The Life of JOHN STOW. xviij

The Life of JOHN STOW.

times tended to decide Differences, and bring Controversies to an end. As in settling and adjusting Bounds and Limits, he more than once was serviceable to the City. How evident he made certain controverted Bounds of Limestreet Ward, towards the Wall both against Bishopsgate Ward and Algate Ward, we have shewn already; by his producing of old Records and Charters of St. Augustines Papey, a Church and House of Priests that stood there: tho' this Ward, whether by the Negligence of the Alderman of it, or some other Cause, had not then Right done it according to the said Evidence.

In the Latter end of Q. Elizabeth's Reign was a Controversy in Law between the City of London and the Lieutenant of the Tower, about the Buttings and Boundings of the City and Tower Liberties: which had been long in Contest, the City claiming the Towerhill, and little Towerhill; and so taking in East Smithfield. Then they made Use of Stow, as, by his long Experience and Converse in the City Records, likeliest to state this Matter. But the Counsil of the Lieutenant unjustly bestowed this Term upon him, their fee'd Chronicler Mr. Stow: wherein surely that diligent impartial Historian was wronged, if the Word were taken in the worst Sense.

Tower Liberty.

Vol. 1. p. 67. b.

He also set out the Boundaries of the Liberty of Creechurch within Algate, when it was to be sold to the City by the Lord Thomas Howard.

Creechurch Liberty.

But let us go on to take some further Notice of John Stow, as an Antiquarian. His Affectation of Antiquities made him very inquisitive after things of that kind, and a curious Observer, and a greedy Collector of them. Of which I will give a few Instances.

It was a notable Remark he made of King James IV. the unfortunate King of Scotland, and the strange neglect and unseemly Disregard of his Dead Body; which tho' once a King, could not obtain a Monument, no, nor a Place of Burial. He was slain in a great Battel against the English in Floddenfield: and his Dead Corps was brought away into England, and interred in the Monastery of Shene. Since the Dissolution whereof, the Duke of Suffolk was lodged and kept House there. But among the Ruins and Violences offered to this Religious House, the Bodies of the Dead could not rest in quiet. For here in an old wast Room, among old Timber, Lead and other Rubbish, did Mr. Stow's Curiosity lead him to see the Body of that King thrown, lapt in Lead close to the Head and Body. And what became of the Body afterwards, who can tell? But for the Head, Stow traced it further; telling us, that some Workmen for their Pleasure struck it off. Afterwards one Young, a Glazier to Q. Elizabeth, feeling a sweet Savour come from thence (by reason of the Embalming, I suppose) and seeing the same dryed from all Moisture, and yet the Form remaining with the Hair of the Head and Beard red; brought it to London to his House in Woodstreet; and kept it for some time: and in the end caused the Sexton to bury it with other common Bones taken out of their Charnel.

His Observation of King James the Fourth of Scotland.

Another Matter which he took Observation of, and that when he was a Boy, and thought it worth mentioning when he was a Man, was, that the Prior of Christchurch or the Holy Trinity within Aldgate, a spiritual Man, was always one of the Aldermen of London: and that he remembred, how he rode in the City as an Alderman of Portsoken Ward, in his Habit, yet with some Distinction, as a Churchman: and withal observed, what great Housekeeping he kept for Rich and Poor, as well within the House as at the Gates, to all Comers according to their Estates.

Of the Prior of the Holy Trinity.

One Observation more made by Stow may here be mentioned, which I have from George Buck, Esq; who saith of him, that he was a Man indifferently inquisitive after the verbal Relations of the Persons of Princes, and curious in the Descriptions of their Features and Lineaments. And that in all his Enquiries, he could find no such Note of Deformity in King Richard III. as Historians commonly relate: and that he acknowledged viva voce, that he had spoken with some antient Men, who from their own Sight and Knowledge affirmed, that he was of bodily Shape comely enough; only of low Stature.

Of King Richard III.

Buck's Hist. of King Richard III.

He was also a curious Observer of Manuscripts, and a diligent Procurer of them to himself, wheresoever he could. He was mightily delighted with the Sight of a fair Bible in large Vellum (the fairest that ever he saw) written by one John Coke a Brother of St Bartholomew Hospital, at the Age of Threescore and Eight Years. Which Book had belonged to the Library of the said Hospital, given to it among other Books by Sir John Wakering Priest, Master of the House An. 1463. And since the Spoil of that Library, came into the Custody of Mr Walter Cope, Stow's worshipful Friend, where he had seen it.

Curious in MSS.

He had in his Possession a very valuable MS. (both for the Writer and Subject of it) wrote by a remarkable Man, Edmud Dudley Esq; a great Counsillor to King Henry VII. but beheaded in the beginning of King Henry VIII. his Reign, An. 1509. It was called the Tree of Common Wealth, and treated of Politicks, intended for the Use and Service of his Royal Master King Henry VIII. but being a Prisoner at the Writing, never came to his Hand. A Copy of this Book Stow presented to Robert the great Earl of Leicester, sprung from the said Dudley: to whom it could not but be a very acceptable Gift. And he had his Thanks, but nothing else: as I have observed before.

Dudley's Tree of Common Wealth.

Summary fo. 309.

He giveth us somewhere an exact Account of the Works and MSS. of John Gower, one of our antient Poets; and what were Prin-

Gower's Works.