the application of it:--

False accuser set on the pillory, and brent in both cheeks. Would to God all such false accusers were so well marked, whereby they mought be known for such as they are!

Again, in relating the death in of Anne Averies, widow, who,

forswearing herself for a little money that she should have paid for

six pound

of tow at a shop in

Wood Street

of London, fell immediately down speechless,

and died in circumstances of great horror, he cannot refrain from adding,

A terrible example of God's just judgment upon such as make no conscience of falsely swearing against their brother

--though the only fraternal relationship between the parties in the case recorded appears to have been of the vaguest nature. So, in his


in his notice of the sedition of William Fitzosbert in , he finishes the account of his being dragged by the heels to in Smithfield and there hanged, and the enumeration of his misdeeds, with the crowning charge that he was,

amongst other his detestable facts, a false accuser of his elder brother, who had in his youth brought him up in learning, and done many things for his preferment;

and he adds on the margin,

God amend, or shortly send such an end to, such false brethren.

This is going pretty far, it must be admitted; but at any rate it is plain speaking; there is no hypocrisy here; if our exasperated antiquary was quite indifferent whether his brother should reform or go to the gallows, he does not affect any higher degree of fraternal regard than he actually entertained. The truth is, this sense of the baseness of his brother's behaviour had become a fixed idea, that is, a sort of disease, or madness, in his mind, and he is hardly accountable for what expressions he gives way to when that string is touched. But he seems to have been eminently unlucky in the number of thankless people he encountered. A complaint which he makes in the Dedication to his


for can hardly apply either to his brother or his rival Grafton: after expatiating on the deserts of the writers of chronicles, who, he says,

deserve at the least thanks for their pains, and to be misreported of none, seeing they have laboured for all,

he adds,

I write not this to complain of some men's ingratitude towards me (although justly I might),

&c.;--and then, the bitterness of his recollections overflowing on the margin, we have this emphatic admonition appended:

Note, that the ungrateful backbiter slayeth


at once, himself by his own malice, him that crediteth his false tales, and him that he backbiteth.

Poor Stow in truth could not but feel keenly that he had toiled long and hard, and done his work both conscientiously and ably in that antiquarian field of his, and that he had been after all but scurvily requited, in so far at least as either world's goods or world's honours were to be his reward. This high thing at least is to be said of him, that literature never had a more single-hearted devotee, that


no writer ever plied his task more out of pure love of his subject, or neglected and disregarded all other considerations more heroically. There is something touching enough in the brief allusions he makes on or occasions to the labours and hardships through which he has had to make his way.

It hath cost me,

he says at the end of his


in the edition of ,

many a weary mile's travel, many a hard-earned penny and pound, and many a cold winter's night's study.

All he asks is, that the means may be granted him of laying his works before his countrymen, for whose sake he has composed them.

I desire thee,

he concludes his valedictory address to the reader at the end of his


to take these my labours in good part, like as I have painfully, to my great cost and charges (and not for hire), out of many old hidden histories and true records of antiquity, brought the same to light, and freely for thy great commodity bestowed them upon thee; so shalt thou encourage me to publish a larger volume and history of this island, princes of the same, and accidents of their times, which I have gathered, and is ready to the press when God shall permit me.

This larger history however was never printed, nor is it known what is become of it. Stow's lot in his old age was the extremity of poverty, and that aggravated by sickness and bodily infirmity.

He was afflicted near his end,

says Strype,

very much with pain in his feet; which, perhaps, was the gout. In the year


, or


, he was fain to keep his bed




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 manuscripts. He was now within a year or


of a good old age, that is, fourscore years.

(A singular attempt at precise definition.) It was in these circumstances that a measure of a very extraordinary character was resorted to for the poor old antiquary's relief. He received from the Crown what may be termed a patent of beggary, a royal letter authorising him to collect alms in certain districts of the kingdom, and recommending his case to the compassion of the charitable. The brief to this effect, it appears, was granted to him in the year of James I., for the term of months, after the expiration of which it was renewed for another year. The paper was probably dispersed over the country, and of the printed copies of the that was issued still remains in the Harleian collection in the . It is addressed in his Majesty's name 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, mayors, 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:

and the preamble recites that Stow, who is designated a 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




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,


he spent


years in searching out of ancient records concerning antiquities both for London and



had made humble suit to his Majesty for a licence under the great seal to gather the benevolence of well-disposed people throughout England,

in recompence of his said labour and travail, and towards his relief now in his old age, having left his former means whereby he lived, only employing himself for the service and good of his country.

Power, licence, and authority are then granted to Stow or his deputy

to ask, gather, receive, and take the alms and charitable benevolence

of all his Majesty's loving subjects in several counties, comprehending the whole of England, except Cornwall and the northern counties of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Northumberland, parts of the kingdom which were probably thought too poor to bear the burthen of such an impost, or to yield anything worth collecting.


concludes the paper,

we will and command you, and every of you, that at such time and times as the said John Stow, or his deputy, the bearer hereof, shall come and repair to any of your churches, or other places, to ask and receive the gratuities and charitable benevolence of our said subjects, quietly to permit and suffer them so to do without any manner your let and contradiction. And you, the said parsons, vicars, and curates, for the better stirring up of a charitable devotion, deliberately to publish and declare the tenor of these our letters patent unto our said subjects; exhorting and persuading them to extend their liberal contributions in so good and charitable a deed.

On the back of a copy of the King's letter accompanying the brief, Strype found set down the amount, subscribed by the churchwardens, of what was collected from the parishioners of St. Mary Woolnoth, in the city of London, which was but and sixpence. Thus they made a sort of King's bedesman of our great London antiquary. It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction-and this is as if the novelist had somehow or other contrived to mix up into individuality the worthy Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck and his humble friend Edie Ochiltree. But Stow, who had long shown how secondary outward circumstances were in his regard, and who felt that his poverty did him no dishonour, probably kept up his heart, under the state of mendicancy to which he was reduced, as gallantly as did the shrewd, merry Scottish gaberlunzie man. Once, long before this, Ben Jonson told his friend, Drummond of Hawthornden, that he and Stow, walking together, met lame beggars, when Stow, as if with some half-presentiment of how he was to end his days, gaily asked them

what they would have to take him to their order.

But we must leave those of our readers who would pursue more into its details the history of the good old man to gather from the ample pages of Strype all the particulars of how he vindicated the bounds of his ward of when it had been encroached upon by that of Bishopsgate,--and how he was chosen of the ward collectors for the great muster in ,--and how he was patronised and encouraged in his antiquarian investigations by Archbishop Parker and his successor, Whitgift,--and how Camden himself has quoted and commended him,and how he studied the antiquities of London in the archives of the City chamber, --and how years after he left his trade,

his fortune growing low, he thought fit to make means to the Mayor and Court of Aldermen, to set forth his

deserts towards the City, and to assist him in his further designs with the grant of a couple of freedoms,

--and how, besides divers other literary labours which it has not fallen within our purpose to notice, he, as he has himself told us,

made many notes and corrections of the works of the ancient poet Chaucer

(inserted in Speght's edition of ), and how he transcribed with his own hand, among other manuscripts, the whole of Leland's Books of


which he sold to Camden for an annuity of a year,--and how it is clearly proved that he understood Latin (as indeed all decently educated people of that age did),--and how he was slandered and abused by William Ditcher, alias Tetford, and his wife, who not only

called him pricklouse knave, beggarly knave, and rascal knave,

and defamed the virtue of his wife, but asserted his


to be a parcel of lies,--and how he

discovered fabulous reports historical,

especially that touching the shankbone of a giant, inches long, which used to be suspended in the church of St. Lawrence Jewry, which he proved to have belonged to an elephant, and that other of the supposed human tooth, weighing ounces troy, which turned out on examination to be nothing else but a stone, and that, the most famous of all, about the giant Gerard, who was said to have anciently inhabited Gerard's Hall in , whose supposed staff Stow showed to be merely an ancient fir Maypole, while, that the Hall could never have been the habitation of a giant,

he collected,

says Strype,

from the arched doors that he had observed here, as not convenient at all for men of such monstrous proportion.

In lieu of all this, and of much more, including a prolix column which the biographer expends upon Stow's singular aversion to

high turrets and buildings run up to a great height,

which, he acknowledges,

perhaps may be looked upon as a fond thing in him, and not worthy troubling his head about,

we will add only the short description of his person and character given by Edmund Howes in the augmented edition of his which was published by that compiler after Stow's death :--

He was tall of stature, lean of body and face, his eyes small and crystalline, of a pleasant and cheerful countenance, his sight and memory very good, very sober, mild, and courteous to all that required his instructions, and retained the true use of all his senses unto the day of his death, being of an excellent memory, but always protested never to have written anything either for malice, fear, or favour, nor to seek his own particular gain or vainglory, and that his only pains and care was to write truth. He could never ride, but he walked on foot into divers cathedral churches, and other chief places of the land, to search records. He was very careless of scoffers, backbiters, and detractors; he lived peaceably, and died of the stone colic, being fourscore years of age, and was buried the

8th of April, 1605

, in his parish church of St. Andrew's


; whose mural monument near unto his grave was there set up at the charges of Elizabeth his wife.

Stow's monument still exists, and bears an effigy of himself, sitting in a chair, with a book before him, reading, and books in shelves about him, together with a short Latin inscription. Strype says he had been informed by a person skilled in antiquities that the figure of Stow, which seems to be of stone, is only clay, burnt and painted over, such as were several others that existed in the London churches before the great fire. Of any family that Stow


had nothing is known except that at the time of his quarrel with Ditcher he had


daughters marriageable, and in service with right worshipful personages,

whose success in life it was pleaded the attack of that calumniator upon their mother's reputation tended to hinder. But this was in the earlier part of his life, while he was still exercising his trade; for the story, which really gives us a curious picture of ancient manners, affirms

that William's wife before the stall of the said John railed against him more than a long hour, but that he, John Stow, kept himself above stairs, without any answer making; that


day the said William leaped in his face, and that he feared he would have digged out his eyes, foully scratched him by the face, drew blood of him, and was pulled off by the neighbours; that the said William threw tile-sherds and stones at Stow's apprentice, till he had driven him off the stall from his work; and then the said William came to John's stall, and said, if he could catch the said apprentice, he would cart him; and vowed he would accuse him to have killed the man on the Mile's End in Whitsun week,

&c. &c. All this exhibits our antiquary in a new part, or at least in circumstances different from any in which we have yet seen him ; but still bearing himself with his characteristic mildness and aversion to violence, and carrying with him also, as we might expect he would do, the sympathy of the generality of those among whom he lived-at least in so far as we may trust to his own representation of the matter, and it has all the simple and straightforward manner of a true statement.

The person who made any additions to Stow's was Anthony Munday, by whom the edition of the work was published in ; --

a man of remark,

according to Strype's account of him;

some time the Pope's scholar in the seminary at Rome.

Munday himself-who, by the bye, latterly renounced Popery-tells us in his Dedication that it was Stow's intention to bring out a greatly enlarged edition of his book, when he

grew weak and sickly, so that his willing endeavour was prevented by death.


much of his good mind,

continues Munday,

he had formerly imparted to me, and some of his best collections lovingly delivered me; prevailing with me so far by his importunate persuasion to correct what I found amiss, and to proceed in the perfecting of a work so worthy, that, being overcome by affection to him, but much more by respect and care of this royal city, being birthplace and breeder to us both, I undertook, so far as my ability would extend, to further a book of such needful use, and to supply it where I found anything wanting.

The supplementary matter contributed by Munday, however, is of very little value, and what he intended for corrections are often ignorant depravations of Stow's text; so that this writer has very little claim to a place in the list of London Antiquaries. Nor is more to be said for Humfrey Dyson and the other unnamed associates who are stated on the title-page to have assisted Munday in bringing out the folio edition of the work (the preceding were all in quarto), which appeared in . At last,

this year



exclaims Strype, speaking of his own performance,

this book is arrived to a


edition, enlarged by some scores of sheets, set forth by J. S., also a citizen born and bred, as the former editors were, and the son of a freeman of London, and dedicated to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens of London.

Strype was an extraordinary phenomenon; but we must rest


satisfied with the samples that have already been incidentally presented of his odd manner of thinking and expressing himself. He must have been the most curious antiquity of his day; for that strange style of his, which reads like an exaggeration and caricature of the quaintest theological prose of the times of Elizabeth and James, is that of a writer who has been dead little more than a century, who lived till the year , whose pen was in the height of its activity, and was of the most productive then astir, in the bright Augustan age of the Steeles and the Addisons, the Popes and the Swifts, the Bolingbrokes and the Hoadleys, and the other great writers of the time of Anne and George I., the composition of nearly all of whom has still so perfectly familiar and modern an air. Strype indeed lived to a great age; although he did not die till towards the middle of the eighteenth century, he was born some years before the middle of the (in ); he was an older man than most of those who were contemporary with him as writers; and this accidental circumstance of course helped to heighten the peculiarity of style by which he is distinguished from them. He was past middle life too before he began to write for the press at all, and he was an old man when the busiest part of his career of authorship commenced; he had published a sermon or , and or of his shorter lives, from to --between his and his years; but his principal works, his

Annals of the Reformation,

in volume's folio, his

Ecclesiastical Memorials,

in folios, his of Archbishops Grindall, Parker, and Whitgift, each making a large volume of the same size, and the ponderous folios of his edition of Stow's


in which probably threefourths of the matter is new, all appeared between and , or after he had got or years beyond his grand climacteric. A dozen great folios in little more than years may seem pretty well; but antiquarianism would appear to be rather a medicinal study for old age. It certainly did not, as Strype managed the matter, exact much waste of brain. Yet even such faculty as he found it necessary to exert was at last worn out; in the Preface to the volume of his


published in , he expresses his apprehensions that his great age and frequent infirmities would probably prevent him from continuing the work; and the concluding volume, which was published years later, is merely a collection of papers, which by that time he was unable to digest even into such a drowsy form of narrative as he had given in the preceding volumes.

James Howel, the author of the well-known collection of

Familiar Letters,

published in a thin folio volume entitled

Londinopolis, or Perlustration of the City of London ;

but it is for the most part a mere compilation from Stow, and hardly entitles its author to be enumerated as of the London Antiquaries. The next distinguished original investigator in this field after Strype was Dr. William Stukely. We have already had occasion to notice his curious speculation about the camp of Julius Caesar which he imagined he discovered in the neighbourhood of old Church.[n.198.1]  He has also in the same work, his

Itinerarium Curiosum,

a disquisition on the general topography of Roman London, illustrated by a plan of the streets and the great roads. It was principally


indeed our Roman and British antiquities about which he busied himself; the more distinct vestiges of more recent periods did not suit his turn for ingenious conjecture and fanciful speculation; he did not relish being controlled and checked in his inferences and elucidations by too many or too obdurate facts. The dimmer the traces of the perished past, the more Stukely could always make of them. Yet the learning of the modern Arch-Druid, as he used to be called in his own day, was very considerable, though it hardly sufficed for ballast to his imagination when in full sail, and there is curious and valuable matter in all his works. As a man too he appears to have had all the quiet virtues and gentle dispositions becoming an antiquarian- living in the half-visionary world of the past, and withdrawn by his favourite studies from much of the irritation and turmoil of present interests in which most other men spend their days. His death was very characteristic and very beautiful, as it is told in a short sketch of his history by his friend Mr. Collinson. His usual residence in the last years of his life was in , London, beside the church of St. George the Martyr, of which he was rector; and he had also a country house at Kentish Town to which he frequently retired-traversing on the way part of the ground which Caesar and his Roman legions, as he imagined, had trodden eighteen years before, and on which the encampments they had raised were still to his

undoubting mind

as visible almost as if the supposed mounds and circumvallations had been thrown up only the preceding summer. l

Returning from thence,

says his biographer,

on Wednesday the

27th of February, 1765

, to his house in

Queen Square

, according to his usual custom, he lay down on his couch, where his housekeeper came and read to him; but, some occasion calling her away, on her return he with a cheerful look said,

Sally, an accident has happened since you have been absent.

Pray, what is that, Sir?

No less than a stroke of the palsy.

She replied,

I hope not, Sir;

and began to weep.

Nay, do not trouble yourself,

said he,

but get some help to carry me up stairs, for I never shall come down again but on men's shoulders.

Soon after his faculties failed him, but he continued quiet and composed, as in a sleep, until Sunday following, the

3rd of March, 1765


and then departed, in his


year, which he attained by his remarkable temperance and regularity. By his particular directions he was conveyed in a private manner to East Ham in Essex, and was buried in the churchyard, ordering the turf to be laid smoothly over him, without any monument. This spot he particularly fixed on in a visit he paid some time before to the clergyman of that parish, when walking with him


day in the churchyard.


[n.189.1] See vol. i. p. 174, The Old Spring Time in London.

[n.198.1] See No. XVI., The Roman Remains.