The Life of JOHN STOW. vj

The Life of JOHN STOW.

to have gotten the Mastery of them, and digested them for his Use: And had so thoroughly conversed with them, that he was able to give a critical Character of all his Authors. Which may appear in his Descriptions he set down of many of them before his Summary of Chronicles. He also became acquainted with such who increased and furthered his Knowledge in History; I mean, all the famous Studiers and Lovers of Antiquity in his Time; as Archbishop Parker, the Master of Antiquarians; Lambard, admirably skilled in the Saxon Learning; and the Author of the Perambulation of Kent, Archion, Irenarcha, and other curious Things; Bowyer, Keeper of the Records of the Tower, and the first Digester of them into some Method; the Learned Camden; and many others of lesser Note, or less known to us.

His Skill in old Authors.

And for his Knowledge in the Antiquities of the City, he also procured to himself all the old Books, Parchments, Instruments, Muniments, Charters, Registers, Journals, relating to London, that he could possibly get. And withal got Access into the Archives of the Chamber of London; where he perused the Volumes of most Fame there for the City's ancient Privileges, Charters, Laws and Customs; as the Books Horne, Dunthorne, Liber Albus, (which Book might have been called Carpenter, the Name of the Compiler thereof, as the Two former Books go under the Names of their Compilers) and no Question, many other Records preserved in that Chamber, which are frequently alledged by him.

How he came to the Knowledge of London.

The first Book he put forth of the History of England was his Summary of the Chronicles of England, from the Coming in of Brute unto his own Time. The Occasion of his first setting upon this Historical Work, was by the Motion of the Lord Robert Dudley; when in the Year 1562, Stow presented him with an ingenious Book of Edmund Dudley his Grandfather's compiling, during his Imprisonment in the Tower, entitled, The Tree of the Commonwealth; which he dedicated to King Henry VIII. but it never came to his Hand. The Original of this Piece Stow, a Collector of curious Things, obtained. And the Copy fair written, he took the Opportunity to give to the said Lord; but the Original he reserved to himself. Then at that great Personage's Request and earnest Persuasion, he did first collect this Summary, and dedicated the same, with the Continuation and Increase thereof from Time to Time, to his great Charges, to his Honour, as he tells there. In Reward whereof, addeth he, I always received his hearty Thanks, with Commendations, and not otherwise: And that was all the Encouragement he had from him, tho' it had otherwise been maliciously reported by his Adversary T. S. [His Brother, I suppose.]

The Summary of Chronicles.

Annals of England, 4to p. 818.

Not long after, viz. 1573. it was enlarged by him, and reprinted in Fleetstreet, by Thomas Marsh, and dedicated to the said Robert Earl of Leicester: And for this Rea- son, as he signified, "Because of his usual generous Acceptation of many Works presented unto him by others as well as himself; and because of his Lordship's goodly Inclination to all Sorts of Knowledge, and especially the great Love he bore to old Records of Deeds done by famous and noble Worthies." He fell upon the Study and Pains of examining and collecting of this English History Five Years before he set forth this Summary. The Reason that he was induced to enter upon it was, (as he sheweth the Reader in this Preface) because he saw the Confusedness of our late English Chronicles, and the ignorant handling of ancient Affairs; which made him leave his own peculiar Gain, and consecrate himself to the Search of famous English Antiquities. And his singular Praise is, that he was an earnest Enquirer into the Truth, and would not be imposed upon himself, nor impose false Relations upon others. And how far he had laboured for the Truth, more than some others, he offered this last Edition of his Summary to declare, "Wherein as he differed from the inordinate and unskilful Collections of other Men, it was, he said, no marvel, seeing he did not fully agree with himself. Which he knew would be laid to his Charge, and many great Words made of it. But he propounded it to be considered, that there was nothing perfect at the first, and that it is incident to Mankind to err and slip: And that it was but the Point of fantastical Fools only, to persevere and continue in their Error. And that by perusing ancient Records, and the best approved Histories of all Times, he was moved and driven to acknowledge both the one and the other Men's Errors, and in acknowledging, to correct them."

Summary Reprinted.

This Summary is a small thick Octavo, printed in the Black Letter. It begins with a General Description of the British Empire; and then treats of the several Kings and Queens that governed this Island; naming the Maiors and Sheriffs every Year; and under each Reign it relateth the several Remarkable Matters that happened, especially concerning the City of London. The Authors and Original Writings and Charters, both Latin and English that he made use of in this Summary were many, whose Names, amounting unto an Hundred and more, are there set down; whereof many are Registers or Records, besides Epistles and Epitaphs, and other Pamphlets of Antiquity.

Before this larger Summary came forth, he had published several lesser Summaries: And after Twenty Five Years, his Fortune growing low, he thought fit to make Means to the Maior 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: Which he did in this Letter addressed to them; (promising therein another Book concerning the City and Citizens.)

He addressed to the Maior and Aldermen for Two Freedoms: And