The Life of JOHN STOW. v

The Life of JOHN STOW.

These were dangerous Times to the Queen and State, by reason of Malecontents and disaffected Persons to Religion, and the Pope's Creatures; who were sent over to make Disturbance in the Government, and had raised a dangerous Rebellion in the North. And so many innocent Persons, suspected to be of the Roman Religion, were brought into question. Which might be the Occasion of Stow's Troubles.

This very Thing our Antiquary seems to take notice of in his Chronicle of Queen Mary's Reign, Anno 1556. relating the Punishment of a Man, that was brought from Westminster, with his Face to the Horses Tail, and with a Paper on his Head, unto the Standard in Cheap; and there set on the Pillory; and then burnt on the Cheek with the Letters F. A. for False Accusing of one of the Court of Common Please of Treason. "The like Justice, said he, I once wished to the like Accuser of his Master and eldest Brother." [Mark, This false Accuser of Mr. Stow was, it seems, his younger Brother, and one that served him in his Trade.] "But it was answered, that in such Case could be no Remedy, tho' the Accuser himself were in the same Fact found the principal Offender. Where through it followed, that the Accuser never shewed Sign of Shame, (the Way to Repentance) but terribly cursed, and blasphemously swore, he never commited any such Act, tho' the same were registred 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 the Sentence of the Prophet David, Fret not they self 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.'" Such wicked Detractors did this innocent Man meet with; and with such Meditations from the Scripture did he stay himself.

His Brother becomes his false Accuser.

And again, in his Survey in Cordwainer street Ward, having mentioned one William Fitz Osbert a Deceiver, a Murtherer, a filthy Fornicator, and among other Crimes, a false Accuser of his elder Brother; who had in his Youth brought him up to Learning, and done many Things for him; And the sad End he deservedly came to at last, namely, drawing by the Heels to the Elms in Smithfield, and there hanged: The Author seemed hereupon to think of his own Case, by the Note he set in the Margin; viz. A false Accuser of his elder Brother, in the End was hanged. God amend, or shortly send such an End, to such false Brethren.

Surv. First Edit. p. 199.

He hath also in another Place of his Survey, another Fling at this false Brother of his; viz. where he was mentioning a Fuller that dwelt at Shorditch, that had appeached wrongfully of Treason many honest Esquires and Gentlemen in King Henry VI. his Days; but was hanged, drawn and quartered for his Pains; and his Head set on Londonbridge: And then shewing how justly this Punishment was inflicted on him, quoted a Place of Scripture for it, Deut. 16. That if the Judges, making Inquisition, should find a Person giving false Witness against his Brother; then they should do unto him, as he had thought to do unto his Brother. And here in the Margin Stow noteth, The Reward of a false Brother.

And once more having Occasion to relate a Passage that happened in Smithfield, (where Challenges used to be fought) being of like Nature with the gross Wrong done to him by one that was his Servant, as well as his Brother, he could not forbear to apply it; viz. That in King Henry the VIth's Time, Anno 1446. one John David had bore false Witness against his own Master, one Cater, an honest Man and well-beloved, as tho' he had been a Traitor. And according to the Custom of those Times, the Accused challenged to fight the Accuser in Smithfield, to vindicate his own Innocency. But the Issue was that Cater was slain by his Servant. Of which Misfortune, that none might conclude thence, that he was guilty, Stow giveth the Reason: Which was, that his Neighbours, to shew their Affection and Love to him, gave him too much Wine, before he engaged the Combat; and so became the less able to manage his Weapon.. But he addeth, that notwithstanding this false Servant lived not long unpunished, tho' he escaped at present; for he was after hanged at Tyburn for Felony. And then Stow maketh this Corollary, Let all such false Accusers note this for Example, and look for no better End, without speedy Repentance. And in the Margin he takes Notice of a Proverb, taken from this treacherous David; If you serve me so, I will call you Davy.

Farringdon Ward without in Smithf.

To which I will add one Passage more, which I meet with in his Annals, under the Year 1576. That one Anne Averies, Widow, forswearing her self for a little Money, that she should have paid for Six Pounds of Tow, at a Shop in Woodstreet, London, immediately fell down speechless, casting up at her Mouth, in great Abundance, and with horrible Stink, the same Matter, which by Nature's Course should have been voided downwards, till she died. And then he adds, A terrible Example of God's just Judgment, upon such as make no Conscience of Swearing falsely against their Brother.

A Forswearer immediately falls down dead. Annal, 4to. p. 1152.

But Stow could not be taken off from his Studies, but earnestly and indefatigably applied himself to the making Collections of Historical Remarks; to enable him to compile an History of England, under the several Kings thereof, and a Survey of the City of London, his Native Place. And to furnish him with the former, he got into his Possession as many of the antient English Writers, both Prints and Manuscripts, as ever he could by Money or Favour; and seemed at length

Lays in Materials for his Chronicle and Survey.